Growing an Office Garden

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Sheyil Taylor has a plant for nearly every year she’s been at Georgia Tech. 

The business administrator for research in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) is known around the office as the “plant lady.” Taylor came to Tech in 2003 and worked for the Georgia Tech Research Institute and School of Biology before joining BME in 2006. Her green thumb has been with her in all those roles, as her 10 office plants will attest. She’s even played a rescue role to coworkers’ plants over the years.

Taylor recently shared some of her best advice for those looking to bring a little green into the white and gold of their office space. 

What should people consider when choosing plants for their office?

If you don’t plan to be very attentive, you need to choose your plants carefully. People buy plants because they look pretty, but a lot of times the ones with really nice colors require a lot of extra attention. The African violet is one that people like the look of, but there’s a special way to water it and care for it. They require a lot of attention and maintenance.

On the other hand, I have one in a pot in my office that I call a Florida philodendron, and that thing is wild. It’s in a small clay pot, and it grows all over my shelves. It just keeps growing and growing. It doesn’t need much attention. 

What advice do you have for people who would like to have plants in their office?

I like to fertilize them three or four times a year. I give them some type of plant food. Some people use eggshells either on the soil or mixed in. I also like to water them with rainwater. If you can collect rainwater and use that, I think it makes a big difference. To me, though, the most important thing is talking to them. You have to talk to your plants. They like it. They like attention. I talk to them when I’m watering them, just like you’d talk to an animal. I name my plants too.

I also use sunlight lightbulbs in my office. It’s a much more natural light, and if you have an office without much natural light, they’re good for the plants and for you.

You also want to re-pot your plants occasionally, especially if they’re getting too big for the pot. Some people do it very regularly, but I do it every few years. I like them to have a good, established root ball before I move them.

When it comes to indoor plants, it’s best to have a system for watering. I water mine every Friday. They get a nice big drink. Having a schedule is easier for you and for the plants. 

Where does your interest in plants came from?

My mother and my grandmother fostered my love of plants — even my great grandmother. It’s just always been in our family. My great grandmother had a plant from the philodendron family called a split leaf. You can take pieces and grow more plants off of them, so everybody in our family got a piece of that plant, and it was kind of a family tradition. I still have plants that came from that one plant. 

What should people be doing this time of year to get ready for outdoor gardening?

By the beginning of April, you want to have most of your seeds in the ground. It’s been a wet spring, so the soil is nice and soft. I’ve planted all the way into August, though, so if you haven’t started, it’s not too late.

Vegetables can be planted now, depending on what they are. People should be cleaning out their gardens, turning over the soil, putting nutrients or fertilizers in, and that type of thing. I’m planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Be careful not to over water your plants and vegetables. If they get too much water, the roots will rot.

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it. It’s a great time of year to be enjoying the weather outside and getting your hands dirty. Gardening is great for your soul.

This interview originally appeared in the April 2015 COE Cares! Newsletter.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Kristen Bailey
  • Created:04/27/2015
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016


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