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 light box can help, but adding plants may be the missing nature link you need to improve productivity and satisfaction on the job. You can count on office plants to increase the humidity around your desk, remove toxins from the air, and add a touch of style to your workspace.
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The tough nature of the Sansevieria, also known as snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue, means that the you might grow a companion that stays with you until retirement. Not all snake plants are created equal when it comes to size, and you must read the plant label carefully to avoid choosing a specimen that grows several feet high. Instead, look for a dwarf selection like 'Futura Superba' or 'Whitney.' Perfect for houseplant newbies, snake plants require little special attention—simply dump your water bottle on it on your way out the door on Friday, and enjoy this slow growing desk plant.
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The fuzzy-leafed plant you knew in the 70's still has a cult following, and for good reason: modern African violet hybrids thrive in the same conditions as we do, with average humidity and temperatures. 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 will help plants flourish. Miniature violets, less than six inches in diameter, mean even the smallest spaces can accommodate a flowering office plant.
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Soften the hard lines of your desk with a trailing plant like English ivy, which requires only medium light and average water to thrive indoors. If the trailing nature of ivy gets too exuberant, wrap your ivy tendrils around a trellis or wire obelisk for a living piece of art.
You can't go wrong with any variety the classic Hedera helix, but many new cultivars expanded the look of this office plant. 'Silver Dollar' and 'Yellow Ripple' feature grey or gold variegation. Small spaces benefit from dwarf varieties like 'Pixie Dixie.' If you crave fancy foliage, try the ruffled leaves of 'Curly Locks' or 'Manda's Crested.'
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The ZZ plant has two characteristics that have helped it rocket in popularity as a houseplant: tolerance to low light and the ability to grow with little water. The Zamioculus zamifolia 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, but the new nearly black leaves of the latest 'Raven' cultivar look stunning against a white desktop.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Aloe plants are easy to grow, as long as you supply them with one essential ingredient: lots of bright light. If your desk is near a sunny window, plant it and forget about it, as these succulents only need watering every couple of weeks. The standard Aloe barbadensis is attractive enough for any modern desk space, or you can explore the merits of the dwarf 'Minibelle' or the speckled 'Tiger Tooth' cultivars. Grow the plants in a sandy cactus mix to ensure the excellent drainage these plants require.
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Whether your office is flooded with natural light, or 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 or totem pole. The philodendron does need regular moisture to keep its lush look, so a self-watering pot will be a lifesaver to those specimens that don't have a consistent caregiver. For a handsome container combination, grow the silvery mottled 'Brandi' cultivar with a standard green type.
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The ability to grow without soil gives you the ability to think outside the pot when it comes to growing the Tillandsia, or air plant. You can affix air plants to a piece of driftwood with some fishing line; fill a miniature terrarium with air plant specimens, or arrange some air plants in a shell, tea cup, or other unconventional container.
The Tillandsia genus includes several hundred species in the bromeliad family, all with green, silver, or rosy spiked foliage. As epiphytes used to growing among shady tree branches, air plants don't need much light, but those on sunnier desks might reward you with a flower spike. Mist the entire plant weekly, as modified scales on the leaves will take up the moisture the plant needs.
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Oxalis, or wood sorrels, are fun houseplants that add a splash of office color 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 volcanic sorrel 'Zinfandel,' with deep purple leaves and yellow flowers. Plants do well in low humidity, but need bright light for best color.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Don't overlook the many jewel-like cultivars of the Rex begonia for your 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 available 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 good 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, the 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 requires little light, and can grow without soil when the stems are submerged in water, but make sure the water level doesn't sink below the stems or the plant may not recover from this desiccation.