Indoor plants add instant beauty and life to any room, but according to NBC News, having some greenery in your workspace can boost your attention and productivity by as much as 15%! So it just makes sense to have some plant friends growing in your office.
But what if you work in a windowless space with no natural sunlight? Can plants grow in artificial light? Fortunately, yes!
There are many plants that thrive in an office without windows such as pothos, spider plant, snake plant, ZZ plant, etc. They’re able to survive without natural sunlight with the help from artificial light sources like fluorescent and LED bulbs. These light sources supply many of the same light wavelengths as sunlight, primarily the blue wavelengths. Typically, plants that grow naturally in shady locations will do best in artificial light.
I’m in the same boat as you. I have a basement home office with a tiny, east-facing window that’s high up on the wall and heavily shaded by a huge tree. So there’s no natural light to speak of. But I do have fluorescent lighting, and I’ve got quite a few happy plants growing in my sunlight-lacking office.
Today, we’re looking at 19 of the best plants for an office with no windows. We’ll also cover a brief overview of their care needs and where you can get these easy-going plants (all online sources were in stock at the time of publishing).
Let’s get started!
Best Plants for an Office with No Windows
1. Pothos (All-Green or Lightly-Variegated Varieties)
This one is my personal favorite. Pothos is a delightful, low-maintenance houseplant that thrives on negligence and just loves to grow. The plants you see in the photo above started out as tiny rooted cuttings less than 6 months ago!
The all-green varieties, like Jade pothos and Neon pothos, grow well in the absence of natural light. I have Golden pothos here, and they’re also doing just fine.
However, heavily variegated pothos varieties, like Snow Queen, Marble Queen or Pothos N Joy, won’t be able to maintain their lovely multi-colored look without consistent natural sunlight. You can see this a little bit in the Golden pothos I have here, which is a more moderately variegated variety.
In sunlight, these leaves would almost certainly have a lot more yellow variegation than they do here in my basement. But Golden pothos is more forgiving than the other variegated pothos I mentioned above. As this photo shows in more detail, I’m still getting some pretty leaves under nothing but fluorescent lighting:
Plan to water your pothos every 1 to 2 weeks, or once the top 2 inches of soil dry out. Fertilize sparingly (just a couple of times per year) with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. This liquid formula from The Grow Co. is a fantastic option, not just for pothos, but for any plant on our list here.
As a fast grower, put it on your calendar to repot your pothos every year, and your plant will keep growing pretty quickly!
Another great thing about pothos is that they’re incredibly easy to find and tend to be pretty inexpensive, especially the Golden variety. Check your local nurseries or home improvement store, or order online.
Here are some pothos plants available on Amazon:
And here are some on Etsy:
- Jade pothos from Brumley and Bloom
- Neon pothos from Wish List Land
- Golden pothos from California Tropicals
2. Spider Plant
As they grow, spider plants produce runners with air roots that can become brand-new, independent spider plants. These runners have a spray of long leaves, like their mother plant, and they look just like spiders dangling on a silk thread. Hence the name “spider plant.”
Give water when the top inch of soil is dry, roughly every week or two. These do like a bit more humidity, so give them a weekly spritz with a water bottle. Fertilize with a half-dose of houseplant fertilizer 1 to 2 times a month during the spring and summer.
Spider plants usually need repotting about every 2 years, and it doesn’t mind being snug in its pot. In fact, crowding in the pot will often bring more runners for a dramatic show.
You should have no trouble at all finding a spider plant to purchase. I’ve seen them for sale at grocery stores, big-box stores, home improvement stores, nurseries…
3. ZZ Plant
With wide, dark green leaves that are rich in chlorophyll, ZZ plant thrives in artificial light or even in low-light conditions, like a dark bathroom. In fact, it often tops the list of the very best plants for rooms without windows.
ZZ plant is a centuries-old plant from drought-prone Africa, so you know it doesn’t need watering often at all. In addition to requiring little water, ZZ plant also only needs fertilizer about twice a year.
Given its low need for water, fertilizer, light and pretty much any care at all, it’s not too surprising that ZZ plant is a slow grower. That makes it a perfect desktop companion for the long haul. Also, slow growth translates into infrequent repotting, so plan to move your ZZ plant into a bigger pot only every 2 years or so.
4. Prayer Plant
Prayer plant is the common name for the plant genus Maranta, which includes over 40 varieties.
