Green up your office, green out your lungs.

Pogue’s Posts‘ recent look at the latest TED talks underlines one particular presentation that seems pretty interesting. It’s by a fellow named Kamal Meattle who’s experimenting with the way potted plants increase health and productivity:

We have tried and tested these plants for 15 years at Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park (PBC™ – STIP) in New Delhi, India. It is a 20 year old, 50,000 ft2 building, with over 1,200 plants for 300 building occupants.

…[C]ompared to other buildings in Delhi, the incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%, lower respiratory symptoms by 34%, headaches by 24%, upper respiratory symptoms by 20%, lung impairment by 10-12% and Asthma by 9%. As a result of fewer sick days — employee productivity also increased.

Our experience points to an amazing increase in human productivity resulting from using these plants to be >20%, and energy costs to reduce by an extraordinary >15%.

I remember reading about the NASA research that inspired this experiment (they were enthusiastic about philodendrons), and am happy to see the ideas being carried further – including into to the workplace. Meattle’s project singled out areca palms (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) and money plants (Epipremnum aureum, formerly Pothos) as the best indoor air cleaners and oxygen providers. Consider getting one or two for your desk, then?

[via 43Folders Clips]

EDIT TO ADD: More recent research on potted plants removing formaldehyde from the air. Go green!


  1. One of the first things I did when I got my own office was to add a potted plant. Actually, it was seven plants in one pot. They were seven cactus varieties in that one pot and it looked vicious; a real manly man’s plant. Best of all, it required little if any care, just water once every few weeks.

    Since retiring, I have gone from indoor plants to outdoor vegetables with my raised backyard vegetable garden. It’s amazing how much food you can get in a four-foot by eight-foot space. More amazing is that after two or three weeks, I expanded my garden because I was hooked and needed more plants.

    My father-in-law just sent me the revised version of Square Foot Gardening. I’ve already started reading it and I’ll post a review.

    —Farmer Matt

  2. Ooo! Gardening! Looking forward to the review.

    If there’s anything on balconies that don’t get direct sunlight in that book, I’m interested.

  3. Hey… Mr. Science… Maybe you know… Do plants need to sleep?

    The Interwebtubes seem to think that plants require sleep (well, darkness). My neighborhood Big Brain Scripps scientist guy says plants don’t need a dark cycle.

    I searched the archives here and didn’t find anything about sleeping plants. If you come across anything, please let us know.


  4. My initial answer is that it depends on the plant. There are two kinds of respiration cycles, and I *think* the one requires light periods and dark periods.
    Let me see….
    Ah – so these guys let out CO2 during the day, but need to take it up again at night. So without night, they’d asphyxiate, I guess.
    On the other hand, I know some *ahem* growers report success with indoor plants under grow-lights for very long periods of time.

    Oh, and there are apparently three kinds of cycles. Go figure.
    You might find more pertinent information here, in Wikipedia’s “Photoperiodism” article.
    The link to “florigen” will educate you about the hormone (or “hormone” – it’s hypothetical) that plants use to regulate flowering depending on the length of day.

Comments are closed.