You can’t bring just any plant indoors and expect it to thrive. Even seemingly bright rooms often lack the sunlight needed to keep the average plant alive. So if you want to transform your home into a makeshift greenhouse, you’ll need to turn your attention to low-light plants in particular.
There’s no shortage of great shade-loving houseplants to choose from, which is great news for anyone looking to liven up a dimly lit room. Here are just a few of the best low-light plants you can grow indoors:
Pothos are a variety of lush, hardy vines native to Polynesia. Also known as Devil’s Ivy, Pothos are some of the best low-light houseplants for beginner gardeners due to their ability to survive in almost any environment.
Pothos feature heart-shaped leaves and often boast unique variegated patterns. The most popular Pothos cultivars include Golden, Silver, Neon, and Marble Queen.
Bromeliads are a unique family of flowering tropical plants that grow in the canopies of tropical rainforests. Although Bromeliad flowers are quite stunning, the plants’ vibrant leaves are just as beautiful.
Bromeliads prefer a warm, humid room that mimics their native climate, making them great low-light plants for the bathroom. You can keep your Bromeliad hydrated by watering the central “tank” between its leaves once a week.
There are few houseplants with as many common names as the Sansevieria. You might know this tall, striped beauty by the names Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Snake Plant, or Viper’s Bowstring Hemp — just to list a few.
Sansevieria are remarkably versatile houseplants, tolerating anything from direct sunlight to full shade. Since these grass-like plants are native to the desert, your Sansevieria also won’t fault you for occasionally forgetting to water it.
4. Spider Plant
Spider Plants resemble thick bundles of grass and are incredibly easy to care for. As long as it has a pot to live in, the humble Spider Plant will grow anywhere.
Spider Plants are beloved for their “spiderettes” Mature plants develop small white flowers in the spring, which eventually turn into miniature versions of the mother plant. You can plant these spiderettes in a separate pot, propagating your original Spider Plant with almost zero effort.
5. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily — not a member of the Lily family, despite its common name — features dark green foliage and white spathe flowers. It naturally grows in rainforests adjacent to water, so moist potting soil is key to success.
When your Peace Lily grows too large for its pot, you can choose to split the plant rather than upgrade to a bigger container. As long as each segment contains roots and a few leaves, it will live on as its own individual plant.
6. Staghorn Fern
Staghorn Fern, also known as Elkhorn Fern, is so named for its distinctive antler-like fronds. This variety of fern prefers diffused light but is not a true shade plant. You’ll want to place this plant near a dim window or under a grow light for the best results.
In the wild, Staghorn Ferns grow out of the nooks and crannies of tree branches — no soil involved. These houseplants don’t require a traditional pot and are increasingly popular as wall-mounted decor for low-light rooms.
7. Chinese Evergreen
Chinese Evergreens are actually an entire genus of plants called Aglaonema. They’re known for having thick, green-and-silver foliage and come in all sorts of variegated cultivars.
Chinese Evergreen tolerates low-light just fine. But adequate light is needed for these hardy houseplants to flower with regularity. If you want to see this plant’s sweet spathe-style blooms, consider moving it to a sunny spot or setting up a grow light overhead.
Many of the most popular low-light houseplants are Philodendron cultivars. This diverse plant family includes two main growth patterns — vining and upright. All types of Philodendron thrive in low-light areas and require very little care.
The vining Philodendron is often mistaken for a type of Pothos, but the two plants are entirely unrelated. Philodendron leaves feature a smoother surface and, aside from the Heartleaf Philodendron, a less-dramatic spade shape.
Anthurium typically goes by its scientific name, but you can also find these lovely houseplants under the common titles of Laceleaf, Flamingo Flower, and Tailflower. Anthurium cultivars are most famous for producing some of the plant world’s longest-lasting flowers.
These plants bloom year-round, and each individual flower can stick around for up to three months. The more indirect light your Anthurium receives, the greater its chance of flowering. But exposing this beauty to bright light will end in burnt leaves.
10. Weeping Fig
The Weeping Fig (more specifically, species Ficus benjamina) is one of the trendiest houseplants in home design. You might even remember this plant from its first popularity boom back in the 1970s.
With a unique twisted “trunk” and large glossy leaves, this subtropical plant is a great addition to any low-light room in your house. Weeping Figs grow under filtered sunlight in the wild, so supplement with a grow light for the best results.
11. Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo is not bamboo at all. While the plant’s popularity originates in Chinese culture, it has no relation to the lush bamboo forests you might be picturing.
The scientific name of this hardy houseplant is Dracaena sanderiana, and it is related to the Water Lily. Unlike many other potted plants, Lucky Bamboo is just as happy in plain water as it is in soil. Place Lucky Bamboo in a clear container for a stylish piece of decor that requires minimal attention.
Monstera is an entire tropical genus containing many popular houseplant varieties. The most common cultivar, Monstera deliciosa, boasts tall stems and oversized leaves. These leaves have a unique feathered appearance.
You might also know Monstera by the colloquial name Swiss Cheese Plant. This typically refers to the cultivar Monstera adansonii, or Adanson’s Monstera. Adanson’s Monstera is a vining plant bearing leaves filled with naturally occurring holes (hence the cheesy moniker).
13. Cast-Iron Plant
The Cast-Iron Plant earned its name by being practically indestructible. Native to Japan and Taiwan, this houseplant can survive near-darkness. If you have a low-light room in your home that’s seemingly uninhabitable, a Cast-Iron Plant may be your best option.
The Cast-Iron Plant can also be grown outdoors and will produce small purple flowers in summer. Don’t expect blooms when grown indoors, though.
14. Bird’s Nest Fern
It’s easy to see why the Bird’s Nest Fern came to be known as such — the center of this plant looks like the perfect place for a bird to settle in and lay a few eggs. Like the Staghorn Fern, this species naturally grows on the surface of trees and rocks.
Plant your Bird’s Nest Fern in a small pot with peat-based soil to mimic its preferred growing conditions. Bright light is just as bad for the Bird’s Nest Fern as no light at all. However, installing a grow light near this plant will promote more vigorous growth in an otherwise dim room.
15. ZZ Plant
The ZZ Plant, or Zanzibar Gem, is a must-have for any low-light houseplant collection. Compared to the lush foliage of a Pothos or Monstera, the ZZ Plant offers an upright growth pattern and symmetrical leaves.
Not only does the ZZ Plant cope with minimal light well, but it can also handle neglect in the form of forgotten watering. This plant grows rhizomes under the soil’s surface, which store water like a camel’s hump. You can divide and propagate your ZZ Plant by separating these rhizomes, too.
16. Money Tree
While easily mistaken for a Weeping Fig, the Money Tree is a different plant entirely. In its native marshy habitat, this shade-tolerant tree can grow up to 30 feet tall. (Don’t worry. A potted Money Tree will reach 6 feet at most.)
The Money Tree’s trunk is perfect for twisting or braiding into attractive patterns. For this reason, small cultivars are extremely popular in the Bonsai community. Keep your Money Tree well-watered, and rotate its container often to encourage even growth.
Low Light Does Not Mean No Light
All of these plants make great contenders for rooms with minimal natural light. But that doesn’t mean you can completely neglect these plants and hope for the best.
Even the hardiest plant won’t survive in a room with no light at all. Supplement windowless rooms in your home with LED grow lights as needed.
Humidity, soil quality, drainage, and watering can also easily make or break a houseplant collection. Even temperature can affect your plants’ overall health, especially if the species originates from a tropical climate. If you can’t meet a plant’s needs — shade-tolerance aside — it’s probably not a good fit for your home.