A greater number of businesses across the UK are making the most of office plants as part of their interior decor and design. We also completely understand if you want to get a trend started in your own office, but have never had a lot of time or experience with plants.
That’s why we’ve provided this helpful beginner’s guide on office plants, offering you a look at some of the best green additions to get you started and the benefits they can bring to your place of work.
Written by Theo Kingshott
What are Office Plants?
Office plants are, essentially, the same as house plants, only they’re for an indoor working area rather than somewhere residential. They’re mainly used for decorative purposes and “brightening up” work spaces, but many studies have shown that they can also offer psychological and environmental benefits.
What are the Best Office Plants to Keep?
Technically speaking, there is no such thing as the “best office plant”; there are only the best plants for your particular office space, your personal preference and your own gardening ability. Your own taste and personal preferences will probably play a part in determining which one you choose as well.
Unless you have something of a green thumb, or plan on taking your plant home to look after it out of office hours, you will most likely want something small and easy to care for. These kinds of plants typically make great additions to office desks, providing a splash of colour in what can sometimes be a very neutral-toned space and personalising your working area.
If you know that you’d prefer something big (or that can grow to a bigger size) to bring a touch of life to an empty corner in a room, or your office decor calls for touches of green, there are also larger species available. We’ve listed some separately below so you can start to think about the plant type you want, whether you’ve been imagining having something small for your own workspace, or need something that suits your wider workplace design:
5 Good Office Desk Plants for Beginners
Any plant expert will tell you that if you’re a novice, you should begin your plant collection with a cactus. As they’re most commonly found in harsh environments (like the dry deserts we’re all familiar with) they store a lot of water, which means they can withstand some neglect if you happen to forget to water them yourself. You should only need to water them once a week in the spring and once every three weeks or so in the autumn and winter.
Cacti also thrive in natural light, so they’ll be in their best position for easy care if you have an office desk by a window.
Like cacti, succulents are brilliant at storing water, need a weekly watering at most, and live and grow best in a lot of natural light. You’ll also know if they’re not getting enough light ‒ succulents will grow out of their normally small, squat shape into taller versions with smaller leaves if they have to search for sunlight.
Because they come from environments with less rain than the UK, succulents also tend to prefer dry air. This means you should keep them out of rooms that you know can get humid, or see a lot of steam, like bathrooms or kitchens.
Also known as Pothos (even though that’s actually a different kind of plant entirely), this evergreen vine is quite adaptable and will happily sit in both low and brighter light levels. They’ll need weekly watering when half the soil is dry in warmer months, but this can be reduced to once a month when all the soil is dry in the cold weather we normally expect in the winter.
The best thing about keeping Devil’s Ivy is that you will be able to tell when it is in desperate need of water, because the plant very visibly wilts. Even then you will still have some time before it absolutely needs water, and it’s difficult for any damage to occur from the plant not being watered enough.
Aloe vera makes a great plant if you’re only just starting out and learning more about plant care. They’re easy to keep if you put them in a soil and pot that both drain well, and they’ll only need to be watered every week or fortnight. You can soak them for longer in the summer, but you’ll need to make sure the soil has dried out completely between waterings in warmer months to prevent root rot.
Because of all of this, it’s actually better to under-water your aloe vera, rather than over-water it and risk damaging the plant! They also prefer indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight will turn the leaves brown.
You might also see these called a “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “snake plant”, and you’ll find them fantastically easy to care for, no matter what type of office arrangement you have. Sansevieria make great indoor plants in a range of work environments, as they can survive low light levels or a large amount of sun exposure, and are happy with infrequent watering.
They can actually go up to a month without you having to water them yourself, so they won’t take up too much time in a busy work schedule. They’re also rather slow-growing, so they should last a long time in the same pot.
5 Good Office Plants for a Larger Office Space
Shortened to the “ZZ plant”, these hardy specimens can handle bright, moderate, and low levels of light, so they’ll be great for corners in corridors and empty spaces around your office. They’ve also got large stalks and roots that store an enormous amount of water, so they’ll only need infrequent watering from you. If the leaves start falling off, that’s a good indication that you’ll need to get the watering can out.
ZZ plants also don’t need a lot of fertiliser to grow, so you won’t have to worry about spending your company budget on a large number of bags every year.
These little trees, particularly ficus benjamina (also called a weeping fig tree), are great for office spaces that offer large amounts of natural and filtered light. Because they typically come from hot countries, many varieties also prefer several days of dry soil before you think of watering them, so you won’t have to worry if you’ve forgotten to go around the office and top up the soil for them again.
The only thing to remember is that ficuses tend to be harmed by cold drafts, so keeping them away from windows and doors will keep them in their best condition.
Also known as “aglos” or “Chinese evergreens”, these popular plants take their name from two Greek words: “alaos”, meaning “bright”, and “nama”, meaning “filament” or “thread”. This name refers to the striking stamens produced within the flowers, and while the plants are usually deep green overall they often come with traces of silver or red. These vibrant features make them ideal if you want to add some personality and colour to your decor.
You will need to water your own aglaonemas when the top half of the soil they’re planted in is dry, no matter which type you choose for your office space. Different types, however, require different levels of light, so you may need to check for a label or with your local gardening centre for advice about where to keep yours.
