Best office desk plants

Decor

Having plants in the office has proved to increase productivity by 15%, improve workplace happiness and even reduce symptoms of illness.

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Which office desk plant is best?

In 2019, 33.1 million people reported having houseplants, according to Statista. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the plant community saw a sharp rise in the number of people joining the plant community. As people started returning to work, many decided to take a plant or two, having enjoyed the life it brought to their home offices during the pandemic. One of the best plants you can have in an office is the ZZ Plant. All it needs is some ambient light, well-draining soil and the occasional fertilizer treatment.

What to know before you buy an office desk plant

The science proving the benefits of plants in an office setting is well established. A report by the American Society of Horticultural Science noted how having plants around the office can improve stress levels, increase task performance, create a better emotional state and even reduce symptoms of illness. 

Aside from that, a report by the University of Exeter published in Science Daily reported plants around the office have shown to increase productivity by as much as 15%. They wrote, “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”

Additionally, they saw an increase in workplace satisfaction, improvement in concentration and that plants help workers to be “more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.”

Picking the right plant for your office desk shouldn’t be something you take lightly. It requires careful thought and planning, along with some research into how to care for indoor plants. There are several considerations to think about beforehand. 

Light requirements

Each plant has specific light requirements to achieve the photosynthesis needed for growth. Their requirements are highly influenced by their location of origin. For example, a cactus is natively from the desert, so it requires tons of sun but very little water. 

When deciding on an office desk plant, keep in mind it will likely receive primarily artificial light. So, picking a plant that doesn’t require a ton of light is your best bet. 

Maintenance

Some plants require more maintenance than others. Understanding the water requirements, humidity requirements and fertilizer requirements is important if you want your office desk plant to thrive. Doing the research before you buy a plant will save you the blow of killing a plant and will let you know how much work you’re getting yourself into. 

Rate of growth

If you pick the right plant and give it the right ingredients, it will grow. This is true of all plants, but some can quickly grow wild and overtake an entire desk. For example, buying a juvenile Monstera deliciosa, it looks like a pretty tabletop plant. But if you give it the care that it wants, it will become a gigantic floor plant that takes up an entire corner of the office. Understanding how a plant grows and how large you can expect it to get will help inform your decision. 

What to look for in a quality office desk plant

Whether you buy a plant online or in a store, there are some key indicators the plant is healthy and ready to thrive in its new home. Keep an eye for these characteristics:

Healthy, new growth

One of the first things to look for is healthy, new growth. If you see a few budding leaves about to unfurl, you’re in luck. This is one sign your plant is healthy and well established. It’s also a good indication the root system is healthy. 

Bouncy leaves

A happy plant is a bouncy plant. Everyone knows what a sad, wilted plant looks like. The lethargic leaves hanging to the side and a general lackluster appearance. A well-kept, properly watered plant will bounce a little. Give it a little shake and see how bouncy the leaves are before you make the purchase. 

Pest free

If at all possible, inspect the plant in person before you buy it. Look at the stems, under the leaves, in the soil, everywhere you can to find any creepy, crawly critters lurking in the foliage. Most houseplants will have a pest at some point in their lives and many are fairly easy to treat. If you bring your plant home and suddenly find a pest, don’t panic. Do treat the pests before you bring the plant to the office. 

Moist soil

When you buy a plant, don’t be afraid to stick a finger in the soil. It should be thoroughly moist, but not sopping wet. If it’s bone dry, that’s not a great sign either. Both of these situations can be rectified, however. 

If you fall in love with a plant, bring it home and then realize the soil is soaked, stick a couple of tampons down in the soil to soak up the excess moisture. Then, place your plant in a bright, sunny spot to encourage the remaining water to dry out. 

If the plant is bone dry, resist the urge to douse it with water immediately. Instead, give it a sip. An hour or so later, give it a larger sip. The next day, a bigger sip and finally a full watering. Through this process, you will rehydrate the roots rather than shocking them by fully watering the plant from the get go. 

Healthy color

Above all, look at the plant. How is the color? Is it bright, bold, healthy color or does it seem dull, yellowing and faded? A healthy plant will be the epitome of life and that will show in its coloring. Look for yellowing leaves. These can be a sign of root rot or other problems. 

How much you can expect to spend on an office desk plant

If you purchase your plant from a garden store, plan on spending between $20-$40, depending on the plant you choose and your setup. If you purchase from an online retailer, your price for the same plant could vary by as much as $20, but it shouldn’t be too radically far off from the garden store price. 

Office desk plant FAQ

Do plants purify the air?

A. Technically, yes, however only marginally. While a study by NASA proved plants do make a difference when it comes to air quality, you would need hundreds of plants in a small room to make any noticeable difference. 

How often should I water my office desk plant?

A. The simple answer is to water it when it’s thirsty, but that’s easier said than done. An easy way to test whether your plant is thirsty is to stick your finger in the soil up to your second knuckle. If the soil is dry, water the plant. If it’s still moist, you can usually wait. 

However, some plants are more communicative than others. Peace Lilies, for example, will look half dead the minute they need water, but perk up within a couple hours after a thorough watering. Learn about your plant and pay attention to the signs it’s giving you. 

Do I need to fertilize my office desk plant?

A. Yes you do. Plants get the majority of their nutrition from their soil, but giving them fertilizer will help them thrive. Research the fertilizer needs of your specific plant and follow the instructions on the fertilizer you choose exactly. Resist using more fertilizer in the hopes of having more growth. Doing so runs the risk of your plant’s roots getting nutrient burn. 

What are the best office desk plants to buy?

Top office desk plant

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant

What you need to know: The ultimate in low-maintenance, this easy-to-care for plant is ready to simply go with the flow and give you a boost throughout the work day. 

What you’ll love: The best thing about the ZZ plant is just how low maintenance it is. Because it’s a rhizomatic plant, you can go a couple extra days without watering it. The color of the oval leaves is a deep emerald that can’t help but catch the eye. 

What you should consider: It can be tricky to tell whether the plant has had too much water. Watch for dropping leaves. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Etsy, Wayfair, Macy’s, Zola and 1800flowers.com

Top office desk plant for the money

Air Plants

Air Plants

What you need to know: If you want the ultimate low-maintenance plant for a ridiculously low price, an air plant is the plant for you. 

What you’ll love: Rather than having the typical root system which feeds the plant nutrients from the soil, air plants get their nutrition from the air around them. Originally from the desert, they only need a quick dunk in water every couple of weeks to be happy. 

What you should consider: It’s easy to overwater them. Watch for the center to turn brown or black. 

Where to buy: Sold by AmazonEtsy, Home Depot, Zola, Wayfair, Macy’s and 1800flowers.com

Worth checking out

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Heart Leaf Philodendron

What you need to know: With a reputation as one of the easiest plants to grow, you can’t go wrong with a heart leaf philodendron.

What you’ll love: Notoriously forgiving and unabashedly beautiful, the heart leaf philodendron is a trailing plant you can keep for years. Keep the soil lightly moist, watering it once it starts to feel like it’s drying out. 

What you should consider: Like most plants, you will likely end up dealing with fungus gnats. Sprinkling mosquito bits on top of the soil can help. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Etsy, Macy’s and Wayfair 

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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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