Arriving at the office before the sun rises and leaving at dusk can cause a real sense of deprivation for those who love the outdoors. Using a light therapy lamp or lightbox can help, but adding some houseplants might be the missing nature link needed to improve productivity and satisfaction on the job. What is the most desirable quality for office plants? Low maintenance.
Office plants can increase the humidity around a desk, help purify the air, and add visual interest to your workspace décor. There's no limit to how many plants you should have in your office if you remember to give them a drink at least once in a while. Choose from this list of low-maintenance plants that will survive in an office and can even thrive in an office without windows.
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The tough nature of Dracaena, also known as the snake plant, means that it might continue to grow until its owner retires. Not all snake plants are created equal when it comes to size, but all snake plants are good choices for offices.
Read the plant label carefully to avoid choosing a cultivar that grows several feet tall. Instead, look for a dwarf selection like 'Futura Superba' or 'Whitney'.
Perfect for houseplant newbies, snake plants require little special attention—give it a drink from your water bottle on your way out the door on Friday and enjoy this slow-growing plant.
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The fuzzy-leafed plant popular in the 1970s still has a cult following and for good reason: modern African violet hybrids thrive in the same conditions as humans do, with average humidity and temperatures. They are also favored as small office plants.
Although sufficient light is necessary for blooms, African violets aren't picky about the source of that light, and a fluorescent lamp aimed at the plant is acceptable. A window that faces north or east provides ideal light conditions; avoid placing this plant in direct sunlight.
Miniature African violets, which are less than six inches in diameter, mean that even the smallest spaces can accommodate a flowering office plant.
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Soften the hard lines of a desk with a trailing plant like English ivy. Ivy requires medium light and average water to thrive indoors. If the trailing climbing nature of ivy gets too exuberant, wrap ivy tendrils around a small trellis or obelisk for a living piece of art. Although you can't go wrong with any variety of the classic Hedera helix, newer cultivars have added more diversity. 'Silver Dollar' and 'Yellow Ripple' feature grey or gold variegation. Small spaces benefit from dwarf varieties like 'Pixie Dixie'. For those who crave fancy foliage, try the ruffled leaves of 'Curly Locks' or 'Manda's Crested'.
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Zamioculus zamifolia, commonly known as the ZZ plant, is a succulent with two characteristics that have rocketed it into popularity as a houseplant: tolerance to low light and the ability to grow with little water.
The ZZ plant is native to Africa and will do just fine with fluorescent bulbs as its only light source. The laddered leaves of the common ZZ plant are a pleasing addition to the office setting, and the nearly black stems and foliage of the latest 'Raven' cultivar look stunning against a white desktop.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
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Aloe plants are easy to grow if they are supplied with one essential ingredient: lots of bright light. It's one of the best plants for a sunny office window sill. If a desk is located near a sunny window, place the plant there, and forget about it because these succulents only need watering every couple of weeks.
The standard Aloe barbadensis is attractive enough for any modern office space, or you can explore the merits of the dwarf 'Minibelle' or the speckled 'Tiger Tooth' cultivar that only looks like it has sharp teeth.
Grow them in a sandy cactus mix to ensure the excellent drainage these plants require.
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Whether an office is flooded with natural light or is tucked in a cozy corner, the carefree philodendron will add cheer with its glossy green leaves and trailing habit. Although the philodendron is often used for hanging baskets, it works just as well growing up a small trellis. The philodendron requires regular moisture to keep its lush look, so a self-watering pot will be a lifesaver for those specimens without a consistent caregiver.
For a handsome container combination, grow the silvery mottled 'Brandi' cultivar along with the simple green species Philodendron hederaceum.
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To grow Tillandsia or any plants that don't require soil (known as air plants), it's necessary to think outside the pot. You can affix air plants to a piece of driftwood with some fishing line. You can also fill a miniature terrarium with air plant varieties or arrange air plants in a shell, teacup, or another unconventional container.
