The 20 Best Office Plants to Zhuzh up Your Workspace

Take your office plant game from zero to hero.

Reviewed by Hayley Ramsey

The best office plants to brighten up your office

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Is your workspace looking rather dull — almost clinical, even?

A plant or two just might be the answer!

And with thousands upon thousands of species of indoor plants (from succulents to cacti and ferns to vines), you’re truly spoiled for choice when it comes to decorating your office.

Need some ideas?

Well, here’s our list of the 20 best office plants to zhuzh up your workspace. We also look at the benefits they offer, plus what you should keep in mind before you head down to your local nursery.

The benefits of office plants

Plants can make your workspace more attractive.

But they’re not just decorations. In fact, they offer a whole host of benefits that just might convince you to splurge on a plant or two for your office desk.

For starters, they promote mental health in the workplace. Indeed, Japanese researchers found that workers who kept a small plant on their desk had lower stress and anxiety levels, while 27% participants of the study reported a significant decrease in heart pulse rates.

Meanwhile, in a joint study by the University of Birmingham and the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, ordinary potted indoor plants were found to improve air quality and reduce nitrogen dioxide levels by as much as 20%. They also remove airborne toxins and germs, which means fewer colds and sick days.

Office plants even boost creativity, and they also increase productivity by 15% according to a 2014 study jointly conducted by researchers in the UK and the Netherlands.

Things to consider

If you’re thinking about decorating your workspace with live plants, there are some important things to consider before you head down to your nearest garden center.

Room temperature

Most indoor plants are tropicals and prefer temperatures between 70F and 80F — of course, this varies from plant to plant. Either way, be sure to keep them out of overheated rooms, or at least turn your thermostat down. Likewise, move plants away from air conditioning vents, as the direct blast of cold air will dehydrate them and even damage plant cells.


The ideal humidity levels for indoor plants ranges between 40% and 60%, though certain plants will need some assistance (which may only be misting). Consider investing in a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels — the ThermoPro TP49 Digital Hygrometer and Thermometer* is a great option!


All plants need natural light. How much, though, will depend on the particular species. Some, for example, need plenty of direct sunlight, while others are perfectly happy with hardly any light at all — and figuring out how much light you get in your office will help you choose the right plants. That said, you can always invest in an LED growing lamp* for plants that need a lot of light but are placed in a low-lit room.


Indoor plants normally need to be watered once every 1–3 weeks, but less frequently during fall and winter. This, of course, depends on each plant and your room’s light conditions. Generally speaking, water them only if the top inch of the soil feels dry, and never — ever — be tempted to overwater them! (By the way, self-watering planters* are a life-saver for when there’s no one to look after your plants when you’re on vacation!)


Beyond frequent watering and suitable light and humidity conditions, indoor plants must be regularly “fed” nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the essential nutrients they need to thrive) during the growing season. You have plenty of fertilizer options here, including liquid plant food, slow-releasing pods and nutrient-rich granules*.

Insects and pests

Insects and pests are an inevitable part of the plant-owning process. Not all are bad, but those that are (like aphids and mealybugs) can cause extensive damage to your plants. The good news is that spraying an infected plant with insecticide, like the Eight Insect Control spray*, can often eliminate an infestation in its early stages.


Different plants grow to different sizes, so think about how much office space you can comfortably dedicate to your own personal indoor garden without branches and leaves blocking your computer monitor or, worse, creeping into your neighbors’ territory. If you only have a tiny corner on your desk to spare, for example, then you might want to choose one or two small-growing potted plants.


One of the most common mistakes that beginner office plant parents make is failing to acclimate their plants to their new home. Store-bought plants are used to the very specific conditions of a nursery, for example, and any sudden changes can cause them to drop leaves, wilt, develop root rot or, worse, die. To give your plant the best chance of success, try to replicate the conditions it is used to and then gradually move it over 1–2 weeks to where you want it.


Indoor plants can cost anywhere between $1 and $200, depending on their age, size and even species. For example, it’s not uncommon for Swiss cheese plants to sell for $100 — one even sold for a whopping NZ$5,000 (US$2,800) in 2020! Beyond that, you also need to take upkeep costs into account, which can range between $5 and $125 over the course of a year.

Time investment

Caring for plants often requires a lot of time and effort investment (if you want to keep them alive), so it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you really can afford to spend 5, 10 or 30 minutes every week tending to your little garden. If it’s only going to hinder your work performance, then you might want to consider the alternative: artificial plants (which require no maintenance and are more durable and cost effective).

