Our condo has a little balcony…that faces another building. And because of this, we only receive about 2-3 hours of direct sunlight a day. Fortunately for us (and you!), there are still options for those who don’t live in the sunniest spots.
You can use a grow light or grow indoor plants that require very little direct light.
Much to our surprise, there’s a wide variety of houseplants that can survive – even thrive – with the help of indirect light or fluorescent lighting.
Table of Contents
- 1 What To Look For In A Low-Light Plant
- 2 Peace Lily
- 3 Spider Plant
- 4 Philodendron
- 5 Dracaena
- 6 Snake Plant
- 7 ZZ Plant
- 8 Bromeliads
- 9 Golden Pothos
- 10 Maidenhair Fern
- 11 Staghorn Fern
- 12 Calathea (Peacock Plant)
- 13 Peperomia
- 14 Chinese Money Plant
- 15 Parlor Palm
- 16 Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
- 17 Prayer Plant
- 18 Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
- 19 Sword Fern
- 20 Chinese Evergreen
- 21 Cast Iron Plant
- 22 Getting Started
What To Look For In A Low-Light Plant
Let’s start off by saying that all plants need at least some level of light for photosynthesis, which is the process that they use to create energy in the form of carbohydrates. So while the name “No Sunlight Plants” is catchy, it’s a little misleading. Many plants don’t necessarily need the sun, but they will require some kind of atificial light.
That said, there are several tropical plants that thrive in just a little light. So low that they would do fine inside an apartment with no windows and only fluorescent bulbs overhead.
So why are some plants fit for this lifestyle while others are not? A lot of it comes down to the origin of the plant. While we may think of the tropics as a sun-filled area, there are countless plants that have learned to adapt to the fairly shaded forest floor.
These are the best low-light plants on the market!
Looking for a low-maintenance plant that improves air quality, reduces mold spores, and even prevents mildew? Then look no further than the peace lily. Peace Lilies are a great option that can survive with low lights or medium-light – perfect for growing inside a home.
Spider plants thrive indoors, but be careful about leaving them in indirect light, which can cause its leaves to burn. The beautiful plant, which typically grows best in warmer climates in the U.S. will do best under artificial lighting conditions. It certainly doesn’t need much light.
There are almost 500 philodendron species, including vine and shrub varieties. There’s a wide variety of colors and leaf shapes in this genus.
You’ll want to keep your soil moist, but it will be able to adapt quickly in indirect sunlight or low-light conditions. If you have a Philodendron with extreme or colorful variegation, you will likely need more light. We recommend artificial lights in those situations.
A Philodendron is typically a great plant for new growers, as they’re low maintenance and quite beautiful. Here are some of the Philodendrons we’ve written about on our blog so far:
- Philodendron Minima
- Philodendron Strawberry Shake
- Philodendron Gabby
- Philodendron Scandens
- Philodendron White Princess
- Philodendron Dark Lord
Dracaena is a genus of a houseplant – with 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs – that’s easy to take care of and is known as one of the top air-purifying plants that can remove toxins out of the air. They typically grow in bright, indirect light, but they do well in low or medium-light, as well. It likes humidity, and can grow well outdoors in many climates. You may need to mist the leaves regularly if you live in a climate with dry air.
Of the houseplants in the Dracaena family, consider Lucky Bamboo plants. While it’s not really a bamboo, it certainly looks like one, and it can be the perfect way to accent your home. It would look great in either an office desk or a kitchen counter, and according to Feng Shui, it can even attract good fortune
Another good option is the Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata), which looks nice in a large pot in the corner of a room. It can do well in both partial shade and full sun. It’s toxic to dogs and cats.
Snake plants, which are also part of the Dracaena classification, are amazingly versatile when it comes to light conditions. While they can handle natural light and even full sun, they can also survive in low light and do exceptionally well in indirect sunlight. Also called Mother-in-law’s tongue, the Snake Plant is the perfect low-maintenance accessory for any living room or bathroom. While light isn’t as important for the snake plant, you should make sure your soil drains well. It is highly susceptible to root rot if it sits in water for too long.
These are incredibly hardy plants that thrive under neglect. It’s the pefect option if you tend to forget about your plants for a few days…or a few weeks.
Also called the Zanzibar Gem, the ZZ plant is the classic apartment houseplant. It’s a beautiful tropical plant with dark green leaves that is incredibly low maintenance. It is known for being tolerant of about anything including drought, low light, and just plain neglect. If anything, the main way people kill the ZZ plant is by caring for it too much. Be sure to only water when the soil if fully dry. Use your finger to gauge it.
