Live plants in an office setting undeniably enhance the atmosphere and provide a natural, pleasing environment. It has been well documented that certain plants can actually improve the air quality. The best office plants are healthy, appropriate for the space, and easy to maintain. No one wants to be the culprit who let the beautiful office plants die. So, the goal is to find office plants that:
- Thrive in almost any light condition
- Clean the air
- Can survive up to 4 weeks or more without watering
- Are available in sizes from 3 inches to 10 feet
- Are an ‘art form’ because of their unique shapes
- Can go years before requiring replanting
- Need only an occasional feather dusting to maintain a healthy appearance
Of course we are talking about succulents!
Best Office Plants – Succulents
The best office succulent plants are extremely easy to care for and can be maintained with minimal amount of time and effort IF the all important ‘Golden Rule for Watering Succulents’ is followed. Do not over water! Follow this one rule and your succulents can look great for years and can help create a friendly joyful atmosphere in your office. The wide color range of succulents will enhance any office décor theme.
‘Golden Rule for Watering Succulents’: Let the soil completely dry between watering. Check the soil by putting your finger down into the dirt as far as you can to check for moisture. Completely drench the soil when it is time to water until water seeps out of the bottom of the pot. If you have a very large pot an inexpensive moisture probe is a good investment. It will take the guess work out of when to water.
The top indoor office succulents should meet some basic criteria. The succulents you choose must: 1) grow in a variety of lighting conditions, 2) be easy to care for, 3) will survive neglect such as when you are on vacation.
There are two general office settings that will determine the variety of succulent you should choose. Small compact areas such as a desk, countertop and shelf will need containers and succulents of limited size. Larger areas such as foyers, hallways, conference rooms and stairwells will certainly be enhanced by the larger succulent varieties. Medium sized succulents may be able to fit in almost anywhere.
From the hundreds of possible indoor succulents here are the ones that we recommend for your office. On each plant listed we also put a link to a more detailed article giving details and growing tips.
Succulents for Small Spaces – Desks, Shelves and Countertops
For office desks, countertops and shelves it is best to choose succulents that are slow growing and that will remain relatively small. The right choice will look nice in smaller containers that have a small footprint. Desk space is usually limited and a small succulent will not add clutter or become a possible nuisance because of its size. An office break room can also benefit from an addition of small succulents without cluttering the room.
Also called ‘Good Luck Plant’, ‘Golden Bird’s Nest’, ‘Golden Hahnii’, and ‘Dwarf Snake Plant’.
The Bird’s Nest succulent grows as a dense rosette of dark green leaves. Decorative bands of varying designs appear on the leaves. They rarely grow larger than 6 to 7 inches. The cacti-like appearance and the ease of maintenance make this an ideal plant for small office spaces.
Size: 6-7 inches
Lighting: Will tolerate low-light office areas. The ‘Bird’s Nest’ is actually one of the best plants that grow in fluorescent lights.
Also called ‘Elephant Bush’, ‘Elephant’s Food’, ‘Elephant Plant’, ‘Miniature Jade’, ‘Porkbush’, ‘Spekboom’, ‘Yellow Rainbow Bush’ and ‘Small Leaf Jade’.
This could be described as the ultimate office succulent. The Dwarf Jade Plant is perfect for any and all office settings. It is an overall, fool proof, dramatic succulent you must consider. The ‘Elephant Food Jade’ is a natural for shaping into the classic bonsai shapes. Because of the relative ease and speed to produce the tree shape they are very reasonably priced.
It has small round soft green glossy padded leaves with burgundy red stems. It looks similar to the unrelated Jade Plant but it has rounder and smaller pads than the Crassula ovate variety.
Size: 6-8 inches
Lighting: The leaves may drop off under very bright lights. It does better with indirect sunlight near windows or low-light areas in the office.
Also called ‘Torch Plant’, ‘Bearded Aloe’, ‘Guinea-fowl Aloe’, ‘Hardy Aloe’ and ‘Bristle-tip’.
This unusually small aloe has rich green leaves decorated with small white spots creating a lace like leaf pattern. These are an ideal plant for an office since they can be neglected and still thrive. They are colorful and can be placed in smaller areas.
Size: 6 inches
Lighting: The Lace Aloe needs direct light by a window or bright overhead office lights. These will not do well under low-light environments.
Also called ‘Mexican Hens and Chicks’, and ‘Silver Spoons Echeveria’.
The ‘Topsy Turvy’ matures to a height of 4-8 inches. ‘Topsy Turvy’ is a cultivar, of Echeveria runyonii. Its name came about because the leaves look as if they are positioned upside-down. It is a somewhat fast growing evergreen succulent. The waxy leaves have a powdery soft blue-grey color. The glaucous leaf has a pronounced v-shape with all the tips pointing to the center of the rosette.
Size: 4-8 inches
Lighting: The ‘Topsy Turvy’ does fine with both bright or low-light conditions.
Also called ‘Zebra Plant’, ‘Zebra’, ‘Zebra Haworthia’, and ‘Haworthia Zebra’.
The Zebra Cactus will grow only to a height of 4 inches. These small plants are similar to Aloe plants and are related within the same subfamily. However they are distinguished by their small size and distinctive horizontal white stripes on their leaves. The Zebra Cactus prefers bright light.
Size: 4 inches
Lighting: The Zebra Cactus prefers bright light but will also usually do fine in low-light areas. It is actually one of the desk plants that don’t need sunlight.
