The prospect of working in a windowless office isn’t for everyone, at least not without something to make it a bit nicer for those long working days. This is why finding the best plants for an office with no windows is a great idea for helping you to bring some nature into your working area – even if you don’t have any natural light in there!
But even if there’s no sunlight available, you can definitely grow plants in a windowless room – well, at least certain plants. While obviously some plants would prefer to at least be near a window, there are other really good indoor plants for offices with no windows that are more than happy to thrive under an artificial light.
And many of these would likely be a great addition to your desk!
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Best plants for an office with no windows
In terms of what are good office plants where no windows are nearby, you’re clearly going to need plants that don’t need natural light coming through a window to survive.
That’s why we’ve found this list of indoor plants that can either survive off the light coming from your office’s ceiling lights or that don’t really need light at all to live. In fact, some of these plants even do well with no light – better than they would if they were exposed to the sun!
While any plant that works in low light conditions is suitable for a windowless office, some have been known to be more hardy than others. You’ll also want to make sure that the plant chosen works well in the space that you have as well as works well with the co-workers and any health conditions they may have. These options are some of the best plants for artificial light in an office and are a great way to get started with supplementing your office with flora.
1. Peace lily
The peace lily is one of the more popular plants for offices, partly because it’s one of the plants that do well with no light. They’re also great for purifying the air, making them a perfect indoor plant for an office with no windows, especially in a room that runs the risk of the air getting a bit stale.
While peace lilies do like having some diffused natural light, if that’s not available, it can also live off the fluorescent lights in your office.
Spathiphyllum, the actual name for peace lilies, are known for their single flower petal sticking far above the rest of the plant. And it really can grow quite high, with some getting up to 40 inches, even in low-light conditions.
If this flower (which is actually not the flower but rather the outer protecting “bract” of the smaller flower inside) doesn’t develop, your peace lily may have actually gotten too much light, although that may be hard in a windowless office.
2. Spider plant
For anyone looking for indoor hanging plants that don’t need sun, the spider plant could be what you need.
Of course, they don’t have to hang, although this is generally the best way to show off their long tendril-like leaves. This does, however, mean that you’ll have to find a way to mount the basket from your office roof, which may not always be possible.
If you do end up putting it on a desk or other surface, make sure that you keep a saucer underneath the pot. They can rot quite easily, so any spider plant set up needs to be one where they can drain well.
Can spider plants live in low light?
The spider plant can live in low light conditions, although do tend to prefer bright indirect light. This also allows the striped pattern on their leaves to appear stronger. They can also thrive under artificial light.
This makes them one of the best plants for an office with no windows given that they’re also one of the best plants for purifying the air.
3. ZZ plant
The ZZ plant is not a fan of direct light, so being in a low-light environment is much more to its liking. You’ll notice if your ZZ plant has had too much light, as its leaves will start to curl and become yellow if this is the case.
This can also happen when the ZZ plant is in artificial light, so make sure it’s not placed too closely to any fluorescent lights in your office.
Other than that, this is one of the best plans for a windowless office as it’s next to impossible to kill it. If you forget to water it for a while or go on holidays for a few weeks and leave it in your office on its own, it really will barely notice.
4. Snake plant
The snake plant, or Sansevieria, also has a bunch of other names you may have heard people refer to it as. My personal favorite is mother-in-law’s tongue, but you’ve also got devil’s tongue, snake tongue (there’s a theme here…) and bowstring hemp.
You can probably see why based on how it looks, with its tongue-like leaves slithering upwards covered in what could almost be described as a snakeskin.
The snake plant is actually a succulent, so according to snake plants 101, it doesn’t need much water at all. In fact, you should make sure its soil has completely dried out before you water it again to avoid your plant rotting.
In terms of how much light it needs, this is what makes it a office plant with no windows nearby as they thrive in indirect light. If you can get it into the sun from time to time, that would definitely be a bonus (although they don’t like direct light – this is why it’s also a great west facing window plant), but it’s not strictly required for your snake plant.
5. English ivy
The English ivy is a great addition to an office wall where someone might otherwise put one of those really overdone “inspirational” posters instead. This definitely makes it one of the more interesting indoor plants for a windowless office.
As it grows, it will climb further up and hold on to your wall, so it’s good to keep an eye on where it’s going and trim it from time to time – although, to be honest, it doesn’t really grow fast enough for this to come even close to getting out of control.
