Plants in the running for this week’s #FavouriteOfficePlant

on Thursday, 20 May 2021. Posted in News

This year’s contest was between nine interesting house or office plants. By chance we invited exactly the same number of judges from the horticultural industry to assess their qualities and vote for their top three virtually. We will be adding to this page each day.


We’d like to thank all of the judges who had to vote virtually again this year:
Matthew Appleby, editor of Horticulture Week
Lisa Wilkinson and the team at Pro Landscaper
Greg Redwood, Head of Glasshouses, Nurseries & Display Horticulture at Kew & Senior RHS Judge and part of the team of judges at RHS Chelsea
Claudia de Yong, Award winning Garden Designer
Podcaster Jane Perrone
Michael Perry aka Mr PlantGeek
Rona Wheeldon of Flowerona
Joe Zazzera, Head of Vision at Green Plants for Green Buildings and owner of Plant Solutions, Arizona
Elliott Bennett, editor of iPlants Magazine

Top plant: Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm)
Voted into the top position was the fascinating Howea forsteriana commonly known as the Kentia Palm and only found naturally on Lord Howe Island off Australia where they still control cultivation of the seeds still control. Take a look at the article Kenneth Freeman, our Deputy Chair wrote about this plant appearing at the RHS Chelsea Show in 2001.

Howea insta

Podcaster Jane Perrone commented, ‘The Howea is a real statement plant that will hold its own in larger office spaces.’

Chanel de Kock of the Flower Council of Holland commented about the Kentia Palm: ‘This plant will boost life into any office space adding a tropical vibe that we might all be missing this year, and the plant will certainly help you feel more relaxed. Now that we can open our windows to let the sunshine and breeze in again, this plant can cast beautiful moving shadows that will help calm the mind and stimulate creativity.’

Greg Redwood: The Kentia palm - A classic and deservedly still popular after many years. It thrives in bright conditions and its architectural form gives height and interest whilst still allowing light and views through, due to a relatively open habit for a large plant.

Elliott Bennett of iPlants Magazine This plant is one of my all-time favourites and conveys exotic class. They make you feel like you’re in the tropics when you look at them! They are fairly tough so they can be used indoors in several spaces.

Check out our video about the Howea forestiana here.

Kentia video

Second place went to Monstera Adansonii also known as Monkey Mask
The delightful Monkey Mask is related to the Swiss Cheese Plant aka Monstera deliciosa which from the cuts in their leaves won’t surprise anyone. But Monkey Mask is smaller than the deliciosa. Monkey mask will trail or climb which ever you want it to do but will need supports to climb.

Monkey Mask insta

This plant originates from the forests of Central and South America so like a warm but humid atmosphere and no direct sunlight.

Fun fact: According to some, the leaves are filled with holes so that they don’t have to compete with other plants to gain sunlight in those deep forests. This adaptation allows them to cover a large area while not wasting energy on a fully developed leaf blade!

What the judges said about the Monstera Adansonii:
Matt Appleby from Horticulture Week: ‘These are selling best at retail and I'm hearing a lot about them in my reports on the potential for peat-free houseplants, which could be the next step in sustainable indoor plants.’

Joe Zazzera, Green Plants for Green Buildings: ‘I think the Monstera Adansonii (and the Pilea) will be a big hit this year.

Chanel de Kock of the Flower Council of Holland, ‘A lovely plant to add to any desk from an aesthetic point of view, this plant will offer joy to any work top or bookshelf and the round shapes will offer an interesting dimension to linear shapes associated with office spaces.’

See our video about the Monstera Adansonii here.

Monkey Mask video

Epiphyllum anguliger aka Fishbone cactus tied in third place
This succulent has flat leaves resembling a fishbone hence its common name. This cactus hails from Mexico and true to the category needs minimal water, humid conditions and average light.
It looks great as a trailing plant – maybe from a shelf or hanging – as its fronds can rapidly grow to 2 metres. It is sometimes referred to as the zig-zag or the ric-rac cactus. It has beautiful white or pale yellow flowers.

Fishbone logo lr

What the judges thought:
Podcaster Jane Perrone: This plant looks amazing, needs minimal care (mine does well in a self watering pot) and looks good anywhere. ‘

Chanel de Kock, Flower Council of Holland: ‘This plant doesn’t take up much space so it’s perfect for a small work from home desk, and it’s a low maintenance plant too, so that means less stress to take care of it. The zigzag leaves will also add a fun element to a working environment offering friendly characteristics to liven up mundane spaces. Also looking ahead at the summer months, the benefit of this easy-care plant stretches beyond the spontaneous camping trips away this year.

Royal Botanic Garden Kew, Greg Redwood: Epiphyllum anguliger – its unusual appearance and quirky leaf shape have made this a very popular plant in modern interiors over recent years. The plant is tolerant of infrequent watering (in fact it much prefers to dry out between waterings) so can be safely left unwatered whilst people are away etc.

See our video about the Fishbone Cactus here:

Fishbone video

Sansevieria cylindrica tied in third place with Epiphyllum anguliger
Sansevieria is one of the most common houseplant choices around the world as it is such an easy plant to care for in the home. Requiring very little in terms of upkeep, the Sansevieria or Snake Plant is well known to purify the air in a room by removing nasty substances and toxins as part of their day-to-day existence. Sansevieria cylindrica has tubular rather than the flat leaves of many varieties. Originating from the deserts of Africa, it thrives in very arid conditions making it the perfect plant for our warm dry homes and offices. This variety is commonly known as the African spear.

