Having some plants in the office comes with multifold benefits, from stress reduction and cleaner air to sharper focus and higher productivity, all backed by science. In other words, office plants are a huge win-win for both employees and employers.
But what keeps offices from investing in more greenery? Many office dwellers are brown thumbs by design, so green living things usually don’t have a bright future ahead around them.
That’s why we handpicked the absolute best office plants for the rough conditions in an office to help change that. Some of these beauties can go for months without a drop of water. Pick out your favorite!
1. Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)
The nerve plant is one of the best office plants for low light conditions. This plant easily thrives in dimly lit rooms or even on a windowsill as long as the light is filtered. In direct sunlight, the delicate nerve plant may wither, and its leaves may burn. Since it is a tropical plant, this eye-catching houseplant loves plenty of humidity, so water the plant as soon as you notice the upper layer of the soil getting dry.
Other Names:Fittonia, painted net leaf, mosaic plant, silver net leaf
Native to:South American rain forest
Light Requirements:Low to medium light, indirect sunlight
Water Requirements:Soil should stay moist but not soggy
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize at least a couple of times per year
2. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos is an incredibly low maintenance houseplant that also goes by the name of the devil’s ivy because of its high toxicity, especially for pets and kids. It makes a great addition to any office as it thrives in indirect lighting conditions, it adapts to low light settings, and it makes a great natural air purifier. A NASA experiment has shown that golden pothos is one of the most proficient household plants at removing formaldehyde and other extremely toxic indoor pollutants from the air.
Other Names:Money plant, golden pothos, taro vine, silver vine, devil’s ivy
Native to:Southeastern Asia
Light Requirements:Low to medium light, including fluorescent light
Water Requirements:Supports infrequent watering
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize at least a couple of times per year
3. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
The Chinese evergreen is a great air purifier as well, according to the said NASA experiment. It also makes a great household plant for absolute beginners or for people that are too busy to pay too much attention to it, like your regular office dweller. This plant impresses with its patterned deep green foliage. In Chinese culture, the Aglaonema is a symbol of longevity.
Other Names:Aglaonema, the Philippine evergreen
Native to:Sub-tropical regions of Asia
Light Requirements:Very low to medium light, including fluorescent light
Water Requirements:Doesn’t need too much watering
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize at least once a year (preferably in spring)
4. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)
The peace lily comes with a prolific deep green foliage and eye-catching white flowers. This plant thrives in office conditions like no other, but in order to enjoy its blooms, make sure that it is placed in a bright room or a spot with indirect sunlight. Also, peace lilies may not like the chemicals in tap water, so it is best to use filtered water instead. This low-maintenance plant is a great air purifier and humidifier which makes it a great addition to offices, especially in dry climates.
Light Requirements:Bright rooms but no direct sunlight
Water RequirementsNeeds moist soil and humidity; sensitive to tap water
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize at least twice a year
5. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
This Ficus plant with its long pointy leaves and slender trunk is a very decorative addition to any office and indoor space. The weeping fig is one of the best office plants because it is low maintenance, it is simple but elegant, and it is highly effective at removing harmful air pollutants such as formaldehyde xylene, and toluene.
There’s also a bonsai-like variety which we recommend for small offices and a small tree-like variety, which is great for larger spaces. The only drawback of this beautiful plant is that it doesn’t like to be moved around at all. It may start to shed leaves if disturbed, but it should rebound quickly.
Other Names:Benjamin fig, ficus tree
Native to:India and northern Australia
Light Requirements:Bright settings with some shade; doesn’t like lighting fluctuations
Water Requirements:Needs moist soil; filtered water recommended
Fertilization Needs:: Fertilize lightly every month from April to September
6. The Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The Snake Plant is one of those office plants that is anecdotally hard to kill. The plant can easily survive up to one month with no water. It can adapt to both low light and direct light and thrives in dry air conditions unlike any other, which will make it one of the most resilient plants in your office. Its name was inspired by its silvery green leaves adorned with dark green stripes. It comes in many varieties, but the most popular ones are the Sansevieria laurentii (pictured above) and the Sansevieria zeylanica.
