Effect of Hurricanes on Plants, Birds, and Bees

Just as birds provide a great service to plants by dispersing their seeds over a wide area, so too does a hurricane. The power of wind scatters seeds and fruits great distances. Winds that blow at hurricane force for hours and hours at a time in one direction disperse seeds to new locations. The new locations may favor germination, while other locations may not.

ficus in hurricaneBecause hurricanes are usually a late-summer/early-autumn event, the season is treacherous for the journey of migratory birds flying south from northern breeding grounds to their winter homes in the South. Two of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, have impacted the birds’ eastern flyway to Florida and central flyway through the gulf states. In some instances, birds get “caught up” in the eye of the hurricane where they are carried along for hundreds of miles off course.

When so many trees and plants are stripped of their leaves, birds may find fewer food resources. Fruiting fall flowers may fail to bloom. Flooding can drown plants, and high winds rip their roots out of the ground. Insect populations may become decimated.

It’s been documented that birds find refuge in the eye of hurricanes and are carried off course by the storms. In survival mode, the birds often return to their starting point in migration.

Bees do surprisingly well in high winds, but when fruit, flowers and leaves are stripped from trees and plants, there is less food available for ants. Consequently, where plant-friendly bee colonies exist, ants may move into the hives forcing the bees out.

Hurricanes, like most natural forces, produce winners and losers.

Winners

  • Orchids use strong winds to spread their seeds.
  • Spadefoot toads breed during heavy rainfall.
  • Ground birds find ground shelter beneath downed trees and brush.

Losers

  • Migrating birds are blown off course and the weaker are separated from the flock.
  • Squirrels toss their young ones out of the nests when nuts become scarce on the trees.
  • Sea turtle nests on beaches can be washed out to sea before hatchlings arrive.

While researching for this article, we ran across a very interesting paper written in September, 1945, entitled Hurricane Damage to Tropical Plants. We believe this 1945 hurricane (they had no names then) has had a lasting impact on which tropical plants are used and not used in south Florida in the decades since.

Plants Make Workers More Productive

officePlants-1839436Office spaces with plants have happier, more productive workers. In fact, a 2014 University of Exeter field study found that green plants increase worker productivity by 15%. In today’s competitive space, that could translate to thousands, even millions of dollars added to the bottom line, especially when you consider lower employee turnover, fewer sick days, and staff that are more focused on the tasks at hand.

The study looked at two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands over a sustained period of time. This study concluded that offices with green plants increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and a perception of better air quality than offices designed for simply “clean and organized work spaces.”

In the United States, 10 high-performing buildings in 5 cities were included in a Harvard University study that found that green-certified office spaces not only play a huge role in our professional life, but can also impact on our well-being at home in three important ways:

  • 26% boost in the ability to learn and understand,
  • 30% fewer sickness related absences and malaise during office hours,
  • 6% improvement in sleep quality at day’s end.

If adding plants to the office can increase performance of workers compared to those who work in conventional office spaces, it could be surmised that adding plants alone would “pay for” the capital costs and maintenance of green improvements.

Another Harvard survey of over 200,000 employees worldwide reported that 77% of workers reported that natural light and air quality are important to them, yet only 58% and 38% are satisfied. Could your office benefit from “humanizing” the workplace by bringing in elements of the outdoors indoors?

Please share this article with someone you think could benefit from a greener workplace, or call us to arrange a visit with one of our Interior Plantscape Specialists. (800) 749-0124.

Plants and Feng Shui in the Office

meditation frogWe’ve known for some time that keeping indoor plants in our living and working spaces improves our mental and physical health.

Plants improve our concentration and make us more productive. They generate happiness and make us smile. They reduce stress and improve relationships, and give us more energy so we can perform our daily tasks better. They help us retain information, heal faster, and lower our heart rate and blood pressure.

When combined with the benefits of feng shui, plants shine!

Feng shui is the ancient practice of using shapes and forms to influence our sense of well-being. Based on the eight cardinal directions that represent different aspects of life, we can use the living energy of plants to achieve certain goals around the office:

Boost Energy. Because plants are living, breathing beings they bring life to an otherwise still environment.

Balance Energy Levels. In feng shui there are areas associated water, metal, earth, fire, and wood. Plants boost the energy level associated with wood (e.g. office desks) and can weaken an area associated with water (less wasted time around the water fountain perhaps?).

Improve Relationships. In an office environment, we can’t always choose with whom we spend the majority of day. The feng shui of office flowers and flowering plants can boost the good energy in relationships to produce a more harmonious environment.

Learn Faster. Science has proven that plants increase learning. Feng shui suggests that the “lucky bamboo” when placed four at a time in an area can increase learning abilities that help workers perform better.

To learn more about increasing your office success with plants and Feng Shui, we suggest reading more from The Spruce or talk with one of our plant experts here at Plantique.