5 Best Plants for the Office
By Rob Sproule
Office plants used to be considered a waste of productive space. Now we’re seeing how productive they really are. From air cleaners to mood lifters to straight out beauties, here are the best plants for your desk.
“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”
– Erma Bombeck
By now word has gotten out that plants in the office aren’t just for looks, and are far from a frivolous expense. A potted plant or two near your desk has tangible air cleaning, stress relieving, morale lifting benefits. But which plants are the right combination of space-savings, air cleaning, and beautiful? Here’s what I have in mind:
1. Spider Plant:
If I ran an office-based business I’d distribute spider plants like staplers. They’re impossible to kill, fit into the smallest spaces, and are air cleaning champions. We’re surrounded by airborne pollutants all day, from our printer’s offgassing to our Co-Worker’s smoky jacket.
Not only are spider plants one of the world’s best at pulling toxins from the air, they also decrease floating particulates like dust, helping to reduce allergy symptoms as they do. They’ll thrive with any kind of light, even a windowless room. You can neglect them, forget about them, and stuff them on your shelf to hold up your books, and they’ll still decrease overall stress and clean the air.
Succulents go into this list with two strikes against them: they aren’t significant air cleaners and they aren’t the easiest to take care of. But what they lack in these areas they make up for in sleek aesthetic satisfaction.
If you’re out of the office a lot or just plain neglect your desk plants, you’ve got a winner. Overwatering is the kiss of death; dribble only when the soil is dry to the touch. Fluorescent light alone won’t cut it in the long term. You’ll want a nearby window for ambient light; the more the better.
3. Lemon Balm:
So what is a strange little herb doing on a “best of” list? It’s not to eat it; Lemon Balm’s only culinary uses are for tea and desserts. It’s the smell. It’s strong lemony scent, made even stronger when you touch the leaves, will help improve your mood and lower your daily stress levels. It’s not quite aromatherapy, but it will help.
It’s tough as nails and easy to grow. It will tolerate bright light, low light, and that humming indoor light. It needs to be kept moist, but if you forget it will promptly wilt as it asks for a drink.
4. Peace Lily:
Another one of the world’s best air cleaners, Peace Lilies are slated to be taken on multi-year space explorations to help keep the air breathable. They remove more toxins than any other houseplant. You’ll want to grab a compact variety in a 4″ or 6″ pot and keep it on your desk. It’ll thrive and even bloom without a window to be seen.
Make sure to keep it well watered. Peace Lilies hate to dry out. Consider setting it on a pebble tray (a tray full of pebbles and water) to provide extra humidity. Dryness leads to brown tips, stress, and a reduction of air cleaning awesomeness.
5. African Violet:
This one is for those that dote and love flowers. African Violets are the classic long living, free blooming, desk top plant. It will become a sweetheart at your side and you’ll find yourself eagerly anticipating its blooms.
They clean the air, but not like spider plants or peace lilies. You’ll also want to dote on them more than the others on this list. Keep them slightly moist, being careful to water under the fuzzy leaves and not on top of them. You’ll need some ambient light, but not a sunny window. Brighter light brings more flowers; fertilize occasionally to keep the blooms coming.