Aglaoneme Chinese Evergreen

Costa Farms Shares Tips on How Houseplants Make You More Mindful

Being mindful or present in the moment seems easy. But it’s not. There are many distractions, for example stress at work, in our relationships, in the news and so on. Studies show practicing mindfulness produces a variety of physical, psychological and social benefits.

“In today’s fast-paced world, taking time to center yourself, quiet your thoughts and live in the moment should be something we regularly make time for,” says Justin Hancock, garden expert at Costa Farms, the largest producer of ornamental plants in the world. “Thinking about something as simple as caring for a houseplant calms your mind.”

Keeping indoor plants in the home and office connects us to nature. Plus, there are multiple scientific studies that prove proximity to plants reduces stress, increases productivity, and even helps you heal and sleep better.

Costa Farms’ Hancock offers five ways houseplants help with mindfulness:

Aglaoneme Chinese Evergreen

1. Take in the “Now” of a Houseplant
Learn something from how a plant lives. What is more “in-the-moment” than an indoor plant? It reacts calmly to its surroundings — light, water, temperature — and uses those surroundings to flourish.

2. Celebrate New Growth
What is more encouraging than the physical manifestation of growth? Fresh leaves emerge, flowers burst forth and the plant expands. Be mindful of the plant and find joy in the little changes and grow together.

3. Take a Deep Breath
Houseplants purify the air. Being around houseplants allows you to benefit from their air-cleansing talents. A NASA study found houseplants remove indoor pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia, from the air. These substances can make us sick. Different houseplants work well in all settings, from the office, to the kitchen, bedroom, etc. There are houseplants for every room.

4. Engage with Nature
Sharing living spaces with houseplants brings inside the richness of the outside world. Engage with nature in every room of the home. Plants can remind us of different ecosystems, and their adaptability makes it a cinch to recreate such environments like deserts, forests or even jungles within the home.

5. Be a Plant Parent
Mindfulness means engaging with other life. Plants are living things that need to be taken care of — and that help people connect with nature. Plus, a plant isn’t as demanding as a pet. All a plant needs is to have its basic needs (enough light and moisture) fulfilled. Take a moment every day to slow down and enjoy the moment with a plant.

For more information on the benefits of adding plants to your home, visit

A Succulent Garden in a Pot

Succulents 001Mary Goebel’s Aardvark Plant Leasing has been caring for indoor plants at business offices in Marin and Sonoma Counties for 33 years. Mary came up with a great project using an Air-Pot. In her own words, Mary explains:
When I first saw this odd-looking plastic container full of holes at Hydrofarm’s HQ in Petaluma, I didn’t know what image.phpit was, but I had an instant mental picture of what it could look like filled with succulents. I found out that it’s a SuperRoots Air-Pot, made from recycled material, and its day job is germinating seeds and rooting cuttings. But I had something else entirely in mind. I filled all the holes with cuttings from a succulent and the results were gorgeous.
It took a little time, but the project was super-easy. The Air-Pot pot is hidden, creating a pot-less look!

You’ll need:

  • An Air-Pot–they come in different sizes–I used a 10 gallon pot, which makes for quite a project. It took about 6 hours to complete.
  • Some succulents. I used one “mother” plant, but you can mix it up and use several varieties for a different look. Whichever approach you choose, you’ll need plant(s) with images-1enough narrow stems to fit the holes of your Air-Pot.
  • Cactus mix potting soil, which works well with succulents because it provides excellent drainage. You can also make your own by combining perlite with organic matter.
  • A pair of scissors

Here’s how:
Trim as many 2″ long cuttings as you think you’ll need from your mother plant(s) and trim the leaves from the bottom 1″ of the stem. Lay the cuttings out to dry; they’ll be ready to plant when the raw end is calloused. Succulents are so easy, though–I’ve stuck fresh cuttings right into soil and had no problems with getting them to root.

Place your Air-Pot as close as possible to where you’ll situate it permanently. If you chose a large size, it’ll be heavy after you’ve filled it with soil. Fill the pot about half-full with soil, and tamp it down. This will help keep the stems in place. Trim as many 2″ long cuttings as you think you’ll need from your mother plant(s) and trim the leaves from the bottom 1″ of the stem. Starting at the bottom of the pot, 001 superroots air potspoke through a hole into the soil with your scissors, a chopstick, a screwdriver, whatever you have on hand. Then stick your cutting into the hole. Repeat, going around the pot from the bottom up, tamping down the soil as you go and adding more soil as needed. You can take a few days to complete your project–your cuttings should be fine.

Wait a few days, then water–waiting will help protect the raw roots from fungus, then continue to water thoroughly whenever the soil dries out. Fertilize your creation with a balanced fertilizer every couple of weeks during the growing season. Succulents 003Don’t leave it outside during cold weather/frosts.

A few of these in different sizes look great grouped together–and they make awesome gifts. Air-Pots: recycled AND recyclable, and reusable, too!

Chelsea Flower Show

Office plants boost well-being at work…

Chelsea Flower Show

Visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show were challenged to take part in the office design study.

Office plants can assist in boosting staff well-being by up to 47% according to workplace research carried out at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show were challenged to take part in the study which measured their creativity, happiness and productivity as they experienced a range of different workspace designs.

The study, designed by the Identity Realisation research group at the University of Exeter, in association with Indoor Garden Design, compared people’s effective output across different types of business space. Ninety experiments took place across the week and involved a total of 350 participants.