S Cyllindrica logo lr

What the judges thought:
Joe Zazzera: I really like the cylindrica for its high design, architectural look.

Jane Perrone commented, ‘Tough as old boots, which is what you need in an office setting!’

Elliott Bennett: ‘This is a very modern looking plant that can be used extensively in the interior. They do not require very much maintenance. My personal favourite Sansevieria is the Mikado however the Cylindrica is a cool easy to care for option’

See our video of the Sansevieria cylindrica here

 Sansevieria video

The popular Ficus lyrata commonly called the Fiddle Leaf Fig
With violin shaped leaves, hence being called the Fiddle Leaf Fig, this well known Ficus variety has made a huge comeback in recent years thanks to social media and plant obsessive influencers. Available as table top or floor standing specimens; in the wild Ficus Lyrata grows into a large tree up to 15 metres tall though usually only about 3 metres indoors thankfully! It’s a statement plant that will create the jungle feel in any room.

Ficus lr

A favourite of several members, it didn't make the top three with our judges. Here’s what they thought about it:
Elliott Bennett: This plant still seems to be a favourite amongst designers and has had a popular run for the last five years or so. Fairly easy to care for and looks great in the right planter!

Matthew Abbleby: These are selling best at retail and I'm hearing a lot about them in my reports on the potential for peat-free houseplants, which could be the next step in sustainable indoor plants.

Watch our video about the Ficus lyrata here

Lyrata video

 Pilea peperomioides or the Chinese Money Plant

A retro plant that has probably made the biggest comeback of all! The Chinese Money Plant or Pilea peperomioides has very eye-catching circular green leaves that almost balance on the end of bouncy stalks much like coins. Succulent in nature, it’s easy to care for and is fairly compact so requires little space. Originating from China, it was first brought to Europe (Norway) in the 1940s and was said to bring good fortune to its owner if a coin is buried in the soil. It’s also another air purifier, so dot these around your home or office for increased well-being and hopefully wealth!

Pilea lr

Did the judges like it?
Joe Zazzera: I am sure the Pilea will be a big hit this year.

Claudia de Yong: Love the leaf shape and habit of the plant. It will work just as well on a shelf or flat surface of a desk. It produces little sprouting babies so you get even more for your ‘money’.

Read The Beautiful Mess’ Blog here

You can watch our video about the Pilea here.

Pilea video


Alocasia Zebrina

If you’re looking for a tropical feel in your home or office, the Alocasia is the plant for you! With ‘Elephant Ear’ shaped, lush green leaves and striped stems resembling a zebra, Alocasia Zebrina works as a table top or floor standing plant. Originally from the Philippine rainforests, Alocasia like warm, humid environments and prefers regular watering with warm water - so caring for one in the home or office may require a little more effort than with other houseplants.

With ideal growing conditions, it can put out leaves every two weeks.These plants naturally grow on the jungle floor in humid conditions. According to the University of Florida, in the wild, these plants are quite invasive and will spread to cover large areas. They have a pretty flower but they are not commonly known for flowering as houseplants.

Comments from the judges

Claudia de Yong: The added combination of striking stem interest and leaf shape makes this a ‘cool’ plant which is very sculptural so a change from the norm. A good talking point.

Matt Abbleby: These are one of the best selling plants at retail and I'm hearing a lot about them in my reports on the potential for peat-free houseplants, which could be the next step in sustainable indoor plants

Watch our short video about the Zebrina here

Zebrina video

Spathiphyllum/Peace lily
A firm favourite with houseplant fanatics and beginners. The Peace Lily originates in the tropical rainforests of Venezuela and Columbia where they grow to huge sizes; so they love humidity, warmth and water. The white ‘flowers’ are actually bracts which have evolved to attract pollinating insects to the actual flowers which are tiny and found on the spike in the centre of the bract.

Peace lilies are not true lilies (Lilium spp.) at all, but rather a member of the Araceae family. Its flowers resemble those of the calla lily (both plants belong to the same family) and is the reason for its name. The showy part of the flower features a white, hoodlike sheath (known as a spathe) which resembles a white flag of surrender. These blooms can last for two months or longer.

N.B. Poisonous to both cats and dogs alike because they contain calcium oxalate

Peace lily lr

View from the judges:
Greg Redwood: Another classic, thriving in varying levels of shade. The many cultivars offer sizes from a small plant to very large impressive specimens, with the added bonus of attractive flowers.

 Watch our video about this #favouriteofficeplant here

Pece lily video

Asplenium Antiquum or Bird’s Nest Fern
Well known as an air purifier in the home, the Bird’s Nest Fern is named so because of its habit to grow in clumps on tree trunks and branches in the wild - resembling a bird’s nest. A native of Japan, it is available in numerous leaf shapes, Asplenium antiquum has fresh, glossy foliage that emerges from the central heart of the plant. Each frond unfurls like a long tongue which can be very satisfying to see happen over a few days.

Asplenium lr

What the judges said:
Claudia de Yong: I like the habit and shape of this fern which requires minimal maintenance and will work well on a desk. It gives the feeling of having a bit of the garden inside.

Courtesy of InTray

Image courtesy of In-Tray Plants