If you'd told us last January that we'd spend most of the upcoming year at home, we wouldn't have believed you. With a bit of hope and a lot of help from key workers, the second half of 2021 was more face to face and less face to screen. However, the pandemic has changed the way that we work forever. Many workers have now acclimatised to working most, if not all, of their working week from home. Employers have cut back on expensive office overheads, people have bought dogs, moved out of the cities, changed their working set-ups so that they can fulfil most of their roles remotely. Teams meetings, Hangout hangouts and Zoom calls are likely to be a prominent feature of most of our daily lives.
After nearly two years of lockdown, lockdown-lite and remote working, there's no excuse to turn up to a client meeting with dirty laundry on your bed or posters of your teen crush in the background. Our whole world may have been turned upside down, but people are as image-obsessed as ever, so if you want to be taken seriously, you need to sort out your video background.
Much better than digital filters, plants are ideal for blocking out the parts of your life you don't want all the world to see. As well as conveniently obscuring any messiness or personal items, plants give the person you're meeting with a neutral point to break the ice and position you as a caring and conscientious individual (they don't need to know you've got a stack of dirty plates behind your monstera).
Here are our top picks for plants to pop on or behind your desk, to keep you looking professional and help cheer you up in this difficult time.
1. LARGE PHILODENDRON XANADU
The Philodendron Xanadu has beautiful, feathery leaves, and a thick, dense cluster of foliage, which grows as wide as it does tall. This density in the plants’ canopy is very handy for filling those spaces you don’t really want a laptop camera to pick up on - which is one reason we’ve included it in this list of plants to liven your zoom background!
This plant is fairly low maintenance, and will not require a great deal of upkeep to grow in home and office spaces.
In some ways, the Philodendron Xanadu has many similarities with the Elephant Ear Plant. However, the thickness of the Philodendron’s foliage and the feathery shape of its leaves help distinguish the two - and makes this plant all the more unusual looking.
Block out your unmade bed with a shrubby Large Philodendron Xanadu.
2. POLKA DOT BEGONIA
The Polka Dot Begonia is a highly unique, eye-catching foliage plant, with long, feathery leaves speckled in gorgeous cream dots of varying size. This plant is so unusual that, if it’s caught on a zoom call, it’s bound to spark conversation, generate praise, and generally distract from anything else in the room you’d rather not draw attention to!
What’s more, if someone on zoom does ask you about this stunning, speckled little plant - there’s another reason that it will spark conversation and intrigue. According to rumour, French fashion designer Christian Louboutin was so inspired by the Polka Dot Begonia, that he used it to design and create his famous, iconic red-soled stilettos.
3. SILVER SWORD PHILODENDRON
Block out your floordrobe with an elegant Silver Sword Philodendron.
4. SNAKE PLANT
Sansevieria Trifasciata Laurentii, also known as Mother-In-Law's Tongue, is a great choice for homes and offices alike. It requires very little care and thrives in a variety of environments. What’s more, the colloquial name - “Monther-In-Law’s Tongue” is a great conversation starter. This plant is so called because the leaves are very pointed or “sharp,” much like the tongue of a mother in law when she’s displeased, snappy or condescending.
Its deep green pointed leaves have creamy yellow edges and are striped horizontally.
Additionally, Sansevieria Trifasciata Laurentii is deemed by NASA to be one of the most effective air-purifying plants there is. This plant absorbs toxins from the environment around it and refreshes the home with clean oxygen, so it creates purity, assists with breathing, and makes for a great addition when you’re working from home and spending all day in the same room!
Look like a plant care pro with minimal effort by placing this easy-care Snake Plant next to your camera.
5. KEY LIME AGLAONEMA
Expansive and bright, the Key Lime Aglaonema will help cheer up another week of work in lockdown. This plant has light, yellow-striped leaves and a thin foliage - and it brings a calming, peaceful energy to the room.
Another great benefit of Aglaonemas is that they're low maintenance, and don’t require a great deal of attention or care to thrive in most indoor spaces. If your home office is dimly-lit, lacking in natural daylight, or just quite cluttered with “things,” then this plant will be tolerant of the stuffy, low light conditions. You can put it anywhere that requires a splash of colour, or a bit of plant distraction!
6. DUMB CANE
Despite its somewhat unfortunate name - the Dumb Cane is anything but “Dumb.” This plant is wonderful at air purifying, and its Latin name actually comes from the plants’ origin - it was brought to Europe from Brazil by Joseph Dieffenbach - a 19th century Austrian explorer.
Moreover, like most of the plants on this blog, the Dieffenbachia has big, yellow-speckled leaves, is eye-catching - and provides for a great distraction from the room around it.
Bag yourself a Dumb Cane to help you remember to unmute yourself before you speak.
That’s a wrap!
We hope you’ve found this plant guide useful, and that you’re feeling inspired to introduce a few quirky and conversation-triggering plants into any messy or slightly-embarrassing bedroom/office spaces.