This is an adorable, colorful little plant that gets its name from the way that it folds its leaves upwards to rest against one another, resembling a pair of praying hands. This natural phenomenon occurs every night once dusk falls, when the room gets chilly or your plant needs watering.
On that subject, prayer plant likes slightly moist soil, so plan to water about once a week.
Prayer plant is a naturally slow grower, but regular fertilizing can help speed the process up a bit. Give a half-dose of fertilizer twice a month during the spring and summer while your plant is in its active growth season. But hold off on fertilizing during the dormant phase of fall and winter.
Since prayer plant takes its sweet time growing, you’ll probably only need to repot it about every 2 years.
Local nurseries, big box stores and home improvement stores often carry one of the many varieties of prayer plants. And you can also get one from Hirt’s Gardens on Amazon or Florida Plants Gardens on Etsy.
5. Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo is one of the easiest plants to grow on the planet, whether in natural light, artificial lights or almost no light at all!
As long as you’ve got the proper growing container, you keep it clean and change out the water every few months, you’ll be successful with lucky bamboo.
I have a friend who keeps her lucky bamboo in a rounded pot in her bathroom with no windows, basically just stuck in some small rocks, and it’s done great.
Lucky bamboo is pretty common in big-box stores, home improvement stores and garden centers. You can also head over to Amazon for a starter bunch of lucky bamboo if you already have your own pot, or you can choose a pre-potted option. If you’d rather browse Etsy, check out this potted bamboo from Simply Zen 149 or these bare stalks from Monet Garden.
6. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese evergreen is known as a “plant of steel” due to its ease of growing. There are several different color options available, including the pink one you see in the photo above, and also ones with silvery or white coloring.
According to Clemson Cooperative Extension, it’s remarkably tolerant to poor light, drought, and dry air, making it a perfect choice for office buildings.
Plan to water your Chinese evergreen roughly every week or two. Your plant will grow even without fertilizing, but you can give a half-strength dose twice a year if you desire.
These plants are not fast growers, so you can get away with repotting only every 2 years.
Chinese evergreens are usually easy to find wherever plants are sold, but I tend to see the pink varieties more often than the silver ones. But you can get exactly the kind you want any time online. Here’s a beautiful Silver Bay variety from Costa Farms on Amazon, and here’s a pink-tinged Siam Aurora variety from Tropical Plants FL on Etsy.
7. Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig Tree)
Ficus benjamina is also known as weeping fig tree, and they are those plants you see in homes and offices everywhere. And no wonder- they’re beautiful topiary trees that are low maintenance and slow growers.
Ficus benjamina does well with little light, and once you find a happy spot for them it’s best not to move them because they don’t like change. They drop leaves when they’re not happy, so try to keep the peace to avoid a big mess!
This plant only needs water when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry, which may be about every 10 days to 2 weeks. Give a half-strength fertilizer twice monthly during the active growing season (the spring and summer months). But even with a boost from fertilizer, you shouldn’t need to repot your Ficus benjamina more than every 3 or 4 years.
RELATED: If allowed, a Ficus benjamina can grow a few feet tall. If you’d like to keep it at a desktop-friendly size, consider going the bonsai route. Stop by our post where we tell you everything you need to know about the Ficus benjamina bonsai!
RELATED: If allowed, a Ficus benjamina can grow a few feet tall. If you’d like to keep it at a desktop-friendly size, consider going the bonsai route. Stop by our post on Ficus benjaina bonsai to learn more!
I haven’t personally seen Ficus benjamina for sale in my usual stores, but that may vary by region. Otherwise, they’re readily available for internet ordering. Here’s a nice option from Hirt’s Garden Store on Amazon, and here’s a lovely variegated version from TheGreenEscape on Etsy.
Bromeliad is a bright and colorful oddly-shaped flower that is beautiful and unusual.
They come in several colors, including white (like the photo above), pink, red and orange. Despite their vibrant coloring, bromeliads do very well with artificial light. They just need regular watering and moist soil, monthly half-strength fertilizing and a little humidity from frequent misting.
Bromeliad only lasts for a couple of years, but you’ll be able to propagate new plants from baby plants, called pups, that grow from the base of the parent plant. Just separate the pups and plant them in well-draining soil or sphagnum moss mix. This soil from Bliss Gardens is a good option.
