20 Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

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Plants can add a lot of organic character to an otherwise drab office environment. Having small indoor plants will improve the air quality and remove impurities while adding a focal point to your work environment.

You can also use large house plants to create helpful separations between workplaces — and a source of peaceful contemplation during your hectic day.

A research (PDF) carried out by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M University and Helen Russell, Surrey University, England as well as other studies conducted by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University, have revealed plants significantly lower workplace stress and enhance productivity.

The participants in Dr. Lohr’s study were 12 percent more productive and less stressed than participants who were working without plants in their environment.

Small Indoor Plants

One of the benefits of small indoor plants is they are easy to take care of, and they are resilient. With minimal care, you can keep the plant around your desk or in other parts of the office for a very long time. Key to making this happen is choosing the right plant.

Here’s a list of 20 indoor plants to consider for your office environment. Be sure to choose one that fulfills the needs of your workspace. Enjoy!

1. Jade Plant

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment
Jade, or Crassula ovata, is a small, succulent plant with small flowers. It requires minimal watering.

In Japanese folklore, the jade plant is known as the “money plant.” Legend has it its presence brings financial success. The reason for having this plant in your office should be crystal clear!

2. African Violet

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The African violet, or Saintpaulia, is a flowering plant that requires a bit more maintenance than some of the others on this list. However, it takes up very little space, so it can be perfect for small desktops.

3. Peace Lily

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The peace lily, or Spathiphyllum, is a large, space-filling plant that can also clean the air.

Better yet, it can grow even in low office lighting. The peace lily is ideal for an office space that lacks big windows.

4. Chinese Evergreen

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

Chinese Evergreen, or Aglaonema, makes a great office plant because it requires very little maintenance. It can also thrive in low light and remove toxins from the air.

5. English Ivy

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

English Ivy, also known as Hedera helix, is a clinging evergreen vine that can reduce airborne fecal matter particles and filter out formaldehyde.

As disturbing as it is to know those airborne particles exist, it’s good English Ivy can take care of it. This is another plant ideal for those stale office environments lacking a lot of fresh air circulating.

6. Parlor Palm

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The parlor palm, or Chamaedorea elegans, is actually a small palm tree. This plant is ideal for creating natural separation of space in your office. And on those cold winter days, it can also add a bit of a tropical feel. The parlor palm is perfect for offices because it doesn’t require a lot of light either.

7. Snake Plant

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The snake plant, or Sansevieria trifasciata, has leaves that can grow fairly tall. The shooting dark green leaves have bands of a bright yellow-green on the outside. A healthy snake plant definitely attracts the eye. And a few together make another natural partition.

8. Gerber Daisy

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

This flowering plant, also known as Gerbara, is a plant that can filter toxins like benzene, a substance that can be emitted by some printing systems.

9. Philodendrons

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

These plants are large climbers, which means they can add some height to small areas. Philodendrons can also survive without a lot of maintenance.

10. Cactus

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

Cactus are small and come in several different varieties. They do require a significant amount of sunlight, so they are not recommended for dimly lit offices. If you’ve got a window sill that gets a lot of sunlight and tend to be forgetful, a cactus or multiple cacti would be ideal. More often than not, they’d prefer you forget to water them once in a while.

11. Warneck Dracaena

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

Warneck Dracaena, also known as Dracaena reflexa, can grow to be very tall. It’s another plant that can provide separation of different office areas. And it also combats pollutants commonly found in varnishes and oils. If your office space has hardwood floors, this shooting plant would be ideal.

12. Ming Aralia

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The Ming Aralia, or Polyscias fruticosa, is a tall, bushy plant. It’s perfect for offices that require a bit of privacy between workstations. It also only requires water every couple of weeks.

13. Spider Plant

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

This plant, also known as Chlorophytum comosum, is one of the easiest plants to grow indoors. It is often displayed in hanging baskets, so it can also create some visual interest in an office space.

