TOP LOW LIGHT HOUSEPLANTS

There are very few houseplants that love low light...
most of the plants listed below tolerate low light
but prefer to be in brighter environments. Our list
is a composite from a variety of sources and you
may or may not notice that some plants were left
off our list that appear on others. This is a result of
our personal experience with these varieties
in low light situations.


 

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Having originally emigrated from South Africa, the spider plant has become one of the most popular houseplants in the U.S.  It is an excellent indoor plant for beginners due to its tolerance of all forms of neglect.  The spider plant’s long, arching, variegated leaves make it perfect for hanging baskets. Mature spider plants will soon form runners or baby plantlets. They grow at the end of shoots that hang down the side of the pot–hence the name spider plant. These "babies" are easily detached and will quickly root in moist soil. Spider Plants are also well  known for their ability to absorb dangerous chemicals from the air, replacing formaldehyde gases and the like that leach from man-made products in the home (rugs, plywood sheeting, etc.) with oxygen.

Remember, as a rule, plants with variegated leaves require brighter light conditions to maintain the variegation. A spider plant prefers well-lit, indirect sunlight but it will tolerate low light.  It can be hung near a window or placed on a table close by. Water liberally during the growing season (spring to fall) since this plant is such a fast grower. Mist leaves during the summer months to boost the humidity levels and prevent mites. Reduce watering during winter.

 

 


 

English Ivy (Hedera helix)


Another popular houseplant, and a regular in living rooms since Victorian times, English Ivy comes in a wide assortment of leaf shapes, colors, and variegation, making this plant endlessly interesting. Having successfully made the transition from outdoor plant to houseplant, they are easy to grow and will tolerate many conditions. They can be grown in hanging baskets or pots with the vines hanging down or trailing along book shelves and door frames. They will grow best in bright, indirect sunlight, but will withstand and even thrive under extremes of light intensity including full sun and shade. Plants with variegated leaves will require light on the brighter end of the spectrum. For best results, keep soil barely moist, and mist the foliage regularly to encourage humidity. English ivy is a fast growing plant so it will require pruning but its classic look and superior air-cleaning ability make it a low light  plant.

NOTE: Spider mites love to attack ivy. Help prevent them by periodically misting or washing your ivy in the bathtub with room-temperature water.

Further Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets or children.




Arrowhead Vine (Nepthytis)
One of the most common houseplants, its name is derived from its distinctly arrow-shaped leaves . Unlike a lot of plants, there are many different varieties from which to choose. Most have variegated foliage. Leaves may be green with white markings or bronzy-green with pink tones. New arrowhead plants tend to mound, but stems (runners) begin to vine as they age. There are several ways to grow arrowhead vines:  upright on a pole or trellis, trailing down from a hanging basket or spilling out from its pot onto a table or shelf. Even in low-light conditions arrowheads will retain their colorful variegation.

Parlor Palm - Chamaedorea Elegans

Easy to grow and tolerant of low light, the parlor palm is one of the smaller indoor palm trees available. Enjoys average room temperatures, not too much watering and just about enough light- but not direct sunlight. Full grown the neanthe bella (common name often used) will reach approximately 4ft in height and width. Although this palm will tolerate dry indoor air, it will be healthier with higher humidity. I mist mine a few times a week with room-temperature water. Misting also keeps its leaves clean and helps to prevent spider mites that love to attack this plant.

 

Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

This is one tough plant! Some believe it capable growing in total darkness. Excellent for those difficult-to-fill areas in deep shade. Spreads by underground stems. Evergreen in The Sandhills, 2' high by 2-3' wide at maturity, Cast irons make excellent houseplants in low light areas. Water infrequently after established in pot or ground. One of the more interesting varieties of cast-iron plants is 'Milky Way' with yellow spotted leaves that remind people of the galaxy of the same name.


 

 

 

Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'

Often called "Corn Plant" or Cornstalk Plant" this variety of dracaena can be an architectural landscape houseplant.   Once it begins to mature and reach its average 4 feet in height, it makes the perfect office or hotel lobby plant. In a home it will accent large living rooms and hallways.

