Tropical office plants make work environments more agreeable. Buildings with limited or non-existent windows create work spaces that feel stuffy and closed in. Live plants provide refreshing color and a welcome sense of the outdoors, which is a pleasant contrast to the hard surfaces and non-descript colors that are standard in many offices. In addition to their aesthetic contributions, tropical office plants also remove indoor air pollutants.
The Dracaena family consists of 40 or more assorted species that come in various sizes and forms. Dracaena marginata, also known as Madagascar dragon tree, is a popular species for office environments. The plant's textured, woody stems are straight, but you can bend them or weave them together while the plant is young to give it a more interesting appearance. Its leaves are slender, taper to a point and have red edges. They turn brown and drop off as they age, which keeps the stems clear and the foliage clustered at the ends. You may want to remove brown leaves to keep the plant looking healthy and neat. Dracaena marginata can reach a height of 9 feet and a width of 2 feet. In addition to the common red-edged variety, a green, pink and cream variegation is available. Dracaena needs medium light and requires only light watering. Soil should be well drained and allowed to dry out between thorough soakings.
All Philodendrons are suitable for offices if space permits, but one that will fit into any office is Philodendron scandens, or heart-leafed Philodendron. Dark green, heart-shaped leaves grow 2- to 3-inches wide on trailing stems that you can train on a stake for an upright presentation. Philodendron scandens also makes an attractive hanging plant with stems spilling over the edge of a basket. This Philodendron is widely used in indoor environments because of its high tolerance to low light. It requires moist, well-drained soil and general household fertilizer. Plants grow vigorously and need repotting annually while they are young. Mature plants will only require repotting every two or three years. Reduce watering during winter months to half of what you use during the growing season.
Ficus elastica, or rubber tree, is a familiar fixture in lobbies and offices because of its large, attractive leaves and ease of care. Like all Ficus varieties, the rubber tree is adaptable to varying degrees of light. It will grow in full sun or with only the indirect light of a north window. In its natural habitat, a rubber tree can grow to a height of 100 feet according to Professors Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson of the University of Florida, but you can keep it under control by judicious pruning. Pruning to control height will encourage lateral growth that makes for a fuller, more attractive plant. Water a rubber tree thoroughly, but be sure the soil is well drained and do not allow the plant to sit in water. Let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings, but avoid letting the root ball dry out completely.