Different types of ivy have varying shades of green, with the English ivy being one of the brighter colored versions of the bunch. That said, if you do keep your plant in an office with no windows, the green won’t be quite as bright as if it were outside, although you probably won’t even notice this change.
The vibrant bromeliad will give any office some well-needed color. In fact, depending on the size of your specific one, it could be one of the best small plants for an office desk with no windows nearby.
This isn’t only because of how it looks, but the fact that it falls firmly into the category of plants that grow in fluorescent light, even if its absolute preference is indirect sunlight.
Just make sure to water it whenever its tank gets empty, which is the little cup that forms in the center of the bromeliad where you directly put its water instead of at the roots. This won’t happen so often, as it takes around four weeks for it to empty, but it’s good to keep an eye on the cup both to make sure it’s sticked and to ensure that the water doesn’t stagnate.
The philodendron is one of the more popular plants that are good for an office with no windows and it’s common to find one sitting on a bookshelf in various workplaces. It’s probably not well suited to a desk though, as they can get pretty big. In fact, they can grow up to around six feet wide, so perhaps find a surface for it other than one you have to actually work on.
Their large leaves absorb plenty of light, even if there isn’t much light available or if that light is artificial. If, however, you notice that your philodendron’s stems are getting thinner or the leaves are growing with some gaps, it may need some more light than what it’s currently getting.
8. Maidenhair fern
Having a maidenhair fern in your office makes for a very interesting feature, as its little leaves are quite different from most of the other larger leaved options we’ve mentioned.
While it may look like it belongs in a rainforest, it’s one of the outdoor plants that need little light in order to survive as it actually doesn’t really like bright, direct sun.
It is, however, a bit finicky when it comes to its watering needs. In particular, maintaining appropriate humidity levels will be key here, although this has to be balanced with making sure its soil isn’t kept too damp so as to avoid rot.
One recommendation for the maidenhair fern is to keep it in a clay pot and, instead of watering it, put water in the saucer below the pot. You should then put small stones in the saucer as well to create a humidity dome. If that all sounds like too much work, keeping it in a bathroom is also a good trick.
9. Parlor palm
The parlor palm is a super easy plant to look after, including when it comes to its lighting needs. That is, give the parlor palm some fluorescent light and it will live happily in your windowless office.
The only thing you’ll probably miss is that it likely won’t flower in spring if it’s only exposed to low light. This shouldn’t be a major loss but if you’re looking for a plant with flowers for an office without windows, this one won’t work.
It’s also one of the indoor plants that are safe for cats and dogs, just in case you have an office pet wandering around.
10. Cast iron plant
The cast iron plant is basically as strong as the iron in its name, as it’s a pretty hard plant to kill. You might want to kill it though based on how slowly it grows, as some patience will be needed. If you’d rather not wait, it’s a good idea to buy it at about the size you’d like it to be.
This durability extends to how much light it needs, which can be summarized as “not much”. Given the cast iron plant is from the Philippines, you’d expect it to need more light but it’s actually one of the plants that does well with no light from a natural source, especially compared to how much it dislikes direct light.
11. Money tree
The braided trunk of the money tree makes it an incredibly unique part of any office. It also helps that it’s considered good luck, with some people believing that the trunk’s twists are a way to trap fortune in it. Depending on how things are going for you professionally, this may be a useful addition to your own workspace.
They do like to have a lot of water, so make sure you give your money tree a solid drink every one to two weeks. They also like some humidity, so you could mist your plant, fill your money tree’s pot with small stones to create a humidity dome or consider buying a cool-mist room humidifier.
Can a money tree survive in an office without windows?
The money tree can survive in an office without windows as it can easily thrive under fluorescent light. Just be careful not to place it near a draft, like a heating or air conditioning vent, as the dry air can cause leaf loss.
It does, however, prefer bright light, even if that light isn’t from a natural source, so if you do plan to keep this as an office plant with no windows nearby, placing it under a ceiling light would be ideal.
There are plenty of succulents that don’t need sunlight to survive After all, all they need is light to grow, no matter where it comes from, and having them under artificial light means you avoid the potential higher temperatures that being under the sun can bring.
That said, not every succulent loves artificial light, so it’s good to do your research before buying succulents for your cubicle that would actually prefer to be next to a window.
Can succulents survive in an office without windows?
Succulents can survive in an office without windows and, in fact, can even thrive provided that you pick the right ones. This is because many of them prefer low light conditions with some even preferring the shade in their natural habitats.