Medium Size Succulents
Aloe vera should be where it can get bright direct sun if possible but they will survive in lower light conditions. These succulents are easy to maintain and look attractive anywhere in the office. As they mature their leaves can drape gracefully around the plant. Aloe vera purifies formaldehyde and benzene from indoor office air.
Size: 6 inches to 3 feet
Lighting: Does best with full light but will do just fine in low-light areas.
Also called ‘Variegated Smooth Agave’, ‘Dwarf Variegated Agave’, ‘Maguey’ and ‘Golden Moments’.
The Dwarf Century Plant is a wonderful looking agave that fits in to any home or office setting. It is a quick growing succulent that is easy to care for. It has beautiful rosette forming blue-green leaves. The soft spear shaped blue-green leaves are edged with golden yellow stripes. These dramatic looking plants can be used in open office areas as single specimens. They can also be placed in smaller spaces. The Dwarf Century Plant looks beautiful under night lighting.
Size: 2-3 feet
Lighting: The Dwarf Century Plant will need direct light by a window or bright overhead lights to thrive.
Also called ‘Variegated Paddle Plant’, ‘Variegated Desert Rose’ and ‘Shave Ice’.
Kalanchoe ‘Fantastic’ is a beautiful Kalanchoe that has large gray-green leaves with soft splashes of cream and white along with red highlights on the edges. These attractive plants add a splash of color to any office and can be placed almost anywhere.
Size: 2 feet
Lighting: This succulent will do fine with both bright or low-light areas of an office. The kalanchoe ‘Fantastic’ is one of the plants that does well in artificial light.
Large Size Succulents – Foyers, Hallways and Other Open Areas
In more open areas of your office you can place larger sized pots with multiple succulents or ones that grow taller and wider. These succulents may still need to be trimmed occasionally but not as often as other indoor plants. Office environments can be very different when it comes to lighting. Some plants may be placed by large windows while others are in areas with very little light. Choosing the right plant ahead of time for each specific location will help you be more successful.
Don’t forget that succulents may look attractive and add warmth to restrooms and other unusual areas.
Also called ‘Cornstalk’, ‘Cornstalk Dracaena’, ‘Money Tree’, ‘Dracaena Massangeana’, ‘Dracaena Fragrans’, ‘Mass Cane’ and ‘Happy Plant’.
Corn Plants may grow indoors up to 8 feet tall and spread 2-3 feet wide. These succulents do fine in indirect low light and can be placed 6 feet from a window. They do better being positioned away from drafts. The Corn Plant removes trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene from the office air.
Size: 8 feet
Lighting: The Corn Plant should not be placed directly by a window. They do best with indirect sunlight and can tolerate low-light conditions in an office.
The ‘Janet Craig’ is a versatile succulent that can be positioned almost anywhere in the office. It can thrive in low light or bright light. If it is not trimmed it can grow up to 10 feet tall. The ‘Janet Craig’ will remove benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from polluted office air.
Size: 10 feet
Lighting: Direct sunlight through a window may burn the leaves. The ‘Janet Craig’ does better with indirect sunlight. It will do fine with either bright or low-light office lights.
Also called ‘Pony Tail Palm’, ‘Elephant’s Foot Palm’, ‘Elephant Foot Tree’, ‘Bottle Palm’, ‘Palma Culona’ and ‘Monja’.
The Ponytail Palm is not actually a palm. It is a succulent and a member of the lily family. Although this plant can grow to a height of 18 feet outside, their growth rate is so slow it will be perfect in an office for many years. Additionally, you can control the height of the plant by the size of the pot you use. The larger the container the larger your plant will grow.
Size: 15 feet
Lighting: The Ponytail Palm prefers full bright light but it will tolerate low-light environments.
Also called ‘Dragon Tree’ and ‘Madagascar Dragon Tree’.
The Red-edged Dracaena (also called ‘Dragon Tree’) does well with moderate light but can also be placed where there is low light. This succulent is a slow grower but it can eventually become up to 6 feet indoors and 15 feet tall and 3-8 feet wide outside. The Red-edged Dracaena will remove formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene from office air.
Size: 6 feet
Lighting: This hardy succulent will do fine with either bright or low-light conditions. Direct sunlight for too long through the day may burn the leaves.
Also called ‘Mother-in-laws Tongue’, ‘Mother-in-laws Nose’, ‘Saint George’s Sword’ and
‘Viper’s Bowstring Hemp’.
Snake Plants are one of the easiest to maintain office plants that you can use. Healthy Snake Plants will grow from 3-4 feet tall and provide a beautiful green color to any area. Snake Plants clean the indoor air of trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene with Snake Plants.
Size: 3-4 feet
Lighting: Bright light will bring out more vibrant color from Snake Plants but it will do just fine in low-light areas of the office.
Also called ‘Striped Dracaena’.
Dracaena ‘Warneckii’ is sometimes called ‘Striped Dracaena’ because of its green and white variegated leaves. The leaves have a richly colored, shiny surface. It tolerates low light in an office setting. The ‘Warneckii’ will remove benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde toxins from the indoor office air.
Size: 4 feet
Lighting: The ‘Warneckii’ prefers bright lights but usually will do fine in low-light conditions. Too much direct sunlight through windows may cause damage to the leaves.
One Last Thought
Sometimes it will take some experimenting to find the right plants for your particular office. Succulents are usually inexpensive so don’t despair if your first few tries to grow plants in the office fail. Eventually you will find just the right plants for each area. Your office will be cheerier, healthier and pleasing to employees and clients.