Are you the hunt for the best office desk plants to have around while you work?

You’re not the only one!

I know that when I’m sitting at my desk, quietly working away on whatever project that’s consuming me, it’s really nice to be able to glance over to the side and see a little piece of nature that I helped nurture and grow.

Of course, if you know anything at all about houseplants, you’re probably somewhat aware that not all are suitable for an office environment — especially if you plan on spending most of your time working productively and extremely little of your time gardening.

So, how do you choose?

Well, before you waltz right into your nearest greenhouse store or garden center, consider what you want to get out of your future office desk plant.

Personally, I’d say that the best office desk plant is ideally:

  • Small enough to fit on a desk
  • Easy to take care of
  • Nice to look at
  • Not going to outgrow its pot or planter
  • Able to grow under medium light conditions
  • Able to purify the air of toxins
  • Known to have healing properties

Yes, plants have healing properties — and yes, science has proven it!

Here are just some of the major ways that the best office desk plants can positively affect the health of our minds and bodies without ourselves even realizing it.

The Benefits of Having An Office Desk Plant

Stress Reduction

Just being in the same room as a plant can be a stress reliever.

Researchers found that people who were exposed to indoor plants in hospital rooms reported less stress compared to those who weren’t exposed to them.

The stress relieving effect comes from phytoncides — a substance that plants emit as a survival instinct to help protect themselves from harmful insects and germs.

Indoor Air Purification and Improved Breathing

In a study that looked at using indoor plants to improve the air quality in schools, researchers found that by hanging six potted plants the ceiling resulted in decreased concentrations of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particular matter.

They concluded that the presence of the plants contributed to about a 30-percent reduction in particular matter, suggesting that plants could help improve air quality and make breathing spaces healthier.

Enhanced Immunity

Several studies have shown a link between plant exposure and natural killer (NK) activity in humans.

NK cells are a part of the body’s natural immune response, which rapidly work to contain virus-infected cells.

In a Japanese study on “forest bathing,” participants showed increased NK activity more than 30 days after a 3-day, 2-night trip to forested areas.

Similar results of increased NK activity were seen in male adults who stayed in hotel rooms where plant essential oils were present.

Many plants can also help offer a subtle boost the humidity levels of the air, which is especially helpful in the winter months when the air is naturally drier and cold and flu season is in full swing.

Improved Mood and Productivity

There’s a significant negative association between exposure to plants and stress hormones, which means that people naturally feel happier and more positive in general when there are plants present in their surroundings.

Researchers even found that those who worked in “green” offices (landscaped with plants) were self-reportedly happier and 15% more productive than those who worked in “lean” offices (stripped away of greenery to maintain clean, minimal work environments).

A List of the Best Office Desk Plants

Now that you’re probably pretty convinced that having a desk plant in your home office is in fact, a very good thing, let’s take a loot at some of the best office desk plants to consider adding to your office decor.

 

best small desk plants home office

 

1. Parlour Palm

Parlour palms have a beautiful and dainty palm tree look, but they don’t grow anywhere near as big as regular palm trees. They’re slow growers, only reaching about two feet after several years and can adapt to low light and humidity conditions, making them perfect for beginners.

The parlour palm also made it onto NASA’s list of 50 indoor plants that help purify the air.

Golden pothos has a reputation for being very low maintenance and one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. It can tolerate drought and will do just fine under any kind of lighting — from low, to medium, to full sun.

This is another gorgeous house plant that tops NASA’s list of 50 best indoor air purifying plants.

Peace lilies are one of the best air purifying plants that also produce gorgeous white flowers, which rise out of the top and extend above the leaves. They love a lot of light and do best near a window, but can grow under low light conditions too.

They need weekly waterings, with soil needing to be kept moist. If you forget to water your peace lily and notice the leaves start to wilt, don’t panic! Just give it some water and it should perk back up.

The snake plant is super low maintenance, and a top choice for being a naturally effective air purifier. It works most of its magic at night, converting carbon dioxide to oxygen while you sleep and does best when placed near a window as they prefer lots of sunlight (but they’ll do just fine in lower lit rooms).

One small snake plant sitting on your desk is better than nothing, but if you want to go all out and take advantage of the true power of this incredible natural air-purifying plant, you’ll need a lot of space to keep the recommended number of air-cleaning snake plants in your home.

For best results, consider getting 6 to 8 waist-high snake plants per person in your household.

Aralias are lovely little plants with small and delicate leaves. They almost resemble miniature trees. 