As mentioned, not every succulent will survive in a windowless room as some aren’t able to live happily without natural light. This is why it’s good to use the rule that if a succulent lives well in the shade, it will probably survive a windowless office.
Similarly, this means that those that thrive in direct sun should be kept where they are.
Best succulents for an office desk with no windows
Some of the best succulents that can survive in an office with no windows or other windowless room include:
13. Peacock plant
One look at the peacock plant makes it clear how it goes its name, with its colorful leaves fanning out much like its namesake bird. It tends to range from light to dark green, although you can also find some with different colored leaves, such as pink or even purple like the one below.
This makes them one of the more unique small indoor plants, especially when you consider that too much direct light can actually make the leaves look worse rather than better. This means that they’re actually better used as a plant for an office with no windows to help them thrive.
14. Pothos plant
Looking after the pothos plant is one of the simplest things you can do and it helps that they’re really nice to look at as well, especially once they grow enough to start to drape down. It’s why they’re a popular choice on bookshelves as the cascading effect they give makes a great feature in your office.
While they can live in a low light environment and are even fine if this comes from artificial light, it’s good to keep an eye on them as they’ll make it clear if they’re not happy with their light situation.
In particular, if it’s not getting enough light, your pothos plant could close its leaves at night and not reopen them or the color of the leaves will simply start to fade. If that happens, it’s probably time to reposition it.
Are pothos good office plants?
Pothos are good office plants as they’re very easy to take care of and only need low light to survive. They will grow slower in low to medium light conditions compared to when they receive bright, indirect light but will not suffer if your office does not have much natural light.
This plant also looks amazing, especially if you choose one with variegated leaves, making it a small but effective statement piece for any desk.
Can pothos grow in the dark?
Pothos can survive in the dark for some time but will eventually need some light in order to grow. They do not, however, need much light, surviving quite happily in low light conditions, although their growth will be slower in such conditions.
The pothos’ preference is for bright, indirect light and its in those conditions that you will see the fastest growth. This isn’t an absolute need though, given this plant being quite happy with low or medium light. That, in turn, makes it one of the best plants for an office with no windows (or any other room, for that matter).
However, as mentioned above, make sure you keep an eye on your pothos if it’s not getting any light at all for most or all of the day, as its leaves will tell you if it’s not happy. That is, if they close and don’t reopen again, that’s a message from your pothos that it’s time for a little bit of light.
15. Gold Dust (Dracaena surculosa)
The Gold Dust Dracaena is a perennial shrub that gets 2-3 feet high and 3-4 feet wide with unusual broadleaf, evergreen foliage. These pretty houseplants are speckled with yellow and white and have fragrant flowers when placed outside but are still lovely indoor plants with just their foliage.
16. Dumb cane
The dumb cane (Dieffenbachia seguine) is a perennial herb/forb that grows 3-10 feet high and 2-3 feet wide with evergreen foliage that has unusual colors. These green and yellow or green and white houseplants have greenish flowers. All parts of this plant are toxic so it is best in areas that do not have animals roving around.
17. Prayer plant
The prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is a perennial herb/form that grows to 12-15 inches high and 12-15 inches wide with a variegated broadleaf foliage. Leaves are green and blotched with white veins with a gray-green or purplish underside. Barely visible pinkish, white, or purplish flowers can be seen after early summer.
18. Bird’s nest fern
The bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus ‘Ruffled’) is a perennial fern that reaches 12-18 inches high and 12-18 inches wide. Leaves are evergreen and green, with wavy rippled edging. The Brid’s Nest Fern is tolerant to humidity and suitable for all types of containers and basket with excellent drainage.
The cornstalk plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Dorado’) is a perennial herb/form that reaches 2-3 feet in height and 1 foot wide with dark green evergreen leaves with yellow or chartreuse edging. There can be white or creamy-white flowering that is under 1 inch wide. This houseplant is both humidity and drought tolerant for especially hardy living.
The peperomia (Peperomia obtusifolia) is a perennial herb/forb that gets 1-3 feet high and 1/2 -1.5 feet wide. It is a lovely addition to the home or office with its evergreen green or dappled green leaves. There are several varieties of Peperomia to choose from, each with their own special look.
21. Dragon tree
The dragon tree (Dracaena reflexa var. angustifolia ‘Tricolor’) is a perennial shrub that gets 6-15 feet high and 6-8 feet wide. It is a great houseplant or office plant, with evergreen variegated leaves that have an interesting margin of narrow stripes that can be pink, pink-red, or cream-yellow.
