10 Best Office Plants to Brighten Your Workday

overhead shot of work desk with laptop surrounded by green houseplants near window

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

The addition of plants can improve the look and feel of any location—including offices. While many office spaces aren’t flooded with natural light, there are several plant species that can thrive in low light environments with a bit of indirect or fluorescent lighting. Whether you’re looking to cheer up your cubicle or help keep the air clean, adding a plant or two is the way to go.

Here are the 10 of the best office plants to brighten your workday.

Warning

Some of the plants on this list are toxic for pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 10

Purple Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis)

overhead shot of hand gently touching purple oxalis plant in coffee cup

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Oxalis plants will really brighten an office. Members of the wood sorrel family, oxalis can be found with leaves of all colors, but the deep purple leaves of the purple shamrock, or false shamrock, are particularly unusual and attractive. Under the right conditions, the purple shamrock will often have a mass of little white or pink flowers waving around over the leaves.

The triangular-shaped leaves fold up at night, which you can take as a gentle reminder to call it a day.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light:  Bright indirect sunlight.
  • Water: Allow the surface of the plant to dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Loamy potting mix with good drainage.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
2
of 10

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

overhead shot of person with cup of tea and small jade plant on work desk

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Jade plants are succulents that do well in an office environment. They have pretty, plump, shiny leaves and a minimalist aspect to them as they grow. Jade plants won't drape over the sides of your pot, so they are one plant that should be placed in a pretty container, because it will be visible. 

They grow slowly and do fine in moderate light (including standard office lights). As a succulent, jade plants do not require a lot of water; in fact, the plant will suffer from too much H2O. They propagate easily—a single leaf or stem can yield a new plant—so they’re a great plant to share with others in the office.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright indirect light or partial shade to full sun.
  • Water:  Water thoroughly; allow top of plant to dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Well-draining, slightly acidic.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
3
of 10

Umbrella Plant (Schefflera spp.)

angled shot of green umbrella plant in wicker pot with laptop behind it

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Two varieties of umbrella plants are suitable for indoor settings: the dwarf schefflera and the schefflera tree. Their modest leaves form delicate umbrellalike shapes. The plants are easily pruned to maintain a compact size.

The umbrella plant thrives in tropical climates and enjoys warmer temperatures and a bit of humidity. To keep your cubicle companion happy, spray lightly with water occasionally and keep the temperature above 60 degrees.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium to bright light. East, west, or southern window location.
  • Water: Soak when soil is completely dry.
  • Soil: Well-draining general purpose potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
4
of 10

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

peace lily plant on white bookshelf while hands reach for a book

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Tropical evergreen plants, peace lilies produce white modified leaves that look like flowers. These plants grow well with filtered outdoor light, but also thrive with light from overhead fluorescent bulbs, making them well-suited to most office environments. 

Plants grown indoors usually reach up to three feet in height, but can grow as tall as six feet. There are more than 40 species of these tropical, herbaceous, perennial plants. Peace lilies do best in warm temperatures that range from 68 and 85 degrees.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium, indirect light.
  • Water: Water when top inch of soil is dry.
  • Soil: Well-draining soil; peat moss and sand blend.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
5
of 10

Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

overhead shot of work desk while person writes notes next to lucky bamboo plant

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

For an easy plant that requires little from its owner, look no further than the lucky bamboo. Though it looks bamboolike and is named “lucky bamboo,” the plant is not a true bamboo. It grows well in water or soil, and can do so under regular office lights. 

Lucky bamboo prefers temperatures of 60 degrees and above. If grown in soil, the plant should be kept slightly moist. The stems of the plant—which can reach a height of up to five feet—can be trained into a variety of shapes and propagated easily in water.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright indirect light to full shade; too much sun can burn the leaves.
  • Water: Keep moist; avoid chlorinated water, which can damage the plant.
  • Soil: Well-drained potting soil, or rocks and water.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
6
of 10

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

english ivy plant with trailing leaves in all-white office setting

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

This fast-growing woody vine is considered invasive when planted outdoors in some areas, but its hardy nature makes it an ideal office plant. English ivy will grow long, pretty tendrils of leaves that you can "train" in various directions—on a trellis, along the top of a cubicle divider, or down the edge of a desk.

Keep English ivy trimmed to prevent it from overtaking your space. Cuttings can be easily propagated in water.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Indirect sunlight to deep shade.
  • Water: Water thoroughly; let top inch of plant dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Loose, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
7
of 10

Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)

small rubber fig plant in windowsill next to office supplies

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

A broadleaf evergreen, the rubber fig, or rubber tree, is a hardy, low-maintenance ornamental plant that can thrive in an office environment.  Unlike some larger ficus species, the rubber fig grows slowly and can be trimmed to maintain a reasonably small size.

Rubber trees do well in low light conditions, but they don’t like to be moved around. If disturbed, the plant will drop its leaves. A tropical plant, the rubber fig is also susceptible to cool drafts, so keep it away from air vents. To keep the plant’s large, shiny leaves clean, wipe them occasionally with a damp cloth.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright indirect light or partial shade.
  • Water: Keep moist but don't overwater as it can cause leaves to turn yellow and drop.
  • Soil: Well-drained, acidic soil.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
8
of 10

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

person cradles large green fern houseplant while texting on cellphone

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Ferns like to grow on forest floors where light is limited, so they can also do well in offices with lower-light conditions. Boston ferns fare especially well when they are kept moist and humid. Place the plant near a bathroom or kitchen, or set it on a tray with pebbles and water to maintain humidity.

Mature plants will reach about two to three feet in height and width. Boston ferns are often kept in hanging baskets or pedestals where their evergreen fronds can be fully appreciated.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light:  Bright indirect or filtered sunlight.
  • Water: Keep soil consistently moist.
  • Soil: Potting soil mix with peat.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
9
of 10

Philodendron (Philodendron spp.)

overhead shot of person at work desk while philodendron big leaf plant peeks over

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Glossy, bright, green-leafed philodendrons are popular office plants. They’re easy to care for and can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on the plant, philodendrons can be placed in a hanging basket, grown on a trellis, or positioned on a shelf.

This hardy plant generally prefers indirect sunlight, but can tolerate areas with less light as well. Philodendrons make a good office addition because they are great formaldehyde-cleansers, which is a common ingredient found in industrial cleaning supplies.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright diffuse light to shade.
  • Water: Water infrequently, when the top inch of soil is dry.
  • Soil: Lightweight, well-draining potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
10
of 10

Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)

overhead shot of person writing on work desk with mini aloe vera plant near computer

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Aloe vera plants are perfect for offices that have plenty of sun—if you have access to a window, it's a great choice. These sculptural succulents do more than look great on a desk. The gel from inside the leaves can be used for a number of purposes, including moisturizing dry hands and calming burns.

This low maintenance plant tolerates dry indoor air and infrequent watering. Aloe is also easy to propagate: Cut a stem from the plant and allow it dry for about a week before placing it in soil.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright indirect sunlight.
  • Water: Sparingly; allow to dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Well-draining soil and sand mixture.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.