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The Planter Drainage Conundrum
by Ruby Bayan

'Indoor Plant: Peace Lily' by Ruby BayanSome indoor plant enthusiasts will swear: wicking and self-watering pots are for wimps. A red-blooded office plant aficionado will brandish the suave and finesse in the execution of the regular watering routine -- with not a wayward drop on the keyboard, nary a watermark on the woodwork.

How does one prevent the "office garden" from streaking on the furniture, spotting the carpet, and short-circuiting the computer? Here are some tips:

  1. Foresight. When choosing a plant to take to the office, imagine the worst watering day scenario. What is the plant's prospective location and what will be affected in cases of spill-over or drainage overflow (think: the carpet, table finish, computer equipment, books, filing cabinet)? Plan on setting the plant on a low-risk location until the watering routine is perfected.

  2. Protection. Self-watering planters are still the best options for office foliage because drainage is never a problem. But not all plants thrive in self-watering pots. So the next best thing is a good drainage catcher. Deep catch basins or high-sided saucers prevent accidental over-watering disasters (especially during days when office tedium puts everyone on mindless "auto pilot" mode).

  3. Double Protection. Water-resistant dinner placemats between the polished cubicle shelves and the water catcher will help ensure that the rare spill over won't end up tarnishing the hardwood furniture. Mats will hold light spills from flowing off and dripping on the rolodex or the top vents of the monitor.

  4. Calibration. Minding and remembering how much water a specific planter absorbs in one watering session will help minimize future spills and drainage overflows. Water gently and all around the plant to monitor the rate of drainage.

  5. Remedial Action. What is the indoor gardener's most important helper? Paper towels. When watering the office garden, carry the watering can in one hand and a couple of paper towels in the other. Linger in the "garden" area for a couple of minutes after watering to see if drainage overflows need immediate attention. Paper towels can actually help abort unfortunate accidents that could lead to unemployment!

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