Other Names:Sansevieria, bowstrings hemp, mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George's sword
Native to:Tropical West Africa and Asia
Light Requirements:Natural light (best), artificial light
Water Requirements:Thrives on moderate watering; water once a month in winter
Fertilizer Needs:Use diluted fertilizers monthly in the spring and summer
7. The Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Here’s another office plant that can take plenty of neglect and abuse like a champ. The cast iron plant can survive nearly anything from very low light conditions and scarce watering to depleted soils and abrupt temperature variations. This low-maintenance beauty from the lily family literally thrives on neglect so it makes the perfect choice for any black thumb in a dimly lit office. If it doesn’t die in an accident, the cast iron plant can reach up to 2 feet high.
Other Names:Bar-room plant
Native to:China, Japan, and Taiwan
Light Requirements:Low to bright indirect light, semi-shade, no direct sun
Water Requirements:Water sparingly, allow half of the soil to dry out first
Fertilization Needs:Occasional feedings in spring and summer
8. The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
Meet the uncrowned ‘king of the indestructible plants.’ The Zamioculcas zamiifolia can survive for months without water, feels comfortable in super dry conditions, and doesn’t seem to be bothered by low light one bit. It is believed that it can survive up to four months with no water. What’s more, the Zamioculcas zamiifolia somehow manages to still look pretty and glossy after tons of abuse and neglect, which makes it one of the greatest office plants out there.
Other Names:The eternity plant, Zuzu plant, aroid palm, Zanzibar gem, succulent philodendron, golden tree
Native to:East Africa
Light Requirements:Moderate light to thrive; low light to survive; no direct sun
Water Requirements:Just like other succulents, it thrives on less water
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize very lightly once a year, in the summer
9. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a low maintenance but versatile plant to have in your office. It thrives in bright but indirect light and needs very little watering.
The aloe gel in the leaves has been known for its medicinal properties since time immemorial. The gel is a quick fix for minor burns and paper cuts and can be ingested diluted in a glass of water to alleviate abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms.
Aloe vera is also a great air purifier, getting small spaces rid of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene in a safe and natural way. As an added bonus, aloe vera is a very prolific plant as it occasionally sprouts babies which can be re-potted and further multiplied.
Check out our related article: 15 Types of Aloe for the Succulent Fanatic.
Other Names:Acemannan, Aloe barbadensis, Aloe Africana, Burn Aloe, Indian Aloe, Chinese Aloe, First Aid Plant
Native to:North Africa
Light Requirements:Direct sun, filtered light
Water Requirements:Water every 2 to 3 weeks; don’t let plant sit in water
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize once a year in spring (optional)
10. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Get a Lucky Bamboo for your office if you want an interesting and easy-to-care-for plant that thrives in shady corners. Despite its name, the lucky bamboo is not a genuine bamboo plant even though it may look like one. It is a dracaena plant that has been thought to bring happiness, longevity, and prosperity for thousands of years in China.
Lucky bamboo grows both in soil and in water, but it is best kept in soil. It is an ideal plant for offices without an excess of natural light. Lucky Bamboo belongs to the hardiness growing zones of 10–11. (Related read: USDA Hardiness Zones for Plants and Edible Gardens)
Other Names:Ribbon plant, ribbon Dracaena, Chinese water bamboo, curly bamboo, Sander's dracaena, Belgian evergreen
Native to:Southeast Asia
Light Requirements:Bright, indirect sunlight and artificial light to thrive; low light to survive
Water Requirements:Water lightly every 7 to 10 days
Fertilization Needs:Use diluted general purpose fertilizer every couple of months
11. Lemon Lime Dracaena
The lemon lime dracaena is a splash of color with its green and bright yellow striped leaves that can easily thrive in a low-lit corner. It also goes by the name of ‘corn plant’ due to its foliage that is very similar to a cornstalk. The lemon lime dracaena doesn’t need a lot of love and attention to grow and makes an excellent air purifier according to NASA researchers, which makes it an ideal denizen of a busy workspace.