The Tillandsia genus includes several hundred species in the bromeliad family, all with green, silver, or rosy spiked foliage. As epiphytes that are accustomed to growing among shady tree branches, air plants don't need much light, but those on sunnier desks are more likely to grow a flower spike.
Mist the entire plant weekly because the modified scales on the leaves will absorb the moisture the plant requires.
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Oxalis, also known as wood sorrels, are houseplants that add a splash of color to the office whether or not the plant decides to bloom. The plants are decidedly shamrock-like in appearance, which makes them popular at the garden center around St. Patrick's Day.
Ironically, some types of oxalis are treated as lawn weeds, but the cultivated types are a bit more mannerly. Look for Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel', with deep burgundy foliage and yellow flowers.
These plants do well in low humidity but require bright light for best color.Continue to 9 of 25 below.
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Don't overlook the many jewel-like cultivars of the Rex begonia to adorn an office desk. It's all about the foliage with these plants, with dozens of cultivars that feature speckles, veining, and even swirling patterns in shades of silver, purple, red, and green.
A variety of leaf textures add interest with ruffles, puckers, and colorful hairs lending distinction to varieties like 'Stained Glass', 'Marmaduke', and 'Escargot'. Rex begonias do fine in low light but need sufficient humidity to thrive.
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The common name lucky bamboo isn't actually one of the more than one hundred genera of true bamboo. Rather, Dracaena sanderiana is related to the corn plant, another easy-to-grow houseplant.
Growers sometimes shape lucky bamboo stems into fun shapes like spirals, weaves, or even hearts. Left to their own devices, the stems of lucky bamboo will eventually outgrow their trained shapes, but plants grow slowly.
Lucky bamboo grows well in low-light environments and can grow without soil when the stems are submerged in water. However, make sure the water level doesn't sink below the stems or the plant might not recover from this desiccation.
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Pothos is a simple green plant but who can resist its heart-shaped leaves? It's a great fast-growing indoor plant if you keep it moist in well-draining soil. You might see over a foot of growth per month. But be careful if you have frequent bring-your-pet-to-work days because pothos is toxic.
Many people like to grow pothos with long lengths of vines to trail along the walls of a cubicle or office. But they can get tangled so keep the office scissors handy (and sanitized with some rubbing alcohol) so you can trim the vines.
Pothos likes bright and indirect light but never complains if it's relegated to a spot under a fluorescent light or in low light conditions. Look for 'Neon' and 'Silver Satin' because both types of pothos are extremely tolerant of an office's dark or low-light conditions.
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You'll have a tough time choosing just one cactus. There are so many adorable types that thrive as indoor office plants. Two groups of cacti include desert cacti (with hairy spines) and forest cacti (more succulent in appearance minus the prickly parts).
Some cacti produce blooms, such as the Christmas cactus (of the forest kind), which is a pretty and very durable year-round plant. Also try the Easter cactus indoors because it's an easy plant to grow, especially for beginners.
Cacti are perfect office mates because they don't need pruning and they're slow-growing so they'll rarely need to be repotted. The only caveat is that they'll require a sunny spot to thrive.Continue to 13 of 25 below.
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These popular fast-growing plants produce rosettes that grow into arching leaves, also called ribbons, that reach over a foot long. Tiny star-shaped flowers appear only on older plants. If you prefer a compact spider plant, choose 'Bonnie', which produces yellow flowers.
Spider plants don't require much care. They prefer warm, humid offices and thrive in spots that receive indirect light, but keep them away from air conditioning vents. For happy plants, keep soil slightly moist but never soggy.
If your spider plant looks a little sparse over time, it will need to be repotted so its roots have more room to spread. Cut away the baby plantlets and propagate them in new clay or plastic pots with well-draining soil for a few new plants to fill your office.
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The large glossy green leaves of a peace lily are soothing to see; the plant symbolizes hope and healing, as well. And twice a year you'll see hooded white oval flowers pop up from the crown. Peace lilies require some attention, though, so it's not a plant that you can just forget about.
