Five excellent office houseplants

As recommended by Jane Perrone, host of weekly houseplant podcast On The Ledge.

Words by Tom Howard

Come on, let’s be honest here, no one really likes going to the office (do they?). They’re little corporate prisons, where you’re forced to WORK for THE MAN. They’re stuffy, they smell weird, the air is stale and the lights are too bright… and there are flies everywhere and everyone’s stressed and has eczema and someone keeps eating your lunch even though your name is on a sticker, on the tupperware, in capital letters LIKE THIS, and stupid bloody Simon is there with his stupid bloody stories about his stupid bloody weekend. But it doesn’t have to be that way, no. Choose the right plants for your office and your workplace can also be your happy place. Jane Perrone, host of weekly houseplant podcast On The Ledge and life-long houseplant obsessive, has some excellent ideas.

Listen to Jane’s podcast here:

PLANTS Marimo moss balls large

Best for creating deeply zen vibes
Marimo moss balls

“It’s not a plant, or moss, it’s a ball of filamentous algae, which doesn’t sound very sexy, but they’re great. They exist at the bottom of lakes in places like Scotland and Japan. As with a lot of houseplants this started off in Japan as being something that people wanted to put in jars and display, and they’re nice because they require zero maintenance. I just changed the water in mine and I haven’t done that for three or four months.”

Where to put it: “Anywhere with a bit of light. Ideally not in direct sunlight or you’ll get more algae”
Where to buy: From £1.79 for one on eBay

186 500x500 large

Best for eating all the flies
Sarracenia aka The American Pitcher Plant

“There are two tricks. 1. It needs to be sitting in water all the time in the summer, because it’s a swamp plant. 2. The water needs to be not tap water. You either need to get water out of a butt, or get distilled water. If you can meet those conditions then it’s a great plant, and it’s kind of quirky looking. It’s ideal if you’ve got a lot of flies in your office. Sit one on the window sill and flies will be attracted to the tube-like structures and they will go inside and never be seen again.”

Where to put it: “A burning-hot south-facing window”
Where to buy: £14.50, Little Shop of Horrors

PLANTS Zamioculcas zamiifolia large

Best for being completely indestructible 
Zamioculcas zamiifolia aka The ZZ Plant

“You can kill them, but they are hard to kill. I read a blog post once where someone put one in a cupboard with no natural light for six months and it was still alive by the end of it. They have stiff stems with glossy leaves so they look good in a modern office setting, and you can under-water them, you can over-water them and it doesn’t really matter – if you under-water them they just won’t grow. Wipe the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth to keep it looking nice.”

Where to put it: “Bright sunlight, shade, wherever”
Where to buy: £9, IKEA

pl2000030503 card3 lg large

Best for getting the big bucks rolling in
Crassula ovata aka The Jade Tree

“If you don’t need to catch flies and you want something easier than a sarracenia, this is a good one. Chinese takeaways always have these, because they’re a significant plant if you happen to be Chinese and into feng shui. They have a real significance in relation to wealth, which is why they’re known as the Money Tree. They will survive a great deal of neglect providing you don’t over-water them. They’re a good easy introduction into the world of succulents.”

Where to put it: “A sunny windowsill”
Where to buy: £7.19 for a small one, Crocus £139 for a big one, House of Plants

Aspidistra Cast iron plant large

Best for ensuring you are ahead of the houseplant curve
Aspidistra aka The Cast Iron Plant

“Aspidistras are called The Cast Iron Plant because they’re really tough, so if you’ve got somewhere that’s the equivalent of a cold Victorian drawing room this is ideal. They’re not that easy to get hold of, so if you’ve got an old aunt with one then ask her to divide it up for you. They’re one of those plants that people tend to have for decades.
I interviewed someone on my podcast who’d had one in his family for over 100 years. They’re very architectural and easy to grow.”

Where to put it: “Somewhere cold, drafty and dark”
Where to buy: £35.99, RHS