14. Weeping Fig

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The weeping fig, or Ficus benjamina, is a large plant that can filter pollutants from carpets and furniture, such as formaldehyde and benzene. The waxy green leaves on the weeping fig even look the part of the plastic jungle that this plant should help replace.

15. ZZ Plant

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The ZZ Plant, or Zamioculas zamiifolia, is one of the most low-maintenance plants you can find. In addition, it can add a tropical feel to your space. And, as a bonus, some of the plants even produce flowers.

16. Aloe

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

Aloe plants are small enough to easily fit on most desks. They also have air-filtering qualities, with the ability to remove things like formaldehyde and benzene from the air. The gel inside the plant can also be used to treat cuts and burns.

17. Umbrella Tree

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The umbrella tree, or Schefflera arboricola, can grow to be quite tall. It’s perfect for creating office privacy. But there are also smaller dwarf versions for desktops.

18. Fittonia

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

This Fittonia, which is sometimes also referred to as the nerve plant or mosaic plant, can work well in offices because it actually thrives on fluorescent light.

Plus, the over-sized, inside-out look on the leaves of the Fittonia can serve as quite a focal point in your office space.

19. Pothos

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The Pothos Plant, or Epipremnum aureum, is a flowering plant that can fit perfectly on most desktops, though it may require occasional trimming. Aside from that, it’s very low maintenance and can be left on a desk for lengthy periods without needing much care.

20. Azalea

20 Small Indoor Plants That Can Improve Your Office Environment

The Azalea is not only visually appealing, but it can also filter the air to combat formaldehyde. The plant thrives mainly in cool environments, so keep that thermostat low.

Whether your concern is air quality or simply a bit of visual appeal, there are a variety of choices for office plants. Start thinking about transforming your office environment today.

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Plants image via Shutterstock, Images: Wikipedia


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

42 Reactions
  1. Hi Annie, Great article!

    I love Ming Aralias. They are elegant plants. I got one in 2001 as a gift when I let my corporate employer, and it lived in a pot (repotted a few times) until 2013. Twelve years and it was gorgeous. I put it out on my deck during the summer months in a semi-shaded spot. I highly recommend them.

    But the easiest to grow indoors has to be the Pothos. They will even grow in water for a time.

    – Anita

    • Thank you! I’m all about low maintenance so I pretty much stick to cacti and succulents. But I did learn a lot about some other good options writing this post.

  2. That’s actually really interesting, Annie. I didn’t know some plants could clean the air. My friend has several plants in her kitchen. I recognise one of them as the first on your list.

  3. I have had a Jade (Crassula ovata) plant in the past. I didn’t know it was called the money plant! 🙂

    I have had several cactus plants and liked that kind of sticky style! 😉

    How about a chile pepper plant?

    • I have a couple of jade plants too, and I actually didn’t know about them being called the money plant either until I wrote this. Hopefully it actually works 😉

      • Annie,

        Growing chile pepper plants lead to a potential money making idea that I have “planted” (pun intended 😉 ) to chile-head and owner of an orangery / hothouse. We will be marketing a new olive oil with chile peppers.

      • I have a jade plant that I’ve had inside for almost a decade. It now looks like a small tree. It can withstand a lot of neglect — not that I neglect my plants. 🙂

  4. Nice article! However, I have always known the plant you call “Snake Plant” as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” …for obvious reasons!

  5. If anyone is hoping to improve the office environment with live plants, they would be well advised to consult a professional. These can be found by searching “plant care companies”. Unless someone in the office happens to be especially knowledgeable about indoor plants, using a DIY approach is unlikely to be successful. For instance, some of the plants in this list – azalea, gerbera, english ivy, fittonia – would never be used by a professional interior landscaper (the actual name of the industry that supplies and cares for plants in offices, hotels, etc.) because they have been proved to fail rather rapidly, usually because they require more light than is commonly available, or because they don’t withstand the challenges of office life. Investing in live plants has many benefits. You’ll be happier with the outcome, however, if you use a professional service.

    • If it is your own personal cube or space like the offices of today I disagree – just replace them. It’s cheaper than a cut flowers. An orchid for 3 months is worth it even if it doesn’t live.

