12 Low-Light Indoor Plants to Brighten Up Your Space

Published April 14, 2021
woman carrying potted plant at home

Nearly everyone has a dark corner of their home that would benefit from a bit of greenery, or a room that just doesn't get much natural light. The good news is, there are plenty of low-light indoor plants that can fit nearly any space, whether it's a small shelf or a large, empty corner.

Low-Light Indoor Plants for Small Spaces

The plants listed below are perfect for a shelf, small table, nightstand, or even a bathroom counter. For the most part, these plants will grow to about twelve inches tall, especially in low light conditions.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is one of the easiest plants to grow. It doesn't even need soil; the stalks grow perfectly well in a few inches of water. It won't grow very quickly in low light (which might be a good thing), but the plant will be perfectly happy and you can find lucky bamboo in anything from single stalks to intricately trained or spiraled shapes.

It's important to note that lucky bamboo is toxic to cats and dogs, so if you have pets around, it's a good idea to keep this plant out of reach.

Lucky Bamboo Plant

Cast Iron Plant

Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a low-light indoor plant that absolutely lives up to its name. Aspidistra thrives in just about any condition, including low light. It does like to be kept consistently moist, but it's not very picky about fertilizer (mostly, be sure not to over-fertilize).

Cast iron plant doesn't grow very quickly, but it's also nearly unkillable, and its dark green leaves offer a welcome bit of life to an otherwise dreary corner.

Cast Iron Plant


Peperomia (Peperomia spp.) is a fleshy-leaved houseplant that comes in a wide range of colors and leaf patterns and will do very well in low light. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that variegated varieties will slowly lose their variegation in low light, reverting to solid-colored foliage over time. They don't like to dry out, but if you water them when the top inch of soil is dry, they'll be very happy.


Medium-Sized Low-Light Houseplants

These plants would work well on a coffee table, end table, or kitchen counter, and also look wonderful collected on a plant stand. At their largest, these plants all grow to approximately 24 inches tall in low light.

Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Snake plant (Sansevieria spp.) has thick, fleshy, spear-shaped leaves that grow straight up, giving the plant a lovely, upright almost column-like look. Some varieties can grow rather large over time, but if you're growing a snake plant in low light, it won't grow nearly as quickly. The dark green leaves often have bright yellow borders at the edges of the leaves, but in very low light, this will eventually fade and the leaves will be all green.

Snake Plant

ZZ Plant

Of all of the plants on this list, ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is the most indestructible. It will not only survive, but thrive in low light, will tolerate more than a bit of neglect, and just keep right on growing. In fact, it's happiest when it's mostly left alone.

ZZ plant has vibrant green, fleshy, shiny leaves growing along stems that arch outward, giving the plant an almost fountain-like look.

ZZ Plant

Peace Lily

Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum spp.) aren't a lily at all, but their blooms (usually white) do somewhat resemble actual lilies. Dark green, arrow-shaped foliage drapes and spills over the edge of its pot, and, if it has enough light, peace lily will occasionally send up flower stalks. If it's being grown in low light, it will bloom rarely, and possibly not at all, but it's still a wonderful option for its foliage alone.

One drawback, however, is that peace lilies are poisonous, so they should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Peace Lily Plant

Large or Dramatic Low-Light Houseplants

If you have a large, empty corner to fill, or just want something structural and different, one of these low-light indoor plants might be just the thing.

Dracaena Massangeana

Dracaena (Dracaena frans massangeana) is also known as "corn plant," and it's easy to see why when you look at the shape and habit of its leaves. While there are smaller varieties of Dracaena, Dracaena massangeana can grow quite large, developing a strong, woody cane that looks like a small tree trunk. The leaves are often variegated, striped with green and yellow, but this often fades in very low light.

The foliage of Dracaena massangeana is toxic to pets.

Dracaena Massangeana

Parlor Palm

Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) has a graceful, almost feathery look to it, and the plants can grow to six feet tall or more given time and care. It thrives on a bit of neglect and, while it will grow faster in medium light, it will do just fine in low light and give the area a tropical feel.

Parlor Palm

Low-Light Houseplants for Hanging or Trailing

If you have an area that would be perfect for a hanging basket, or a shelf that would look so much better with a plant trailing gracefully off of it, there are several options, even if you're dealing with low light.

Spider Plant

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) has arching, green leaves with white edges, and will occasionally send out flower stalks that develop "pups," or baby spider plants. The variegation may fade in very low light, but the foliage of the spider plant is a fresh, vibrant green that will brighten up any area.

Spider plant on a wooden table

Jade Pothos

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is often recommended for low light, and they are absolutely a good option, but the variegated or golden varieties will fade without at least medium light. 'Jade,' however is a dark green variety that keeps its color perfectly. Its heart-shaped leaves grow in a trailing habit, eventually reaching several feet long.

Jade Pothos

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens) has pretty, dark green, heart-shaped leaves. When young, the plant has a bushy, lush appearance, but as it grows, the stems trail and hang gracefully. Philodendrons are generally easy to grow, but they do not like drying out, so be sure to keep the soil evenly moist.

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum) has spade-shaped leaves and can be found in many colors and variegation patterns. While these will often fade in low light, the plant itself will thrive even in low light. While it tends to have an upright, bushy growth habit, as the plant ages and grows it will start trailing unless pruned back, growing to 15 inches or longer.

Arrowhead Plant

What Is Low Light?

It's important to understand that low-light doesn't mean no light. If a room gets zero sunlight and there's inadequate artificial lighting, even the toughest plant is going to struggle.

Low light basically means if you're reading a book, you can still make out the words. Any darker than that, and it would be a good idea to supplement any plants in the area with artificial lighting.

This does not mean that you need specialty plant lights. It could be something as simple as a nearby lamp with an LED bulb, kept on for a few hours every day. For even better plant health, a lamp with a bulb that replicates full-spectrum light would also be wonderful and would help your plants flourish.

Right Plant, Right Place

While many plants will technically tolerate low light, the ones in this list will not just tolerate, but thrive, in those darker areas of your home. Once you know what kind of space you have to work with, it's much easier to zero in on a plant that will work perfectly in that spot and will grow happily for years to come.

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12 Low-Light Indoor Plants to Brighten Up Your Space