Life Lessons from Our Desk Plants


It all started when I noticed my house plants blossoming when we moved.  One plant that I had maintained more than twenty years – living in my parents’ home, in a rented room, in an apartment, then a town house – grew bigger and better in this new space.  Two other plants I had bought seven years ago as tributes to my father and best friend, who died within a month of each other, also flourished in this new space.  Marveling at their growth, I gleaned new inspiration. I began jotting notes about “Life Lessons from My House Plants,” in December, and shared some of my observations with my supervisor at work. Turns out, she had lots of wonderful stories to tell about her house plants, too!

In a five-minute fun chat at her desk, my supervisor told me about one of her plant that failed despite her best efforts.  She and her sister had been on a cruise, and when they returned, they bought Parlor Palms in Florida as souvenirs before heading to their respective home states.  They decided to have a contest; see who could grow the plant best.  My supervisor thought bigger was better and bought a huge pot for her Parlor Palm.  Her plant shriveled and died within a few weeks.  Her sister kept hers in a small pot and watched the leaves grow large and wide. My supervisor laughed heartily telling me all about it.

In that brief conversation about our plants, we shared valuable personal insights. She instantly had a better idea of what I treasure – small pleasures.  And I suddenly understood her appreciation for good relationships – and, yes – healthy, fun, competition.

Since then, I have sparked similar conversations with other colleagues about the plants on their desks – or the lack thereof.  I have enjoyed remarks about my desk plants.  One morning, for instance, I was surprised and delighted when one of the guys stopped by my cubicle with advice for my Heart-Leaf Philodendron. Showing a photo of the Philodendron decorating his office in another building, he explained why he loves this plant. It’s a love that stems back to the grandmother and aunts who helped raise him, he said.  They grew this plant in their home.  Looking closely at the roots crowded in the small glass vase on my desk, he suggested my plant really needs a bigger pot. I should dry out the dirt, shake the plant loose from the vase, and put it in something bigger, he said. I could only see having to break the glass vase to set the roots free, and I wasn’t ready to break it. If he asks again, I will explain why I didn’t heed his advice. That’s another fun conversation just waiting to happen.

A two-minute chat about your colleagues’ desk plants can help your working relationships flourish.  You will learn who you can trust to water your plants when you are away, and who trusts you to care of theirs.  You may learn his/her thought processes just by listening to the narratives offered about the plants.  But, besides being delightful little conversation pieces, plants offer several other benefits in the work place, according to experts (which I am not!).  Sharing my observations and delights about office plants (and hopefully yours too!) in the upcoming weeks, we will discuss some of the benefits of keeping this leafy-flowery friends nearby.

We’d love to hear from you about your office plant – why you chose it, what good it has done, etc.  Did you have to ditch an office plant because it made your co-worker sneeze?  Feel free to share your stories in the comments box below.  Or simply send a photo. Snap.  Send. Done.

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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I have several office plants, 12 to be exact, I just love plants. My love for plants came from my parents both really, but mostly my father. He had a nursery and I would go and help him water and transplant the smaller plants that were sometimes started from seed to place them into larger pots. It was a great serene experience for me, I loved it. My favorite plant in the greenhouse “nursery” was a cute little fern that would shy away and close up when you touched it I don’t remember it’s proper name but I loved it because it was unique. It would be my first plant to check on when I got to the nursery so I could see it opened up before anyone else could touch it and caused it to close up and I wanted to see how beautiful it looked before it closed up. It’s much like people, there are beautiful people with great potential and can add so much to an environment (work place), but some easily close up don’t contribute because they allow others to cause them to close up and not add to their environment (or work place). I love plants and I appreciate your blog about the leafy part of life. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

Alisha Freeman

I inherited my plant when my co-worker/friend retired. It has grown but also leaves have died and I though that the whole plant would die. But, it did not! It has taught me a lesson that things may look bleak but keep on watering, feeding and have hope, things may turn around! My plant is thriving and growing now.


WOW!!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARING!! Relationships are SO important to the Effective Moving of everything that takes place in the world. As we have all seen within our own little world, without good relationships, families, friendships, churches, communities, even government (local, state, federal), struggle to prosper in good measure that is pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing with Love, Happiness, Joy, Peace, and emotional wellness. Indeed they are difficult to start and maintain, but the efforts received are…Priceless!!


Well put – in time for Earth Day (April 22!). Thanks Sonya. I hope you will enjoy this week’s post, too. Stay tuned…