Dear Dr. Plant


If I offered a free personality analysis to my colleagues based on the plants they have at their desks, I’m sure I would have a little fun. For instance, if I told Paulette that the ten plants surrounding her cubicle look like a fortress, indicating she is fearful, putting up walls to keep others out, she might tell me to go somewhere with my pseudo-psycho non-sense.  If I told Jackie that I noticed she likes to place some of her plants in others’ cubicles for direct sunlight, she may want to hear more.  If I suggest that her plant placement indicates her envy of people with the window view, and that she’s using her plants as a way of nabbing prime real-estate by proxy, she may have a few choice words for me, or jokingly whisper, “Quack!”

I am no master of personality, no expert on plants. But I have experienced the benefits of plants at work.  When my colleagues placed a pretty yellow Bromeliad on my desk to welcome me back after the loss of my grandmother, I felt good knowing they cared. The flower would stand as a spark of joy for many months ahead.  The flower, which required my attention and care, also helped me adjust since my grandmother no longer needed my care.  I checked on the flower often, gently pouring water into its cups as needed.  I moved it around in my space to find the right sun-light for it.  It was something to do with my care-giving instinct.

Doctors have cited many benefits of office plants.

“In an eight-month study, a Texas A&M University research team explored the link between flowers and plants and productivity,” according to one website “participants were given a number of creative problem-solving tests in a variety of office environments. The conditions included a workspace with flowers and plants, a setting with a sculpture and an area with no decorative embellishments. During the study, both men and women demonstrated more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants.

Another website, offers 15 benefits of indoor plants.

  • Plants can make you happy: House plants can contribute to a feeling of wellbeing, making you calmer and more optimistic. Studies have shown that patients who face a garden view in their hospital rooms often recover more quickly than those facing a wall.
  • Plants can negate cigarette smoke: If you are a smoker or live with one, a plant may help you remove the airborne chemicals from cigarettes. In particular, the Peace Lily is a good choice for this health benefit.
  • Plants can make your brain work better: Potted plants and flowers can improve your idea generation, mood, and more.

According to this website, the right plant can even be used to pull off a practical joke.  Give a colleague a bunch of Gerbera daisies, sit back and watch them begin to yawn.  These daisies are supposed to help one sleep better – but don’t tell anybody!

We would love to hear your insights and anecdotes about plants in your office.

Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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What does it mean if you want to keep a plant or two in your cubicle but forget to water it once a week? Or water it at all? 😛


Hmmmm. Let me think about the ramifications of you buying a plant then forgetting to water it. Hmmm. Two things come to mind my Dear Watson – I mean Lisa.

1) You are generous and caring enough to share your space with another living thing, and thoughtful enough to add beauty to an environment that benefits you and others.

2) You may be subliminally seeking confirmation that a supreme being, something as small and brainless as a plant, and all living things in between, can be forgiving. If the plant you have withers and disappears because it needs more attention, you can find plenty of very forgiving plants that stand steady for you regardless of how little attention you have to give it. (I have an Aloe Vera that I forget to water for more than a month! But it keeps growing.)


Ah yes. The Spythi dance! The plant bows (wilts), you spin (turn around to grab your watering thingy). ?