Plants to grow in your office

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I don’t have an office, but I work in a restaurant with the same kind of issues a plant would run into as an office. You know – not much natural light, a heavy emphasis on strip lighting, not heating at the weekend.

These are hardy plants. The hardiest. And they won’t be mad if they don’t get a load of light.

You’ll be hard pushed to get plants to thrive in an office environment. In order to get plants to grow at their best then you need to replicate their natural environment, and, erm, there are no plant endemic to office spaces.


Snake plants

I used to think these were unkillable, but if it were not for my presence my co-worker would sure have killed the one we have at work.

How the hell can you kill a snake plant? one may wonder. Let me tell you:

  1. She overwatered it. I need to get a moisture metre with work because CHRIST the girl loves to water. I’m talking every week. Its a problem. I had to cut off a golden pothos leaf yesterday because the combination of no natural light and soggy roots is, er, killing it.
  2. She thought it’d be ok on a windowsill in an unheated root. Little sod nearly froze to death. I moved him back and he’ll be ok I think.

If you’re unsure what to do with your snake plant, leave it alone. They can tolerate drought better than drowning.

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ZZ plants

Another plant that can be left to its own devices for a really long time. ZZ plants can continue to grow in low light and store water in big tubers beneath the soil, so are pretty bombproof. But not bombproof bombproof. But fairly indestructible unless you actively try to destruct them.

In my opinion, ZZ plants are the hardest to kill. They’re as close to a fake plant as you’re going to get. If you kill one, I’d encourage you to perhaps have a go at keeping fake plants.

ZZ plants like to really dry out between waterings, like cacti, so in a low light (or no natural light) environment you could probably get away with watering them on a monthly basis.

I know that doesn’t sound often enough, but it won’t be using much water since it probably won’t be growing much. Water more often if you see new growth, which is lime green and hard to miss. When you do water, do so thoroughly, until water is running out of the drainage holes.

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Spider plants

I don’t think spider plants get enough praise. They’re super tolerant of most things (mine has survived both over and under watering with a calm grace and dignity I couldn’t hope to replicate), and look cool af.

Since your spider plant will be slow to grow (if it grows at all) under office lights, then you’re best off getting as big a one as you can afford. They’re pretty inexpensive.

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I have a golden pothos at work and can confirm that they will continue to grow under artificial lights, though growth is pretty tiny. I don’t care – it’s cute.

Just beware of any rebel coworkers intent on watering it every week, even in winter.

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Depending on the type, I find Philodendron a bit hardier than Pothos, but just be aware that some do suffer from crispy tips should your humidity be insufficient.

I’m not sure many bosses would be open to you having a humidifier in your office, but you never know – it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Something like a Philodendron Scandens or Micans would probably fare ok in an office.

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You see a lot of ferns in offices on TV. If you like political satire and house plants, let me recommend The Thick of It. If the set designer did their research, the UK government’s offices are a house plant haven.

Anyway, ferns like humidity, so if you have a fairly humid office, a fern may do ok. You need to be a bit more on it with the watering though.

They’re also far more cold tolerant than most other house plants.

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Plants I wouldn’t grow in an office, but you probably could

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They like to have a lot of light, so if you’re by the window, they’ll probably do quite well.

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See cacti, since cacti are a type of succulent. If succulents don’t get enough light they can stretch, which I think has happened to one of mine, despite being in the window. Winter can be a bitch.

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In my experience, dracaena are pretty tolerant of neglect – in that they won’t die. They can tolerate drought BUT they go through water at a rate of knots. In summer if you water it every three days and it won’t be overwatered. On the other hand, if you don’t water it for a month, it won’t die.

But if you do look after them, then they grow huge pretty rapidly. I’ve had one for few years and it grew tenfold last year. It was actually quite incredible.

Dracaena do like quite a lot of light though, so again this is one for those of you with a window.

Please note: I only have one dracaena, so maybe I just got a randomly hardy one.

It’s a Dracaena Marginata Tricolor, so the outer edges of the leaves are fuschia, and it’s a stunning plant.

Just don’t let the leaf tips touch the window because those things crisp at the drop of a hat.

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Remember, this isn’t a competition. There’s no shame in having an office that’s only suitable for a faux plant or two – you can get some really convincing fake plants nowadays.

I fully plan on taking more plants to work this year, but I’ve had to accept that it’s just too cold in winter – over the weekend there’s no heating on, so most plants would freeze. So, in autumn they’ll come home with me(don’t work, I’m not entrusting any to the resident plant killer), to live in my bizarrely tropical, growlight-equipped room/office.

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