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Low-Light Houseplants for the Home

Houseplants can significantly brighten a room, help purify the air, and bring a bit of nature inside, but only some indoor spaces have enough natural light to sustain all plants. Without adequate light, a plant’s foliage will be smaller and sparse, with leaves turning pale green, yellow, and eventually white. Growth will become spindly, causing elongated internodes. In a low-light environment, growth will eventually slow and ultimately cease. Choosing low-light houseplants is an ideal solution for rooms with low-light levels, and there are many beautiful plants that can thrive in a dim environment.

20 Best Houseplants for Low Light

There are many reasons to opt for low-light houseplants. Some rooms, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, generally have lower-than-average light levels. Some homeowners use window shades, blinds, or curtains for temperature control and to purposely reduce indoor light. Even bright rooms may have dim corners or shadowy spaces with less intense light. The exposure of a window also affects the amount of sunlight it allows, with north and east windows generally having lower light levels than south and west windows. The changing seasons also affect available sunlight, with less light in fall and winter. Fortunately, there are many outstanding houseplants that can grow well in these lower-light situations, including:

  • Bromeliads (Aechme)
  • Begonia (Begonia)
  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
  • Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  • Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena)
  • Maindenhair Fern (Adiantum)
  • Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
  • Peperomia (Peperomia)
  • Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Prayer Plant (Calathea)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
  • Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Caring for Low Light Houseplants

A “low light” designation does not mean the plant can thrive in darkness. All plants require light, but low-light plants can thrive in indirect or filtered light rather than several hours of bright sunlight each day. It is important to note that whatever type of houseplant you choose, to ensure healthy and robust growth, you will also need…

  • A proper pot or other container.
    When a houseplant has outgrown its pot, it is advisable, in most cases, to select a pot that is two inches in diameter larger than the current one. The container should possess adequate drainage to prevent saturated soil and ensuing root rot.
  • Suitable potting soil.
    Never use garden soil when potting a houseplant; it can be too heavy and can frequently contain bacterial and fungal diseases as well as unwanted garden pests.
  • Proper watering.
    Both Inadequate and overwatering can be deadly for houseplants. Know what your plant needs and adjust the watering schedule based on the plant’s size and seasonal needs throughout the year. Watering gauges or automatic watering tools can help ensure you aren’t drowning or drying out your houseplants.
  • Regular feeding.
    Regular fertilizing is essential when houseplants are actively growing. Feeding is generally not necessary during winter months when plant growth slows. Choose the proper fertilizer for the plant type and feed gently, more frequently, while using a reduced amount, rather than risk burning delicate roots with overfeeding. Slow-release fertilizers formulated for indoor plants are one of the best options. With fertilizer, remember, more is not better.
  • Increased humidity.
    Indoor air is often much drier than outside air, and houseplant leaves and soil can quickly dry out and become brown and crispy. Adding a humidifier to the room, grouping plants, misting regularly, and providing a humidity tray are all ways to help.
  • Occasional dusting.
    With no regular breezes to blow away debris, houseplants can become dull and dingy without dusting, and dust can clog their pores. Use a soft, clean cloth to gently wipe the foliage, or give plants an occasional shower to rinse away unwanted dust.

Bringing a touch of nature indoors, houseplants add brightness to even low-light level rooms. Choosing the right houseplants for the light levels in your home and caring for them appropriately will ensure their health and longevity, providing many years of enjoyment and beauty.