Office plants: you should know that

BĂĽropflanzen: Das solltest du wissen

Many people wonder how they can withstand the constant pressures of the workplace and are looking for products that can give them more energy or more focus, without considering that commercial plants can give them this kind of performance boost.

There are numerous studies on the subject in which researchers have been able to prove that office plants increase productivity and improve mood, as well as having an air-purifying function to ensure a comfortable climate.

With us you will find out exactly how the positive effect of office plants affects your daily work environment and your performance in detail and what other things you need to consider to give you a good start in the world of plants.

the essentials in brief

  • Office plants can have a positive effect on your mood and contribute to greater well-being
  • According to studies, office plants affect productivity and can lead to greater efficiency
  • The air quality inside offices can be significantly improved by the presence of plants

Background: What good do office plants do?

In this article we explain why it can be worthwhile to integrate plants into your workplace and what advantages it can bring.

How do office plants affect air quality?

We spend most of the day indoors. Windows are opened from time to time to let in some fresh air, but this can also ensure that more pollutants penetrate. Air pollution in Germany is relatively constant.

The problem lies more in the buildings and facilities. This leads to a very high level of pollution in the air. It can happen that the air quality is many times worse than outdoors. Nevertheless, pollutants can arise both from outside and inside and reduce the air quality.

Location burden by
Outdoors Exhaust fumes, chemicals, pollutants
In the room Carpets, textiles, ventilation systems

Plants can counteract this and significantly improve the indoor climate. The technical term is photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the air and converted into oxygen, which is then released into the air. Thus, plants increase the oxygen content of the air, which improves the air quality.

But that's not all. A few years ago, a NASA study found that plants can purify indoor air by picking up and absorbing the resulting chemicals from the air. (1)

If we inhale harmful chemicals, this can lead to serious health problems. In addition, our work performance decreases because we feel sick and listless. Plants not only improve air quality, but also protect us from diseases.

However, another study by NASA, which was carried out many years later, shows that studies can be refuted and research results can be inaccurate. The amount of volatile organic compounds in the room air was examined. With the help of the latest technology, researchers were able to accurately measure the efficiency of room fans through the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). (2)

An open window is more efficient than 10 plants.

It turned out that a good ventilation system or one or two open windows removes pollutants from the indoor air much more efficiently than plants do. They don't even come close to these values. Nevertheless, they should not be dispensed with, as they contribute, even if only to a small extent, to improving air quality.

What are the positive effects of office plants on productivity?

If you want to be efficient and focused, you should eat healthily. The selection of the right brain food is the be-all and end-all here. Nevertheless, even a few plants can stimulate the performance of the office staff so much that this can have a positive effect on the company's success.

Researchers have carried out three experiments in this regard, which are intended to demonstrate the influence of plants on employee productivity. (3)

In order to adapt the experiment as closely as possible to a natural working day in the office, no experimental research laboratory was set up for this. Instead, employees were split between 2 larger buildings in the UK and the Netherlands.

There they should now carry out their normal activities without being greatly influenced by the special situation. Therefore, the research period extended over several months. The first group was given a few plants distributed throughout the office, so that at least two plants were always within sight of the employees. The room of the second group was completely devoid of plants and furnished only functionally.


Plants have a direct impact on productivity. (Image source: Free-Photos / pixabay)

In a survey, the employees who were surrounded by the green creatures every day spoke of greater job satisfaction, better air quality and a higher ability to concentrate . In order to be able to document the whole thing in measurable data, both groups were then presented with tasks for quick processing. In contrast to the group in the empty offices, the plant group had achieved a significantly higher productivity of 15%.

A similar study was also able to prove the influence of desk plants on productivity. Here, too, participants who were in constant contact with plants had clearly achieved better results than those who had to do without the green. (4)

The researchers link this knowledge to the positive effects of the plants. Contact with plants can be explained in a similar way to the intake of vitamins . So if you want to put a few plants on your desk, you can have a direct influence on your well-being and performance.

How can office plants make you happy?

Too much work can make us sick. Whether in the office or outdoors. The commitment required in today's meritocracy sometimes pushes us to our limits. If the body or the mind can no longer keep up, this often manifests itself in burnouts or other mental illnesses that make it no longer possible to continue working.

A 40-hour week borders on a mental endurance test.

Even if this was probably already clear to us, Australian scientists have now been able to prove it in measurable key figures. The study found that working a week longer than 39 hours can be harmful to human health. (5) This assumption was not necessarily based on working hours.

Many factors play a role. In addition to working hours and the workplace, deadline pressure, performance pressure or the lack of breaks often play a role, which means additional stress in addition to the time to be worked.

The reality is often different and overtime accumulates that has not been contractually regulated, but here too you can find a remedy.

Woman in the sunflower field

Humans feel most comfortable in nature. (Image Source: JillWellington / pixabay)

Nature just makes us happier , whether we like it or not. A research team from the UK got to the bottom of this. For the study, 10,000 subjects were followed for a full 18 years in order to be able to assess the course as accurately and meaningfully as possible. (6)

Clearly, the participants who were surrounded by green, be it office plants, trees in parks or gardens, were significantly happier, more balanced and mentally unstable over the entire duration. Those who have to stare at a gray wall all day long are more prone to psychological problems and are less able to withstand mental stress.

Even if you already suffer from a mental disorder or are mentally challenged, the presence and direct contact with plants can accelerate the healing process. This was confirmed by a scientific study from the USA. (7)

Which office plants are particularly easy to care for?

