My new workplace — where office plants go to die

I wish I’d thought to take a picture when my husband and I got our first look at my new office in Wesley Chapel.

Back in October, I got a job as Creative Director/Writer at a EMSI public relations, then located in a charming old two-story house in Clearwater. Over a weekend earlier this month, movers relocated us to brand-spanking-new digs and we all headed up there on a Sunday to put our offices in order.

I hadn’t gotten a chance to fully explore the old office — I don’t walk into bedrooms uninvited and if I must, I politely avert my eyes — but I did see enough to know there were some sad plants at EMSI. I saw crusty old potting soil;  long, leafless, vines; brown leaves. When Ben and I walked into my office that Sunday, they’d all congregated there.

How did the movers know?

Like I said, I didn’t take a picture (darn it!) before administering emergency resuscitation. CPR first, photos later; it’s how we life savers roll. So here’s just a few of the plants after they’d been watered, clipped, repotted, and set outside in indirect sunlight for a few hours. (And after it occurred to me — I should take pictures!)

office plants, dracaena tall woody stems narrow variegated leaves, philodendron peace lily? dark green glossy leaves wilts without water

That’s a dracaena, (I don’t know the variety) to the left — clipped a bit, but still in its original pot; a philodendron sporting a nice new haircut (and pot) on the desk, and I think the one on the right is a peace lily, also repotted.  All of these, by the way, are great plants for your indoor office. They don’t need much light, and as these neglected souls prove, they’ll struggle to please under the worst conditions. Looking for some other ideas? Here’s a great list. 

I brought old containers and potting soil from home, washed off dusty leaves with wet paper towels, fertilized, and cut back leggy, overgrown plants. My office started filling with such pretty plants, co-workers who’d mocked my plant purgatory grew envious. They all wanted one! One guy was so amazed by a plant’s transformation, he called over EMSI’s owner to take a look. Turns out she loves plants — that’s why there were so many — but she had no one who’d care for them. She told me to buy whatever I needed and give her the receipt. (Yay Marsha! You’ve got a plant caretaker now.)

corn plant, long dark green leaves, indoor office plant, philodendron, heart-shaped leaves,

So I bought potting soil and pots, and enjoyed the heck out of taking little breaks outside, repotting, clipping, washing, fertilizing. The big old corn plant above (another dracaena variety) was in Marsha’s office. It’s extremely photogenic considering it was not at all a happy corn plant. See the basket it’s in? A lot of the plants were in pots set in baskets lined with plastic. On the rare occasion they got water, they sat in it forever. Yuck! Better to put your office plant pots in saucers (and dump the saucer if they fill with too much water.)

Here’s Marsha’s corn plant cleaned up and repotted.

corn pant dracaena indoor office plant long dark green glossy leaves

One of the worst-looking plants was the little dracaena you saw in the first picture. Even after I’d clipped, cleaned and watered, one of my co-workers insisted it was dead.

Repotting was a sad affair. At left, the overgrown bottom of the pot. At right, the roots in search of sustenance.

rootbound dracaena, roots grow out of the pot, dead leaves, long, narrow leaves, tropicalrootbound, roots growing out of pot, dracaena














This little guy cleaned up just fine. The guy who insisted it was dead is now all about rehabbing the sad schefflera that’s been pruned to a standard. (I’m thinking that’s just wrong. Am I wrong?)

dracaena, variegated, dark greet with light green stripes, tall stems, tropical, Florida

I am more than happy to have plant care added to my new job description. It gets me out of the office and into that — mmmmmm — good-smelling dirt during the day. I love the results, and so do my co-workers. (They may not be able to take care of plants, but they sure do appreciate them.)

I’ve started some watermelon peperomia leaf cuttings for the office (that’ll get them talking!) and I’m on the lookout for more outside-the-cubicle plants that can green up our new space. Suggestions welcome!


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