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The 8 Best Low-Light and Low-Maintenance Office Plants

Kate graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in biology. She currently resides in Sonoma, California.

Small Desk Plants and Other Office Plants That Don't Need Much

For many people around the world, the office is like a second home, but spending eight or more hours in an office can seem like a drag. Luckily, with a few decorations, your office can feel more like a living room than a working space. Indoor plants are one of the best ways to help with this, but how can you choose which plants will best fit into your office space? Well, we are here to help.

There are actually hundreds of different plants that can fit nicely into a workplace, many of which will thrive in low-light conditions and require very little maintenance. A few will require a bit of work, but each one is almost guaranteed to make your working space a little more comfortable. Each of these plants will be a great addition to your office, whether it's a cubicle or an entire room.

8 Great Low-Light Office Plants That Are Low Maintenance

  1. Spider Plant
  2. Snake Plant
  3. Cactus
  4. Bamboo Palm
  5. Gerbera Daisy
  6. Lemon Balm
  7. Aloe
  8. Pothos

In this article, we'll be breaking down the properties and (minimal) needs of these eight plants.

1. Spider Plant

Light: Thrive in partial light and heavily shaded areas.

Water: Can go 1–2 days without water.

Why Are Spider Plants Office Friendly?

  • They are easy to propagate. Just pinch off small sections, put them in fresh soil, and your coworker can have his own spider plant!.
  • They purify the air you breathe.

One of the most popular indoor plants, the spider plant is known for being a great addition to an office environment. They are extremely low maintenance and thrive in partial light and shade. This means you won't need to waste valuable time by constantly watering and adjusting the plant for proper light exposure.

The spider plant is also known for providing numerous health benefits. One report by the University of Hawaii at Manoa states that the spider plant is one of the best natural ways to remove "volatile organic chemicals/compounds" (or VOCs) and pollutants from the air.

2. Snake Plant

Light: Require very little sunlight and can survive in heavily shaded areas.

Water: Can go multiple days without water.

Why Are Snake Plants Office Friendly?

  • They are very hardy, hard-to-kill plants.
  • They love to grow at room temperature.
  • Snake plants purify the air you breathe and release oxygen.
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Much like the aforementioned spider plant, the snake plant is an easy-to-maintain indoor plant that can make your office feel more like home. They are known to survive in almost any environment, and can even go without water for days at a time.

The snake plant is also known for its ability to clear toxins from the air. Most plants take away oxygen at night. The snake plant actually gives off oxygen, however, while also filtering out toxic substances like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more. It's a beautiful plant that requires almost no sunlight, making it a perfect addition to any office.

3. Cactus

Light: Need lots of direct sunlight.

Water: Require very little water to survive.

Why Are Cactuses Office Friendly?

  • They are typically small in size and can fit almost anywhere.
  • They require extremely little water and attention.
  • Cactuses come in many different styles and varieties. (The above-pictured Cleistocactus winteri is a favorite for office desks.)

There are over 2,000 different types of cactuses in the world. Luckily, almost all of them will fit great in an office. Cactuses do require a considerable amount of sunlight, however, making them a poor option for dimly-light offices. But thanks to their size, it's easy to fit them in places where sunlight will enter.

The reason that cactuses are some of the best office plants in the world is that they require very little water to survive. Cactuses actually prefer that they go a few days without water, making them one of the easiest indoor plants in terms of maintenance. Consider the Myrtillocactus, Echinocereus schmollii, or Cleistocactus winteri varieties, as these all do well indoors.

4. Bamboo Palm

Light: Requires very little sunlight and can survive in heavily shaded areas.

Water: Only need to be watered once a week.

Why Are Bamboo Palms Office Friendly?

  • They provide a lush green addition to your office.
  • They are said to "ward off evil spirits." (Maybe even your boss.)
  • Bamboo palms grow very quickly, depending on the variety of bamboo.

For those with a big office, the bamboo palm may be the perfect indoor plant. They require very little light and grow at an incredibly fast rate. This plant has long stems and large leaves to help add some bright greenery to any office environment.

For a smaller option, try lucky bamboo (pictured above). This smaller plant looks just like bamboo but is actually a member of the lily family. It loves to grow in small dishes of water on the work desk and enjoys filtered natural sunlight.

In traditional Japanese culture, bamboo has been a symbol of prosperity due to its sturdy root structure. It has even been said to ward off evil spirits, something that many office dwellers with overbearing bosses can certainly appreciate. It's big, colorful, and doesn't require much work to keep alive.

5. Gerbera Daisy

Light: Require very little sunlight and can survive in heavily shaded areas.

Water: Need to be watered daily.

Why Are Gerbera Daisies Office Friendly?

