The best plants for a healthier and happier office

We’ve all been in workspaces where the plant life has been limited to a few sad specimens gathering dust on the window sill. But adding more greenery to a room can help create a happy, healthy workspace. These are some of the best.

By Cat Byers on 22/05/2019

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When it comes to designing an optimal work environment, plants have often been overlooked in favour of lighting, furniture and stationary. But recent studies have begun to show the true impact of indoor plants on environment, revealing that there’s much more to office plants than just pretty leaves and easy decoration.

Research suggests that adding greenery to a room can make all the difference to a day spent largely indoors, helping you create a happy, healthy workspace with optimal air quality and a calming ambience. It’s no surprise that the international offices of tech giants such as Google and Amazon have all begun incorporating plants into their design, with huge living wall installations and even employee herb gardens.

From the NASA-backed detoxifying properties of the leafy peace lily to the best herb plants to lower stress, these are some of the top plants to add to your workplace with a wide range of different benefits. Better still, they’re all relatively easy to care for, so you don’t need to worry about adding an extra responsibility to your already busy schedule – particularly if you haven’t been blessed with green fingers.

Lower stress and anxiety with lavender

As much as you try to combat it, stress can inevitably creep into the work day and the associated anxiety can have a negative effect on your ability to get things done. Adding a lavender plant to your office is a great way to minimise the effect of stressful situations, thanks to the calming scent which is proven to lower stress levels and reduce anxiety by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. If you’re a fan of office-based power naps, it’s also long been used in room sprays designed to encourage sleep. Basil is another plant with calming properties, with the added bonus that you can use it for sprucing up your al-desko salad.

LavanderAll images by Cat Byers.

Purify the air with a peace lily

With so much time spent inside the office, having the best possible air quality makes a huge difference to how you feel. A NASA clean air study into detoxifying plants found that the peace lily effectively acts as an organic air purifier, improving air quality by up to 60% by absorbing mould spores and harmful vapours. Other brilliant detoxifying plants include the spider plant, snake plant and English ivy, all of which have the NASA seal of approval and can make a difference to the quality of your air in just 24 hours.

Peace lily

Enhance memory with aloe vera

Struggling to remember your to-do list? Add an aloe vera plant to your desk. While most people associate aloe vera with soothing lotions for sunburned bodies, it’s a plant with countless impressive benefits. Used to combat inflammation for thousands of years (it was even known as the ‘plant of immortality’ to the Egyptians), aloe vera purifies the air like a peace lily and has been shown to absorb harmful chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde which can be found in wall paint. What’s more, it’s also been said to improve memory, and has even been linked to studies researching ways to prevent Alzheimers. Common herb rosemary is another plant known for its memory-enhancing scent, and is recommended to students taking exams to help them recall more information.

AloeVera

Improve your focus with succulents

Charming, affordable and hardy, succulents have become hugely popular over the last few years. They’ve been shown to help improve focus as well as adding oxygen to the environment, helping you breathe and working as another form of air purifying plant. If you prefer something more aromatic, mint plants have also been shown to have a concentration-boosting effect – just what you need before a big meeting.

Succulent

Boost your mood with a geranium

Brighten up a dull workday and a bad mood with a pretty geranium plant, whose gentle scent reminiscent of roses has been liked to feelings of peace and calm. The brightly coloured flowers can also have a positive effect on your attitude, with colour psychology studies showing that looking at red can help stimulate your brain, while orange increases energy levels and pink encourages calm. Although not as colourful, jasmine is another flowering plant that can help improve your mood, with the scent reported to increase energy and positivity.

Geranium

Kick off a conversation with a cactus

If you often hold meetings with clients in your office, why not add an unusual plant that will act as an easy conversation starter? Think outside the box with a Venus flytrap, a fluffy rabbit’s foot fern, or an oddly-shaped cactus that’s almost guaranteed to provoke questions. A member of the succulent family, cacti in particular also offer other benefits beyond intrigue, with research suggesting they have an effect on reducing levels of stress, fatigue and even anger, despite their intimidatingly spikes.

Cactus