Coworker allergies

Allergic rhinitis (of which the seasonal type is called hay fever) affects about 16% of the global population. This means there’s a very real chance that at least one of your coworkers is allergic to plants and pollen, so it’s a good idea to make sure the people you share an office with won’t have an issue with you and your personal garden — or, worse, report you to HR.

Company policies

While most employers are perfectly happy with staff decorating their workspaces, others might have specific policies in place concerning plants, and may even ban them entirely from the office for health and safety reasons. Be sure to check your employee handbook and to speak to your manager or HR representative before bringing in plants to the workplace.


If you have office pets, you’ll have to take extra care when picking out plants. Although they may certainly look pretty, they might be highly toxic to animals if ingested — and the last thing you want is to rush your four-legged friend to the vet!

Top low-maintenance office plants

Need some inspiration? Here are 20 plant ideas to turn the most boring office environment into your own personal oasis!

1. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Care level: Easy

Notoriously tolerant of neglect, ZZ plants are one of the easiest plants to care for. They’re also famous for their excellent air-purifying properties, eliminating toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and carbon dioxide to a great extent.

Your ZZ plant only needs watering once every 2–3 weeks, but water it more often if it’s placed in brighter light and less often in lower light. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

2. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Care level: Easy

Growing up to 24 inches tall, peace lilies can make a great addition to your cubicle or work-from-home office setup, with their white “flowers” (actually spathes) sure to brighten up your workstation. (They produce more spathes when placed in bright light, so they’ll do well in an east-facing or a north-facing window.)

Keep the soil constantly moist, but never let your peace lily sit in standing water!

3. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)

Care level: Easy

A slow-growing plant, the cast iron plant is as hardy and indestructible as its name. Easy to grow and highly tolerant of fluctuating temperature, humidity and light levels, it’s a reliable and low-maintenance plant perfect for beginners. Its arching, glossy green leaves can grow up to 20 inches long, and it can also be grown outside where its brown-cream flowers will make an appearance.

It prefers to be on the dry side, so avoid watering if the soil is moist.

4. Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Care level: Easy

A climbing plant, the golden pothos is sometimes also called the devil’s vine — because it’s almost impossible to kill. It grows very fast, too (about 12 inches a month, with the proper care), and needs to be repotted about every couple of years.

Water your pothos once every 1–2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry between waterings. It needs watering more frequently if placed in brighter light and less frequently in lower light.

5. Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata, formerly Sansevieria trifasciata)

Care level: Easy

Native to tropical West Africa, the snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue) is one of the most popular and hardy indoor plants. Its stiff, vertical-growing leaves can reach up to three feet long, and its white flowers are fragrant — however, snake plants rarely bloom indoors.

They prefer bright, indirect sunlight, and generally need to be watered every two weeks. During the winter months, watering can be cut down to monthly if the soil is still moist.

6. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Care level: Easy

One of the best options for beginners, spider plants (named so due to their spider-like appearance) are easy to grow and propagate from cuttings or their spiderettes. They’re also great for remote workers with pets, as they’re non-toxic.

They do not like direct sunlight, as it can burn their leaves, and they prefer even moisture (meaning, their soil should not be too wet or too dry).

7. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)

Care level: Easy

The Swiss cheese plant takes its name from its large heart-shaped leaves that grow holes as it ages and resemble (you got it) the holes in Swiss cheese. In the right conditions, it can grow as tall as 15 feet and as wide as 8 feet, so it’s best placed in a big and well-lit corner.

Water once every 1–2 weeks, and let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. Water only occasionally during fall and winter.

8. Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

Care level: Easy

Native to Central Africa, the lucky bamboo isn’t a true bamboo (it belongs in an entirely different taxonomic order), and is believed to bring wealth and good fortune. Known for being nearly indestructible, it can grow up to 38 inches a year, and it looks great in a vase with a few friends.

If grown in soil, make sure the soil is always slightly moist. In a vase, the water needs to be replenished every 7–10 days.

9. English ivy (Hedera helix)

Care level: Easy

Although listed as an invasive species in many parts of the US (and its sale is banned in the state of Oregon), the English ivy is a beautiful, leafy plant that will make a cheerful addition to your office — particularly in a hanging basket or on a shelf. It can grow up to nine feet annually indoors, but it will be at least two years before you see any significant growth.

Water your English ivy whenever the soil surface dries, and make sure you plant it in a container with good drainage.

10. Baby rubberplant (Peperomia obtusifolia)

Care level: Easy

Baby rubberplants are extremely easy to grow indoors, despite requiring high humidity levels, and are generally resistant to most pests. They grow to about 10 inches tall and are characterized by their thick, upright stems of spoon-shaped water-storing leaves.

Water once every 1–2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry between waterings.

11. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)

Care level: Easy

Despite its name, the asparagus fern is not a true fern. Closely related to the vegetable asparagus, it can grow up to 3 feet tall and it’s a great option for offices in cooler climates. In spring, it produces small white or pinkish-white flowers which eventually turn into red berries, which (along with the plant itself) are toxic to animals.

Keep the soil moist, and water if the top inch of soil feels dry.

12. Pink quill (Wallisia cyanea, formerly Tillandsia cyanea)

Care level: Easy

Pink quills are named so for their distinct, bright pink feather-like bracts with pretty little blue or purple flowers that emerge in the summer. They can be grown as air plants — that is to say: they don’t need soil to survive — and can grow up to 20 inches tall.

As an air plant, soak it in water every 7–10 days for 6–12 hours. As a potted plant, it could need watering anywhere from every two weeks and every two months.

13. Jade plant (Crassula ovata)

Care level: Easy

A succulent, the jade plant (also commonly known as the money plant) is easy to grow and can survive in most indoors conditions. It typically reaches heights of 3 feet or more and is characterized by its thick, shiny jade-green leaves — it even produces small pink or white sweet-scented flowers when it matures.

It’s draught-resistant, but needs watering once every 2–3 weeks.

14. Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)

Care level: Moderate

Moth orchids are a great option if you’re looking to add a pop of color to your workstation. There are about 70 different species of moth orchid, and their flowers come in a wide variety of colors (including pink, white, yellow, red, purple and orange) and in speckled or blotched patterns.

Place in bright, indirect light, and water weekly during the growing season (and less frequently in winter). Never let the roots dry out completely or let the plant sit in water.

15. Sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Care level: Moderate

Sword, or Boston, ferns are loved for their arching green fronds, and can grow up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They look great in a hanging basket or on a plant stand where the fronds can cascade over the sides, and they excel in bright, indirect sunlight.

Keep the soil constantly moist, and prefer using water that has been left to sit for 24 hours.

16. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

Care level: Easy

Also known as the lily of China, the Chinese evergreen has large, waxy green leaves that grow up to 8 inches and it produces green-ish to white spathes when mature. It’s highly resilient and it’s a great option if you’re looking for a plant that’s easy to grow. Important to note, however, is that it’s toxic, so it’s not a good option if you keep pets.

Keep the soil slightly moist during the summer, but allow the soil to dry between waterings during the winter.

17. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Care level: Easy

As the official Christmas flower, the poinsettia not only makes for a bright, festive decoration for your workspace during the holidays but also a great gift idea for the office Secret Santa. It comes in a wide variety of colors — beyond the traditional, familiar red — including yellow, salmon, white and pink.

Only water your poinsettia when the soil surface feels dry, and never let it sit in water.

18. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

Care level: Easy

The official tree of Bangkok, Thailand, the weeping fig is characterized by its glossy, oval-like leaves and can reach up to 100 feet tall outdoors. As an indoor potted plant, it typically reaches 6 feet tall, while it can even be trained to grow as a bonsai (if you want to feng shui your workplace).

It does well whether placed in front of a sunny window or in a corner away from direct sunlight. Water it weekly, letting the soil dry before watering it again. Although its berries, or figs, are non-toxic, they aren’t considered edible.

19. Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Care level: Easy

Corn plants are also very tolerant of neglect and excel in a wide range of indoor conditions, from full light to low light, making them another easy-to-care-for addition to your office space. Native throughout tropical Africa, they can reach heights of 4–6 feet in containers, but you can cut them at the top once they reach a suitable height.

Water your corn plant weekly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

20. Wandering dude (Tradescantia zebrina)

Care level: Easy

Also controversially known as the wandering Jew, the wandering dude gets its name due to its tendency to spread easily and quickly — it can grow as much as an inch a week during the growing season. Its zebra-like purple or dark green leaves contrast nicely against its bright flowers (which range from white to pink), and it’s best placed high on a shelf or hanging from a basket so its vines can fall freely.

Give it plenty of indirect sunlight to keep its stripes, and keep the soil evenly moist (but not soaked).

Final thoughts

Before you buy any plant, always do your homework — especially concerning care requirements. This will save you from the disappointment of adding a new plant to your collection, only for it to die a couple of weeks later because it was overwatered or it wasn’t given enough sunlight.

Gardening, whether indoors or outdoors, requires a lot of patience and involves a lot of trial and error to figure things out. But the more research you do and the more prepared you are, the more successful you’ll be in keeping your plants well and alive.

Which of these office plants are you thinking about decorating your workspace with? Do you have any other ideas, or perhaps a question? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on 15 November 2017.