Upgrade your office space with a splash of green. Verdant houseplants deliver delight to indoor environments despite the challenges of artificial lighting and dry indoor air.
A little bit of nature in your cubicle has benefits beyond beauty. In addition to good looks, hard-working houseplants trap and absorb up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds found in ordinary household items such as cleaning products, carpet and ink. And many houseplants grow easily and last for years with minimal care.
Offices are surprisingly adaptable to houseplants, says Justin Hancock, horticulturist and houseplant expert at Costa Farms. Houseplants don’t care if the light they get is natural from the sun or artificial from fluorescent light bulbs. If your office is light enough for you to comfortably read a magazine or book, there’s enough light to keep a houseplant happy.
Here’s a selection of 10 of our favorite office plants, from A to Z:
1. Aglaonema and Red Aglaonema. This low-maintenance plant can handle a little bit of neglect. Because of its relatively low water needs, aglaonema is really forgiving if you get busy and forget about it for a couple of weeks. Red aglaonema is just like regular aglaonema but in fun colors such as red, pink, chartreuse and white.
2. Dracaena. Deep green sword-like foliage in sizes from small to large make dracaena a popular choice for the desktop or a corner of your cubicle. Water dracaena when the soil feels dry, and fertilize about two times a year with a general purpose houseplant fertilizer.
3. Fittonia. A petite beauty with bright pink, red or white veins, fittonia (also called nerve plant) is ideal for adding color to your desk. Fittonia can handle low light, but appreciates regular drinks of water.
4. Ivy (Hedera Helix). This traditional houseplant is an oldie, but a goodie. It grows practically anywhere, and appreciates the cooler temperatures found in many offices. Grow ivy in a hanging basket or let the vines trail over the sides of a pot.
5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). If your office space includes windows with bright indirect light, you may get peace lily to bloom. Otherwise, the glossy, thick foliage will fill in corners of your office.
6. Philodendron and Pothos. These two trendy plants are enjoying their moment in the spotlight, but they’re often confused for each other. Vining forms of philodendron have heart-shape leaves that form on slender, flexible stems.
Pothos has larger, waxy leaves, often with gold, white, or yellow markings. Common varieties include ‘Marble Queen,’ ‘Neon,’ and ‘Pearls and Jade.’
7. Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea). Perky ponytail palm is so low maintenance, it will grow practically anywhere. If you have the kind of job where you need to focus on your next tropical vacation to get through the week, ponytail palm is for you.
8. Sansevieria (Snake Plant). This otherwise indestructible plant comes with just one word of caution: don’t overwater. In fact, you may find yourself dusting the rigid striped stems more often than you water the plant. Snake plant’s architectural shape makes it a natural choice for sleek, modern offices.
9. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum). Easy to grow and a good air purifier, keep spider plant on your desk or hang it nearby to enjoy its texture. It’s another “easy to share” favorite; just pinch off the “babies” that form on the ends and plant in a container filled with potting mix.
10. Zamioculcas (ZZ Plant). Like sansevieria, ZZ plant is indestructible as long as you don’t love it too much by overwatering. Focus on work and ZZ will do its part, purifying their air and staying green.
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