22. Chinese evergreen
The Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) is a perennial herb/forb that gets 1.5-2 feet high and 1-1.5 feet wide. A wonderful evergreen choice, they have variegated leaves in green and white. Care should be taken with these as the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals that will irritate mouth and throat and will be toxic to cats and dogs.
How do you keep a plant alive in an office with no windows?
If you are wondering how to keep office plants alive and you’ve checked that your office plant will thrive in no to low light conditions, there are still a few ways to ensure that you give your plant the best possible chance at a good healthy life. These include dusting, watering, high lumen light, drainage, and leaf checks.
Dust your plant’s leaves
Dusting a plant’s leaves will help keep them able to absorb light. Oftentimes leaves on office plants are forgotten and the dust will build up, keeping vital light from reaching where it needs to go. Even with the office lighting there is still photosynthesis going on and helping your plant convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Water without overwatering
You want to make sure that you water a plant regularly but not so much that there is standing water. Each plant will have its own watering needs. Keep in mind that low light plants are even more needy of proper watering.
Get a high lumen light
Putting in a 1,500 lumen light in the office will jump start your plant’s light needs. Even if it’s fluorescent, a high lumen light works like a grow light and keeps your plant thriving.
Think this sounds like a lot? Keep in mind that a regular 100 watt incandescent bulk is about 1,500-1,700 lumens. So you can see that while your plants will work fine in a regular office, a few tweaks will keep it thriving even more without altering the office space too severely.
Respect drainage needs
Just like individual watering needs, plants have their own drainage needs. Some plants do well without great drainage and others need it to live. Putting pebbles in the bottom of a container with a drain hole is a great way to keep plants with high-drainage needs from drowning.
Check the leaves periodically
Keep a schedule and check on the leaves for signs of pests or disease. This way you will be able to see changes early. Plant leaves showing signs of disease or pests can be treated and still thrive, but only if you catch it before it is too late.
Leaves that show signs of disease can be treated with nontoxic sprays and pest control can be achieved through a variety of ways. Sometimes simple cleaning of the leaves with a sudsy soap mix and towel dry can insure that your plant stays healthy and happy in its new work space.
How to choose a good low-light office plant
Choosing a good low-light office plant means that you are making sure that the plant will work in the space you have instead of trying to make the office fit the plant. There are a few ways that this can easily be done for plants in rooms without windows and they all deal with space, temperature, and humidity.
1. Don’t crowd the plants
If there is 2-3 feet of width space don’t get a plant that has a 3 foot or more spread pattern. This is for both you and for the plant – no one wants to squeeze around plants and the plant itself doesn’t want to have to fight for airflow.
Measure the area where you want the houseplant to go, and then find a plant that is a bit under that measurement (6 inches or better) and you will get the best results from it.
2. No plants in traffic areas
If there is a high traffic area of the office, it is best not to try to put plants nearby. There is always a risk of co-workers knocking into the plant.
Should you absolutely require a plant nearby a high traffic area, observe the area for a while and see how the traffic flows and then position the plant where it will work with the flow instead of against it.
3. Consider temperature and humidity levels
You’ve seen that the plants you would like to add work well in the office temperature and humidity setting that is during office hours, but have you checked what that temperature and humidity goes up to when the office is closed?
Many buildings do not keep the settings 24/7, some even shut off the HVAC entirely during non-use hours. This is one of the #1 plant killers in offices.
Are there any health concerns that come with office plants?
Plants for indoor office environments may look great, but can be a source of allergens for those that are sensitive. Be considerate of your fellow co-workers and ask ahead of time if there is anyone that is allergic to the plants you are considering.
Another health issue that may arise can be in the form of mold and bacteria that can develop in standing water. If there is too much water that gets put into the plant container, it can breed these hazards that can make the office health trend lower. Keeping the plant clean and without standing water can help preserve the plant’s heath and the health of the office.
Some health concerns that can arise from some plants can include allergies, asthma attacks, and general contact dermatitis if the office worker has a sensitivity to the plant when touched. You can ensure that this is not going to be a factor by asking your fellow co-workers if they have any plant sensitivities or allergies that you should be aware of prior to purchasing any plants for the office.
Can plants grow in office fluorescent light?
Foliage plants grow perfectly fine in office fluorescent lighting, although flowering and fruiting plants will struggle. It’s important though to make sure you choose plants that only need low light to survive, as anything more than that and the lack of sun will cause the plant to suffer.