I see bromeliads all the time at grocery stores, big-box stores, garden centers, you name it. This is one plant that I would strongly recommend buying in person if you can; I’ve noticed that many online sellers don’t give you an option to choose which color you want. However, Etsy seller Florida Plants Gardens does offer you the choice of a couple of different color families, so that’s a step in the right direction.
9. Scindapsus Pictus
This adorable little plant is a newcomer in my office garden. Even though the photo doesn’t do it justice, the Scindapsus pictus has a lovely silvery shimmer to its leaves. So pretty!
Scindapsus pictus is in the same family as pothos, and it has many of the same care needs and growth characteristics.
In time, this plant will develop long, trailing vines just like pothos, but at a much slower pace. So don’t expect 12 inches of growth in 6 months like my pothos produced! I’ll be happy if I see 4 inches in that timeframe.
Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering, which is typically about every week to 10 days. Mist your Scindapsus occasionally for a little bit of humidity. Fertilize sparingly, about once a month, during the spring and summer. Plan to repot every couple of years in good quality potting soil.
I stumbled upon my little Scindapsus pictus at my local grocery store, and I’ve also seen other Scindapsus varieties in big-box stores. But if you want to avoid the hit-or-miss shopping experience, you can easily find one online. Amazon offers Scindapsus pictus from California Tropicals, and Etsy has a wealth of options, including this one from Tropical Plants FL.
10. Snake Plant
Snake plant is another one of those plants that you’ll find everywhere. It’s highly beloved for its super-easy care routine and unique appearance.
There are many different varieties, with some having variegated color patterns and others being closer to all-green. Snake plants are ok with neglect for weeks, yet they always look bright and fresh.
Also, these plants tolerate any type of light, prefer to dry out between waterings, and only need occasional fertilizing (two to three times during the spring and summer months). And if you want to avoid repotting for as long as possible- snake plant fits the bill: You’ll probably only have to repot every 3-6 years.
To top it off, snake plants are usually inexpensive, too. No wonder they’re so consistently popular!
Not surprisingly, snake plants are available pretty much anywhere you can buy live plants. Amazon also has them, like this listing from Plants for Pets. And FloridaPlantsGardens on Etsy has some to choose from as well.
11. Peace Lily
Peace lily is a beautiful tropical plant that thrives in artificial light and produces a uniquely shaped white flower.
It’s a pretty low-maintenance plant, but peace lily does need just a bit of extra attention to maintain soil that’s moist but not soggy. That typically translates to watering about once a week, but a moisture meter, like this one from Gouevn, can spare you from resorting to guesswork.
Peace lily also appreciates misting a couple of times per week and a dose of fertilizer every month or two during the growing season. And plan to move your peace lily into a larger pot every spring.
Again, this is another easy-to-find plant at many physical stores. Amazon offers them as well, like this one from American Plant Exchange. On Etsy, check out seller Pretty in Green Plants that offers a couple of pot options to choose from.
12. Monstera (Non-Variegated Varieties)
When you see a tropical-leaf print on clothing, household decor or almost anything else, you’re likely seeing a Monstera leaf. I’m not sure if there’s any other plant that is so quintessentially “tropical” as the many varieties of Monstera. (Well, maybe palms. More on that in just a minute!)
The classic all-green Monstera Deliciosa is a great option if you’re looking for something big and dramatic but also low-maintenance. But there are also smaller varieties that are perfect for your desk or a shelf.
A bit of a slow grower, monstera appreciates a weekly drink with a touch of fertilizer from spring through fall (active growing season) and frequent misting for humidity. Most monstera varieties will need repotting every 2-3 years.
The common Monstera varieties are pretty easy to find in nurseries and garden centers, but they could be a little trickier to track down in large chain stores. But there are a wealth of Monstera types to choose from, so if you’d like to explore the more obscure ones, online is the way to go. Check out the Monstera product page on Etsy to see tons of gorgeous options.
13. Parlor Palm
Here’s the other tropical favorite! Palms of all types bring a lot of green to any room with their plentiful leaves, and they also require very little maintenance. Not all palms can thrive without natural sunlight, so when you’ve got an artificially lit office to work with, a parlor palm is your best bet.
These plants vary in size and prefer pretty moist soil, and they’ll let you know they’re thirsty by changing leaf appearance (yellowing, brown tips, curling, etc.). Use a moisture meter (again, I recommend this one from Gouevn) or feel the soil moisture manually at least once a week. Give water when just the top inch is dry.
