The air inside my office is noticeably more stale, smelly, and generally unpleasant than the fresh, crisp, delightful air outside it. Air freshener may mask any odd smells but it really doesn't help that much (in my opinion).

I'd like to have a plant or two (or three) on my desk because I believe it would help. Does anyone know any good desk plants? I'm looking for something with a smell that will grow with only fluorescent office lights. I'm fine with dirt smell or plant smell, it doesn't have to be particularly aromatic. Thanks!

2 Answers 2


NASA conducted a study several years ago to find what plants were best for cleansing several chemicals from the air.

Most of the plants on the list evolved in tropical or subtropical environments. Due to their ability to flourish on reduced sunlight, their leaf composition allows them to photosynthesize well in household light.

I think a common trait among the better plants is a large amount of leaf surface area. I see a lot of Mother in law's tongue around offices.

  • I've been in a lot of offices with dracaena marginata, which scores well according to NASA. More to the point, they are attractive (imho), will thrive with artificial light, and will easily tolerate people forgetting to water them... Jan 16, 2015 at 9:11

It's doubtful that indoor plants can really "increase air quality" of an office in any significant way. I've read some studies and haven't found anything convincing in that regard.

Instead, look for "fragrant" indoor plants that can mask the unpleasant qualities of your office's air. Instead of relying on fluorescent overhead lights, consider purchasing a "grow lamp" or two.

Every office plant I've ever had died quickly - I'm honestly not a plant guy. But my wife has had a lot of luck with lavender plants.

Sadly, most offices these days don't have windows which open - that would be a far better solution much of the time.

  • I don't think it's possible to kill Pothos (Devil's Ivy); I've had one at work places for probably about 15 years. I think this is a better answer, even with your unnecessary plant killing remark. :) Jan 15, 2015 at 23:32
  • Fragrant plants may trigger allergies in others.
    – alroc
    Jan 16, 2015 at 11:25
  • 1
    I remember once when my company began doing some construction work in the building. Drywall work, paint, etc. I had to work from home frequently due to my asthma. One interesting thing -- all of the office plants started dying. I'm sure it was a healthy environment for people...
    – James Adam
    Jan 16, 2015 at 14:59

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