The 8 Best Plants To Boost Your Productivity

These greens will help create a happier (and healthier) work environment.

April 1, 2015
Overhead of desk with potted plant
A Better Desk

Having a plant in the office isn't just a nice way to spruce up your desk; it also makes you a more productive worker, according to European research.


"Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers' quality of life and productivity," says Marlon Nieuwenhuis, PhD, from Cardiff University's School of Psychology in Wales.


In addition to perceived improvements in air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction, the researchers found that productivity increased 15 percent. They found that employees with plants in the office reported being more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work.


Renée Loux, author of Easy Green Living isn't surprised by these findings. "The EPA estimates that indoor air is 2 to 10 times more polluted than the outdoor air [due to] synthetic materials found in furniture, carpeting, plywood, and adhesives," she says.


Loux recommends these 8 plants, all of which cut down on chemicals emitted into the air (like formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia), reduce stress, and increase productivity.

golden pothos
Golden Pothos

This one gets the gold for sure—Loux scores it 9 out of 10 for removing chemicals and 10 out of 10 for being so easy to grow. She recommends planting this in a hanging basket, as it can be trained to climb or cascade.

bamboo palm
Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palm also scores a 9, though it's slightly trickier to grow (scoring an 8), and can grow up to 6 feet tall! This plant may best be reserved for when you score the corner office. (It can become invasive in the wild, so be sure to keep it inside.)

English ivy
English Ivy

This vine will attach to just about anything, so be sure you have the right setup for it before you start letting it wander about the office. Though your coworkers shouldn't mind: It scores a 9 for cleaning up the air. (Again, avoid planting this outside because it outcompetes native plants.)


Mums come in two varieties: annuals and perennials. The annuals bloom once for 6 to 8 weeks in autumn, while the perennials will come back year after year. Though they score a 9 for chemical removal, they're not the easiest to grow, scoring a 4, requiring full sun and regular watering. (Also, be sure to find an organic version, since many mums are loaded with chemicals.)

Peace lily
Peace Lily

If you have a spot that's part sun and part shade, definitely plant a peace lily. Scoring an 8 for cleaning the air, it's an easy plant to grow and reliably produces beautiful blooms. Mist regularly to keep this lovely plant happy.

dragon tree
Dragon Tree

The dragon tree gets a 6 for removing chemicals, but it's well worth adding to your cubicle garden because it's easy to grow. This plant loves to be misted or wiped down with a damp cloth.


Loux recommends four varieties of this plant (all scoring a 6 for chemical removal): red emerald, lacy tree, heart leaf, and elephant ear. Plant with water-absorbent poles (made from wire and sphagnum moss) so that this plant can climb.

snake plant
Snake Plant

This one's on the low end of the chemical-removing scale (scoring a 3) but is still worth adding to your desk for its looks alone. And when partnered up with other easy-breathing plants, you'll have the cleanest air in the office.