As for fertilizing, parlor palms are not heavy feeders, so only give a dose of fertilizer once every month or two during the spring and summer.
These are generally moderate growers that don’t require repotting very often, every 2 to 3 years at most. In fact, parlor palms prefer growing in tight quarters, so as long as you’re not noticing signs of distress (roots peeking out of the pot’s drainage holes, leaf yellowing, etc), leave it in its current pot.
Parlor palms are popular, so you should be able to find them at home improvement stores and garden centers. Just be careful to pay close attention to the plant tag to make sure you’re getting a parlor palm and not another, similar-looking variety that needs actual sunlight.
If you’re in doubt, you may find it easiest to buy a parlor palm online. Etsy has many reputable sellers to choose from on their parlor palm product page.
Peperomia is a wonderful, easy-care tropical species that would be perfect for a beginner gardener. This little gem comes in many varieties, ranging from compact to trailing, that easily tolerate artificial light.
Peperomia prefers to dry out quite a bit between waterings, so plan to give water about every 2 weeks. Also, this forgiving little plant has semi-succulent leaves, allowing it to retain extra moisture for use later on. This means that if you accidentally forget to water your peperomia, even for a few weeks, it should be just fine.
And fertilizer is not required for a happy peperomia. But if you’d like to boost its growth rate a bit, you can give a half-strength dose monthly during the spring and summer.
Peperomia will grow pretty slowly under artificial light, so you only need to repot it every 2 to 3 years.
There are a multitude of peperomia varieties out there; I’m always amazed at the sheer diversity within the genus! (Just for reference, the one in the photo above is called watermelon peperomia.) You’ll find peperomia of one sort or another anywhere live plants are sold.
But if there’s a certain type you want, you’re better off getting it online. Etsy has too many wonderful peperomia sellers to list here, so stop by the peperomia product page. However, one standout is the mini peperomia variety pack from Plant Crafting Co. These plants are tiny, so they’re perfect for grouping on your desk.
If you’d prefer to go through Amazon, check out this adorable little plant from California Tropicals.
15. Aloe Vera
Here’s another one of my office buddies.
Aloe is normally thought of as a sun-lover, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how putting one in my artificially-lit office would pan out. But this plant is doing great and has grown significantly since I got it several months ago.
Only give water when the soil feels dry throughout, which has been about every 2 weeks or so for me. Your plant will probably grow fine without any added fertilizer at all, but you can give a weak dose once a year to help speed up growth a bit.
Also, your aloe can happily live in the same pot for up to a few years, so you won’t need to worry about frequent repotting. It just doesn’t get much easier than this!
As another plus, aloe plants are very inexpensive and are really easy to find at any grocery store, garden center, big-box store or home improvement store. But if you’d rather order one online, you can find them from Costa Farms on Amazon or from CTS Airplants on Etsy.
If you’ve got a little extra floor space in your office to accommodate a larger plant, Dracaena is a great choice. There are several varieties within the Dracaena genus, with some being closer to all-green and others with yellow, white or red variegation.
This tropical plant is pretty flexible, so while it doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures, it will tolerate indoor lighting with no trouble. However, Dracaena will grow more slowly under artificial lights than with natural sun, maxing out at about 3 feet tall for the larger varieties.
Dracaena prefers its soil on the drier side, so plan for about 10 days to 2 weeks in between waterings. You’re much better off letting this plant get a little too dry than you are giving it too much water, so be sparing!
Since artificial lighting puts the brakes on Dracaena’s growth to a degree, you’ll only need to fertilize your plant three to four times a year from April through September. And given its slow indoor growth pattern, you probably won’t need to repot your Dracaena more than every 3 years. You might even be able to stretch that up to 5 years as long as your plant appears happy.
I see Dracaena pretty often at store displays. But as mentioned earlier, there are many varieties of Dracaena, so if you want a specific color or variety, you may not find it in a store right away. American Plant Exchange has a neat-looking tall version for sale on Amazon, and there are several shops that have them for sale on Etsy’s product page.
17. Rubber Plant
Rubber plant is part of the ficus family and is a beautiful indoor tree for any space, even with no windows. You can control their growth rate with container size: Keep them in a smaller pot to maintain a desktop size, or gradually increase your pot size for a floor plant.
Rubber plants require a bit of a balancing act when it comes to water. They prefer soil that’s consistently moist but not waterlogged. In general, it’s best to check the soil moisture every 5-7 days and water accordingly.