  • They are small and can fit almost anywhere.
  • They come in a wide range of colors, so you can customize your workplace.
  • Gerbera daisies purify the air you breathe.

For those looking to add a flowering plant to their office, the gerbera daisy may be the best option available. It's a beautiful plant that can fit in almost any office. They come in a wide variety of colors, which helps to add some life to the workplace. Yet, it's their air filtering properties that make them so popular.

Gerbera daisy plants help to filter the carcinogen benzene out of the air, making them a fantastic addition to an office. Some websites will claim that these plants can be difficult to grow inside, however, they don't require a significant amount of sunlight to grow. If possible, place this plant in an area where light can reach, if only for a few hours a day to get the best results.

6. Lemon Balm

Light: Can survive in both direct sunlight and heavily shaded areas.

Water: Need to be watered daily.

Why Is Lemon Balm Office Friendly?

  • They do well in direct sun or shaded areas.
  • They are hardy and quite difficult to kill.
  • Lemon balm plants give off a lemon scent that can boost your mood.

The lemon balm not only looks beautiful, but it also gives off a wonderful fragrance that will add value to almost any office space. They can survive in both sun and shade and are also hardy enough to be moved among different pots.

Lemon balm has been studied for its reported mood-boosting abilities. The pleasant smell of lemon that this plant release is enough to make you feel better throughout the day, according to a study by Ohio State University. These plants do require quite a bit of moisture, so make sure to water them daily.

7. Aloe

Light: Require multiple hours of sunlight every day.

Water: Only need to be watered about once every three weeks.

Why Is Aloe Office Friendly?

  • They have a lush green appearance.
  • They purify the air you breathe.
  • Aloe plants can produce aloe gel, which has numerous uses. It can treat sunburns, reduce itching from bug bites, treat cuts/scrapes, moisturize dry hands, and kill bacteria.

The aloe plant is known worldwide for its incredible ability to produce healing aloe gel. Those looking to add a new plant into their office space will also be pleased to find that this plant is easy to care for and can easily survive inside as long as it receives adequate sunlight.

Aloe will also help to purify the air in an office space. If kept in a wide container with a well-draining potting mix, it should also produce the incredible gel directly through its variegated leaves. The aloe plant may not be as aesthetically pleasing as some others, it's one of the most beneficial plants and can survive year-round.

8. Pothos

Light: Require very little sunlight and can survive in heavily shaded areas.

Water: Only need to be watered when its soil begins to dry out.

Why Are Pothos Office Friendly?

  • They are possibly the most popular office plant in the world. (Your boss probably has one.)
  • They have a lush green look that is pleasing to the eye.
  • Pothos grow extremely quickly.

There's a good chance you've seen a pothos plant in an office building before. This hardy but small plant grows extremely quickly and is perfect on shelves and file cabinets. It may seem like a plant that requires constant maintenance, but pothos are easy to trim and can survive switching from pot to pot as they grow.

Perhaps the biggest reason why pothos are so popular in office settings is their aesthetically pleasing leaves. They grow extremely fast and require almost no sunlight to survive, making them one of the best office plants to have around.

Works Cited

  1. Kobayashi, Kent. D. (2007, December). Using Houseplants To Clean Indoor Air. University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved on 8 December 2017.
  2. Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K. (2008, April). Olfactory Influences on Mood and Autonomic, Endocrine, and Immune Function. US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on 8 December 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Kate Daily


Kelly on June 21, 2020:

Forgive my boldness - Please check grammar and spelling before posting. "Cactuses"? How about Cacti?

sachin on June 18, 2019:

Any plants that can survive the cold season of canada? Any

response is appriciated.

Kate Daily (author) from California on April 05, 2019:

Yup! Cactuses are a great and very diverse plant family. Hope you found the right plant for you!

Tom on April 02, 2019:

cactus (plural: cacti, cactuses, or cactus) is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1750 known species of the order Caryophyllales

Mitch on March 18, 2019:

A BS in biology and you called them ‘cactuses’?

Lisa on October 16, 2018:

I've managed to kill most of the plants on this list. :-(

Mike on February 21, 2018:

Best care tips i've read

LME on February 02, 2018:

Hello - do you know of a formula or an online calculator that will tell how many plants is the right number of plants to have in an office? Perhaps per sqft or # of people? it just seems that having 18 plants in an area of 1800 sqft seems little excessive, it will look like a jungle. Unless we are not talking of a plant being one pot. For example, english ivy or pothos, how many plants do you consider to be a normal pot? One? or the number of stems?

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2017:

Thanks for creating the list of plants. The information is interesting and the photos are lovely.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 10, 2017:

You know, it's weird. We have an urban farm, and do quite well with crops, but I can kill an indoor plant in the blink of an eye. I'm beginning to get a complex about it. :) Thanks for the suggestions.

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