Curbly Roundup: Bringing Nature into the Office

Nature is good for us. Introducing it to the office can help us breathe easier and take the edge out of a stressful workday. When we think of bringing nature to the office, plants first come to mind, and although we’ll be covering vegetation in this Curbly Roundup, we’ll also be exploring a few other options as well.    

First, the flora.

For the brown-thumb-ers out there, I’d highly recommend snake plants and ZZ plants (pictured below), both of which are about as easy to maintain as a fake plant. Seriously.

For those with slightly greener thumbs, good options are the always dependable pothos, philodendron, cactus and spider plant. If you’re lucky enough to have a window, preferably with a ledge, African violets are a great choice. 

For those willing to ‘baby’ their office flora, consider Boston ferns (they add moisture and rid air of polutants) and Engish ivy (pictured below), which adds moisture. English ivy is much easier to grow than the Boston fern, however, it can be a bit touchy about light (bright indirect works best for me) and watering (mine don’t like to get dried out, so adhering to a regular watering schedule is best).

English ivy

To reduce pollutants, consider areca palm, bamboo palm, dracaena, dwarf date palm, ficus alii and peace lily (pictured below). 

Peace lily plant

For those who don’t want to be bothered with plant up keep, there are some very nice faux options out there. The best fakers are those types of plants that look kind of fake when they’re real. Orchids are perfect examples. Can you tell which of these is real and which is fake?

created at: 01/24/2011 

created at: 01/24/2011

The second one is fake whereas the first one is also fake. Gotcha! 

Another no maintenance plant alternative might be a zen garden, which actually has no plants in it. My Zen Garden on a Budget post is perfect for a table top or shelf. Follow this jump for the tute.

created on: 07/25/08

Second, the fauna.

You’ve seen those gorgeous aquariums in waiting rooms of law offices and such. Expensive? Yes. High maintenance? Probably not because, most likely, a fish professional is coming in regularly to maintain it. For an aquarium alternative for we regular folks, one to consider is the maintenance free Jellyfish Aquarium from Hammacher Schlemmer ($69.95). It comes complete with seaweed and coral reefs, all backlit by LED’s for a hypnotic effect.

created at: 01/24/2011


If the idea of faux fish is off-putting, you may want to consider a Betta, who are happy living in small spaces. They are a perfect ‘office fish’ but there are some things to consider before you take the plunge, like water temperature, drafts and feeding schedules. For more information on living with Betta in the office, check out this very informative article

Third, nature’s noise.

Whether it’s a bubbling brook or the forlorn call of the loon, nature sounds can be very soothing to the soul. A sound therapy system is a great way to bring these melodies to the office. 

Although it has ‘sleep’ in its name, Brookstone’s Tranquil Moments Sleep Sound Therapy System ($130) has  ‘relax’ and ‘renew’ buttons along with its ‘sleep’ button.

created at: 01/24/2011

The ‘relax’ feature uses ‘Alpha frequencies’ that encourage ‘brainwaves to slow to a state of healthy Alpha relaxation. Its programs include ocean surf, thunderstorm, serenity and unwind.

The ‘renew’ feature uses ‘Theta frequencies’ that ‘help you achieve a state that is conducive to active relaxation, concentration and peak performance’. The ‘renew’ programs include stream, meditate focus and rejuvenate. 

(Plant recommendations compiled from here and here.)