13 Best Office Plants to Boost Workplace Productivity

Illustration of workers and office plants

Office plants matter, just like team-building games and other staff morale strategies.

According to a University of Queensland research team, plants boost productivity and help companies retain employees.

However, a dead plant can have quite the opposite effect.

Keep your office environment alive and thriving by selecting the best low light plants and giving them proper care.

Because 99% of all plants do not thrive in office environments, take a moment to peruse this list before heading down to the greenhouse.

Only plants that require low maintenance, can handle low light, and thrive in warm environments make good options in the workplace.

1) Desk Plants

Though some management experts believe stripped-down workspaces increase productivity, researchers now show that office landscaping provides greater benefits.

For example, people in workplaces with plant densities of one per square meter performed better on memory tests and other basic skills assessments.

Many office workers enjoy creating peaceful spaces on their desks that include small, attractive plants like bonsai.

These iconic and fascinating little wonders don’t reach maturity until they’re at least ten years old, but you can start them from simple seed kits.

Don’t be discouraged; unlike most of the office plants in this article, bonsai are finicky. If you don’t succeed on the first go, just try again.

Bonsai aren’t simply beautiful additions to conference room tables and workspaces; they can become a life-long hobby!

2) Indoor Hanging Plants

By attaching plants to the ceiling (or mounting them on posts), you can green up small offices without giving up valuable floor space.

office-plants hanging

Yes, your tallest employees will have to watch their heads around hanging plants (though you can certainly recruit these folks to water plants). Install hanging office plants in low-traffic areas like corners and especially above medium-height furniture like filing cabinets.

Get input from everyone who will use the space; you can even make decorating with plants an incentive or a team-building activity.

Among the best types of plants for hanging baskets, the Neon Pothos brings bright green color into the bleakest of spaces.


It only requires weekly watering and can handle medium to low light levels. These dangling plants don’t just look great in hanging baskets; they also brighten up desks and conference rooms!

3) Low-Light Plants

All office plants (unless you work in a greenhouse) should be low-light plants. However, certain especially-dim workplaces call for very special indoor plants.

Low-light office plants can boost morale for teams that work in dark, enclosed spaces. However, only the hardiest of office plants can survive in these conditions. The plants that can handle these extreme environments grow naturally in densely-canopied forests where little light filters to the ground.

One of the best indoor low-light plants is the Snake Plant (Sansevieria), which can easily handle low light and infrequent watering.


You only have to remember to water one of these beauties once a month. If you’re looking for something to brighten up your IT team’s dimly-lit office without croaking, this could be it.

In fact, because these plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen overnight, you might want one for your bedroom, as well (or a Moth Orchid, for that matter).

Snake Plants also absorb a variety of harmful chemicals from the environment, such as formaldehyde, toluene (found in shoe polish), benzene, and trichloroethylene.

Just remember, the Snake Plant’s long, flat leaves can grow to great lengths over time, just like their namesakes. Provide them with large, sturdy pots and plenty of room to grow upward.

4) Cool Plants to Grow Inside

If you have a decently-lit workplace and a good maintenance regimen, you may want to consider some more impressive office plants.

For example, the Rubber Tree Plant brings bold greens and purples to the table (you can even find it in variegated varieties). This office plant can grow quite tall and features broad, flat leaves.


Rubber Plants need weekly watering and do well near bright windows (with curtains between them and any direct sunlight). These sunning office plants also excel at removing unwanted chemicals from the air.

If you want a cool-looking office plant that doesn’t take up much space, consider Tillandsia and other, similar air plants. Air plants don’t need any soil, though you should spray water on them a few times a month.


You’ll know they need more water when the leaves curl up more than usual. Because air plants don’t need soil, designers can adhere them to all kinds of surfaces to create strikingly attractive office plant displays.

5) Good Indoor Plants for Busy People

An excellent low-maintenance option, the Peace Lily features large white blossoms in addition to a splash of greenery. This workplace plant can handle low to medium light levels and only needs monthly watering.

Though no plants do well when you crank up the air conditioning, peace lilies endure cold, dry environments better than most.

Because they love cool weather, keep Peace Lilies away from sunlight and safely in the shade. Just be careful with these popular office plants when your four-legged friends visit the office; dogs and cats can get sick if they ingest these beauties.

Another option is the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which can take a huge amount of abuse and still provide office greenery. This hardy office plant needs very little water and can endure long periods without watering.

For hard-working but forgetful employees, this plant may your best bet.

6) Office Plants that Respond Well to Care

Some people love to interact with their plants and attend to their needs. One lovely option is the Aglaonema, which boasts attractive, variegated leaves (green and white speckles).

These eye-catching office plants droop their leaves when they need watering (once a week) and perk up quickly with proper maintenance.

aglaonema-office-plantsIf you want a plant that lets you know how it’s feeling, this could be your new desktop companion!

You may have very little light in your office (or only a small window). Take care of your low-light indoor plants by rotating them into and out of what little natural light you have.

Keep interior lights on for 12 hours a day to give your office plants a boost – and even occasionally transfer plants from well-lit exterior windows to dim interior rooms.

