Here are the best office plants for a happier, more productive you

There’s no better way to add some life to your workspace than a plant. In fact, office greenery is more than a pretty desk accessory – a desk with plants on it can even make you up to 15% more productive, one study found. Other studies have shown that contact with nature is literally good for you and reduces stress.

With that in mind, you can’t afford not to have a plant or two.

Ladders talked to two plant experts — and Instagram stars — about the best type of plants to adorn your office space and soothe your mind.

The Sill’s Christopher Satch

Christopher Satch is head of plant science and education at The Sill, a plant store that also boasts 351,000 Instagram followers.

“Plants are really great to have in offices,” Satch says. “They can make an office seem cozier and more welcoming, they reduce stress, and they increase creativity and productivity.” Also, for those that stare at a computer screen most of the day, plants can reduce eye strain, providing an “eye-resting space where your eyes can focus off the screen,” Satch said. “Green is actually one of the easiest colors that the human eye sees.”

Plants also clean the air. Office air has its own indoor air pollution, and plants “take all these nasties in the air like plastics, chemicals, rubbers, paints, and computer parts – anything synthetic breaks down over time and releases volatile organic compounds that we breathe in, some of which are carcinogenic.”

Let there be light – or not

Most plants need light to thrive, and there are generally two areas of an office, light-wise: the areas right next to a window that are full of direct natural light, and the areas that only get artificial light.

Satch recommends different types of plants of different types of light.

For direct sunlight

  • Cacti, succulents
  • Snake plants
  • Cattleya orchids
  • Citrus tree or other food-producing plants, like a spicy pepper plant.

For artificial light/low light

  • Marimo mossball – an aquatic algae sphere, this is “super-cute and super-fuzzy, and has the ability to live off artificial light. It’s great for desks.”
  • Pothos
  • ZZ plant

Summer Rayne Oakes of Homestead Brooklyn

Summer Rayne Oakes is the founder of Homestead Brooklyn, a gardening and food site which has 65,100 Instagram followers, founded the Houseplant Masterclass, and is the author of the forthcoming book, How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivating Your Personal Green Space. She keeps 700 houseplants in her Brooklyn apartment.

Consider what you don’t know about the office environment when planning for your plant, Oakes says.

“One thing to consider is holidays and days you are not around the work environment — and if the office actually shuts off heat at night (totally happens in start-ups) or is near a drafty door, heater or air conditioning unit,” says Oakes. “This will truly limit plants in the office space, as most of our subtropical and tropical houseplant species don’t like the extreme temperature changes.”

For direct sunlight

  • Dracaenas

For artificial light/low light

“If you want a desk plant that will be sustained in lower light, I would recommend getting a little overhead lamp for it,” she says for her low-light suggestions.

  •  Aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) or Trailing watermelon begonia (Pelliona repens).
  • Aglaonema (also called Chinese evergreen)
  • Aspidistra (also called cast-iron plant)