Caring For Desk Plants: Learn How To Care For An Office Plant

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

A small plant on your desk makes your work day a little cheerier by bringing a bit of nature indoors. Office plants may even boost your creativity and make you feel more productive. As an added bonus, plants have been proven to improve indoor air quality. What’s not to like? Read on and learn how to care for an office plant.

Caring for Desk Plants

Office plant care is important and not as involved as one would think, provided you focus on the needs of the plant chosen. Various plants have different needs, so pay attention to watering, light and other possible desk plant maintenance that may be required.

Watering

Improper watering – either too much water or not enough – is usually to blame when office plant care goes awry. Water office plants slowly, using lukewarm water, until water trickles through the drainage hole, but only when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Never water if the soil still feels damp from the previous watering.

Allow the plant to drain thoroughly and never allow the pot to stand in water. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. Either take the plant to a sink and water it straight from the tap, then let it drain before returning it to the saucer. If you don’t have a sink, water the plant, allow it to drain for a few minutes, and then pour excess water out of the saucer.

Lighting

Some plants, such as cast iron plant, can get by with very little light. Others, including most types of cactus, require bright light. If your office plant needs light, put it near a window, but not too close because intense, hot sunlight will scorch most plants. If you don’t have a window, a fluorescent light near the plant is the next best thing.

Additional Care for Plants in the Office

Fertilize desk plants every other month during spring and summer using a general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer. Always water after fertilizing to prevent damage to the roots.

Transplant desk plants when they get too large for their pots – usually every couple of years. Move the plant to a container just one size larger. It may seem like a good idea to move the plant to a larger pot, but all that damp potting mix can rot the roots and kill the plant.

Place your plant away from air conditioners, heating vents or drafty windows.

Ask a friend or co-worker to take care of your plant if you’re sick or on vacation. Some plants can tolerate a certain amount of neglect, but too much may kill them.

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