Give your peace lily a spot near a window that receives filtered light. This plant prefers loose potting soil that's well-draining, and keep it more underwatered than moist (which is helpful when you go on vacation). But as soon as you see the peace lily droop, it's telling you it needs a drink.
The peace lily is another plant you need to be watchful over if you bring your pet to work because it's toxic to animals.
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Bring some good luck and prosperity to your office with a jade plant, also sometimes known as the money plant. These succulents have thick, fleshy green teardrop-shaped leaves that grow in a cheerful upright direction.
Having enough light for your succulents is key in helping your plants thrive in an office environment. Low lighting isn't ideal for this plant or other types of succulents. Instead, place succulents on sunny window sills but not in direct harsh sunlight or the leaves will burn.
If you love growing jade in your office, experiment with other succulents such as string of buttons and hen and chick succulents. A variety of succulents brings an abundance of texture and visual interest into your workspace. Make sure visiting pets can't access succulents because they are toxic to animals.
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The weeping fig tree or ficus tree is a broadleaf evergreen that's commonly used in office, commercial, and retail indoor landscapes because it lives a very long life—up to 50 years. Its leaves are typically small glossy green ovals, but variegated varieties include Ficus benjamina variegata and F. benjamina 'Starlight'.
A weeping fig tree is a great way to fill a corner in an office. But pick the location carefully; the Ficus benjamina does not like to be moved. It also prefers an abundance of sun and lots of water so choose a spot where you won't forget about your tree.Continue to 17 of 25 below.
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Spiderwort is a petite plant with pretty purple foliage that will look stately on a desk or shelf. It requires a minimum of work or care but produces lush leaves with very little effort.
Spiderwort likes humidity but if your office is dry, opt for misting the plant once a week as part of your watering schedule. If the leaves begin to brown, increase the misting schedule to every few days. The plant does well in regular potting soil and almost any light. However, the more variegated the plant, the brighter the light it needs to thrive. Just keep it away from direct sunlight to avoid leaf burn.
For solid purple leaves, opt for 'Purple Heart' and for more reddish foliage with silver stripes, grow T. Zebrina pendula.
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Parlor palm is a graceful, frothy plant that moves its green fern-like foliage with a slight breeze. It prefers some indirect light, but nothing too bright or too shady.
Parlor palm adapts to low light and can't tolerate too much watering, making it an exceptionally attractive office plant that can easily enhance an office with little to no effort on your part. Weekly waterings should suffice. No worries about killing it by forgetting to water it—the plant's fronds turn yellow as a message that it's time for a watering.
Because the parlor palm is a slow grower, lasts for decades, tolerates air conditioning, and rarely needs repotting, it's considered an ideal office plant.
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If you have a dimly lit office, brighten it up with a nerve plant. Its ovate green leaves are decorated with deeply pronounced veins, often in white, silver, or pink.
The nerve plant is not one to be forgotten, though, so you'll need to remember to water and mist it because it likes high humidity levels. If it is in distress, you'll know it because it literally falls over when it's dry. Water will bring it back to life.
This plant tolerates diffused light as well as office fluorescent lighting, regardless of its color veins. For pink veined leaves, look for 'Fortissimo' or 'Red Star' varieties.
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The cute ponytail palm can bring a smile to office mates, thanks to its sassy, strappy green leaves. It's a succulent and not a palm regardless of its name. When grown in a shallow pot, the tree stays small enough to be displayed on a desktop. Given a larger pot, it could grow six feet tall as a floor plant.
It's a slow-growing, long-living plant that tolerates neglect. To keep a ponytail palm happy, put it in an area of the office that has bright and indirect light. Pot it in a snug pot with cactus/succulent potting mix with extra peat moss blended in to enrich the soil. Water every ten days to two weeks; the bulbous stem stores water.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
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Prayer plants are interesting to behold with unusual patterns on their green foliage. Of course, it's a most interesting plant at different times of the day; its leaves are flat during the day but when the troops head home for the day, the foliage folds up at night to look like praying hands.