Other Names:Lemon lime, corn plant, lemon lime Warneckii.
Native to:North Africa
Light Requirements:Medium light, indirect sun
Water Requirements:Water after the 1” -2” deep upper layer of soil has completely dried out
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize once to twice a year in spring and/or summer
12. The Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
The Prayer Plant is another interesting office plant, with velvety dark green, purple and reddish leaves that fold themselves shut at dusk as if the plant were praying. It is also known as the Ten Commandments plant after the ten dark green stripes on each leaf on some varieties. This plant doesn’t like direct sunlight and can put up to a lot of neglect, which makes it ideal for low-light offices. It may produce small white or purplish flowers, but don’t expect anything spectacular.
Other Names:Ten Commandments plant, Maranta, Calathea
Native to:The rainforests of Brazil
Light Requirements:Bright indirect sunlight or low light (leaf color is more vibrant in low light)
Water Requirements:Keep soil moist but not drenched
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize lightly in spring and/or summer
13. Butterfly Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
This exotic plant with showy arching fronds and beautiful narrow leaves is a showstopper in any large indoor space. The butterfly palm (pictured left) can reach heights of up to 8 feet and will thrive in warm and bright conditions. It also makes a great air purifier, as it releases oxygen and feasts on harmful air pollutants. It makes a great statement plant in an office if well cared for.
Other Names:Areca palm, yellow palm, golden cane palm
Light Requirements:Bright, indirect sunlight
Water Requirements:Water frequently
Fertilization Needs:Use slow-release fertilizer in spring and summer
Cacti are the most popular succulents in the nation’s offices. There’s hardly any work-space without a cactus in it. Cacti are easy to care for, can go weeks without water, and thrive in seriously dry conditions. What’s more, the humble cactus is believed to feed on harmful EMF radiation coming from electronic devices, such as computers and mobile phones, and nearby cell towers, which makes it a great ally in cancer prevention. (Related read: How to Care for Succulents and Cacti Indoors)
Other Names:It depends on the type of cactus
Light Requirements:Direct sunlight exposure daily (about 3-4 hours max)
Water Requirements:Once a week (soil needs to be well-drained)
Fertilization Needs:Use fertilizer high in phosphorus three times per year in spring and summer
15. Jade Plant
Just like cacti, the Jade Plant is a great water retaining plant as it stores water in its round, waxy leaves and goes dormant if there’s too much time between drinks. The Jade Plant is one of the best office plants because it is low maintenance, is highly decorative due to its mini-tree shape, and extremely low maintenance. It also goes by the name money plant or money tree but not because money grows on this mini tree; rather it is believed to bring prosperity to its owners as it is a worldwide symbol of growth and renewal.
Other Names:Money plant, lucky plant, money tree
Native to:South Africa and Mozambique
Light Requirements:Direct sunlight (at least 4 hours per day) and shade
Water Requirements:Once every 2-3 weeks (don't let the soil completely dry out)
Fertilization Needs:Use high-nitrogen, water soluble fertilizers that are designed for African violets
16. The Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
The Rubber Plant is a low maintenance perennial but it can grow quite tall, so make sure that you have plenty of space in your office for this looker. With its large glossy dark green leaves and elegant figure, the rubber plant can easily morph into a statement plant in any decently sized office with low light conditions. This tough guy can thrive in the shade. Rubber plants are also one of the best office plants for their air-purifying properties since their large leaves are excellent at capturing toxic airborne particles and rendering them harmless.
