The 5 Best Plants for Your Office (and How to Keep Them Alive!)

After a slow start to spring (the image of snow flurries still lingers in my head) we have officially hit warmer weather which makes this the perfect time to start talking about planting. Holding the unofficial title of ISCG’s office gardener, I have the responsibility of keeping the plants around the office looking their best. This, at times, is no small feat! We have had some casualties, but along the way I have gained a better understanding of what works. Before you take off running to the garden shop, let’s review a few things first.

Be wary of flowering plants. Although they look lovely, most flowering plants need ample sunlight to grow. Unless you have a front row window seat, the chances of keeping one surviving at your desk are not in your favor. Another turnoff to flowering plants is the potential for allergies. The same pollen that causes havoc in the spring could be making your office neighbors teary-eyed. Be mindful of your coworkers especially if allergies or perfume/floral smells bother them.

Don’t over- (or under) water your plant. Drooping leaves are a sure sign your plant is due for a drink, but overwatering can be a problem too. Being too heavy handed when watering can kill your plant as the roots are unable to breathe – think of it as drowning the plant. Additionally, a consistently moist environment is the perfect place for mold to grow. Without sunlight or wind to help facilitate water dispersion, an indoor plant will generally hold its damp soil far longer than if it were outside. Every environment is different, so it is always a good idea to check the soil dampness first before watering.

Along this same line of thought, it’s always best to start off with a pot that has drainage holes. This gives the soil a chance to dry out between watering and promotes a healthy root system. If you accidentally overwater the plant, there is much more forgiveness with a pot that can drain excess water.

Boston Fern

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There are many different types of fern plants out there, but we have had great success with this variety. Fern’s generally enjoy humid environments, but our fern does so well people question if it is real. During the dry winter months, our office feels anything but a rainforest, yet a weekly dousing is all that’s needed to keep our fern happy and green. Locating the plant away from direct sunlight will also help it thrive which makes it an excellent choice for adding greenery in areas away from windows.

Orchid

I know I warned against flowering plants, but this one is so easy to maintain and gives off no scent, so it makes my list. Orchid’s bloom for approximately four months at a time and our plant has been in a constant bloom cycle for about a year now and still looks gorgeous. Unlike most flowering plants, more orchids die from overwatering than underwatering, so hold back on the watering can. It does need sunlight to blossom so find a sunny window sill for it to reach full potential.

Succulents

The go-to for any office that wants to add a touch of greenery without much work. Succulents come in so many different shapes, sizes, and looks you are sure to find one that calls to you. Their compact, meaty stems and leaves help them hold water – in fact, cacti are a type of succulent. Their small stature makes them an excellent choice if you are looking to green up your desk but lack space. As an added bonus, they are excellent at cleaning the air and removing toxins.

Pothos

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If you have a bit more room and are looking for a plant that waterfalls, here is your answer. The many different varieties perform well in low to medium light and need water only 7 to 10 days. Their claim to fame may be their excellent air cleansing ability which is essential for offices where toxins hibernate. A NASA study found golden pothos removed up to 73% of pollutants from a sealed chamber making this a very healthy choice.

ZZ Plant

Walk into any building atrium and you will likely be greeted by a ZZ plant. The thick waxy leaf may have you doing a double take to determine if it is real, but make no mistake, this greenery has become one of the most popular indoor plants. Native to Africa, this slow growing plant can reach a spread of 2-4 feet, however pruning and dim light levels can help wrangle it in. The ZZ plant tolerates low light conditions well and needs only infrequent watering. As one reviewer put, “it thrives on neglect”.