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10 Easy Care Houseplants For Low Light

Lower light conditions are common in many homes as well as offices. Here are 10 delightful, easy care houseplants for low light with longevity.

two pothos neon a cast iron plant and two snake plants in yellow pots the text reads 10 easy care houseplants for low light

Let’s face it, not many of us live in glass houses with plentiful amounts of sun streaming in every day. You might live in a studio apartment with only a couple windows or in a house with a few darker rooms. Here are 10 easy care houseplants for low light. Although some of them would do better in medium light, they’ll tolerate low light just fine.

I see articles that say “houseplants that grow in no light or houseplants that grow in the dark”. Not true. All houseplants require some light to grow, even if it’s artificial light. Plants need sunlight to photosynthesis and produce chlorophyll – this is what makes them green.

Keep in mind that low light isn’t no light. Otherwise, houseplants would look more like white asparagus, which is grown under layers of mulch and dark plastic to keep the growing conditions dark. More on low light levels at the end by the way.

10 easy care houseplants for low light:

I started my horticultural career in the field of interior plantscaping and spent 12 years both maintaining and specing out plants on commercial accounts. The plants listed below are the ones which I saw survive the best and the longest in offices, lobbies, hotels, malls, and airports. Low light environments indeed!  You won’t find any new discoveries here but below are my favs based on ease of care, durability and longevity.

You can find these plants, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

Pothos, Devil’s Ivy.

Dark green leaf Pothos in a hanging pot against a rustic background

Hanging or table top plant.

This is the quintessential hanging plant for lower light conditions. I’ve seen the trails reach 25′, although the plant tends to be a bit straggly on the top and the stems at that point. Pothos are available in many different leaf colorations from green splashed with white to chartreuse to solid green . The solid green one does the best in low light. Just know that the other varieties will revert to this if not getting enough light.

5 Things To Love About Pothos.

11 Reasons Why Pothos is The Plant For You.

Heartleaf Philodendron.

Medium Size Heartleaf Philodendron growing on a bamboo hoop against a rustic background

Hanging or tabletop plant.

The Heartleaf Philodendron has heart shaped leaves, just like the common name says. The longest I’ve seen the trails on this one is about 5 or 6′. It has thinner stems, grows flatter and is less robust than the Pothos. It’s not as widely sold as the Pothos but is popular nonetheless. You can find it in a few variegated forms but will also revert to solid green in lowest light.

Lucky Bamboo.

3 twisted Lucky Bamboo stems on a clear glass vase next to a small lucky bamboo arrangement in a low white dish

Tabletop plant.

Lucky Bamboo is a winner because it grows for the long haul in water. It does grow in soil also but is seldom seen that way. You can find it in many forms (mine you see pictured on the left is spiral or curly) and in many arrangements. It’s said to bring good fortune – yes please!

Lucky Bamboo care.

Aglaonemas, Ags.

two Aglaonemas with two different foliages one is much lighter they have large variegated leaves

Tabletop or floor plant.

We used Aglaonemas a lot on commercial accounts because they’re pretty darned sturdy. They come in a wide variety of patterns; even some new ones splashed with pink and red. They get as as wide as they do tall, so the floor plants will be 2’x2′ or 3’x3′. The Chinese Evergreen or Silver Queen are good old standbys which do the best in the lowest light. Those with more variegation and color do best with more light.

ZZ Plant.

a big zz plant with glossy dark green leaves in a red grow pot

Tabletop or floor plant.

The tallest I’ve seen a ZZ Plant reach is 5′. The leaves are a rich dark glossy green which hardly ever show brown tips, even here in the Arizona desert. As it grows the leaves arch out making quite a striking silhouette.

ZZ Plant care.

Snake Plant, Mother In Law Tongue.

two snake plants in yellow pots on a table in front of a garage door

Tabletop or floor plant.

I’m addicted to Snake Plants not only because of the way they look, but especially because they’re downright tough. The less you baby them, the happier they are. This plant, along with the ZZ Plant and the Cast Iron Plant, is especially good if you travel because of its low water requirement. There is a lot of variety in height, leaf size and shape as well as color and variegation to for you to choose from with these.

Snake Plant Care.  

More on Snake Plant care here.

How to Repot Snake Plants.

3 Ways to Propagate Sansevierias.

Cast Iron Plant.

a large cast iron plant in a grow pot against a chartreuse background

The dark green leaves of a Cast Iron Plant shoot up like flames on skinny stems reaching 2-3′ tall. This isn’t a “glitzy” plant but it sure is a tough cookie, as evidenced by the common name. It’s great for darker corners, under stairs and in hallways. There are a few shorter varieties as well as leaf variegations.

Cast Iron Plant care.

Darcaena Janet Craig, Dracaena Lisa.

Nell holding a Dracaeana Janet Craig (aka Lisa) inside a green house full of houseplants

Floor Plant.

In my days as an interior landscaper, “Janet Craig” was the only variety on the market. We put a lot of these in offices, malls, lobbies, and the like. Now the variety “Lisa” has come on the scene and is more commonly sold. They both have the same glossy, dark green foliage and are sold by the cane (stem) usually with 3-5 per pot so you get the foliage heads at different levels giving a staggered look.

Dracaena Janet Craig,Lisa care.

Dracaena fragrans.

a dracaena massangeana corn plant with large green and chartreuse variegated leaves against a chartreuse background

Floor plant.

