What is the best plant for office with no windows? Offices can be sterile places, but you will probably be spending a fair amount of time at your desk, so you’ll want to make it somewhere inviting and, dare we say, as healthy as possible.
Plants bring color and life to any space. They can also detoxify the air and add a little oxygen boost to the space. But unless you’ve been given a prime spot near a window, the chances are your desk has very little natural light and maybe no window at all. Or you might be working from home in a windowless space.
So what are the best plants for an office with no window? What plants would survive in those conditions?
Some succulents are ideal office plants. They are low-maintenance, do not require watering often and will cope with the indoor temperatures. There are succulents that will survive, and even thrive, in low-light conditions or fluorescent lighting like an office with no windows.
There are succulents in all shapes, sizes and a range of colors. Some will flower, although most are less likely to do so in a low-light office environment. But they all have one thing in common; they are beautiful and will make your office look more inviting.
Here are our favorite succulent plants for a windowless office.
Zebra Plant – Haworthia Fasciata
The Zebra Plant, Zebra Haworthia, or Haworthia Fasciata, can tolerate low-light, although, like most plants, it does prefer bright indirect light.
It is a smallish succulent, growing to 5-8 inches (12-20 cm) in height. The leaves are fairly narrow and triangular in shape with a pointed end and bumpy white stripes. The white bands are the source of the Zebra name. It has dark green leaves, which will may lighten if in a low-light environment. There is a variegated type that has lighter colored leaves – a yellowy-green. This version tolerates low-light even better.
It is a relatively slow growing plant – which means you won’t be running out to buy a new pot or having to think about repotting anytime soon. It requires very little water and very well-draining soil. The soil should be allowed to dry out completely before watering again.
The Zebra Plant is a perfect low-maintenance succulent to brighten up a busy desk.
Panda Plant – Kalanchoe Tomentosa
The Panda Plant has thick, fuzzy leaves that are a pale silvery-green color with brown or rust-colored markings on the edges. The soft hairs on the leaves give the plant a velvety texture.
The Panda plant is a medium-sized plant, growing up to 2 feet in height when fully grown. If you prefer to keep the plant shorter and bushier, you can prune new growth to stop it from getting too tall. Panda plants don’t usually flower when kept in indoor environments; their foliage is their main attraction. It is a slow-growing plant and should not need repotting regularly.
It has low water needs – just allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Elephant Bush – Portulacaria Afra
Sticking with the animal theme, Elephant Bush, Portulacaria afra is a hardy plant that can tolerate lower light levels.
It is also known as dwarf jade; it has small, round, glossy green leaves and a pinkish-tinged stem.
With its low-maintenance care requirements, Portulacaria afra is the ideal succulent for busy people or those new to growing plants.
It can grow up to 3 feet tall (1 metre) and keep a wide-bushy appearance. It grows larger and taller in the wild, where it’s a popular meal for a passing elephant. (We assume there won’t be any wandering elephants in your office to chomp on your succulent!).
It is a drought-tolerant plant and it is better to err on the side of underwatering rather than overwatering. Ensure it is planted in well-draining soil, ideally in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Elephant Bush does not like drafts, so keep it away from air-conditioning units or other drafty areas.
Lipstick Succulent – Echeveria Agavoides
Echeveria agavoides has beautiful green fleshy leaves decorated with bright red edges which grow in a rosette pattern. Those bright red edges give rise to its popular name, Echeveria Lipstick or Lipstick Succulent. It is also known as the Molded Wax Agave, because its shape is reminiscent of agave plants (although it’s an echeveria).
It is slow-growing (so no regular repotting needed) and will grow to around 6 inches (15 cm) tall.
It is tolerant of low light but prefers bright light, and its colors will be more intense if it is given more light. It does not require much water – keep it in well-draining soil and only water once the soil is completely dry.
Jade Plant – Crassula Ovata
The Jade Plant is a popular houseplant for its easy care and beautiful form. It looks like a mini-tree with firm, glossy green leaves and a woody stem.
It is known as the money plant and is used in feng shui to attract good luck and financial wealth. Could there be a more appropriate office plant?!
Jade plants should be watered sparingly and only when the soil is completely dry.
The Ogre Ear Succulent (Shrek Ear Plant) is another member of the Crassula family that can tolerate low-light environments.
Aloe Vera – Aloe Barbadensis Miller
Aloe Vera is a great option for an office. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate low light and is easy to care for.
It has thick, fleshy, and pointed leaves that are green and triangular-shaped with serrated edges and a bumpy surface.
Aloe vera plants are small and compact when young but as they age, the leaves can grow long and even topple over.
Water only when the soil is completely dry. Thoroughly soak and allow excess water to drain out before returning to its regular place in your office.
In addition to the Zebra Haworthia, there are a number of other varieties of Haworthia that are a great option for offices with no windows.
The Zebra Haworthia (featured as our first pick in this article) has long, spiky leaves (very similar to an Aloe). But there are other haworthias with short, chubby green leaves that are slow-growing and stay in a short, compact rosette that look wonderful on a desk or shelf.
Haworthia Cymbiformis, known as the Cathedral Window Haworthia, for example, (pictured above) is a low-maintenance haworthia that will tolerate low-light conditions. It will grow up to 3 inches (8 cm) tall.