Easy to grow in medium to bright light (but protected from full sun), aralias are ideal for bringing some texture into your home office and go great with other small plants too. They need just enough water to prevent wilting and do well without water until the top first inch of soil is dried out.

Some of the most common types of aralias include the fabian aralia, ming aralia, and variegated balfour aralia.

The schefflera is a popular indoor plant with varieties that typically look like an umbrella tree. They’re easy to care for and thrive under medium light conditions, which means they need their environment to be bright but should be kept out of direct sunlight.

This is a plant that you need to be careful of overwatering. It’s best to let its soil dry out between waterings before soaking the soil again.

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Looking to add some flare to your home office? A peperomia plant might be just what you need for its ornamental and very unique looking leaves that make look like a cross between a succulent and a traditional houseplant.

They love the light, but not direct sun. You should water your peperomia very sparingly as its thick leaves are designed to help it withstand drought. 

There are over a thousand different kinds of peperomia and depending on the type you get, its leaves can be be textured or smooth and colours can range from green, to gray, to red, to purple.

Dracaena marginata — also known as the dragon tree — is a striking plant with narrow, sword-like leaves that are striped in hues of green, pink, and red. It’s another very beginner-friendly plan that does well in bright light (but not direct sun). It can handle low light conditions but it will grow slower and its colours won’t be as vivid.

The dragon tree can survive droughts and shouldn’t be overwatered. It’s best to wait for the top half layer of soil to dry out between waterings, which could take up to three weeks in some cases.

For a touch of added brightness to your home office, the funky leaves of a dieffenbachia might just do the trick. Also known as “dumb canes,” this tropical plant is easy to grow indoors and can bring a warm, lush look to your space. It likes lots of light and requires the top two inches of soil to dry out between waterings.

Fair warning: This particular plant has a bit of a bad rap for its numbing effect on your skin or mouth if you come into direct contact with it. Definitely wear gloves when you’re handling this plant (and consider skipping it altogether if you have kids or pets).

Although it will take you a fair bit of time and care to produce coffee beans, a coffee plant can make a wonderful addition to your home office for its beautiful, glossy leaves and white flowers that give off a lovely jasmine-like scent. Coffee berries might appear at some point, looking green at first but turning dark red as they ripen.

This tropical plant doesn’t like the cold, dry air and prefers high humidity levels. Its soil needs to be kept moist, but not completely soaked.

You could definitely use a money plant or two if you’ve got adhesive-based furniture, lingering paint fumes, air fresheners, cleaning products, or even cigarette smoke in or around your home office. It filters out formaldehyde and other volatile organic chemicals from the air, and will continue to do its job best if you don’t overwater it and put it in a well lit space (even though it can survive in low light).

The money tree is thought to be a sign of good luck and prosperity, however superstition says you shouldn’t buy your own money tree. Instead, you should give (or receive) it as a gift if you really want its  “magic” to work!

If you love the tropical palm leaf look, an areca palm could make a beautifully lush, green addition to your office space.

Known for its air purifying properties, the areca palm works by breathing in carbon dioxide during daytime hours and turning it into oxygen. One on your desk will do, however you’ll need about four shoulder-high areca palms per per person in your household to be able to reap the full benefits of its all-natural air purifying power.

Since this species thrives in tropical climates, it’s important to give it as much light as you can without placing it in direct sun and be sure to give it lots of water in the warmer months.

For the home office worker who loves flowers and wants a slightly “girly” (but elegant) look for your decor, you can’t go wrong with a mini orchid! The best part is that they come in all sorts of different colours and are very easy to care for.

Orchids do best with lots of light and with slow watering—typically by adding a single ice cube to its pot about once a week. Their flowers typically remain in bloom from six to 10 weeks before they fall off. They’re annual bloomers but may bloom more often if well taken care of.

Last but not least, I had to include cacti and succulents for their unmistakably hip and stylish vibe they can bring to almost any space. They’re perfect for small desks and look absolutely adorable in sets of three or more.

Since they’re desert plants, cacti and succulents can withstand long periods of drought, although they should be watered about once a week to soak the soil during the warmer seasons (with less watering during colder months). They love a lot of light, but not direct sun.

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Elise

Elise is a freelance writer and creative entrepreneur in pursuit of balancing modern desk work with healthy living. She adores all forms of writing (personal journaling, hobby blogging, professional copywriting, non-fiction/fiction writing) plus loves cooking up healthy recipes, practicing yoga, weight training, and hiking around her awesome hometown of Collingwood, Ontario.

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