Like most other varieties of dracaena the corn plant has attractive foliage and, for all its good looks, is still in the easy to care for category of houseplants.

The most popular types of leaves on the D.fragrans can be green on the outer edge and yellow in the center (D. fragrans massangeana), or yellow and green striped edges with green in the center (D. fragrans lindenni). The broad and glossy lanceolate leaves arch over and sit nicely within a rosette.

Like many of the low light tolerant plants in this grouping the dracaena fragrans was one of the plants NASA's clean air study looked at and the corn plant proved to remove a considerable amount of toxins from a room's atmosphere. These toxins leach from man made products in homes (rugs, paneling, etc.).

Corn plants are found in many low light situations like restaurants, etc.  However, long periods of low light can result in the foliage losing its variegation and reverting back to a mostly green appearance. It is still an imposing plant even with all deep green leaves.

Over watering is its biggest threat next to direct  sunlight for too long.

 

 


Pothos or Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

 

Pothos is a hardy, fast growing trailing plant. It has heart shaped leaves that come in three main variegated colorations. The “Marble Queen” variety (below left) has smooth leaves with white-green variegation, and the “Golden Pothos” has golden, yellow-green variegation. The waxy, smooth leaves retain moisture well, making it tolerant to adverse conditions. “Satin" Pothos has dark green felt-like leaves with splashes of silver. 

Golden Pothos does well in partial sun to shade and is a great choice for offices or restaurants since it won’t lose its variegation even in low light.

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.




 

 Peace Lily  (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lilies are popular housewarming gifts and are often seen at churches for both happy and sad occasions. They tolerate low to medium light, but need soft, bright light for flowering.  However, even in low light without flowering they are an attractive

 and imposing plant with lush dark green glossy leaves. Although they've been a favorite houseplant for

a very long time, the plant's popularity soared even higher when NASA added it to its list of “Top Ten Household Air Cleaning Plants.” Like many of the others on this low light list, this tropical plant breaks down and neutralizes toxic gases like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide inside its pores and fills the room with oxygen.  Peace Lilies are also easy to care for and their forgiving nature makes them a favorite houseplants. These plants come in several different sizes including small, medium and large and there is even a variegated variety called 'Domino'.

 


 

 

                     

 

SANSEVIERIA (SNAKE PLANT)

Commonly known as Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, this succulent is one of the hardiest houseplants around. A member of the agavaceae family, it can be identified by its long, spiky, variegated foliage, resembling snakeskin but edged with bright yellow/green. Waxy coated, succulent leaves make it drought tolerant, but this particular species is less succulent then other Sansevieria allowing it to tolerate lower light conditions then most succulent plants. Like a lot of the plants in this grouping of low light houseplants, it requires little attention and scrubs toxins from the room’s atmosphere.

There are several varieties of snake plants including a more compact 'Bird's Nest' variety and a bright yellow variegated bird's nest variety called 'Golden Hahnii'.

Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings.









ZEE ZEE PLANT

Zee Zee Plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a member of the Aroid family which has given us more dependable house plants than any other group and the Zamioculcas zamiifolia is no exception. Zee Zee plants draw lots of attention and thrive on neglect (although not as much neglect as their legend suggests). Zee Zees are forgiving if you forget to water, tolerant of low light, and rarely need to be fertilized. However, low light retards their growth which can be accelerated by full sunlight. As with the majority of houseplants, over-watering a Zee Zee will certainly kill it. When potting or re-potting, use a cactus mix or add perlite to your normal potting mix. Note: Many web sites tout this plant as being able to withstand long periods of drought. That being said, a Zee Zee will be healthiest with regular watering. Water thoroughly then allow it to dry out a bit before watering again. Long periods without water will cause the plant to go dormant resulting in leaf dropping. Sometimes it may lose all its leaves and the homeowner is tempted to throw it away but, in reality, the plant just needs to be watered to revive.

Prefers low to bright light and  allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Note: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by children or pets.