These plants have been popular ever since their discovery in South America in the late 1800s, and are particularly ideal for office reception areas, where they can be used in large displays with other plant species. They’ll even maintain their sleek, glossy appearance in shaded areas, so you won’t have to think about moving them around so that they catch as much light as possible.
Philodendrons also prefer a low humidity and temperatures of around 18 to 20°C, so keeping them out of the cold is highly recommended if you want them to stay healthy.
These plants may seem difficult to care for at first, and will require some maintenance while you wait for them to bloom, but after this has happened you will only need to return to water them once in a while. Bromeliads don’t require a lot of fertiliser to be kept in their best condition, so as long as you keep them watered once a week in a pot that drains well, you should have a colourful decorative feature for your office space for a long time to come.
Generally, the rule around the lighting you’ll need for a bromeliad is determined by the kind of leaves they have. This means if they have hard leaves, they’ll need “hard” light, meaning stronger natural daylight, whereas bromeliads with soft leaves will need it “soft”, or at lower levels of light.
What are the Best Plants for an Office with No Windows?
Having no windows in your office can often present a number of difficulties, including the fact that it can make it more difficult to keep indoor office plants.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to keep plants for your desk or the wider office area if you don’t get a lot of light in your place of work. Many of the plants we’ve already mentioned can withstand low levels of light and still live and look decorative, so even if you only have skylights, or most of your light comes through when the door is opened, you can still have the living office decor to suit you.
We’ve also provided two more suggestions for plants if your office has no windows below. The first is a desk plant, while the other will make a beautiful, elegant floor feature in any room’s corner, or even next to your furniture.
These plants not only flourish in indirect light (making them perfect for an office with no windows), they also prefer for the soil to drain and dry out before you water them again. This makes them one of the easiest and most adaptable plants to take care of, and you should find that they are unlikely to suffer any great amount of damage (apart from the occasional brown tip on a leaf).
Spider plants also tend to be happier in temperatures ranging from 13 to 18°C, so they’ll be able to thrive even if your office is cooler than many places.
Dracaena Janet Craigs
As a tall, hardy, slow-growing plant, Janet Craig is an excellent addition to any shady office corner with a source of indirect light. They don’t need any extra humidity to grow well, even if they do prefer higher humidity and will need an occasional misting, and they can tolerate temperatures as low as 12°C for short periods of time but do best in temperatures between 16 and 24°C.
You’ll know the time has come to water your Janet Craig when the soil in the top of its pot has started to dry out, and you should be sure to drain the plant thoroughly every time it gets watered. Applying a weak dose of fertiliser once or twice a month should help to keep it healthy.
What are the Benefits of Plants in the Office?
There have been many different studies on the matter, and each has proved that having plants around your office space offers a range of benefits to you and your workers.
We’ve listed these benefits below, so you can consider how having standing and desk plants for your workspace might be better for your company, its culture, and the people you see every day:
They help to reduce stress, with a study on the matter reporting a 37% fall in tension and anxiety, a 58% drop in depression, a 44% decrease in anger and hostility, and a 38% reduction in fatigue.
They help to increase productivity through increased concentration, which is a result of psychological engagement.
This psychological engagement can also lead to a boost in creativity and relaxation amongst employees.
They absorb carbon dioxide, therefore cleaning the airspace in an office environment.
They also absorb sound, reducing noise pollution in workspaces.
They make workspaces more attractive to prospective employees, as there has been an increase in popularity for workplace design that has been inspired by nature (biophilic design). In turn, workplace design is routinely held as one of the factors that determine whether or not a person decides to join a company.
They help to reduce sickness and absence rates, and generally increase wellbeing.
Getting the chance to water or tend to plants may be therapeutic for you, or for your team.
They can increase job satisfaction and overall commitment to an organisation.
They add a stylish element to your office design, which some may find more satisfying overall.
Are There Disadvantages to Having Plants in the Office?
While there are many benefits to keeping plants, there are also some difficulties that you may wish to solve, or to make sure you are bearing in mind, before you choose any for your office:
You may wish to avoid or limit the number of flowering plants because these may be bad for employees with hay fever ‒ something many people suffer from in the UK.
Some plants may also cause skin reactions, so you may have to research which plants you want to have in your office carefully.
Some plants are also toxic to cats or dogs, so you will have to research and find out which plants you can safely keep if you have office pets.
Choose Your Ideal Office Space with Us
If you’re in need of a new, luxurious office space that can be quickly transformed and made ready for your company to move in, contact Halkin right away. When you choose to partner with us to find your perfect address, you’ll gain access to a portfolio of boutique-style serviced offices that can easily be made over to suit the style and values of your very own business. You’ll even be able to decorate your office desks as you wish, with as many plants as you like.
These offices are all offered on permanent and semi-permanent flexible tenancies, so you’ll always have the opportunity to move and change your location to somewhere larger as your team expands, should this be needed. There won’t be any hidden costs or charges involved in our partnership, either, so you will always know exactly what you are paying for with our service on side.
Get in touch with us and let’s get your team (and its plants) settled in an office space that suits you best.