Greening Up Your Office

Office work is notoriously dull and colorless. When I think of the quintessential office job, I think off the bleach-white cubicles and tetchy copying machines from the 1999 classic blockbuster Office Space. However, for most of us, smashing our printers with baseball bats or embezzling millions is not a viable way of shaking up our boring office routines. A simpler (and less illegal) solution may be to change our office environment: add some color, some personality, and some life to cut through the tedium. Of course, a finely potted plant could never fix the fundamental discontent that comes with having a dead-end job, but, for those of us who manage to stand our jobs most of the time, some green energy can certainly inspire creative thought and heightened productivity. Perhaps that’s why office plants are an increasingly popular addition to cubicles and desks everywhere.

If you’ve been thinking about greening up your office, it’s important to start by picking out the right plants. You want plants that are going to be able survive in an office environment, which usually means picking plants that are low-maintenance and not fussy about how much water or sunlight they’re getting. You also want something that doesn’t take up a lot of space (unless you happen to be a big shot CEO with an office the size of a luxury apartment). Still don’t know where to begin? Here’s some suggestions:

Pothos Plant

Photo by Joshua Kulpa.


 Pothos are easy to care for and impressively compact. Their white and green heart-shaped leaves add a refreshing burst of color that’s never too-loud or polarizing, and they can fit easily atop a desk or cabinet.

Spider Plant

Photo by Edward Webb.

Spider Plants

 Spider plants are nowhere near as insidious as their name implies. These lush, bright floras grow well without much sunlight and are drought-resistant, meaning they don’t require regular waterings. These plants are perfect for those who want something they can forget about for days on end and then come back to later (maybe after that report is done?) These plants grow downward from their pots, so be sure to keep them someplace a bit higher up that allows space for them to hang.


Photo by Franz Kohler.


Cactus plants are, in many ways, the perfect office accessories. There are hundreds of varieties in different shapes, colors, and sizes, and each kind is impressively durable. They don’t require much water and do well in dry, arid conditions (is anyone else’s office like a desert in the summer?) Plus, I think the playful spikes on the cactus plant add the perfect amount of edginess to the stifling corporate grind.

Peace Lilies

Photo by mendhak on Flickr.

Peace Lilly

 Peace lilies, long admired for their aesthetic beauty, have an added office benefit: they help purge the air of pollutants! If you feel like your office is a playground for allergens and other nasty gunk, adding a peace lily to your desk could help you procrastinate on projects in—you guessed it—peace.

African Violets

Photo by A. Yee.

African Violets

 African violets require a bit more upkeep than desert plants, but the vibrant flush of color they add is more than worth the effort. If you’re an overachiever who likes a challenge, or someone who would rather water a plant than finish that godawful proposal, this could be the office plant for you!


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