By Mihaela Buzec
Office life can get pretty boring pretty fast, and staring into screens for the better part of the day can sometimes be a drag. Plants have proven to be extremely beneficial additions to indoor spaces and are among the best amenities to include in your office. Whether you have a simple desk, a full corner office, or a cubicle, integrating plants in your workspace improves air quality and boosts your productivity.
A famous study conducted by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) in 1989 found that indoor air presents an overall low quality, and contains toxic chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and others, which are given off by everyday cleaning products, paints and coatings, printers, or cooling devices.
However bad they are for us, these chemicals are nutrients to certain plants, which clean the air by absorbing a significant part of the CO2 and toxins and releasing oxygen. Plants also improve the look and feel of any office, and bring a little bit of nature inside.
We searched the web and put together a list of 10 air-cleansing, low-maintenance green beauties. Most of these picks work great on desks, so for additional benefits and improvements to the overall office environment, you may also want to incorporate larger plants, such as palms and ficuses.
Be extra careful if you work in a pet-friendly co-working space, as some of these plants are toxic to our four-legged friends. Moreover, ask your coworkers about any allergies they might have, to make sure everyone is on board with your choice of plants that improve life at the office.
Also referred to as “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue” or “Snake Plant,” this green beauty has leaves that grow upwards, typically in a rosette pattern. It is a great plant to have in the office because it absorbs toxins such as xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde. It is also a slow-growing, long-lasting plant, which does not require constant watering or direct sunlight, gives off lots of oxygen, and can boost your productivity and happiness.
The “ZZ Plant,” or “Zanzibar Gem” is normally an evergreen plant of medium-height (18 to 24 inches), with dark green leaves. It can survive well with little natural light and very little water, so it’s perfect for office life. The ZZ filters out benzene, toluene, and other compounds, thus contributing to fresher indoor air.
Known as the “Chinese Evergreen,” this plant fits perfectly in an office setting, as it requires very little maintenance. Aglaonema prefers warm temperatures and moderately humid conditions, low or indirect light, and watering about once a week. It grows beautiful two-tone colored leaves that provide pleasant visual stimulation. Just like other plants on this list, it helps purify the air by getting rid of benzene and formaldehyde.
This is one of those plants that can be used on desk tops, in a corner, or to beautify an entire wall, as it comes in both vining and non-climbing varieties. The Philodendron has large, decorative, dark-green leaves, requires little maintenance, and develops pale or droopy extremities that let you know when it’s time to water. Most varieties of Philodendron clean the air of formaldehyde.
The well-known Aloe varieties are multi-purpose office plants that thrive all year-round. Aloe presents a pleasant appearance, provides a green refuge, giving your eyes a break from the screen, and it can fit atop your desk. Aloe purifies the air by feeding off chemical compounds like benzene and formaldehyde. Moreover, the gel within its leaves can serve as a handy first-aid kit in the event of superficial skin wounds like paper cuts and coffee burns.
Peace lilies are great for the office, provided you water them regularly. They have dark green leaves and white, simple flowers that can instantly bring freshness to your workspace. They are extremely beneficial in improving air quality, as they remove large amounts of toxins relatively fast, including ammonia—a dangerous substance that is often found in commercial cleaning products.
Known to some as the “Corn Plant,” Dracaena comes in several varieties, and is a great addition to the work environment in any office layout. It needs little watering and prefers shade or filtered sunlight. Think of it as the perfect corner plant, where it can grow and decorate any dreary wall with its large green-and-yellow leaves. It is an attractive break in the monotony of a regular simple office design and it also cleans the air of numerous pollutants.
Jade plants are succulents that require moderate light and little watering. They grow thick branches and oval, puffed-up leaves, presenting an overall shrubbery or “bonsai” aspect. Jade plants make great living office ornaments that can improve the aesthetics of any setting and fit right in, contributing to a much-needed balance.
Very easy to maintain and still viable in low-light conditions, the spider plant is a great fit for a cubicle or a windowless office. Its long spade-like leaves that can lean over the pot, make it a great choice for decorating shelves. Spider plants improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and by attracting dust particles to the potting soil.
Cacti, Succulents, Mosses
Cacti are excellent ways to add a little green to your workspace, especially if you have a desk that gets plenty of sunlight. They thrive with little water and can be combined in attractive arrangements. Apart from these, you can also create displays of succulents and various types of moss, which require little maintenance and add appeal to any office design. While these types are a restful retreat for the eyes, they do little towards improving air quality.
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