While you may think that the harshness of the fluorescent lights would not work well with plants, they were at one time the main source of plant lighting but stopped after they failed to last long enough or be high enough in lumens. And if your office has T5 lighting, it can be even better for your plant life as they produce less heat than the older standard fluorescent bulbs.
Best yet? If you have office lighting, even fluorescent lighting, that is 1,500 lumens and above the lights will work to super-charge the flora’s growth. At this rate, they are essentially grow lights and will keep your plant’s thriving with ease.
Do plants improve office air quality?
Plants can help to slightly freshen your office air quality, such as by adding a fresher scent to the air, but no study has definitively found that they actively work for air filtration or air purifying purposes. As such, plants in offices should be used primarily as decoration, although they have been found to also have mental health benefits.
Thanks to a 1989 study known as the NASA Clean Air Study, houseplants have been thought to be air purifiers and that one plant per 100 square feet would effectively clean the air around us. The problem with this study is that it did not evaluate the plants under regular domestic conditions, instead put them in small and sealed spaces. Plants in regular home and office surroundings unfortunately will not purify the air.
Since 1989, several studies have been able to replicate NASA’s findings of lowering VOC levels in the air through houseplants, still using the small and sealed chambers. However, no study can replicate the findings in a normal environment in today’s housing or office structures.
This is why plants for indoor office environments should be used for decorative purposes only and not for any type of perceived air filtration. There have also been studies on the mental health benefits of having plants in the office, which is definitely a big advantage. Overall, you can certainly see that it’s a good idea to pretty up your workspace and help your co-workers break the staleness of an office without windows through foliage bearing plants.
What are some small desk plants that don’t need sunlight?
Some small desk plants that don’t need sunlight include:
- Snake plant
- Other succulents
- ZZ plant
- Philodendron (as long as you keep its size under control)
- Peacock plant
What do I do if my office has no windows?
Some tips to help decorate an office with no windows include:
- Bring some plants into your office. The fact you’re reading this article probably means you’ve already thought of this, but having some nature in your office not only looks good, but it’s also good for your mental health and your physical health, as they help to purify the air. Just make sure you focus on indoor plants that work in an office with no windows (like the ones in this article!), as the last thing you want is brown leaves on your desk.
- Add warmer light sources. Harsh fluorescent lighting isn’t great to be in all day. Similarly, you want to make sure you have enough light to not strain your eyes. This means that switching out your lightbulb and adding lamps can really help.
- Keep the colors light. When you can’t see outside, it’s generally better to keep your overall color scheme quite light and airy to give the impression of windows.
- Put a mirror on the wall. A mirror helps to make a room feel bigger and can also reflect light sources, making the room seem brighter and warmer than it really is.
- Add to your vertical space. One way to make any windowless room seem bigger is to decorate vertically, or up the wall. It’s a neat little trick to make a room appear taller, which can really help to avoid the smaller feeling that a windowless office can provide.
- Have floor decorations that fill the room. Smaller rugs and other floor-based decor have their place, but they do tend to break up a room. Instead, when you’re dealing with an office with no windows, aim for flooring that stretches throughout the entire room. It creates an optical illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is, which is ideal in a windowless space.
Final thoughts on the best plants for an office with no windows
As you can see, there are plenty of options when looking for the best indoor plants for an office with no windows. Working in an office without natural light or windows at all can seem like a dismal cave-like experience. To help with that, plants can really bring life into the atmosphere of the workplace and help create a more inviting space. However, choosing the right plant means finding one that is right in that specific situation.
With a good range of plants that do well with no light, you’ll easily be able to find one that works for your space, whether you need a small plant for your office desk, like a well-behaved succulent, or a larger one to really steal the show.
Either way, bringing in good office plants for spaces with no windows in can really go a long way to helping you survive a windowless office. After all, even if you don’t have a window that you can use to get some glimpses of nature throughout the day, your new plants will help to bring the nature to you.
For this, you need to choose plants that are going to thrive and survive in low to no light conditions. There are the typical plants that can survive in an office without windows that everyone usually uses in these types of lists, and then there are these that aren’t talked about as frequently. We feel these plants make for a wonderful atmosphere in both offices and other rooms without windows that you’d like to bring a little of the outdoors into.
And before going ahead with choosing what plant you’d like to have in your office or work space, don’t forget to go back and read our section on what goes into choosing the best plant. There’s more to it than which one looks best to you – although don’t worry, we definitely agree that this is important too!