We used the Dracaena fragrans, along with the Janet Craig, quite a bit in interiors for low light . I did the video before doing this post and included this plant in this list. I’m having a hard time finding a picture of a Dracaena fragrans but basically the Dracaena massangeana, pictured above, is a variegated form of the Dracaena fragrans. The massangeana needs medium light to bring out the variegation and will revert to solid green. That’s the Dracaena fragrans!

The care for this plant is the same as the Dracaena Janet Craig, Lisa.

Kentia Palm.

an elegant 5 foot tall Kentia Palm in a black grow pot

Floor plant.

This gorgeous, elegant palm arches and fans out as it grows so it’s not one for tight spaces. They grow very slowly, putting out 1 frond (leaf) per year, so they’re more expensive than the Areca and Bamboo Palms. We found them to be much more durable and longer lasting on commercials accounts than those 2 other palms so it might be worth the investment in the long run.

Kentia Palm care.

Low (natural) light in a nutshell.

Remember, low light isn’t no light. Many of these plants will actually do better in medium light but tolerate low light. You won’t see much growth though but the plants above are the ones I saw do and look the best over time with limited amounts of natural light.

I read somewhere that the general rule for low light is that you want it bright enough to see and do things like reading, sewing or cooking. If you can, then these plants will do just fine. This to me is a good analogy so I wanted to pass it on.

Below are general guidelines for exposure for low light plants. It’ll vary a bit depending on the number and size of windows (or glass doors) in a room.

North facing: usually no direct sun but still some light. Plants can be close to the window(s).

East facing: you want the plant to be at least 5′ away from the window(s).

West or south facing: you want the plant at least 10′ away from the window(s).

None of these plants (or most houseplants for that matter) will take direct, hot sun so keep them out of windows.

I tend to wing it when it comes to light. If a plant seems to be a bit unhappy, I move it. In the winter there is less light so you might have to move a plant closer to the light source. And, rotate your plants from time to time so they grow evenly.

I hope you’ve found this list to be helpful! What are you favorite low light plants? Do you have any to add to the list?

You can find these plants, more houseplants and lots of info in our simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

Happy indoor gardening,

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5 comments:

  1. Hi! I just found you and I am enjoying all of your videos and knowledge! I was hoping for a video or some advice on the Monstera deliciosa plant. My mother gave me her Monstera around 15 years ago and I replanted it a while back and wasn’t very picky about what soil to replant it in. After doing some recent research on other plants I have, I’ve realized that the soil you choose is very important. After some research, I have seen lot’s of conflicting advice. Some say to make your own mix to avoid unwanted bugs and disease that can often accompany store-bought mixes. My Monstera lives indoors in my sunroom with all of my other plants, succulents and cactuses. I do not want to bring in any bugs or disease!I had looked into the Happy Frog soil but many reviewers complained of fungus gnats and thrips. 🙁 Any advice on soil? One forum I visited advised, to someone else with the same question, 4 parts peat moss to 1 part perlite. Would that be appropriate for the Monstera..? I would appreciate any advise!

    I am also needing to repot my ponytail palm (I loved your video!) I know you mentioned 1 part Happy Frog to 1 part succulent/cactus mix. Same concern here with the store-bought/ Happy Frog. I have a wonderful succulent/cactus mix from a nursery. Is there another recommendation you could give in place of the store-bought potting mix? Maybe something I could make?

    Same soil question for my Dracaeana Marginata. Loved your video! I need to cut mine back as you said. It is over 5 feet tall and thin on top. I never would have known this if I hadn’t seen your wonderful video. Thank you! Same soil question. You said a potting soil that drains is fine. Any recommendations or something I could make myself..?

    And last question, I re-potted my snake plant and thinking that since it was in the succulent family that it was fine to use a succulent/cactus mix only. Your video shows 2/3 potting soil to 1/3 succulent/cactus mix. Do I need to re-do it and change the soil..? and if so, again, any recommendations for the portion that is the potting soil or a mix I could make myself in place of the potting soil??

    Thank you in advance for your time ,
    Shannan

  2. Hi Sharon – I’ve used Happy Frog & it’s been fine. You can have that issue with any store bought mix because they tend to stay on the moist side. I now use a locally made potting soil here in Tucson which I really like. I usually recommend adding a bit of perlite or pumice to up the ante on drainage & aeration for any mix. For the PP, you can use all succulent & cactus mix if you please. Or, you could make your own blend for any of your plants & alter it for whatever your repotting. As for the Snake Plant, no you don’t. I add a little potting soil in because here in Tucson we’re so hot & dry it actually helps to retain a bit of moisture. Most people don’t need that. Hope this helps! Nell

  3. Thank you, Nell! Yes, this helps!

    Generally speaking for houseplants, when either purchasing or making your own blend, would coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss be the better choice for the base/majority of the mix before adding the perlite and your beloved addition of worm castings? 🙂 Thank you for sharing that tip, I am ordering some today!

    Do you have a preference of any recommended ingredients to look for if purchasing a potting soil mix??

    And, for my mother’s Monstera – any advice on soil type..? I am having trouble finding any info on that.

    Thank you so much! Shannan

  4. Pothos looks great for my dark little studio! Have a philodedron and it does pretty well in brighter rooms too, is a good 6ft long on some tendrils now, but I like the hanging look!

  5. Hi – I love Pothos too! Mine are both trailing beautifully but will need repotting in a couple of months. They sure do brighten up a home! Nell

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