Ideas for Desk Plants

Written by skip davis
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Ideas for Desk Plants
A desk plant helps liven up the ambience of an office. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Placing a plant on your desk is an easy way to add character and warmth to your office space. Not only do plants provide a pleasant aesthetic appearance, many have uplifting symbolism associated with them, as well. One such plant is the chrysanthemum, which is associated with happiness in eastern Asia. When selecting a plant for your desk, choose one that does not require full sunlight and that has a slow growth cycle, such as a cactus or spider plant.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

The Mother-in-Law's Tongue, also referred to as a snake plant, is a suitable office desk plant because it requires little space, due to the distinct vertical growth of its leaves. The plant is native to tropical forests in African countries, such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mother-in-Law's Tongue produces a white flower near the top of its stem and has dark green leaves; the plant grows up to 3 feet in height. Despite their popularity, these plants are toxic, according to the University of Kansas Hospital, so keep them out of reach of children and animals.


According to the National Chrysanthemum Society, the history of chrysanthemums, also known as "mums," dates back to 1,500 B.C., when they were cultivated in China. In fact, one of China's ancient cities, Chu-Hsien, was named after chrysanthemums. Their association with happiness -- derived from Japan's annual Festival of Happiness, which pays homage to chrysanthemums -- makes these flowers a clever choice for lifting office workers' spirits. Mums are also popular for their colour options, which include yellow, orange and pink.


Cactus plants are good choices for office desk ornaments since they don't require a lot of maintenance. However, it's preferable to place a cactus plant next to a window to ensure that it receives adequate sunlight for its growing needs. Cacti are slow growers, so office workers don't have to worry about pruning or stunting their growth to keep them suitable for a desk. One particular cactus species, the Christmas cactus, comes in a variety of colours, such as red, orange and pink. These plants have a high drought tolerance, so water requirements are minimal.

Spider Plant

According to the Colorado State University Extension, spider plants do not require direct sunlight to grow, which makes it possible for them to thrive in indoor environments. Spider plants are also flexible in terms of how much moisture they need in their soil -- while overwatering can be harmful, they can also suffer from leaf tip burn if they become too dry. Spider plants are recognisable by their narrow green leaves, which have yellow stripes. The leaves grow up to 15 inches long, making them a manageable plant for large office desks. As a bonus, they fight indoor air pollution, according to a NASA study on house plants that clean air.

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