Tips and Tricks

17 Best Office Succulents For Your Desk & Work Area

July 24, 2022
Succulents on office desk

Succulents are a fabulous way to add some life back into the daily office grind. They bring vibrancy and a fresh ambiance to those horrid gray walls and buzzing fluorescent lights. There are a lot of succulents that fit perfectly into an office environment. Additionally, there are numerous tropical plants that are ideal office plants!

This list of the best office succulents for your desk and work area are sure to cause a buzz around the water cooler so let’s dive in!

What succulents do best in an office?

The plants I want to share with you are those that meet these two criteria: adaptable to low light and low maintenance. Work can already be stressful enough. You don’t want to have to tend to your plant hours each week in addition to the stacks of paperwork on your desk. Let these plants bring a slice of the peaceful outdoors, in.

Succulent on office desk with computer

What is low light? 

An environment with low light still has light! Plants need light for photosynthesis which is needed for growth and general health. Examples of a low light environment or room may include a bathroom with one window or a bedroom with numerous trees blocking direct sunlight from reaching the room. Or, in an office, if you have a small office with a window that looks onto a neighboring building.

These places will get minimal direct sunlight but have adequate illumination, enough so that objects in the room will create fuzzy, diffuse shadows on the floor.

If you only have access to a cubicle with no natural light source, you will need to add artificial light to keep your plants healthy. Plants grown in artificial light grow much slower than those in natural light. Because of this, water more infrequently than normal to avoid overwatering and root rot.

What do I mean when I say “low maintenance succulent”?

The office succulents and tropical plants on this list are low maintenance, meaning they will do just fine without daily or even weekly care. Some actually thrive on neglect. You don’t have to worry about these plants being finicky or dropping leaves everywhere and most importantly, you can leave them alone without worry when you take a vacation!

1. Schlumbergera bridgesii or Christmas Cactus

This succulent gets its name due to the fact that it blooms over the winter holiday season, however it’s a perfect office succulent to display all year round. The Christmas cactus is native to the mountains in eastern Brazil and actually favors a more mild, humid environment than most other cacti. Most importantly, they love shade!

Christmas cactus on white background

The Christmas cactus is a trailing succulent. The flattened, segmented leaves are a true evergreen and are a shape reminiscent of that of a holly. As you probably guessed, the stems cascade beautifully over the sides of containers. Display this succulent on a side table in the corner of your office or on a shelf to breathe life back into your workplace.

  • Water: water when top 2 inches of soil are dry; soak soil completely. Decrease frequency in colder months, however if you notice blooms, you may need to water more often to support his growth
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade
  • Mature Size: 6”-12” length stems; however can grow longer if properly cared for

2. Aloe juvenna or Tiger Tooth Aloe

A Tiger Tooth Aloe grows long stems that have grown together in clumps at the base of the plant. As this succulent’s stems get long, they begin to arch over and cascade. Triangular cupped leaves with toothed margins form a rosette around this long stem.

Green tiger tooth aloe in pot

I love this type of aloe because it does well in a variety of places. In a place where it receives 6+ hours of direct sunlight per day, the A. juvenna will grow quickly with full stems. The leaves will likely turn a rusty red in color. In partial shade, just like many other species of smaller aloe, it can become a bit leggy but adapts quite well. Arrange these succulents in your office on the windowsill or even on your desk!

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: partial shade to full sun
  • Mature Size: 12” long stems, 24-36” wide depending on container

3. Haworthia fasciata or Zebra Plant

This next succulent may look like it belongs to the aloe genus but it is in fact a species of Haworthia. Their dark green leaves are quite sturdy and are covered in white bumpy stripes, hence the nickname ‘Zebra’. 

Perfect small succulents for office desk

H. fasciata grow in very harsh, rocky conditions and do great with a little neglect. This is a perfect succulent for the office because it will continue to do well weeks after you have forgotten to water it!

Because a Zebra Plant is small, it will fit a perfect fit as a succulent for your office desk.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade
  • Mature Size: 3”-5” tall

4. Sansevieria cylindrica or African Spear

S. cylindrica is a fascinating succulent with thick, long tapered leaves that look more like stems, but don’t be fooled. When grown in bright light, the leaves will often have a variegated green pattern with some splashes of silver. While this pattern will become more muted in low light conditions, this succulent will still do well in a shadier office.