    • Don’t you love it when a “professional” comes out of the woodwork giving you all the reasons you should hire someone else to do your hobby right? Please, your advice would be helpful. But your sales approach is offensive. Why can’t you make comments about the right or wrong plants, or how to grow them without the sales pitch?

      • didn’t seem like a sales pitch to me. I actually thought what they said was very insightful, and just factual. I am a horticulture student currently and from what I have learned I have to agree with what this person said. if it’s for an actual office building it would be much more resourceful to hire a professional rather than waste money on possible poor planning and dead plants because of lack of proper care.

  6. Just bookmarked it and try to find plants that more colorful to fill my desk.

  7. Hi I just bought a ivy plant and a fern plant and would like to know if it’s ok to put in my small office space it’s like a room size 8 by 8 will it be ok to keep them there I am making like a yoga room is it ok to have them.there in a tight space

  8. All of these are always in demand on our website… my favourite are the Gerber Daisies, they just add a great feel to the office! Plant and flower displays always look superb and we can also help with their upkeep. Plants take in carbon dioxide from the air, and emit oxygen through their natural growing process. Humans do the opposite. So when you have an office full of humans emitting carbon dioxide, they are going to need more oxygen in order to stay productive. Research suggests that those sitting at computer monitors will be 12% more productive when there are plants nearby. You simply can’t introduce a better method of making people more alert.

  9. margarita medina

    That’s so funny, I have both an aloe vera and a spider plant at the office. They certainly make the room more cheerful! I’ll look for a jade plant as well at my local garden centre. Thanks fore the article!

    • When I was in college, we grew spider plants and charlies because they reproduced easily and were hard to kill. Some call spider plants “airplane plants” because they put off so many babies.

      There was one lonely Aloe Vera here when I moved in. I never saw him water it EVER and it got very little sun, but still thrived. I started repotting the babies it was throwing off and now there are dozens of Aloe Vera plants. I keep giving them to people, but not fast enough.

      In the case of both spiders and Aloe Vera plants, if you want them to reproduce that happens when they’re pot bound (pot is too small for their roots). They are very good at keeping themselves alive through spreading to hopefully better soil (if they were outside).

      Neither can take a killing frost, but an Aloe damaged by a frost can recover. Just cut off the damage.

  10. Aside from increasing employees’ productivity, plants in the workplace can even reduce the mental fatigue caused by stress. Better yet, adding plants to your office can be really cost-effective. Once you have a budget in mind you can start looking into various options.

  11. There is something about plants that simply take the stress away. Really interesting. Having a plant in the office just might be the missing element so that you can have lower stress in your location.

    • I went to art school and studied color theory and the reason your stress is relieved by these plants is their coloring. Humans were originally outdoor beings, so our natural instinct is to turn to the color green, and escape to sunny places (why most people go south for vacations!) for relief because we are predisposed to believe the outdoors provide all of our natural needs. Plants provide this effect by providing a “feeder” if you will, to our body’s natural tendencies! It’s been proven that when shown the color green our blood pressure naturally drops and our heart/breathing rate slows!

  12. Hello – do you know of a formula or an online calculator that will tell how many plants is the right number of plants to have in an office? Perhaps per sqft or # of people? Some articles talk about 15-18 plants per 1800 sqft. It just seems that having 18 plants in an area of 1800 sqft seems little excessive, it will look like a jungle. Unless we are not talking of a plant being one pot. For example, english ivy or pothos, how many plants do you consider to be a normal pot? One? or the number of stems?

  13. hi, i am running a stationery shop since 6 years, but day by day i am goining in losses only, i am unable to improve it, please suggest me any good and small trees to put outside or inside the shop to improve my financial and health positions.

  14. I was looking for some plants to decorate and improve my ofbit.in office environment. This guide helped me a lot. now I am interested in Snake Plant and African Violet.

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  20. I just want to say that this article was really insightful- I love the idea of having plants in the office. I work on a small company myself and we have been looking for ways to improve our space. Thanks for posting.

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