Admittedly, prayer plants are not the easiest plants to grow and maintain—they aren't drought-resistant and dislike being near air conditioners. But they can live in shady corners of the office that other plants might not be able to tolerate. And they aren't too picky about the type of soil they're grown in.
Waterings should be frequent to make sure the soil is slightly moist to the touch. Prayer plants require room temperature and warm water, so avoid using cold water. Varieties, such as M. leuconeura massangeana and the more common M. leuconeura erythrophylla have different colored veins and leaf markings.
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Peperomia has flouncy but sturdy foliage that comes in all kinds of textures, colors, and variegations, so it's tough to pin a common look to the Peperomia genus. However, they are all ideal office mates because they rarely need repotting and are slow-growing, drought-tolerant (succulent leaves hold water), and low-maintenance plants.
This plant will forgive a bit of negligence. Water when the soil is dry, rarely fertilize it, and put it in bright, indirect light, or a little less light. Peperomia are versatile plants that thrive in an orchid potting medium or regular potting soil with some added peat moss.
There are handfuls of peperomia plants to outfit your office. Try P. verticillata 'Belly Button' for its tiny leaves or P. caperata 'Suzanne' with its deeply ridged foliage and silver accents.
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There are a few reasons why this plant is called the cast-iron plant and it's so popular in offices. It barely needs attention and it's tough to kill but it does a great job at brightening up a dull corner of an office thanks to its deep green, glossy leaves.
The sturdy, long-lasting cast iron plant can grow well in low light conditions and doesn't require much watering. All it really asks is that you keep it away from direct sunlight which will burn its leaves.
For more interesting foliage, choose 'Hoshi-zora', which produces green leaves with yellow and white speckles or 'Variegata' which produces green leaves with white stripes.
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Chinese evergreen plants welcome the low-lighting conditions of offices. They are also slow-growers so their large and glossy leaves won't get shaggy very quickly.
Chinese evergreen is beloved as an office plant because it's easy to grow, prefers to be left alone more often than not, and offers different colored leaves. Though the plant does well in low light, the more variegated and colorful the leaves are, the more warmth and light it will need to thrive.
Colorful versions of Chinese evergreen include 'Red Zircon' with green leaves and pink blotches and 'Silver Bay' and 'Maria', both varieties with green leaves and silver tinges and stripes.Continue to 25 of 25 below.
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If your office is brightly lit, opt for the low-maintenance dwarf umbrella tree. It's a tropical houseplant with delicate and pretty drooping green leaves that grow to look like flower petals or what many think looks like an umbrella shape. It's perfect for smaller offices since it grows to four feet tall.
Dwarf umbrella trees can produce solid green, variegated, or nearly white leaves. 'Dazzle' has nearly white leaves and 'Gold Capella' offers golden and green variegated leaves.
Because the tree leans towards whatever source of light it senses, you might have to turn the plant every now and then so it's better balanced as it grows. Though it prefers more light than other office plants, this plant will adapt to any type of office lighting (except direct sunlight).
Which plants are lucky for the office desk?
In feng shui, certain plants are thought to bring prosperity and good luck. They include the money plant, lucky bamboo, and jade plant.
What makes a good office plant?
In general, a plant that tolerates low light, doesn't need excessive watering or fertilization, and doesn't require much (if any) pruning can make for a great office plant. The plant also must be able to withstand the temperature and humidity level of your office.
Are succulents good for offices?
If you have a bright window or artificial grow lights, succulents can be an excellent addition to an office desk. Many species remain small but still provide plenty of visual interest. And they typically require very little maintenance.
Claudio, Luz. Planting Healthier Indoor Air. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119,10, A426-7, 2011, doi:10.1289/ehp.119-a426
“Epipremnum Aureum - Plant Finder.” Missouribotanicalgarden.org, https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=276360