Every house has them - dark corners away from windows and beyond the reaches of bright light. These spaces need something to bring vibrance, and low-light indoor plants are a perfect solution. Thank goodness quite a few indoor plants thrive in low-light conditions. And while these low-light plants won't do well in a dark closet where you never turn on a light, they're perfect for the guest room at the back of your home or your windowless office with artificial lighting.
Cast Iron Plant
Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a low-light indoor plant that lives up to its name. This plant doesn't grow quickly, but it's nearly unkillable. Cast iron plant thrives in just about any conditions, including low light. If you're looking to add a welcome bit of life to an otherwise dreary corner, cast iron plant is a perfect choice. Wait until the first two inches of soil are dry to add water, as soggy soil is this plant's nemesis.
Not only does Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) grow well in low light, it's also one of the best houseplants for beginners because it's so easy to grow. This is a particularly great plant for dark rooms and offices, as it doesn't even need true sunlight. It'll grow just fine under fluorescent lighting. Pretty much the only way to kill this plant is to give it too much water. Wait for the top two to three inches of soil to get dry before watering.
Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) will also grow in just about any light condition, including low light. Some corn plants have variegated leaves, but their leaves tend to turn (and stay) solid green when grown in low light. So, don't pay extra for a variegated variety if you're planning to grow it in a low-light areas. These plants like to stay consistently moist, so you should add water when the first inch of soil becomes dry.
If you're looking for a vining plant that grows well in low light, creeping fig (Ficus pumil) is a great choice. This plant looks great trailing over a shelf or the side of a planter, as well as climbing up a trellis or column. It needs consistently moist soil and a humid environment. Add water when the first inch of soil gets dry. For humidity, keep the container on a saucer filled with damp pebbles.
Heart Leaf Philodendron
Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) has a bushy, lush appearance, but as it grows, the stems trail and hang gracefully. You can grow this plant in water or soil. If you grow it in water, you'll need to change the water every three to four days. If you grow it in soil, add water after the first inch or two of soil dries out.
If you're looking for an easy-care trailing houseplant, jade pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a great choice for low light. Most pothos varieties do well in most light conditions, but jade pothos just may be the best one for low light. Why? Because its leaves keep their beautiful dark green color. Most pothos plants lose some of their vibrance when grown in low light, but not this one. Add water when the top two to three inches of soil are dry.
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is one of the easiest plants to grow in low light. It grows slowly when it doesn't get a lot of light, but it's perfectly happy that way. This plant doesn't even need soil; it will grow perfectly well in a few inches of water, which you'll need to change every ten days (or so). If you grow lucky bamboo in soil, add water when the top inch gets dry.
If you're looking for a small indoor tree for a low-light area, parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is a great choice. This pretty plant will add a tropical feel to spaces that don't get a lot of light. It has a graceful, almost feathery look to it. Add water when the top two to three inches of soil are dry. Parlor palms grow very slowly, but they can get up to six feet tall over a period of years.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) isn't actually a lily, but their blooms do somewhat resemble them. Most flowering houseplants don't actually bloom in low light, but this one usually will. Known for their dark green foliage, peace lilies are a great way to brighten up darker spots at home or in the office. These plants are very dramatic if they get even a bit too dry - they droop distinctively but will perk right up the second you add water. A peace lily needs water when the top inch of soil gets dry.
Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata, formerly Sansevieria trifasciata), also commonly called mother-in-law's tongue, is a versatile houseplant that'll grow in most light conditions. When you grow one in low light, its leaves won't have the bright yellow borders you often see on snake plants grown in more light, but they're just as pretty with mostly green leaves. Let the top two to three inches of soil get dry before watering.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) has arching, green leaves with white edges, and it will occasionally send out flower stalks that develop "pups," or baby spider plants. You can leave the pups in place or snip them to propagate new spider plants. Their variegation will fade in very low light, but the foliage of the spider plant is a fresh, vibrant green that will brighten up any area. Water this plant when the top two inches of soil are dry.
Of all the plants on this list, ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is the most indestructible. It will not only survive, but even thrive with almost no light. It even does well in dark rooms that only get artificial light, so it's a one of the best plants for offices. ZZ plant 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. Wait for the top two inches of soil to dry out before adding water.
What to Expect When Growing Low-Light Indoor Plants
When growing a plant in low light, it's important to expect it to behave a bit differently than the same plant grown with more light. For example:
- Light affects the rate at which a plant grows. The less light a plant gets, the slower it will grow.
- Houseplants that grow in low light don't grow as large as ones exposed to more light, so don't expect them to reach maximum size for their variety.
- Light also impacts leaf color. Plants grown in low light usually have lighter and less bright leaves than ones that are exposed to more light.
- Houseplants with variegated foliage will revert to having solid color leaves when they don't get much light.
- Low-light houseplants don't all have the same water needs, so be sure to vary watering based on individual plant requirements.
Choose the Best Low-Light Houseplants
While many plants will tolerate low light, the ones included in this list will thrive in those areas of your home that get little light. When purchasing any plant, be sure to consider where you will display it and how much light that location gets. This will make it much easier for you to zero in on a plant that will work perfectly in any spot - even a fairly dark room or corner - and grow happily for years to come.