Inside View: December 2013

November 25, 2013
Written by Gary Jones
When we think of container production, we’re usually considering the technology and processes of growing plants in round pots ready for wholesale or retail sales, without having grown those plants in the open ground beforehand.

But there is a whole section of our industry that grows plants in containers for a completely different purpose and this often has a rental model that is the source of its income. “Interior landscaping” (sometimes called “plantscaping” or “interiorscaping”) has been offered for many years by companies, including Planterra, Rentokil and Tropical Touch Interior Landscaping.

It’s not really anything new. But there are some new aspects to it.

Interiorscaping has been shown to have a number of benefits, including beautifying the interior of buildings, improving the air quality in offices, improving the health of office workers, and improving the learning ability of students in classrooms.

PLANTS INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY, REDUCE STRESS
For example, the Planterra website (www.planterra.com/research_1.html ) reports that “a study conducted by the College of Agriculture at Washington State University (WSU) shows that live interior plants increase employee productivity and reduce stress.”

The 1996 study, published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture, reports that productivity increased 12 per cent when people performed tasks on a computer with plants in a room, compared to people who performed the same task in a room without plants. Productivity was measured by the response time.

“There was no difference in the number of errors,” said WSU Professor Virginia Lohr, PhD. “The big difference was the reaction time, how quickly they pressed the correct key when plants were present.

“Plants are not just fluff,” added Lohr. “We have felt, and many people who work with plants intuitively believe, that having plants around is vital to our well-being.”

That 1996 study does not exactly make this observation brand new, but the continued attention on healthy living, and fresh and natural products makes this a “salable” notion.

Rentokil North America and Ambius (a division of Rentokil), going a step further, showcased new solutions at IFMA World Workplace 2013 (Oct. 2-4 in Philadelphia).

Ambius reports (www.ambius.com/global ) that one of its innovations was “Premium Scenting” (also known as “aroma marketing”). Since it is well known that smell is highly linked to long-term memory, this offers a superb opportunity to link customer loyalty to a brand. Your brand!

Think of that for our industry. Link “aroma marketing” to indoor container management (interiorscaping), add some
plant/business labelling, and we have a way for whole communities of office staff to bond to your products just because they go to work. Likewise, shopping malls provide great spaces for advertising your plants and containers to wide audiences who might not otherwise make a specific trip to a plant sale outlet.

Moving outside the building envelope, the ongoing movement to develop rooftop gardens and open spaces atop highrises continues unabated.

However, the fact that heavy cement containers are unsuitable for installation in such situations historically has made this work challenging. Building insurance companies are particularly nervous about such issues. Newer fibreglass containers get around this and, particularly if combined with lightweight strong and attractive screens and trellises, offer an opportunity to add a vertical dimension to rooftop gardening.

And when we say “containers,” don’t limit your imagination to square boxes. Containers come in a multitude of different shapes and sizes: planters (generic for pretty much anything!), boxes, troughs, urns (with or without pedestals), jars, pots and other shapes too numerous to mention here.

Large-scale planters from companies like Architek and Old Town Fibreglass are available not only in many colours and smooth surfaces, but also in textured finishes that resemble sandy concrete in pretty much all but weight.

As exhibited at this fall’s CanWest trade show in Vancouver, many of these are now also available in “self-watering” options that make them ideal for arid climates or the dry summer months experienced elsewhere … or interior plantscapes, for that matter!

So, whether you’re growing plants for use indoors or outdoors, perhaps there are opportunities for you to go beyond the normal wholesale/retail options and consider renting out your plants to get a regular income from the same plant.


Gary Jones is a faculty member in the School of Horticulture at Kwantlen University, Langley, B.C. He serves on several industry committees and would welcome comments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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