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We’ve all learned about photosynthesis at one time or another! The process which allow plants to provide their own nutrients also benefits animals by turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. This is why plants are frequently said to “clean” the air. NASA produced a study in the 1980’s to determine how effective plants would be to filter the air of the space station. You can read the very technical study here. Using a selection of plants that did well in NASA’s study will give the best results removing chemicals from the air you breathe.
That said, ALL plants are great for the air you breathe! Since many of us can’t open the windows in our office for fresh air, here is a list of the best, widely available, and easy-care plants for your office listed in alphabetical order by botanical name. Now it’s all fine and dandy to know which plants to choose but how best to take care of them is a whole other issue. So pay careful attention and you can enjoy your plants and take the very best care of them as they take care of your air. It’s a win-win!
Aglaonema aka Chinese Evergreen comes in countless colour varieties including some with pink/red accents. They are not to be confused with Dieffenbachia, but have similar care requirements without the irritation that dumb cane causes to skin.
Care: These plants will tolerate lower light which makes them great for office interiors in large buildings. Keep out of bright direct sun and they will thrive. Water thoroughly when soil is half dry in high light, or almost completely dry in low light.
Chlorophytum comosum aka Spider Plant or Airplane Plant is a favorite as it is easy to grow and produces plantlets that root easily in water. Providing scorching sunlight, or partial direct sun will give the best results.
Care: Water liberally in summer months and cut back watering in winter. Mist occasionally and protect from cold drafts.
Credit: Cool Garden
Dracaena aka Corn Plants and Dragon Trees come in a variety of leaf colors and includes the Dracaena marginata which is known for it slender leaves. These plants form on woody canes and have a very tropical, palm tree appearance when trained to grow that way.
Care: Provide bright, indirect light and water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch.
Epipremnum aureum aka Pothos or Devil’s Ivy (for its ability to thrive even when you don’t want it to) is not to be confused with Heartleaf Phhilodendron.
Care: Water when soil is dry to the touch, providing more water for plants in bright light. Cut back when vines become too long and it will begin to grow again at the last node. It’s a good idea to cut a vine all the way back to the beginning every now and then, to encourage new growth at the base of the plant and avoid becoming sparse over time. Place the cuttings in water or moist soil in low to bright light, avoiding direct sunlight, and it will root and start a new plant.
Ficus elastica aka Rubber Tree (not to be confused with Rubber Plant) is part of the Fig family which produces latex sap so don’t go cutting it up if you have an allergy. Although Ficus benjamina is also a great plant for clean air, they are a bit finisky in terms of leaf drop so I have not added them to the list for that reason.
Care: This family of plants does not like to be moved so it’s best to choose a spot for it and leave it alone. A bright spot with some morning light is ok, but avoid direct sunlight otherwise. Water when soil is slightly dry to the touch. Do not over water.
Hedera aka Ivy is a well-known trailing/climbing plant that comes in various shades and shapes and is easily propagated from cuttings.
Care: Ivy loves bright light but protect from direct sunlight in summer. Keep the soil slightly moist without soaking, and do not let dry out.
Philodendron comes in a variety of leaf shapes and has various common names depending on the type. Heartleaf Philodendron, Lacy Leaf Philodendron (shown below) and Split Leaf Philodendron are some of the most popular. It is not always easy to tell from the form but they are all climbing or trailing plants.
Care: Provide dapple light and keep the soil slightly moist at all times.
Credit: Ali Express
Sansevieria aka Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue is now available in a wide variety of colors and is an extremely easy plant to care for. The color varieties tend to show more color when they have adequate light but these plants are pretty forgiving.
Care: Providing bright light with some sun is ideal but they will do well in indirect light. Let the soil dry in between watering and reduce watering in the winter.
Credit: Real Ornamentals
Spathiphyllum aka Peace Lily is available in many cultivars now with my favorite being ‘Domino‘ which has splattering of white on the leaves. They don’t need a lot of light but do drink a lot of water. The plants will droop, or “flag” when there is too little water, which makes it a good indicator plant. Give them some water and they will perk up the same day. If you let this happen too often the leaf tips will turn brown.
Care: These hardy plants will tolerate moderate shade and thrive in moist environments. Keep slightly moist, reduce watering in winter but never let soil dry out.
Credit: Universal Floral
Enjoy your new office plants and the fresh air they’re providing. Just don’t be this guy.
And definitely not this guy!
You work too hard for your money to throw it all away on full price when you don't have to!