These 8 Plants Will Survive in *Any* Office Environment

A plant care cheat sheet, courtesy an expert.

February 10, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

When it comes to office plants, the name of the game is: low maintenance. Like, lower than low maintenance. Your plant babies at home may receive their fair share of coddling, but between the impossible-to-control lighting and inconsistent office air (seriously, do they turn the heat on around here?), only plants categorized as “hardy” will make the cut.

We reached out to Bloomscape’s resident expert, Joyce Mast—otherwise known as “Plant Mom”—for her recommendations on which plants won’t give up living in what can only be described as an erratic environment. Whether you’ve got yourself an old-school cubicle or some space at a communal table, these eight plants will keep on keepin’ on.

1. Peperomia Ginny

Easy to care for, the succulent-like Peperomia Ginny is adaptable (read: able to move from desk to sill and back again), incredibly low-maintenance, and grows compactly, so as not to spill over onto your neighbor’s workspace.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "This guy will be happiest in medium-to-bright light, but be sure to keep him out of direct sunlight. He also won’t hate you if you forget to water him once in a while, but does best when watered thoroughly and allowed to dry out between waterings."

Photo by Bloomscape

2. Parlor Palm

This slow-growing, compact palm thrives in a variety of light situations and tight spaces. It also doesn’t hurt that it brings a tropical vibe in the dead of winter—like a piña colada for your desk.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "This plant will do best in bright, filtered light, but will readily adapt to low light. Like many palms, they are sensitive to overwatering and cannot tolerate being waterlogged. Even moisture is ideal but err on the side of slightly too dry rather than too wet."

Photo by Bloomscape

3. Sansevieria Moonshine

If this plant looks familiar to you, it’s likely because you adore its cousin, the OG snake plant, for surviving the utmost neglect. They both withstand a jostling, too, so you needn’t worry about your coworkers banging into them on their way past your desk. Oh, and fun fact: NASA research has shown that Sansevierias are superior air purifiers, due to their ability to remove toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "Since this plant is native to the arid deserts of West Africa, it needs minimal watering—go for once a month. Be sure to keep the leaves dry when watering so water doesn’t collect and cause the plant to rot, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings."

Photo by Bloomscape

4. Hedgehog Aloe

Just like the regular aloe plant, only less prone to sad, droopy leaves! The hedgehog variety is a forgiving succulent that won’t hold a grudge after you ignore it for three weeks. Its leaves contain the soothing gel you know and love, so crack one open the next time you burn your hand on microwaved leftovers.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "Place your Hedgehog Aloe in a well-lit area of your offices—it will flourish in direct sunlight. Don’t overwater; I recommend watering about every 2-3-weeks."

Photo by Bloomscape

5. ZZ Plant

This plant is tough—making it perfect for a desk and/or a forgetful plant owner (no judgments). It’s got a rep for being extremely hardy, able to survive for months without water (!) and prefers low light to direct sunlight—perfect if your desk is relegated to a no-window zone.

Plant Mom Tips: "If the light is too intense for your ZZ, you’ll see some scalding (light brown spotting) and curled leaves. Water the ZZ plant only when the soil is dry, about every 3-4 weeks depending on your indoor climate (in winter, 4-6 weeks). If you see the leaves fall off, don’t give up hope, just water the plant immediately and they should come right back."

Photo by Bloomscape

6. Green Hoya

If you’re lucky enough to have a shelf at your desk, perch this baby on top and it will do that beautiful drapey thing with its stems—you know, the stuff of influencer bookshelf dreams.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "Your Hoya will thrive in medium to bright indirect light. It can tolerate lower light but the variegation in the foliage will be more pronounced as it receives more light. Water when the pot becomes completely dry, and don’t be afraid to let the leaves wrinkle up a bit between waterings."

Photo by Bloomscape

7. Ponytail Palm

This palm requires very little care as it's drought-tolerant and slow-growing. And unlike the vast majority of house plants, It’s safe for pets, so it’s an ideal candidate for your work-from-home sitch.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "The Ponytail Palm only needs watering every couple of weeks (its bulb-like trunk stores water)—sparingly in the winter months—and can be left alone to soak up the sunlight. This plant thrives in dry conditions, so the drier the air, the better."

Photo by Bloomscape

8. Philodendron Heartleaf

Philodendrons are classic houseplants: glossy green vines and iconic heart-shaped leaves—the Heartleaf is a perfect first-desk plant. Not only that, it’s primed for disregard, almost preferring it. Going on vacation for two weeks? It’ll be even better for it.

Plant Mom Care Tips: "This plant can cope with lower light, but it will grow faster and produce more leaves in bright, indirect light—just keep it away from direct sun to prevent its foliage from burning. Water when approximately 50% of the foliage is dry, and just like your face at the end of the day, it appreciates a nice mist from time to time."

Photo by Bloomscape

Do you have plants on your desk at work? Let us know what kind in the comments!

This post contains products that are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.

1 Comment

M February 10, 2020
How are plants requiring medium-bright light types that will survive "any" office environment?