 
 

AECHMEA FASCIATA (Bromeliad)

 

Aechmea fasciata, more commonly known as the Urn plant or Silver Vase plant, is one of the most popular species in this genus. A bromeliad, it has thick, broad leaves. They are green in color with a silvery, horizontal banding. The flower spike is composed of bright pink bracts that can bloom for several months. Small purple flowers appear from the bracts when in bloom. Urn plants will thrive in almost any indoor environment with little attention. The simply need clean water in their "tank" and bright, indirect light. Pups or offshoots form on the side of the plant as it matures which can eventually be removed and potted up. The mother plant will then wither over time as the pup matures.

   


 

Chinese Evergreens

 

Chinese evergreen, or aglaonema, is a versatile low light, low growing, durable plant. They are produced in many different varieties (more than 20) and sport foliage in either silvery green with some dark green or the reverse. There are many varieties with dark green leaves that are marked with light green or creamy white streaks.

Cold temperatures (55 degrees or below) are fatal to Chinese evergreens.  Overwatering is also a threat to their survival and the plants will have stunted new growth and rotten stalks if their soil is kept too moist. The plant will lose lower yellow leaves if the soil is too dry. Like most houseplants the leaves of the Chinese evergreen attract dust particles and periodically they should be dusted or washed.

Its ability to withstand neglect, low light and dry conditions have made Chinese Evergreens to the go-to plant for offices, restaurants and low lit rooms.

 

 

 

 

Popular since the Victorian Age, Philodendrons are among the most tolerant and durable of all house plants. There are many different species of Philodendrons, each possessing its own characteristics as to leaf size, shape or coloring. Some species climb while others remain in more of a shrub shape. What all Philodendrons have in common is their ability to tolerate neglect and adverse conditions. They prefer medium light but will tolerate low light. However in very low light, the new leaves will develop smaller and be farther apart on the stem. Direct sun will scorch the plants leaves and retard growth. Keep the soil evenly moist, although, prefer to be slightly drier during the winter.

Philodendrons will tolerate the level of humidity found in most homes, but high humidity promotes lush growth and shiny foliage, so it is a good idea to mist the plant regularly.

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.

 



DIEFFENBACHIA
(dumb cane)

Dieffenbachia plants have some of the most colorful foliage of all the houseplants. They are considered easy care plant and problems with dieffenbachia plants can be easily overcome in most situations. The most common problem with growing dumb cane dieffenbachia is too much moisture. Overwatering is a common problem with many houseplants so plant the dumb cane in a well-draining soil and water lightly, keeping the soil  moist, but not soggy. Check the soil to make sure it is dry an inch down before watering the dieffenbachia plant.

There is a wide variety of sizes and leaf patterns that dieffenbachia come in and a little research can result in a plant that can be a major accent in your home.

Other problems with dieffenbachia plant may be created by improper lighting. When growing dieffenbachia, most varieties do best in a filtered light situation, where bright to moderate light shines through a sheer curtain or other filtering window cover. Filtered light is particularly important in the spring and summer, when the dieffenbachia houseplant is producing new, tender leaves that are subject to sunburn if the light is too bright or shines directly on the plant. That being said, we have included Dieffenbachia in this list of low light plants because it is our personal observation that they will tolerate low light. In very low light they will not have as dense a leaf growth but can still prove an attractive plant.

Rotate the dieffenbachia houseplant regularly to provide adequate light to all sides of the plant and prevent it from reaching toward the light on one side. When growing dumb cane dieffenbachia of various cultivars, check light requirements for the particular plant. Some dieffenbachia plants require low filtered light. Most cultivars do fine with a low light environment; however, growth is slower or stops, but the plant will remain healthy and attractive.

The bottom leaves turning brown on the dumb cane dieffenbachia is normal for the plant so just snip them off to keep the plant tidy.  Be careful not to get the sap from the plant or snipped leaves on your skin.

 NOTE: The leaves of this plant, if chewed or eaten, can cause temporary swelling and paralysis of the tongue and throat, leading to a temporary loss of speech (hence the common plant name of dumb cane). It is best to keep this plant away from pets or children.

Further Note: Even with all the warnings, dieffenbachia can be an attractive, easy to care for plant in your home.