Other Names:Ficus, rubber tree
Native to:India and eastern Asia
Light Requirements:Bright but filtered sunlight
Water Requirements:Water occasionally; spray leaves in very dry conditions
Fertilization Needs:Use fertilizer in summer only
This shade-loving plant is the perfect inhabitant of an office’s shady corners. Oxalis comes in hundreds of species, but the Oxalis Triangularis is one of the family’s shining stars. It is very similar to clover and it stands out because its beautiful burgundy leaves shut down when there’s too much sunlight coming their way. The Oxalis Triangularis is a low maintenance but forgiving household plant that’s a joy to look at and care for.
Other Names:False shamrock plant, purple Shamrock, burgundy shamrock
Native to:South America
Light Requirements:Low to medium light, filtered sunlight
Water Requirements:Water lightly once every other week
Fertilization Needs:Light fertilization monthly (optional)
18. The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are adaptable, durable, and can withstand some serious mistreatment. Plus, they multiply like crazies as they grow ultra fast and churn out lots of hanging pot-ready babies while at it. They like bright light, but they can adapt to low light conditions and artificial lighting as well. They prefer a hanging basket, but you could try keeping one in a highly decorative pot as well for a splash of curly greenery on your desk.
Other Names:Airplane plant, spider ivy, and hen and chickens, St. Bernard's lily, ribbon plant
Native to:South Africa
Light Requirements:Bright indirect sunlight; semi-shade
Water Requirements:Water every 10 to 14 days
Fertilization Needs:General purpose, slow-release fertilizer every now and then
19. The Zebra Cactus (Haworthia fasciata)
This delicate tiny decorative plant looks like a miniature aloe minus the healing properties. It is called the Zebra Cactus after the white stripes and wart-like tubercles dotting its fleshy dark green leaves. The Zebra cactus is an almost-no-maintenance succulent that is ideal for small spaces such as office desks and windowsills. Just like any other succulent, Haworthia’s only arch nemesis is overwatering so make sure that it gets plenty of drainage.
Other Names:Haworthia, African pearl plant, cushion aloe
Native to:Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
Light Requirements:Bright but indirect light
Water Requirements:Water sparingly, unless office air is excessively dry
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize monthly when actively growing
20. Ponytail Palm Tree (Beaucarnea recurvata)
The Ponytail Palm Tree is a strange-looking bonsai tree-like succulent that is virtually indestructible. This plant can go without water for up to a month and can survive some really harsh conditions. The secret to its hardiness is the bizarre looking bulb at the base of its trunk which acts like a reservoir just in case a dry spell or a forgetful caregiver might pop up. Unlike other succulents, the Ponytail decided to store the extra moisture in a bulb-like structure rather than in a set of fleshy leaves. This stunning plant is also known as the Elephant Foot Tree because of its elephant foot-shaped emergency ‘water tank.’
Other Names:Beaucarnea, elephant's foot tree, bottle palm tree
Native to:Southeastern Mexico
Light Requirements:Bright light to thrive; low light to survive
Water requirements:Water occasionally but deeply; don't let the plant sit in water
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize only 2-3 times per year
21. The Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
A Swiss Cheese Plant will give any indoor space a big visual push when around. It is the perfect plant for offices because it can go weeks without water, needs no special care, and looks stunning without much effort. Its name is related to the trademark slits on its leaves which resemble the holes in Swiss Cheese (or at least, they did look like it to a very hungry botanist.) This plant is notoriously hard to kill, so it is great to have around busy and forgetful office workers.
Other names:Monstera, Mexican breadfruit
Native to:Rainforests in Southern Mexico to Panama
Light Requirements:Moderate to bright, indirect sunlight
Water Requirements:Water regularly until soil is lightly moist
Fertilization Needs:Fertilize with diluted liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer
Here are 21 of the best office plants that will help liven up even some of the dullest work spaces imaginable. When looking for a great plant for the office, you should be aiming at low-maintenance greenery that can withstand a fairly decent level of abuse and mistreatment and that can go without water for at least a week or two.
We hope you have enjoyed our list. If you have any other great office plants on your mind that we have missed, drop us a line in the comments section below.