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What Are The Best Desk Plants?

Written by: phs Greenleaf

phs Greenleaf has been providing planting and landscaping services to businesses for over 25 years, including indoor and outdoor plants, artificial and live planting, living walls, grounds maintenance and Christmas trees and decorations.

Whether we’re making a slow return to our offices, we’ve been back in situ awhile or we’re still completely remote, one thing remains the same: we have desks, and we want plants. Shade-loving plants, low light indoor plants, air plants—whatever the best indoor plants are, we want them!

Indoor plants are such a simple joy and, across the various lockdowns, lots of us have developed a stronger sense of connection with nature, whether that’s through our lunchtime walks or our new gardening or potplant-hoarding hobby. We know they’re lovely to look at and we know we do our level best to keep them happy and healthy—but did you also know that it’s been proven time and again that having greenery around us helps us maintain focus, stave off tiredness, lessen stress, promote calmness and improve our well-being? Perhaps these plants aren’t so simple, after all!

So, there’s even more reason to bring plant life into our work life. And, while you might have noticed that design trends these days are tending towards vivacious floral displays (and very nice they are, too!), the good news is that you don’t have to be an award-winning interior designer to bring some of that beauty and peace of mind to your workspace. We’ve done the hard work for you: here are the plants we think are the best fit for desks—wherever those desks are.

What are the five most popular best indoor plants?

Peace lily

Peace lilies are beautiful, of course, and a classic choice for pretty much any indoor space but they’re also front-runners for best concentration aid, with great air-purifying qualities. Even better: they don’t love bright or direct sunlight so, as long as you have just a little natural light around your workspace, these low light indoor plants are a winner when it comes to work buddies of the floral persuasion. They’re also pretty low-maintenance, just needing weekly watering and a bit of a spritz to their broad, deep green leaves once in a while to keep those pretty white flowers in tip-top condition.

Philodendron

The philodendron is another popular choice, and with good reason: its heart-shaped leaves will catch the eye of even the greatest office stoic and their dark green glossy finish will add a touch of class to your desk décor. Philodendrons are also a great low-light option as they’re a shade loving plant that will flourish with just a weekly watering. They thrive in low humidity environments at about 18-20°C, which happen to be pretty common environmental attributes in British offices!

Cacti

Of course, the varied and cheerful cactus family is a mainstay in office flora décor options—and why wouldn’t it be? There’s an almost endless variety to choose from, beginning at the tiny baby rowleyanus, barely two inches across, and roving all the way up to the (admittedly not particularly desk-friendly) euphorbia cooperi and beyond. They’re famously low on water needs, so there’s practically no chance you’ll accidentally forget to water them and, while they do need a decent amount of light, they won’t do well in direct sunlight. You can’t do much to hurt a cactus: they are one of the best indoor plants out there.

Spider Plant

A bit of a classic, the spider plant is known for its somewhat unusual method of reproducing: rather than going to all the trouble of flowering and fruiting, the efficient spider plant just…grows its own young, right there in the pot with it. So, that’s one good thing already: with all those young spider plants to call your own, Christmas is well and truly taken care of. These fab shade loving plants are a great option for workspaces without direct sunlight—like most flora, spider plants do need a little sunlight but never direct. They need to be watered a little more often than our other favourites but their attractive and elegant leaves are absolutely worth that small extra effort.

ZZ Plant

We expect you’ll be as disappointed as we were to discover that this durable desktop favourite was not, in fact, named after the classic Texan rockers—rather, its Latin name (zamioculcas zamiifolia) is so hard to pronounce that it’s been given a nickname. Whatever the name, it’s a great option for your work area, with the ability to store loads of water (so you don’t have to remember to water it too often) and known for its prowess as a low light indoor plant. They’re pretty and easy to grow, too, so they make for great desk companions.

 

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s get weird: want something a little unusual for your desk?

Snake Plant

Ok, maybe snake plants aren’t the weirdest of options but we think the name’s pretty interesting, so let’s go with it. They are actually super-tough indoor plants (great for those of us who struggle to provide our green friends with the longest of lives) and they need very little in the way of water or sunlight, so they’re great for offices with lower levels of natural light. Actually, they do just fine in environments with lots of light, too, and they also look great (you guessed it: their leaves are somewhat snake-like).

Aloe vera

If you’re prone to paper cuts or a lunchtime sunburn, you couldn’t ask for a better desk buddy than an aloe vera plant! Their healing properties are definitely a bonus here but we also think they’re a little wild-looking. Even better: they’re quite low-maintenance, not taking up much space and only needing watering about once every three weeks. They do need a decent supply of natural light, though, so you should only consider these if you have a window near your workspace.

Devil’s Ivy

While it might sound like something from a young adult fantasy novel, devil’s ivy is actually a perfectly normal type of evergreen vine. There are a few different varieties, so you can pick a lighter or darker shade to your preference and they’re all easy to look after. Most varieties are small enough to fit on your desk and they’re pretty good as low-light indoor plants.  

Bromeliads

Bromeliads are a great option for those of us without too much spare mental bandwidth: they’re low-maintenance and don’t even need that much soil (so, less chance of getting on the cleaning team’s bad side!). Bromeliad flowers are really beautiful, too, so they’re guaranteed to put a smile on your face when you glance up from *that* email chain!

Dracaena

These spiky plants can appear a little like the funkier hair dos in the Simpsons and they’re certainly one of the more fun-looking desk plant options! While some varieties are too big to be desk-top adornments and might be better suited to the reception area, there are quite a few types that won’t grow too big and would make a cute addition to any desk space. They’re super-tough and can survive with very little in the way of watering and, while they do need bright sunlight, they don’t want direct—so, if your office has windows but your desk isn’t too close, dracaena are some of the best indoor plants.

Venus Fly Trap

No list of slightly weird indoor plants would be complete without mention of the venus fly trap! Definitely conversation start, these guys do require more sunlight than most on this list of our favourites but don’t need excessive amounts of water. And… y’know, they’ll help out with that incessant fly problem from time to time, too.

So, there you have it: some of phs Greenleaf’s top suggestions for low light indoor plants that would be a great fit for just about any desk. Desk and office plants are a great way to get started on a more biophilic design for your workspace, too: get in touch to find out more about how biophilia could work to enhance your staff and company performance with a few simple, natural design tweaks.

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