San Diego Businesses Go Lean with Plants

Posted: March 2nd, 2011
By Janice Nath

Plants are not only beautiful to look at in the workplace, but they also play an important role in being part of a sustainable building management system. Plants enhance indoor air quality, help regulate temperature and even reduce extraneous noise.

San Diego businesses favor a “less is more” trend when it comes to interior plantscaping in the workplace, which is contrary to the lush tropical foliage found in the workplaces of my South Pacific hometown in the Fiji Islands. The style found in Southern California workplaces today favors vertical clean lines vs. bushy and full plants.

Water-retaining plants

As I visit with dozens of businesses in the hospitality, commercial real estate and retail sectors, I am able to relay the top workplace greenery trends across San Diego County. One major development in workplace plants this year favors succulents, also known as fat plants, which are water-retaining plants that thrive in arid climates. The stars of the succulent plant family are cacti (cactaceau) better known as cactus. While all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. Succulent plants are found in more than 60 plant families which have evolved their water-storage tissues in their enlarged leaves, roots or stems as an adjustment to arid environments. By making the most of scarce available moisture, succulents survive in habitats that are too dry for most other plants.

San Diego hoteliers are trending to succulent bowls with orchids and river rocks versus the orchid bowls with lush trailing plants favored in earlier seasons. Containers are also very contemporary with slim, clean lines with little or no ornate designs. Today’s container color market palate favors darker colors including expresso, charcoal and golden bronze over the stainless steel finishes popular five years ago.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia) – The ZZ Plant is a member of the aroid family along with the aglaonema, philodendron and spathiphyllum but more closely resembles the cycad breed, cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea). As a plantscaper, it is a dream plant for workplace interiors as it thrives in low light, requires little water and is a hardy plant that perseveres even when neglected.

Song of India (Dracaena reflexa) – This striking-looking tropical tree, which is native to Madagascar, is a species of Dracaena that is treasured for its rich colors, evergreen leaves and irregular stems. Although it can survive in relatively low light levels, the plant may become frail with deficient light. This plant is an outstanding workplace landscape accent or border plant which is also frequently used in residential settings.

Snake Plant or Mother in Law's Tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciata Black Coral) – Commonly known as the Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s Tongue, this easy-to-grow exotic-looking plant can be artfully displayed indoors and outdoors, and thrives even when neglected. Whether grown as an accent plant or displayed in mass in planters or beds, the Snake Plant can be grown in high or medium light and even deep shade. The Snake Plant tolerates low humidity, water and feeding.

Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata Branched) – While they are sometimes mistakenly identified as palms, the Dracaena Marginata is a genus of 40 species of subtropical, evergreen, woody plants grown for their statuesque form and ornamental foliage. These tropical looking rugged plants tolerate low light conditions and can be found in many commercial and office environments across San Diego.

Christmas Palm (Veitchia merrillii palm) - The Christmas Palm, also known commonly as the Manila Palm, is a sturdy, single-trunked palm celebrated for the appearance of bright red fruits which spring to life each holiday season. Well suited for use as a framing tree or on a workplace terrace or patio, these palms feature a compact umbrella-like appearance with refined symmetry. With over 5,000 businesses and more than 75,000 people working downtown, San Diego has a vibrant and robust business climate. People feel more tranquil around nature and plants that absorb noise, while also improving air quality and removing dust at the same time. Most of the environmental benefits of plants can be achieved without using expensive or hard-to-find plants.


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