Rubber plants that grow under artificial lighting have less aggressive appetites than those in natural sun, so your plant only needs fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer.
For repotting needs, you really have to base the frequency on how your individual plant is doing. Rubber plants produce new growth at the top of the plant, and those thick leaves can get heavy. Thus, your plant will need a larger pot when it becomes top-heavy and threatens to tip over. Generally speaking, you’ll probably need to repot roughly every couple of years.
Rubber plants are a common sight for me at any establishment that sells live plants. For online sellers, check out Perfect Plants on Amazon, which offers a nice selection of a couple of different rubber plant colors. And I love the look of this variegated version from The Odd Frond on Etsy.
18. Philodendron (Non-Variegated Varieties)
According to Britannica, the Philodendron genus has about 450 recognized species, and some of those species have varieties of their own. So there’s not a shortage of options here!
But one thing to keep in mind is to choose an all-green or mostly-green species for your artificially lit office. Even though the strikingly variegated philos are beautiful, they just can’t thrive in anything except natural lighting or under plant grow lights.
For your office philodendron, plan to water about once a week or when the top inch of soil feels dry. Give a half-dose of fertilizer monthly during the growing season (spring and summer months). Most philodendrons need repotting about once per year, depending on growth rate and size.
You’ll easily find a philodendron of one type or another in garden centers, home improvement stores and grocery stores. There are far too many philodendrons to mention here, and there’s no one standout to highlight- they’re all beautiful! So head over to Etsy’s philodendron product page to browse around.
19. Money Tree
Here’s my sweet little money tree next to another office staple- a cup of coffee. And I guess I use the laptop a lot too!
In nature, money trees can grow over 50 feet tall. And indoors, they usually max out somewhere between 3 and 6 feet. But reaching this height requires natural sunlight exposure, so your money tree growing under artificial lighting will probably stay at desktop size.
Water once the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch, and give a half-strength dose of fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer months.
Especially since its growth will be slower under artificial lights, your money tree can stay in the same pot for 2 to 3 years.
I got my money tree at a big-box store, but I don’t see them all too often in nurseries or grocery store displays. However, they’re easy to find online. On Amazon, you can get one from Plants & Blooms Shop, and on Etsy, Indoor Plants Inc. has a few options for sale.
Plants to Avoid in an Office with No Windows
So you’ve seen that you have a wealth of options to choose from to bring vibrant green life to your windowless workspace. But there are also plenty of plants that cannot live without consistent natural sunlight.
NOTE: One way to get around this issue is to use a specialized grow light. These devices provide full-spectrum light that’s comparable to sunshine. If you’re interested in getting a grow light, these are a couple of good, compactly-sized options:
But a grow light may not be feasible in all workspaces. If that’s the case for you, avoid these plants that need natural sunlight:
With their adorable looks and laid-back care needs, it’s easy to see why succulents are such a popular indoor plant. It’s only natural that you’d want to bring these cute little plants into your workspace. And what’s more, you may have seen succulents recommended specifically as good low-light plants.
They are not, at least not for the long term.
Succulents are hardy, being natives to harsh, direct-sun desert conditions where most other plants can’t survive. So while your succulent arrangement may survive for a while in artificial lighting, they will eventually start to go brown and die off.
Remember, these desert plants are adapted to plentiful desert sunlight, so you can’t expect them to thrive for long without this key component.
All varieties of cactus are poor choices for windowless offices for the same reasons as succulents. The only difference is that you’ll likely see a cactus plant fail even sooner than a succulent in exclusively artificial light.
Plants with patches, swathes or entire leaves of any shade other than green often require natural sunlight to maintain their lovely coloring.
This is because only the green leaf portions produce food through photosynthesis. When your variegated plant isn’t getting enough sunlight to photosynthesize enough food, those colored sections get converted to green to help increase production.
It takes a lot of energy for a plant to produce a flower and seeds, and artificial light just can’t supply the demand.
Almost all plants will flower in their native habitat. However, indoor conditions aren’t usually enough to enable a plant to bloom, so most houseplants are grown for their foliage alone.
Plants that are grown specifically for their blossoms won’t work in a windowless office. These include:
- African violets
As you can see, a lack of natural sunlight doesn’t have to hold you back from enjoying some healthy, refreshing greenery while you work. So why not bring some green life to your office today!
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