The results showed that allowing staff to make design decisions in a workspace enhanced with office plants can increase well-being by 47%, increase creativity by 45% and increase productivity by 38%.

The findings, which would be expected to translate to a significant increase in business profitability, confront the popular belief that plants and art are an unnecessary or even wasteful element of the business environment. Results from this and related scientific investigations stubbornly indicate that across all measures of psychological comfort and business performance, the managerially popular flexible, controlled, lean office, is consistently inferior to a space enriched by the design decisions of people who work there.

Psychologist Dr Craig Knight from the University of Exeter said: “We have previously shown that designing your own workspace improves health, happiness and productivity. It was time to go a step further and see whether the principle can also be applied to creativity and indeed whether the very act of designing the workspace can be used effectively. Results at the show demonstrated how creativity can be increased by 45% through improving the psychological well-being and design of a working environment.

“The results from the Chelsea Flower Show experiment indicate that plants, in a well designed and personalised office environment can boost business effectiveness through improved staff productivity and creativity. This gives company managers a real incentive to share control of office space with their staff and create meaningful, les didactic and more grown-up space.”

The Chelsea experiment allowed the public to experience one of four typical office designs. Visitors were invited to undertake tasks to measure their productivity, wellbeing and creativity. The measures were collated for each office design and differences between the designs were assessed as part of the results data.

Ian Drummond, Creative Director of Indoor Garden Design said: “I was delighted to be a part of this very important experiment. So much of what we do is about putting living nature into offices – the health benefit of plants is so important in the workspace. I felt it was important to release the results during National Plants at Work Week to raise the awareness of our need for plants at work.”

The experiment builds on Knight’s research with colleagues from the University of Exeter’s Psychology Department. Previous work has revealed the potential for remarkable improvements in job satisfaction and performance by allowing workers to personalise their office space. The research showed that employees who have control over the layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier but are also more productive to the tune of 38% when compared to a lean space.

Through quantifying workspace creativity and by examining the psychological application of design, the Chelsea experiment has furthered Knight’s leading edge work. This high profile study will precede a two part longitudinal workplace investigation with large office based organizations.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section]

Office with plants

Dream of being a botanist….

Office with plants

At 9 years old, I dreamed of being a botanist.

My bedroom was filled with plants. Long tendrils of glossy-leafed pothos vines snaked across my dresser, and a 5-foot-tall yucca tree bent over the foot of my bed toward the window. When my grandparents visited, they took my two younger siblings to Toys R Us to each pick out a toy. Afterward, we went to Home Depot, where I got to pick out a new ficus tree or an asparagus fern, maybe even a succulent. Until about the time I turned into an angsty, pubescent teenager, I delighted in gardening with my mother.

Plants in Office

A spider plant & a little potted cactus.

I wound up becoming a journalist instead. Still, I am happiest — and, I’ve found, I do my best writing — when surrounded by greenery. As I type this now, my desk is fringed with a little Peruvian apple cactus, a spider plant, a milk cactus and a big, hardy jade plant.

My little workstation garden might actually make me a more fruitful employee (or so I tell my editors). And now there’s research that seems to back that up.

A study, led by Cardiff University’s School of Psychology and published last week, found that adding plants to an otherwise Spartan desk boosted a worker’s productivity by 15 percent.

The results challenged the trendy belief that desktop minimalism, sometimes called lean management, breeds productivity.

“This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques,” Marlon Nieuwenhuis, the lead researcher, said in a statement. “Yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.”

The researchers surveyed workers and monitored productivity at two large commercial office spaces — each with some offices stripped clean of office decor, others greened with plants — in the U.K. and the Netherlands for several months.

I often shift my gaze to my potted milk cactus throughout the day. That, or the photo of my girlfriend, Charlotte, hung in the background.

Cactus on office desk

I often shift my gaze to my potted milk cactus throughout the day. That, or the photo of my girlfriend, Charlotte, hung in the background.

Nieuwenhuis concluded that landscaping an office with plants would be a worthwhile investment for companies, as it increases the quality of life and productivity for workers.

Laboratory tests have yielded similar results. In a study published in 2011, a team of researchers in Norway tested a group of 34 student attention spans when reading. Half of the participants performed the task at bare, wooden desks. The others were tested at desks with flowers and foliage. On a second round of tests shortly after, scores improved for the students with plants. Those for students without plants stayed the same.

A study published last year by the University of Exeter offered the most dramatic argument for keeping plants around. After running 90 tests on 350 participants, researchers found that office plants increased workers’ well-being by 47 percent, boosted creativity 45 percent and jolted productivity by 38 percent.

So, what is it about plants that sharpens the mind?

In the 1980s, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, a pair of environmental psychology professors at the University of Michigan, developed the Attention Restoration Theory. The concept describes the way that being in nature, and focusing on the calming sway of leaves or flow of a brook, can remedy mental fatigue.

No doubt, the daily barrage of digital distractions can be taxing. Constant blips on Gchat, the ever-flowing streams of TweetDeck, email after email — it gets to me sometimes. And while I’m a good multitasker, it’s hard to write when I’m playing a game of e-messaging Whac-A-Mole. But then I look up and trace the variegated patterns on a cactus or the browning lines of the jade plant as its stalk grows into wood, and I’m at peace.