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The Best Houseplants for Low Light

These are the best low light indoor plants! If you need to brighten up a dark corner or add a little life to your basement, one of these gorgeous low light plants are sure to do the trick. Here’s which plants thrive without rays, and how to care for them.

Adding plants to the house is my favorite way to bring a little lift to any room. Having plants around makes everything feel lighter, brighter, and more alive. Houseplants add color and texture to a room, purify the air, and just look nice.

Indoor plants that LOVE the dark!

 

The Biology of Low Light Indoor Plants

Often people think you can only have house plants in bright spaces that receive plenty of nutrients from the sun. Thankfully, that isn’t always the case.

A handful of tropical, broad-leaf plants are primed for low-light situations through basic biology: large leaves that soak up as much light as possible. Some also have a waxy outer layer that helps to retain moisture and makes them double-duty crowd-pleasers and low-maintenance indoor plants as well.

How to Care for Low Light Plants Indoors

I often get asked about the care of indoor plants that prefer low light, and my answer is always the same: it depends on the type of plant.

That being said, it is generally true that low light plants don’t require much water, so caring for them can be as simple as planting them in well-drained soil and watering on a monthly basis.

Great Read: Grow in the Dark

Grow in the dark - cover of a book about low light plant care

I originally wrote this post years ago, but I wanted to update this to include a bit of info about a fantastic resource for growing plants in the darker areas of your home. Grow in the Dark is written by the houseplant guru, Lisa Eldfred Steinbkopf.

I had the chance to meet Lisa at an event in Dallas last year after being a long time fan of her as a houseplant expert. She has another book that I refer to all the time for houseplant care, Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants.

If you’re interested in diving deep into the fascinating world of low light plants, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Grow in the DarkI’m including some quotes and info from Lisa throughout this post.

Houseplants to Grow in Low-Light Areas

Here are a few of my favorite houseplants that thrive in low-light areas. I hope they bring as much cheer to your home as they have to mine!

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Aglaonema has striking variegated leaves in shades of red, pink, yellow, and green. Pop this plant in a space that needs some color and you won’t have any need for flowers.

Chinese evergreens thrive in low-light areas and they are also very drought tolerant, so if you forget to water it for a while there will be no harm done. Perfect for people new to houseplants or those who consider themselves “black thumb gardeners.”

When choosing a Chinese evergreen, pay close attention to the color of the plant, says Steinbkopf. “The older hybrids, mostly green colored, can take low light and grow well. The newer colorful hybrids need medium light and do well in an east or west window. If placed in low light, they will lose their bright coloration.” – Grow in the Dark

Chinese evergreen with variegated red and green leaves

Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Spider plants love low light and do not require much attention other than occasional watering when the soil feels dry. They send out long spindly leaves and small white flowers that will cascade down the edge of their container, making them a great choice for an indoor hanging basket.

Spider plant with low light setting

Dracaena fragrans (Corn Plant)

These low-maintenance houseplants look like small tropical palms, so they will bring a ray of sunshine to that dim, drab area you’ve been meaning to spruce up. Place it somewhere that doesn’t get any direct sunlight and water occasionally, being careful not to overwater. Here’s a bit more info about watering this plant:

“It is important to water evenly over the whole potting medium to avoid rotting the corn plant’s canes. These canes can have small root systems and may need to be straightened after traveling home as well as later as they settle in. Be careful when straightening the canes not to firm the medium too much, which will compact it and force the oxygen out. As they grow, the root systems will get larger and be better able to support the canes.” – Grow in the Dark

Keep in mind that corn plant is toxic to cats and dogs, so if you have a furry friend that likes to chew on the houseplants, skip this one.

Corn plant thriving in low light.

Epipremnum aureum (Pothos / Devil’s Ivy)

If you want a plant that can lend itself to a hanging basket in a low-light spot, this one’s for you! Plant it in a basket or up on a pedestal and watch the variegated green leaves trail down in an elegant display.

 

pothos hanging from picture frame

Maranta leuconeura (Prayer Plant)

Marantha leuconeura is a good choice if you want something with a low light indoor plant with bright foliage to add a pop of color to a drab area of the house because its leaves have variegation in rich green, purple, yellow, and red.

