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The No-Fail Way to Pick The Right Office Plant For You

The No-Fail Way to Pick The Right Office Plant For You

We were going to add “…and make you want to get up in the morning” to the title, but thought that might be a bit of overkill. So anyway, you want an indoor plant for your office, but you don’t know which one to buy. We get it — it’s a big decision. What if you want something stylish but easy? Or something big but kind of unassuming? Or, hey, something quirky that sits on your cubicle desk and doesn’t require you to fawn over it? Yes, there’s a plant for that.

So, we’ve broken it down for you. Follow these steps to choose the right houseplant for your office, starting with your personality. 

Are you quiet & shy? Use the diagram right below.

Are you loud & proud? Skip to the next diagram!


Quiet & Shy houseplant picker

Loud &  Proud houseplant picker

How to Care for your New House(office)plant

Dieffenbachia Camille: This quintessential houseplant features large variegated leaves that, out in the wild, can grow into quite a large plant — but in your office, it’s a desk-topper. Give it regular water (no soggy or dry soil, please), even light, and some general-purpose houseplant fertilizer a few times a year and you’re good to go.

Ficus Ginseng: Also called a “money tree” (perfect for your workspace, right?), Ficus ginseng is a cool bonsai plant that has a larger, bulbous base and dark green leaves. Keep this one away from window drafts, let the soil dry out in between waterings, and prune it as it grows to maintain its shape and size.

Maranta: The trippy striped leaves on this houseplant beg to be noticed, and that’s a good thing, because their beauty makes their slightly fussy ways worth the extra work. Never allow the soil to dry out (but don’t let it sit in water or get water on the leaves), give it bright light but no direct sunlight, and make sure it gets adequate humidity (sit it on top of a shallow dish with pebbles and a bit of water).

Pachira: Okay, this one is also known as a “money tree” (I’ll take it), but unlike Ficus ginseng, this baby can get huge if you want it to. To keep it at a nice little size, just snip off the top stems when it’s at the size you like. It often has an eye-caching braided trunk with lighter green leaves, and loves consistent water, humidity, and even light (no drafty windows).

Peperomia Ripple Emerald: Ripple Emerald has heart-shaped green leaves with an unusual rippled texture, and is ideal for those small spaces underneath fluorescent office lights. This plant dislikes overwatering but does enjoy humidity, so overall, a low-maintenance gem.

Pink Splash Mixed: Also called “polka dot plant,” Pink Splash is definitely not for the shy and retiring types with its highly pigmented and spotted leaves. This wee plant likes regular water (but don’t overwater!), and bright overhead light, and while it’s not particularly long-lived, it’s a definite show-stopper.

Rhoeo Tricolor: Sometimes referred to as “moses-in-the-cradle,” Rhoeo has sword-like leaves in soft shades of pink, green, and cream. Its most basic requirement is regular watering, and will take bright indirect light or your ghastly office lighting (and we’re glad that lighting is good for something, because it sure isn’t for taking good selfies).

Sansevieria: One of the most low-maintenance houseplants in the history of houseplants, sansevieria has long sword-like leaves that abhor overwatering. Perfect for those large open floor spaces with strange lighting conditions, sansevieria is ideal for you love-‘em-and-leave-‘em types.

Sansevieria Cylindrica: S. cylindrica has the same growing requirements as Sansevieria (above), but its shape is a little different. Instead of swordlike leaves, these leaves are rounded and sleek, perfect for adding a modern and updated touch to your office.

Warnecki: This is one of those houseplants that morphs from a small desktop plant when it’s young to a full-on tree as it reaches its mature height. Although it’s actually easy to grow, it can tend to develop gross brown tips on the leaves if you don’t water correctly — so, water regularly with H20 that does not contain high levels of flouride.

Warnecki Lemon Lime: Lemon Lime has the same growing requirements as Warnecki (above) but its leaves are a striped green color, giving it a little extra special sauce for those who like it.

Zebra: Although typically purchased at a smaller size, zebra plant can grow up to 2’ tall, so it’s actually ideal for both cubicles and more open-space offices. It has brilliantly striped leaves and bright yellow blooms, and demands high humidity, regular water (don’t let it dry out), bright light, and regular fertilizer. A little fussy and fairly short-lived, but well worth it.

ZZ Plant: Another low-maintenance favorite, ZZ plant has dark green leaves and and upright growth habit that reaches anywhere from 2-3 feet up to 5 feet if it’s really happy. It seems to thrive on neglect — so, water somewhat regularly, erring on the side of a little dry.

Fiddle Leaf Fig: One of the most recognizable of the large houseplants, fiddle leaf fig is, shall we say, a bit of a fuss-budget. She likes soil that is neither too wet nor too dry, bright but not strong light, draft-free spaces and plenty of humidity. But get all that right, and BAM! She’s a beauty.

Sago Bulb: This minimal-care plant is kind of a Wonder Child — very young plants live happily on a desktop, then move to the floor as they get bigger, tolerate any number of lighting conditions, and prefer to dry out in-between waterings. And their palm-like appearance is anything but dainty and shy.

Tillandsia: Airplants are epiphytes — they need no soil to grow, making them the darling oddball plant for those who don’t want to be chained to Plant Parenting. It’s like having a child that knows how to raise itself. Simply remove them from their display once a week, soak in water for 30-60 minutes, shake out the excess water and let dry on a towel before replacing in the display. Mist in-between if you want to, but it’s not really necessary.


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  • Katie Elzer-Peters