If you want to put plants in your office, the choice is not exactly small. Some plants require a lot of care and others less.

  • Peace Lily: This plant has its origins in South America and, in addition to the green leaves, always shows off its beautiful white flowers. It is one of the most easy-care office plants and exudes a pleasant scent that ensures a good climate.
  • Ufoblatt: The Ufoblatt (also called GlĂĽckstaler) comes from China and owes its name to the large, round UFO-like leaves. The special thing about this plant is that it can also get by with very little sunlight. No sun, on the other hand, is rather counterproductive.
  • Rubber tree: A common plant found in offices is the rubber tree. The Asian tree is very popular because of its robustness and the privacy function. It comes in different versions. It is available in one color or with colored leaves. Here, too, only a very limited amount of care is required to maintain the plant.
  • Cacti: Cacti are the classic example of low-maintenance plants. You can also easily go without water for a long time without suffering any external damage. They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes and are among the plants that require particularly little care.

Why can office plants even make you ill?

Office plants can be very beneficial in many ways. They are primarily responsible for a better indoor climate, can improve air quality and also have a positive effect on our well-being and health. When buying office plants, you think far too much about the positive qualities of each plant and how much it can beautify the look of the room.


Cacti bring a special atmosphere to the office and are rarely watered. (Image source: Ulleo / pixabay)

What is sadly not talked about enough is the fact that not all plants are harmless. Unfortunately, among all the mood-enhancing gems, there are also some that can cause considerable damage to our health. Especially with small children and pets. Some of the most popular office plants are not entirely harmless.

  • Single leaf: The single leaf is one of the most popular office plants. Even if it shines in a beautiful green and looks so inconspicuous, it should not be underestimated. The plant contains toxic pollutants and if you come into contact with the plant sap, skin irritation can occur.
  • Cyclamen: Anyone who likes things a little more colorful will certainly have heard of this plant before. It radiates a lot of positive energy and yet it contains a very toxic saponin. In addition to vomiting and cramps, this can also lead to cardiovascular disorders.
  • Amaryllis: It is a very popular variety in winter due to its exotic characteristics. There is hardly a part of it that is not poisonous to humans. The most toxic of these is the root, and if any part enters the body, it can result in brain damage or even complete paralysis.
  • Azaleas: This plant can be harmful to health, albeit to a limited extent. Consuming some flowers can cause nausea and gastrointestinal distress. However, the symptoms are limited to a small extent.
  • Kalanchoe: This species is extremely dangerous for cats. The plant should not be in close proximity to the small four-legged friends. Muscle cramps and cardiovascular problems are some of the ailments that can cause serious harm to the animals.

While not all plants are dangerous to adult humans, they can have negative effects on young children and animals. Dogs are not uncommon, especially in the office. So if you stay attentive when choosing office plants, you don't have to worry about the health of your loved ones.

What should you consider when buying office plants?

Anyone who decides to buy office plants will be able to benefit from a number of positive effects. There are a lot of points that have already been raised. But of course one or the other plant also has a certain disadvantage. In general, however, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

  • Soundproofing by the foliage
  • Tall plants serve as privacy screens
  • increase in humidity
  • Possibly high need for care
  • Employees may be allergic to plants
  • Some species are poisonous, especially to animals
  • However, it is clear that the positive effects of plants outweigh the minor disadvantages. But since there are a lot of office plants that would come into question, you can use the following criteria as a guide.

    criteria Tip
    Size The larger the plant, the better the air quality
    Number Experts recommend one medium-sized plant per 10 m²
    Care Easy-care plants relieve those responsible

    When caregivers are pre-determined, the focus on care effort is also less critical. In addition, the use of irrigation systems can be considered to further reduce the maintenance of the plants.


    Office plants enrich our everyday life and help to create more satisfaction at work. They have a direct impact on our productivity, as has been established in several scientific studies. A few plants that you can put on your desk are enough for this.

    In addition, nature simply makes us happy. It is not without reason that people often find themselves in parks when the weather is sunny, because plants lift our spirits and have a very calming effect on us. If possible, all offices should be equipped with plants, but unfortunately the positive effect of plants is often underestimated.

    Individual proofs(8)

    1. Wolverton, BC, A Johnson and K Bounds, "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement," NASA/ALCA Final Report, Plants for Clean Air Council, Davidsonville, Maryland, 1989 Source
    2. Cummings, BE, Waring, MS Potted plants do not improve indoor air quality: a review and analysis of reported VOC removal efficiencies. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 30, 253-261 Source
    3. Nieuwenhuis M, Knight C, Postmes T, & Haslam SA (2014). The relative benefits of green versus lean office space: Three field experiments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(3), 199-214. Source
    4. Ruth K. Raanaas, Katinka Horgen Evensen, Debra Rich, Gunn Sjøstrøm, Grete Patil, Benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in an office setting, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 99-105, ISSN 0272 -4944, Source
    5. Huong Dinh, Lyndall Strazdins, Jennifer Welsh, Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered health inequities, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 176, 2017, Pages 42-51, ISSN 0277-9536, Source
    6. Mathew P White, Ian Alcock, Benedict W Wheeler, Michael H Depledge, European Center for Environment & Human Health, University of Exeter, 920-928, Article first published online: April 23, 2013; Issue published: June 1, 2013 Source
    7. Cecily Maller, Mardie Townsend, Anita Pryor, Peter Brown, Lawrence St Leger, Healthy nature healthy people: 'contact with nature' as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations, Health Promotion International, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2006, Pages 45 -54, Source
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