These plants have thick, fleshy leaves that store water and can survive with infrequent watering. Low-maintenance and attractive – what’s not to love?
Snake Plant – Sansevieria
Sansevierias, or snake plants, comprise over 70 varieties of succulents. Many have tall, stiff, pointed leaves, giving rise to common names, such as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. They are easy to care for and can tolerate many conditions, making them very popular houseplants.
There should be one to suit your office decor. You can choose a taller variety for a corner or as height behind a collection of smaller plants. Or pick a squatter variety with shorter, wider leaves. 35 different types of Sansevieria are detailed in this article from The Spruce.
All should tolerate low-light conditions. Sansevierias are drought-tolerant plants that should only be watered once the soil is completely dry.
String of Pearls – Senecio Rowleyanus
The String of Pearls plant is another low-maintenance succulent that will tolerate low-light conditions for a time. It has firm, round leaves that grow along a vine-like stem. It is perfect as a trailing plant from a shelf or hanging basket.
If you are looking for trailing plants, there are other, related plants that would also work in a windowless office, such as String of Beads, String of Tears, String of Watermelons, String of Bananas and String of Dolphins. Their unusual names come from the shape of their leaves, including leaves that look like jumping dolphins!
String Of Hearts – Ceropegia Linearis Woodii
String of Hearts is another trailing plant that would look perfect on a shelf. The leaves are heart-shaped and are a beautiful, dark green color with paler markings. They grow on vines that can reach up to 6 feet (1.8m).
It is a low-maintenance plant that will cope with low-light conditions, although a move to a brighter location occasionally will be beneficial.
Mistletoe Cactus – Rhipsalis Baccifera
Mistletoe cactus is another plant that will trail beautifully from a shelf of hanging basket. It has long thread-like stems and several creamy-white flowers followed by fruits that look like mistletoe.
The stems can grow up to 30 feet (9 m) long but you can keep them more compact by regularly pruning new growth. It will grow more slowly in low-light conditions.
Mistletoe cactus does prefer more water than other succulents but you should still allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out before watering again and cut back on watering during the winter months.
Rhipsalis baccifera is native to tropical areas and does like a little bit of humidity. If your office environment is very dry, your Mistletoe Cactus will benefit from being placed on a tray of pebbles filled with water. The water should not cover the pebbles completely. The water evaporating from the pebbles will provide humidity around the plant, but the pebbles will prevent the bottom of the pot from being in direct contact with the water.
Leggy, Stretched Out Succulent
Most succulents prefer 4-6 hours daily of bright indirect light. Perfect if you have a windowsill with bright light every day.
In low-light conditions, succulents can become leggy, or stretched-out. The stem grows taller and the leaf nodes appear further apart on the stem. The plant is searching for light and growing upwards. This condition is called etiolation.
If your office plant is becoming too leggy for your liking, it is looking for more light. If asking the boss for a corner suite to help your plant is not an option, you might want to get a small grow light or move the plant to a brighter area for a while. If you have a home office, consider having a couple of low-light tolerant plants you can rotate between your office and other brighter locations regularly.
Watering Your Office Succulents
Succulents in low light will not grow as quickly as those in brighter light and require less water. In addition, the lack of sun on the soil the plant is in will mean less evaporation of water from the soil and the soil will take longer to dry out.
The humidity in your office will also influence how quickly the soil dries out. A humid office will keep the soil damp for longer than a dry environment.
The best way to water your office succulent is to take note of the soil. If the soil is dry down to the first knuckle of your forefinger, it’s time to water it again. If the soil still feels damp, wait until rewatering. If you prefer, keep a chopstick handy or an old pen to measure the soil’s dryness. Make a mark on the chopstick approximately 2 inches (5 cm) from the end. If the chopstick comes out of the soil completely clean, the soil is dry. If soil is stuck to the chopstick, the soil is still damp and you should wait to water your plant.
If at all possible, plant your succulent in a pot with drainage holes. This makes it far easier to control the water level in the soil and prevent root rot. If your pot does not have drainage holes, you will need to be very careful not to overwater your plant.
Water your succulent by soaking the soil thoroughly until water runs from the bottom drainage holes or water from the bottom, and soak the entire pot for 15-30 minutes before allowing excess water to drain from the pot.
If your plant’s pot does not have drainage holes, water from the top, taking care to avoid getting water on the plant’s leaves. You still need to give the plant a healthy dose of water to encourage water down to the plant’s roots. Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.
Low Light Succulents
We have identified individual plants above that we love for an office space with no windows. Of course, these are not the only succulents that would work well in an office and we have more in our article on succulents and cacti for low light conditions.
In general, the species that tolerated low-light best are:
If you find a plant you love from one of those varieties and want to incorporate it into your office, check out its light needs. If it will tolerate low light conditions, give it a try. Consider rotating it to brighter areas (if you can) if it starts to become leggy.
Plants bring life, color and oxygen to a space and help instill a feeling a calm. However, we can’t all choose a workspace that is full of light, fresh air and perfect for plants. Many of us are stuck with artificial light and an air-conditioned environment. The succulents above are our favorites to survive your office conditions and bring a bit of joy and vitality to your working hours!