7) Good Office Plants for Itinerant Employees

If you spend a lot of time out of the office and enjoy a sunny workspace, the Aloe Plant may be your best bet. These favorites live in the desert, so they can handle infrequent watering – as long as they have lots of light.

aloe-office-plantsIf your position requires consistent travel and you want an office plant that will be there when you get back, the Aloe Plant could be your best option.

Aloe plants famously heal damaged and irritated skin.

But, did you know they can absorb cleaning chemicals from the air in your office?

If you see brown spots on these office plants, know they’re doing their job by protecting you from harmful substances.

Use gentler cleaning agents around the office and see your Aloe Plants return to their original luster!

8) Air-Filtering Office Plants

Scientists at NASA found the English Ivy Plant does the best job of filtering chemicals from our air – and can even soak up dangerous formaldehyde (found in wallpaper, cosmetics, varnishes, paint, floor finishes, and chimney smoke).


This easy-to-maintain office plant looks great in hanging baskets and on pedestals. However, to thrive and protect your employees’ health, it needs moderate levels of sunlight and warmth.

The striking red and green Red-Edged Dracaena makes another great office plant.

This slow-growing but potentially large (8’ tall) creature removes benzene (found in synthetic fibers, plastic, detergents, and some dyes) from the environment. In a large room with moderate sunlight, this eye-catching office plant can make a big impression!

For bathroom beauty and air quality, choose Rhapis exelsa, commonly called the Broadleaf Lady Palm. (I have to mention here that English Ivy makes another great bathroom plant; it actually absorbs fecal particles from the air.)

These vibrant and radiant palms love humidity and low light, so they work well in restrooms, kitchens, etc. Broadleaf Lady Palms soak up the ammonia found in cleaners, making them a perfect addition to rooms that get regular attention from your cleaning staff.

Weeping Figs (part of the Ficus family) absorb many harmful chemicals.

However, these attractive green and white plants don’t grow well in drafty environments. Consider these potted shrubs for interior spaces like conference rooms and keep a close eye on your air conditioning levels.

9) A Plant for Tough Environments

The sturdy and popular Spider Plant makes an excellent hanging and pedestal office plant. Because Spider Plants can endure (and absorb) the formaldehyde and carbon monoxide found in vehicle exhaust, workers in garages and warehouses love these rugged and beautiful plants.

Known for the way their offspring hand down from shoots (giving them that arachnid look), these popular office plants even process the harmful xylene found in rust treatments and certain petroleum products.

10) Flowering Office Plants

In addition to Peace Lilies, bromeliads and African Violets bring much-needed color to bleak and boring office environments. These fuzzy little favorites blossom in the middle of Winter, just when your employees really need a pick-me-up.

A great number of bromeliads and dracaena combine color with hardiness, though they typically show it more in their leaves than their flowers.

Also, consider the Lady Slipper Orchid, an easier-to-care-for member of this notoriously finicky plant family.

Because it grows on the ground (not in trees), it doesn’t need as much special care. What’s more, it rewards its owners with large, appealing blossoms!

11) Unique Office Plants

Air plants aren’t the only good office plants for creative installations. Pistia stratiotes (commonly called Water Lettuce) grows without soil and floats in open jars, vases, and dishes. Use this little wonder to design miniature (or extensive) Zen water gardens.

Cacti and succulents can thrive very well in office spaces, provided they have enough sunlight.


If you have access to a south-facing window, consider the huge variety of desert plants available as office plants (including the Peruvian Apple Cactus and the Milk Cactus).

One of the best plants for office displays, Crassula ovata (the Jade Plant) can survive on less light than other succulents. Its dark green leaves utilize sunlight extremely well, making this low-maintenance plant a great choice for office environments.

12) Create a Forest of Office Plants


Indoor gardeners love Norfolk Pines, which can survive (and thrive) indoors throughout the year. If you want something a little wilder than a houseplant, consider one (or a forest) of these little beauties.

Luckily, Norfolk Pines don’t grow very quickly so you can decorate an office corner without having to prune back your office trees very often (or at all).

You can also enjoy the spreading vines of the Heart-Shaped Philodendron, which can spread out across office environments.


This air-cleaning plant needs moderate sunlight and water and can last many years with proper care. Hanging baskets of ivy can also bring a woodland vibe to your office and spread out charmingly over time.

13) Enjoy Office Plants Under Glass

Tiny terrariums make excellent desktop plants and fascinating conversation pieces.

These charming and often unobtrusive little worlds give employees welcome respite from the work environment. With a little care, these tiny wonders can fit into even the most Spartan workplaces.


Quality Time in the Office

No matter what office plants you pick, give your employees a little flexibility in caring for (and staring at) these little workplace companions.

Sure, you track your team members’ time carefully and aim to squeeze the greatest possible productivity from your workers.

However, giving them a little lee-way can make a big difference in long-term morale, retention, focus, and creativity.

Office plants provide a welcome respite from the busy workplace environment but don’t ask a lot in return. (Just imagine how much attention a workplace puppy would demand!)

By taking a little time to care for their plants, your employees are also caring for themselves.

Consider the many psychological, air quality, and productivity benefits of plants in the workplace – a greener office might just be the change you need!

October 26, 2017