Office Plants: Performance Appraisal

Are in-office plants a good investment?

Posted Jan 19, 2011

Although plants are plentiful in workplaces, are they worth the time and effort required to keep them green and healthy? Just as snow has blanketed much of North America and outside vegetation is buried under the white stuff, researchers from Norway and Cornell have released a study indicating that in-office plants are indeed a good investment.

In an article in press with The Journal of Environmental Psychology, Raanaas, Eversen, Rich, Sjostrom, and Patil ("Benefits of Indoor Plants on Attention Capacity in an Office Setting") rigorously explore this topic. In research they recently completed, these scientists found that cognitive performance was improved when plants were added to an office.

The experiment by Raanaas and her colleagues was run in Norway during the winter. Test subjects with and without potted plants in their work area had a clear view out of the window in the office where the experiment was conducted. The view was of a large lawn, other buildings, and deciduous trees, which were devoid of leaves. Two plants with flowers and two foliage-only plants were present during the "with-plants" experimental trials. The two flowering plants were pink Phalaenopsis on a window sill right beside the test subject. The other two plants were an Aglaonema about 30 cm tall on the desk the subject was working at and a Schefflera arboricola about 120 cm tall on the floor between the desk and a bookshelf.

So, a little TLC for those office plants will do them, and your cognitive performance, some good.