This houseplant needs to be kept out of direct sunlight in order for the variegated pattern on the leaves to remain vibrant. Plant it in well-draining soil and mist its leaves regularly. The leaves will point upwards at night like hands in prayer, which is where it got its common name “prayer plant.”

Prayer plant with green leaves and red markings

Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid)

If you want something that blooms to bring a little color to a dark corner of your home, choose a moth orchid! They like low light and will bloom away happily if planted in a soil-less orchid mix, watered regularly, and given a simple humidity tray.How to Make an Orchid Humidity Tray

Sansevieria (Snake Plant)

Snake plants are known for being difficult to kill, so they are perfect for a small windowless bathroom, stairway, or bedroom corner. Sansevieria is a type of succulent, which means it retains water in its leaves and can be easy to overwater. Pay attention and only water when the soil feels completely dry to the touch, every three weeks or so.

snake plant in pot

 

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

These pretty houseplants have lush, dark green leaves and delicate white flowers, but in addition to being beautiful, they also do an exceptional job of cleaning the air and keeping it healthy for us. Peace lilies do well in dark or bright areas, so feel free to place these all over your home if you like!

These plants like to be kept moist and humid, so water regularly and mist the leaves as well to keep your peace lily happy and blooming. If you aren’t watering it enough, you will know because the leaves will droop. Don’t worry, if you see this happening just give it a good drink and watch it perk back up in no time. Peace lilies take well to propagation, so you can divide them and get new plants for other dark areas in your home.

Peace lily indoors

Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Zee Zee Plant)

Not only does this houseplant grow happily in low-light areas of the home, but it is also very low maintenance and can be left alone with no attention at all for long periods of time, so you can go on vacation and not worry about coming home to a dead plant. Its glossy, bright green leaves add a cheerful pop of color to any dark space.

Plus, this plant is one that can propagate! Here’s what Grow in the Dark has to say:

“The unusual part of this plant is that it can grow new plants from an individual leaflet, but it takes quite a long time. Place the cut end into moist potting medium and cover with plastic or glass. This process may take many months. The plant can also be divided.”

ZZ plant in a decorative display with small gourds and knick knacks

There you have it! Go ahead and add some plants to that drab corner–you’ll be amazed at how much more welcoming it looks and how much better you feel as a result.

Hey, don’t leave yet! You might like these indoor plant projects too:

Comments

      • Mycoheterotrophic plants are an example of plants that do not photosynthesize for nutrition so no need for sunlight

        Reply
    • This is absolutely true. I hate coming across articles that rave about plants that don’t need light, because that is exactly how plants die. It is ridiculous that a book was written about placing plants in uninhabitable places such as dark apartment corners and bathrooms. Tropical plants need lots of light; just look at tropical climates!!

      Reply
    • Stand in a Rainforest under the canopy, as a photographer I can definitely tell you there are plants thriving in VERY dim daytime conditions..were not talking pitch black…we are talking shade and low UV. These plants (like ginger and marantas) quickly shrivel and die in bright light

      Reply
    • I think you’re VERY misinformed, think about what you said. NOT every spot on the planet has light, and there are beautiful plants, growing in very little light.

      Reply
    • Some plants do love dim areas. There’s no one “desirable condition” for every plant. There are many that don’t want direct or even indirect sun; just think of all the plants that grow within dark crevices or under other trees!

      Reply
  1. I am so happy I found this article! I moved my prayer plants to my south facing sliding door and noticed that while they kept getting new shoots, the new shoots stayed light green and the whole plant stopped “praying”. I have bright light on my notes for it so I must have forgotten to put “indirect” in there. Thank you! Back to the east window they go!

    Reply
  2. I am a new gardener, would like to know, can aloe vera grow/sustain room environemnt?
    Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for the nice article.

    Reply
  3. I really appreciate your advice on all aspects of plants. I love succulents and cacti and, of course, all plants. I bought a couple of plants lately and they had hitch hikers! Root gnats!! I am happy to learn how to get rid of them. Your article has been very enlightening. Thank you…

    Reply

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