11 Plants That Will Add a Little Life to Your Desk and Office Space

laptop and houseplants on white desk with black furniture in white room

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We're always looking for ways to make work more fun—and one of our favorites is to keep a happy houseplant nearby to cheer us up and liven up our workspace. But, since our WFH situations still persist, we're beginning to wonder: which houseplants make the best desk plants?

Your ideal desk plant will depend on whether you're working in the office or at home. It's important for plants you'll keep at your workplace to be pretty hardy and low-maintenance, as they'll need to survive weekends and vacations without you. Plants for your home office, on the other hand, can require a little more care.

These are 11 of the best houseplants for decorating your office, desk, or workspace.

Meet the Expert

Alexandra Jones is a certified master gardener in Philadelphia. As an indoor and outdoor gardener, Jones is an author on topics like gardening, climate, urban farming, and sustainability.

01 of 11

Air Plants

blooming air plants on wood shelf

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  • Botanical name: Tillandsia
  • Sun exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil type: N/A
  • Soil pH: N/A

In terms of low-maintenance plants, you can't get much better than air plants. These epiphytic plants absorb moisture and nutrients from the air—no soil no pot, no problem.

They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, from big, silvery Tillandsia xerographica to bright, sun-loving Tillandsia maxima, whose central rosette turns from light green to coral pink before sending up a beautiful purple bloom. Give them a dunk in water once every one to two weeks, then let them drain upside down to fully dry out.

02 of 11

Snake Plant

three snake plants in pots

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  • Botanical name: Sansevieria trifascata
  • Sun exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil type: Free-draining soil like cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 4.5-7.0

For a plant that even black-thumbed gardeners can't kill, reach for snake plant. This houseplant is a great option for workplaces—as long as you've got decent light and don't forget to water it completely, it should bounce back.

You can treat your snake plant like a succulent in terms of soil, although it's pretty adaptable in terms of light needs. Look for varieties with yellow racing stripes or pale green patterns to add more color to your desk.

03 of 11


potted pothos plant on a stand near a window


  • Botanical name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Sun exposure: Low to bright indirect light
  • Soil type: Well-drained potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-6.5

There's a reason just about every office space has a pothos plant or two: they're incredibly versatile, hardy, and adaptable—meaning they're an excellent low-maintenance desk plant.

Pothos plants are one of the few plants that can do well in lower-light environments, although the variegation on cultivars like golden pothos will fade without sufficient light.

04 of 11

Aloe Vera

aloe plant in terra cotta pot on table near window


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  • Botanical name: Aloe barbadensis
  • Sun exposure: Bright, indirect light to full sun
  • Soil type: Bright, indirect light to some direct sunlight
  • Soil pH: 7.0-8.5

In addition to its versatility and drought tolerance, you can't beat one of aloe vera plants' unique benefits: the gel inside its leaves is great for your skin. This spiky succulent is very forgiving in terms of neglect, so if you forget to water it for a few weeks, it should be just fine.

Another bonus to an aloe plant? You can put it in places with direct sun, such as a south or west-facing window, or in spots with good indirect light.

05 of 11

Jade Plant

gollum jade plant growing in white pot on windowsill

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  • Botanical name: Crassula ovata or C. argentea
  • Sun exposure: Bright, indirect light to full sun
  • Soil type: Well-drained soil like cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-6.3

This charming succulent is a houseplant staple for good reason: its attractive oval-shaped leaves, its ability to adapt to different conditions, and its ability to go without water for weeks at a time.

Jade plants are also very easy to propagate—just pull off a leaf, set it on dry soil, and watch a tiny plantlet grow from its tip. This plant is also said to bring good fortune—something we can all use while we're working away at our desks.

06 of 11

ZZ Plant

small zz plant with green leaves and tan stems in yellow pot with terra cotta pots behind it


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  • Botanical name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Sun exposure: Low to bright indirect light
  • Soil type: Commercial potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.0

Another houseplant that's great for your desk, the ZZ plant is about as fuss-free as they come—and with its shiny, frondlike leaves and upright growth habit it's, also one of the prettiest.

You're more likely to overwater this plant than underwater it, so if you notice yellowing leaves and the soil is still moist, that's a sign to let the plant dry out and water less frequently.

07 of 11

English Ivy

green and white english ivy plant in white pot on white background

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  • Botanical name: Hedera helix
  • Sun exposure: Low to bright indirect light
  • Soil type: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5-6.5

There's nothing like an elegant, trailing plant to add some sophistication to a space. Houseplant varieties of English ivy make an excellent option to trail down the side of your desk, down your bookshelf, or over your desk in a hanging basket. You can also give them a stake, trellis, or pole to climb so that they grow up, not down.

Take note that in some places, English ivy is an invasive plant and has been outlawed, so it's a good idea to make sure it's legal where you live before spending part of your precious houseplant budget.

08 of 11

African Violet

bright pink african violet flowers surrounded by green leaves

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  • Botanical name: Saintpaulia ionantha
  • Sun exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil type: Porous, well-drained potting mix like African violet mix
  • Soil pH: 5.8 - 6.2

Lush leaves are great, but sometimes, you need to flowers to cheer you on during the workday. African violets make a great desk plant, providing a pop of color ranging from white to pink to purple. Plus, they bloom periodically throughout the year with the proper care.

Make sure you water African violets from the bottom and avoid getting their leaves wet, as cold water can stain the leaves with spots.

09 of 11

Spider Plants

spider plant in brown ceramic pot on wooden table

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  • Botanical name: Chlorophytum comosum
  • Sun exposure: Low to bright indirect light
  • Soil type: Well-drained potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.2

Spider plant, also known as airplane plant, is ubiquitous in homes, offices, restaurants, and tons of other public spaces—not only for its attractive lance-shaped leaves, but for its ability to withstand a wide range of growing conditions.

Just be careful not to treat it too much like a succulent: the spider plant's thick, white roots enable it to hold water, giving it some drought tolerance, but you'll want to water it when the soil dries out to avoid killing the plant.

10 of 11

Peace Lily

peace lily in black container with blue lantern and stairs

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  • Botanical name: Spathiphyllum
  • Sun exposure: Low to bright indirect light
  • Soil type: Well-drained potting mix
  • Soil pH: 5.0-6.5

Treat this hardy houseplant right—like giving it enough light and keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy—and it'll reward you with white, sail-shaped blooms.

Don't want dirt on your desk? You'll be glad to know that you can actually grow peace lilies in a vase filled with stones or glass pebbles and water. Keep the roots below the water line and the stems and leaves of the plant above it to prevent the plant from rotting.

11 of 11

Hen and Chicks Plant

green, red, and purple hen and chicks plants in blue and white ceramic pot


  • Botanical name: Sempervivum tectorum
  • Sun exposure: Bright indirect light to full sun
  • Soil type: Succulent potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.6 - 7.5

Cute and colorful, the hen and chicks plant is as versatile as they come—happy outdoors in full sun or indoors in a pot with indirect light. This plant gets its name from the tiny offsets, or baby plants, that grow from the base of the plant's main rosette.

Keep it as a desk plant to watch them grow, then gently pluck the offsets and pot them up into new plants for your friends or coworkers.

Article Sources
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  1. English Ivy Is an Invasive Weed in Pacific Northwest. Oregon State University Extension Service.

  2. Water. The American Phytopathological Society.