Indoor plants have become an important part of interior office decor. While there are companies that specialize in placing and caring for plants in stores, offices and other commercial establishments, most businesses and employees simply head to the store, buy a few green, cheery-looking plants and hope for the best. The results can be mixed--some plants are not up for the challenge of office life. For the best results, choose plants that can tolerate the low light, neglect and temperature fluctuations that are common to office environments.
Sick-building syndrome (SBS) is a condition common to modern, tightly sealed buildings filled with synthetic materials. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it causes occupants to "experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building." In the early 1990s, NASA sponsored research into improving indoor air quality and identified plants that helped to remove formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, acetone, methyl alcohol, ethyl acetate and trichlorethylene from indoor environments.
When choosing plants for your office, consider palms, spider plant, philodendron, corn plant, English ivy, rubber tree, weeping fig, pothos and schefflera.
Interior office spaces without natural light may not seem hospitable to green, growing things, but there are plants that will survive--and thrive---in low-light conditions. Snake plants will tolerate low light, cool temperatures and low moisture. In indirect or fluorescent light, the peace lily, a wide-leafed tropical plant, will send up a cupped white flower-like spathe several times a year. Large, glossy-leaved rubber trees tolerate low light and grow to a height of 10 feet.
Office plants should promote creativity and good cheer. Withered, drooping plants and brown, leafless trees do not inspire these feelings. In a busy office environment, plant-care responsibilities are often set aside in favor of projects, deadlines and meetings, so durable, tough-to-kill plants are a smart choice. Consider potted plants like cacti, corn plant (Dracaena) and the cast iron plant (Asplidistra). Some forms of cacti need only monthly watering. The corn plant stores its own water in its trunk, and the cast iron plant is drought tolerant and able to handle wide temperature swings.
For hanging baskets, consider philodendrons or spider plants. Easy to grow, trim and propagate, these forgiving plants bounce back quickly after even long periods of neglect.