Plants not only add life to dreary environments, they also filter harmful pollutants while adding oxygen to stale air. Studies also show that plants help to reduce stress levels in the workplace. Choosing plants that thrive in the office can be a challenge.

Consider these few tips to choosing healthy plants for your office:

First, check light levels. Not everyone has the advantage of bright, well-lit office windows. For those areas with lesser light, you can grow a number of tropical plant varieties such as aspidistra (“cast iron plant”), Chinese evergreen, dracaena (“corn plant”) or pothos.

For areas with strong, direct sunlight, the areca palm rates top in “eco-friendly” office plants. The areca palm releases up to one litre of moisture into the atmosphere every 24 hours while removing harmful chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which are found in carpets, adhesives, paint and wall coverings.

Cacti, succulents and bromeliads are also good choices for bright, dry climates. Plants that prefer indirect sunlight include heart leaf philodendron or ficus benjamina (“weeping fig”).

Next, evaluate your space and research plant growing habits. When selecting a plant for a certain location, you want to be sure that it has the opportunity to become well-established before it outgrows the space.

Be real about how much time you want to devote to care and maintenance of your office plants. While some co-workers might enjoy the task of regular plant care, if this isn’t the case in your office, look to plants such as the aspidistra (“cast iron plant”) or sanseveria (“snake plant”), which require low maintenance.

If you are away from the office for extended periods, jade and rubber plants can easily go for weeks without water.

When looking at areas of the office to reduce toxins, look to the photocopy and print stations. These places emit a harmful chemical: trichloroethylene. Dracaena (“Janet Craig”) is one of the best plants for removing this pollutant. Other popular plants known to remove pollutants include English ivy, peace lily, spider plants and aloe vera.

Though flowering plants give great visual interest, they will often require higher maintenance and need encouragement to re-flower. While your office may not have the high-humidity environment to grow orchids or bonsai, there are very cool and colourful low-maintenance foliage plants that add great visual interest. Bromeliads and succulents thrive in warm, dry climates.

If your company is on a budget, ask the plant lovers in your office to bring in cuttings of their favourite plants. You can start small; the plants will grow.

Why not enhance your office environment with some fresh plants? With a little forethought and careful planning, you can choose the right plants for your office space. By surrounding the workplace with office-friendly plants, one can create aesthetic appeal, purify the air and reduce stress levels.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at shari.morash@gmail.com.