One of the biggest challenges that houseplant parents face is lack of light in their home or office. The best environment for houseplants is one that mimics their natural habitat. Often, we just don’t have sufficient light indoors to make our plants the happiest they can be. The plants we fall in love with are not always the ones that are well-suited to the spaces we want to put them in, unfortunately. If this sounds all too familiar, then you're in the right place. Let's talk about what I've learned about the plants that are best for low light (most are low maintenance, too!).
Before we get started, you might be wondering what exactly counts as a low light area. Low light is shaded or mostly shaded with no direct sunlight. It's not void of all light though. No plant can grow in complete darkness. When we refer to low light, we're talking about what you'll often find near north windows, in the corners of a room, or on stair landings.
Here are the 9 best houseplants for low light:
1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
I love plants that will be happy wherever I set them, be it a dim corner or a brightly lit area under a window. Not only do I love plants that I can put almost anywhere, I appreciate plants that require virtually no maintenance. Snake plants fit the bill for both! Win - win. Sansevieria all have an architectural look and there are many different colors and variegation patterns to choose from.
One thing to note is that snake plants are sensitive to being over-watered. If you don’t give them too much love and attention, it’s okay. They’ll be happy to dry out in between waterings.
2. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
This is my second go-to low light plant because, like the snake plant, it can survive anywhere from low light to high light areas and it doesn’t mind a little neglect (we suggest watering when the soil is almost all the way dry).
3. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese Evergreen plants do really well in low light situations. We hesitate to mention that these plants are classically thought of as the standard, boring plant for shopping centers. That was a little harsh, but stay with us. What is exciting about Chinese Evergreens is that those days of same-ole foliage are gone! New variegation patterns and colors have been introduced to these compact, lush, leafy plants and they’re easy to fall for. Not only are they gorgeous, but they are easy and great in low light! Look out for beautiful reds, pinks, silvers, and spots or strips - you can find a little bit of everything in a Chinese Evergreen.
4. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
I’ll just come out and say that I pretty much love every vine. I may be a little biased, but this one is one of my favorites. At home, mine have been tolerant of brightly lit areas as well as the shadier areas, like on top of a bookshelf a few feet away from a window. Don’t let the soil get bone dry and they’ll happily keep growing gorgeous leaves. The darker the area in which they are placed, the more green you will see in the leaves. Pictured above is Pothos ‘Marble Queen’, with beautiful cream-colored variegation though the leaves. We often also carry Golden Pothos, which has a brighter yellow variegation and Green Queen, which is close to a solid deep green.
5. Compact Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis 'Compacta')
This Dracaena looks a little different than many others in it’s family, with it’s lush, compact leaves. It can get tall, though it will stay pretty narrow. So, if you have a narrow spot where you don’t want a plant to splay and spread, but you want some height, this is a great option. Actually, the whole Dracaena family of plants are great options if you’re looking for plants that tolerate low light. We’ve just found that the compact Janet Craig Dracaena does especially well.
6. Ivy (hedera)
Ivy is a classic! It can grow long and lush, and it’s excellent that they can live in low light areas. It can be a fast-growing climber, but it also looks beautiful cascading over a shelf or from a hanging pot.
It’s a little hard to believe this is a succulent because most succulents like very bright light with at least a few hours of direct sun, but haworthias can survive in low to medium light areas. They grow very slowly, but they are happy to be put in a corner for awhile, even if there’s not bright light.
8. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Cast Iron plants are fantastic easy-care plants. They survive with inconsistent watering, bright or low light, and rooms with temperature fluctuations. This is a tough, lovely plant that has 2-3 feet long leaves that stay fairly upright.
9. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Peace lilies are low-maintenance and beautiful! Shiny, lush green leaves can be hard to resist, especially with flowers. In deeply shaded areas, they will flower less often, but you can’t grow wrong filling out a corner with beautiful green foliage.
There are a few things to keep in mind when your plants are in low light. While some houseplants will tolerate low light and may look amazing doing so, the ideal light is usually bright indirect. You may notice slow growth, and flowering could be rare in shade since they usually need at least medium light to quicken their growth or bloom. That said, fill up your dimly lit areas with these plants, and you’ll be treated with lovely greenery every time you walk by.
Have more questions about houseplants? Want some help selecting the perfect plant for your space? Ask us for advice on social media with #heyswansons or come in and talk to any one of our Indoor Plant Experts.