Tall green succulent in white pot on office desk

Because it can grow up to six feet tall, this succulent is best planted in a large container that is kept on the floor.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: partial shade to full sun
  • Mature Size: 4-6’’ tall

5. Sansevieria trifasciata or Snake Plant

This is an ideal office succulent! It is quite impervious to neglect and new plant owners alike. S. trifasciata, also known as a Snake Plant or Mother’s Tongue, is in the same genus as S. cylindrica and therefore requires the same type of care.

Two tall green and yellow succulent plants for the office

Unlike the African Spear succulent, a Snake Plant has flat green leaves that are rimmed with a bright yellow and grow upward. Colors will be more vibrant when exposed to direct sunlight however do just fine in low light conditions. There are numerous varieties of S. trifasciata with different characteristics; some have wavy, curly leaves and others grow to a much smaller height.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: partial shade to full sun
  • Mature Size: 3’-4’ tall

6. Hoya kerrii or Sweetheart Plant

These sweet little plants are, of course, shaped like a valentine’s day heart! In stores, you will most likely find just one heart-shaped leaf planted in each pot being sold. These have most likely been potted without a stem node, so the plant will never grow into a trailing plant.

Two heart shaped, green succulents

The great thing about this is that these single leafed hoyas will stay just that. They require less light than one that has the ability to grow into a vine. Enjoy this office succulent on your desk so people coming into your office feel the love!

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: partial shade to full sun
  • Mature Size: 3-4” (!!!)

7. Portulacaria afra ‘Green’ or Elephant Plant

Found in abundance in South Africa, P. afra gets its nickname from the animal that most enjoys its foliage: elephants! It is a fast growing succulent that, when potted in a container, can be kept at its smaller size and pruned into bonsai. It can also be allowed to flourish and spill over the sides of the pot. The reddish purple stems stand out against the bright green of the coin-shaped leaves.

Best succulent for a work desk

Regardless of the way in which you grow your Elephant plant, make sure it is planted in well draining soil that is mixed a liberal amount of pumice or perlite. This succulent will do best in a south facing office window but can also be placed in those that are east facing or in bright rooms.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright indirect light to full sun
  • Mature Size: 12+” depending on how it is planted and pruned

8. Haworthia cymbiformis

This succulent is unique to our list because its leaves showcase something extra special; they are translucent! This allows for H. cymbiformis to grow even under very low light conditions because sunlight is able to reach deep into the leaf’s interior. How cool!

Small green succulent on table top

They are also very beginner friendly, need minimal maintenance and rarely succumb to pests. A collection of these babies would look great in a large planter bowl on a coffee table in your office or as a desk succulent.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely. Less prone to overwatering than other succulents
  • Light: low light
  • Mature Size: 3-4” tall, 3-4” wide

9. Disocactus anguliger or Fishbone Cactus

Also known as a zig zag cactus, the D. anguliger is an epiphytic cactus. An epiphyte is a type of plant that grows on and draws nutrients from another plant, such as a tree. Unlike a parasitic plant, an epiphyte doesn’t kill its host plant!

A green zig zag cactus perfect for an office desk

As an indoor plant, the Fishbone cactus can be grown in cactus soil that is mixed well with a generous amount of perlite and peat moss. Because it is a tropical cactus, your D. anguliger likes to stay a bit more wet than most other cacti. Water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to keep this perfect-for-the-office succulent happy.

Hang this plant from a planter in the corner of your office or let it cascade off of your office desk!

  • Water: water when top 2 inches of soil are dry; soak soil completely.
  • Light: indirect low light or partial shade
  • Mature Size: 12+” long

10. Cereus peruvianus or Peruvian Apple Cactus

This columnar cactus species sports a beautiful muted blue-green with a frosty sheen. They are fast growers, growing up to 2-4 feet per year! However, when kept in a floor container, this plant won’t be taking over your office anytime soon.

Three large green blue cacti

To promote branching, cut off the top of the cactus with a sharp knife. Allow the top to callous over and you will soon see new growth appear!

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering, and then some; soak soil completely.
  • Light: bright indirect light to full sun
  • Mature Size: 6+’ tall

11. Tillandsia or Air Plants

Not a succulent but just as fun, is the air plant! There are over 600 species of air plants in the genus Tillandsia. These plants are a perennial evergreen and look like whimsical sea creatures with their reaching limbs.

