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The Best Plant Varieties for Commercial Spaces

Office spaces can be sterile, with modern design focusing more on functionality than on creating ambience. Why do most retail spaces focus on the customer experience while in offices, it is not given the same attention? Creative green space can have a significant positive impact on office workers’ productivity and psychology.

Indoor plants offer more benefits to an office space and to the people that work in them than most people would think. According to studies into the office environment, the design and materials used in office furniture can contribute to poor health for workers.

For example, office furniture gives off an array of chemical compounds that can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.  Formaldehyde for example is often used in pressed wood products such as particleboard and plywood, so is often found in most office spaces.  Plants help to filter out these chemical compounds.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, there has been a renewed interest in the health and safety of our office work environment.   The results are not great.  Offices are designed for efficiency and productivity, not with health and safety in mind.  Cubicles restrict air flow, and there is almost no natural light.

Ventilation, and lack of access to fresh air, is a significant issue for people working in an office all day.  That’s where Indoor plants can help. They are the perfect air filters.

office plants

Along with improving air quality and removing harmful compounds, studies have shown that workers who can observe plants while they work have lower stress, less sick leave, and more productivity.

There is plenty of material available online to research the benefits of plants and green space in the office.  

If you want to get the most out of green space for your office, then this article is for you.  We’ll look at how you can get the most out of your workspaces and what plant species best fit. The first part of the article will look at different office spaces, while the second part will look at specific business types.

Desk space 

In most offices, desk space is very limited and designed as a workspace, not as a nursery.  However, there are varieties of plants that suit the space.  The best varieties of plants for these spaces are small, with dense foliage.  They should be able to thrive with little or no direct natural light.

Some of the best varieties of desk plants for Australian offices include:

  • African violet – Not many office plants flower, but the African violet is an exception to the rule.  The plant needs light to flower, but it doesn’t have to be natural light.  It is also a small plant and thrives in office spaces.


  • Philodendrons – This is a leafy species that survives in very low light because of its broad leaves.  It’s perfect for the desk space as it is low maintenance and only requires water once a week.  There are also varieties available that have striking-shaped leaves.


  • Peace Lily – Probably one of the most popular desk plants.  The Peace Lily thrives in low light and can flower almost year round.  The peace lily does require regular watering, but a misting is all that is required.


Foyer spaces

In the office foyer, you can spread your wings a little bit with your plant choices and spread the foliage.  You are looking for larger plants in these areas, with more vertical growth, to complement the space available. 

There is a lot of traffic in foyers, so you’re looking for a plant that can be knocked around a bit and will not drop leaves.

You may have more natural light in a foyer or entrance, which also gives you more options for plant varieties.  Talk to Frenchams to discover what’s possible with green design in your office foyer.

foyer office plants

Some of the best varieties of plant for Australian office foyers include;

  • Fig trees – There are several varieties of figs that grow well indoors and can grow high with a broad leaf.  The Fiddle-Leaf Fig​ Tree is a very popular variety because of its broad and striking leaf.  


  • Dracaena Deremensis – The Dracaena have a very striking leaf and can grow as large as you allow it.  It looks best in foyers in large ornamental pots.  They also require less care and water than other species.  Do not keep the soil moist all the time, as it can cause root rot.


Specific spaces:

So far, we have discussed species for desks and foyers based on their physical shape and maintenance requirements, but there are many other reasons that can impact your plant choices.

Let’s look at some of the other factors that can influence species choice based on the built environment where they will be used.  If you are unsure what you need, then contact an indoor plant specialist, such as Frenchams, for the right advice.

Hotel and motel spaces 

In hotels and motels, there is an opportunity to get plants that mean something to your guests and grab their attention.  For example, the jade plant is also known as the money plant and is considered a sign of wealth and good fortune in Chinese culture.  

The money plant is one example of how particular species can affect people.  There are other species that can give off fragrances that can cause emotional responses.  Selecting the right plants can help to influence your guests’ experience of your hotel or motel.  

Some of the best varieties of plants for hotels and motels include: Dracaena, Philodendron, Ponytail Palms.

Shopping centres 

Shopping centres can be sterile places and not designed for the comfort of the shopper.  However, with indoor gardens and plants, you change the shopping experience into a calming one, where shoppers will want to spend more time.

Shopping centres have a mixture of artificial and natural light, and making the right choices can be difficult.  Many shopping centres choose fake plants for aesthetic appeal, without the maintenance time and costs required. However, fake plants do not offer the same benefits that real plants do.

Trees in the parking lot might reduce space, but the benefit of shade and cooler temperatures for you shoppers will far outweigh the cost.

Shopping centres with a green space focus have proven to attract more shoppers than those without green space.

Some of the best varieties of plants for shopping centres include: Bird of Paradise, Caryota, Dracaena fragrans.

wall indoor plants

Airport spaces 

Like office spaces, people spend a lot of time in airports.  Putting indoor plants in these spaces helps to reduce the stress of travel and to provide a calming influence.  It also gives the airport an opportunity to feature some of the unique local species that a traveller might have never seen before.  

There’s also a lot of space, so feature gardens or green architecture, such as green walls, can be used effectively.

Some of the best varieties for Australian airports include:  Moreton Bay Chestnut, Umbrella Tree, Cunjevoi (notice these are natives)

Showroom and retail spaces

In a showroom or retail space, you want to highlight what you are offering, not your gardening skills.  So the plants you should choose should not draw too much attention.  But plants still give your space a calming feel.

You want tall plants with narrow profiles as you want people to be able to move freely around your showroom.

Some of the best plant species for showrooms include:  Caryota, Native Ginger, Kentia Palm

Office plants from ceiling


Clubs usually want a welcoming feel, and green space is the answer.  But clubs can also be darker places, and there are low levels of natural light.  Fortunately, this doesn’t reduce your options too much.

Clubs are also busy places with a lot going on, so you want plants that are as low maintenance as possible.

Some of the best plant species for clubs include: Lady Palm, Peperomia, Pothos

These are just some of the hundreds of varieties of common indoor plants available, and each office space or business is different.  Contact Frenchams to discuss how you can bring a bit of colour and calm to your office space. 

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