You probably don't have time to fuss over your plants at work, but at the same time, it's so lovely to have something alive, organic and REAL beside you while you crunch numbers, plan projects, or soothe clients over the phone. Fear not the fluorescent lighting, your dark cubicle, artificial temps, or having only one wee spot to stick something small. Because these plants won't just survive in your office, they'll thrive.
When looking for an office plant, go for something low-maintenance that can withstand low light conditions, blasts of heat and cold air (depending on the season), and some benign neglect. Because, even with the best intentions, it's possible you'll forget them for a week or so when you're up against a deadline.
Work in a Dark Cubicle?
If you have a cubicle, you might get little natural light or rely on artificial fluorescents overhead. Try one of these low-light tolerant plants on for size:
ZZ Plants: These hardy glossy green beauties can survive low light levels, even in a dim cubicle. They are also drought-tolerant, thanks to large succulent rhizomes located underneath the surface of the soil that store water for the plant during times of drought (aka, plant neglect).
Peace Lilies: Peace lilies are vibrant and lovely, with verdant leaves that grace any indoor space with a touch of life. They like indirect light and shade, making them ideal for indoor environments —especially offices with fluorescent lights and no windows.
Snake Plants: Also know as mother-in-law's tongue, sansevieria have become increasingly popular, and rightly so. With their striking lines and hardiness, they're the houseplants even black thumbs can show off. As a bonus: they also act as air purifiers to improve your office's air quality.
Dracaena: It's hard to go wrong with these plants. Their spiky, tropical foliage comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and patterns — with variegated leaves or splashes of alternate color — and are great options as indoor plants for artificial light areas.
Deal with Fluctuating Temps?
In the summer, the A/C unit in your office is pumping and your office is freezing. In the winter, when the heat is on, the air is dry. Look for versatile plants that can handle a range of temps, like these:
Cast Iron Plant: The cast iron plant is named for its ability to survive almost anything. If you're looking for low-maintenance greenery that can survive low light, low humidity, irregular watering, and temperature fluctuation, the cast iron plant is THE plant for you.
Pothos: These super easy plants do well most anywhere, and are great tucked high on a shelf with cascading leaves. Look for pale leaves to determine if they are getting too much light, and water them when they start to look a little wilty. These guys are notoriously difficult to kill.
Rubber Plant: If you are looking for a new plant hero to transform your office, without demanding too much of your time, consider one of these dark green rock stars. You can either keep them on the smaller side, or encourage them to grow into beautiful indoor trees. They can grow to impressive heights within a few years.
Heart-Shaped Philodendron: One of the many varieties of this durable plant, it may just be the easiest to care for, as its popularity shows. It does well in a wide range of lighting conditions and temperatures, from low to bright light and from 60 - 80 degrees. Just let the surface of the soil dry between watering —these plants don't like to be wet.
Chinese Money Plant: The best situation for these interesting looking plants is bright light, but no direct sunlight. (Direct sun scorches leaves, and light shade may encourage larger leaves.) They're said to be hardy down to freezing, and a period of cool temperatures may even make them more likely to produce their tiny white flowers on pink stems.
Or Only Have a Small Windowsill to Spare?
Jade Plants: These cheery little succulents are fun to look at and easy to grow, which makes them a great plant for beginner growers. They love sunny windowsills, even in small spaces. There are also ton of varieties that all look quite different from each other, so there's lots to choose from.
Aloe Plants: Think of all the paper cuts you can heal when you have an aloe vera plant around the office. Some varieties of this pointy succulent can grow three feet high, but the aloe vera works great in small, sunny indoor spaces.
Donkey Tails: These very cool, sculptural plants have plump braid-like leaves, and cascade over the edge of their containers. As a rule, they like bright shade or partial sun, and water about every two weeks. They are also extremely easy to propagate, so if one tail falls off, stick it back in some soil and it should take root again.
Cacti: Most cacti need bright, although not direct sun. Too much can sunburn the plant; too little leads to weak growth. When the soil's dried out completely, it's time to water. The general rule is once a week during the hot months, barely at all during the winter.
English Ivy: This fast-growing climber is relatively easy to care for, and looks great either hanging or dangling its vines from a sill. Direct summer sun from a south-facing window can lead to leaf burn, however, so indirect light is best. It will, however attach itself to walls, so you might want to give it something to climb up, topiary-style.