Three delicate air plants close up

Unlike succulents or cacti, air plants do not need soil at all. Instead of having roots to absorb water and nutrients via soil, they rely on their leaves to absorb these elements from the air! Air plants require bi-weekly watering. Fully submerge your air plants in a container of water and let soak for 30 minutes. Shake off excess water and let them dry for another 30 minutes upside down. They do not like direct sunlight so place them in an area where they receive diffuse, indirect light.

They can be placed on an office desk, styled on a wooden log, or in a terrarium to create a fascinating piece of art!

  • Water: bi-weekly, fully submerge in water for 30 minutes and let dry upside down
  • Light: bright, indirect light
  • Mature Size: varies on species, usually 2-12” tall

12. Epipremnum aureum or Golden Pothos

A highly popular plant used to brighten any and all indoor spaces is the Golden Pothos and its numerous varieties. Tear shaped leaves can either be trained to trail down or grow up a moss pole for a unique look.

A green golden Pothos on a work desk
A green

These tropical plants are a great alternative to an office succulent as they take to lower light conditions with ease. They like their soil to be soaked completely when watering but only water when the top half of the soil is dry to avoid root rot.

  • Water: water when top half of soil is dry; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade
  • Mature Size: 6-10’ vines if not pruned regularly

13. Beaucarnea recurvata or Ponytail Palm

Despite what its name and appearance may lead you to believe, this plant is actually a succulent! It has a bulbous woody stem topped with wacky curled leaves! You can display this succulent in the office on your desk but may need to ultimately move it to a floor pot as it can reach upwards of 4 feet.

A unique succulent with wavy thin leaves

Water as you would any other succulent. Wait until the soil is completely dry before completely soaking the soil. The Ponytail Palm likes bright, indirect light as the leaves can burn if placed in full sun.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright, indirect light
  • Mature Size: up to 4’ tall

14. Dracaena marginata or Madagascar Dragon Tree

D. marginata is a slow growing, tropical plant with slender wooden stems ending in thinly arched leaves spilling from the top. Because it is slow growing, it really only needs water once or twice a month when you notice the leaves beginning to droop. Another great thing is that D. marginata bounces back quickly after months of neglect!

A large plant for the office

Place this office plant in bright, indirect light near an entrance or in the corner of the room to add a bit of flair.

  • Water: one to two times per month when leaves begin to droop; soak completely
  • Light: bright, indirect light
  • Mature Size: up to 8’ tall

15. Chlorophytum comosum or Spider Plant

This staple household plant is also perfect to bring to the office. Spider plants have ribbon thin light green leaves with a darker green margin.

A spidery plant against a brick wall

They grow readily and produce numerous offsets so this is a plant to share with all of your coworkers. Place in an area of the office with bright, indirect light, however it can tolerate shadier, low light conditions.

  • Water: water when top 2 inches of soil are dry; soak soil completely.
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade
  • Mature Size: up to 1’ tall

16. Crassula Ovata or Jade Plant

This tried and true succulent is a classic and will fit into any office decor. With sturdy brown stems and thick green ovaloid leaves, Jade plants can be left to grow into hardy thick bushes or groomed into bonsai.

A well cared for Jade plant

Jade plants enjoy bright, filtered light so would be great for an east facing office where it only receives direct morning light. Water infrequently and be sure the soil is completely dry to the bottom; C. ovata does not do well with wet roots.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade; can be trained to tolerate full sun
  • Mature Size: 12+” tall, 12+” wide, dependent upon pruning preference

17. Zamioculcas zamiifolia or ZZ Plant

The ZZ plant has waxy leaves that grow strictly upright from numerous vertical growing stems. This is a tropical plant that is versatile; while it enjoys bright light, it can do just as well in shadier, low light office conditions.

A green succulent for an office desk

Something interesting about the ZZ plant is how it stores excess water. In the soil, you will notice bulbous potato shaped rhizomes which are actually underground stems that have evolved to help this plant survive in its dry natural habitat.

  • Water: let soil dry completely between each watering; soak soil completely
  • Light: bright indirect light to partial shade
  • Mature Size: 2’-3’ tall

Wrapping up

I hope this list gives you inspiration to go out and spend some money sprucing up your office space. Let these plants bring some joy into your everyday grind. Think of these office succulents and plants as a little treat for working so hard!