Not only is the ZZ plant beautiful and easy to care for, but it’s also a good air purifying plant. It has the ability to remove toxins like toluene, benzene, and xylene from the air.
For light needs, bright indirect light is preferred, but it can survive in low light conditions..
One thing we should point out about this plant is that it’s toxic to people and pets.
Bromeliads are a great tropical plant that is perfect for adding a splash of color to your home. They can survive on fluorescent light alone and do exceptionally well in humid areas. Don’t live in a humid climate? No problem. Instead, place your bromeliad in the bathroom – it will thrive and you’ll add a splash of color to the room.
Golden pothos is a vine with yellow and green leaves that can grow outdoors in some cooler climates, but it can grow anywhere indoors without direct sunlight. If you decide to grow the golden pothos in your home, you should be aware that the vines can reach up to 10 feet or more. This is a fan favorite low light plant because it requires little maintenance.
The maidenhair fern is a beautiful plant that prefers indirect light or shade. Of the plants on this list, maidenhair fern is one of the most fragile. Too much sun can cause scorching, but not enough light will cause poor growth. Plant care is incredibly important when it comes to the maidenhair fern. In order to keep your maidenhair fern healthy, make sure the soil is moist but not over-watered, which could cause root rot.
Staghorn ferns have a very interesting appearance – almost otherworldly – that I find delightful. Some of its leaves look like the horns of stag, hence the name.
This easy-to-care-for plant is an epiphyte, meaning it does fine when mounted to a wall or log. It can grow in low light, but does best in bright indirect light.
The bigger concerns for this plant are the water, fertilizer, and growing medium. You should expect to water the staghorn frequently, but let the medium dry out between each watering. For fertilizer, add a balanced houseplant option once a month during the spring and summer.
Their growing medium can be soil – but they do best when grown in something like peat or compost. They are an epiphyte in nature, so they typically like to grow on top of something that can provide small bits of organic matter. Having their roots submerged in soil is a good way to cause root rot.
Calathea (Peacock Plant)
The calathea – often called the peacock plant due to its beautiful foliage resembling a peacock’s feathers – is a low-maintenance plant that can grow without bright light. Being a tropical plant, it thrives in outdoor, humid conditions, but it can still be grown indoors. Too much direct sun on this popular houseplant will cause sagging leaves with pale markings if it’s receiving too much sunlight.
If you’re looking for a splash of green in your kitchen or dining room, Peperomia may be a great option. Over 1,000 varieties of peperomia come in leaves of gray, green, red and cream. Unlike many of the plants on this list, they prefer drier conditions. And this beautiful houseplant can prosper well under the fluorescent lights of your home. In fact, direct light could even burn the leaves. These low-light houseplants are popular, low-maintenance options for your home.
Chinese Money Plant
Money plants are classic indoor houseplants. They often represent good fortune or generally positive energy. They enjoy high humidity and indirect light or low-light conditions.
Make sure your potting option has sufficient drainage holes. The money plant does not like to have wet roots.
Also, be sure to keep your plant in a potting mix that has peat moss and some fertilizer. You should add your own fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer months.
Parlor palms are popular houseplants that would look great in a living room. Parlor palms can grow in low light or medium light. If you want to see the little yellow flowers that grow in the spring, you’ll need to make sure it receives at least partial sunlight.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
The Chinese Evergreen is a low-maintenance plant that can grow in low light areas. If you don’t yet have a green thumb, the Chinese Evergreen is a great option. Not only this, but it made a list on Nasa’s Clean Air Study, which found that the Chinese Evergreen could remove Benzine and formaldehyde from the air in your home.
The prayer plant’s leaves fold up at night, resembling hands in prayer. It is usually known for its pink veins and the oval shape to its leaves. You’ll need moderate light for this plant to grow successfully, but doesn’t need direct sunlight. The prayer plant grows best in moist soil and can make a great hanging basket.
Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
It should be noted that the Dieffenbachia is a toxic houseplant to both children and pets if ingested, so please consider this before buying and placing it in your home. That said, it can thrive in filtered light or generally low-light areas.
Sword ferns are hardy growers that don’t need a lot of sunlight. That said, they require acidic, well-draining soil, as well as high humidity. For this houseplant, you should spray the leaves with water from time to time.
The Chinese Evergreen is a beautiful houseplant that comes in many shapes and colors. It’s also known for being hardy. It doesn’t need a lot of light and can grow well in medium, low or even indirect sunlight.
It prefers humid conditions, but the soil should be allowed to dry out a bit between waterings. Be careful about overwatering. Too much watering, and the Chinese Evergreen could get a fungus or root rot.
Cast Iron Plant
The Cast Iron Plant is native to Taiwan and Japan and is easy to grow indoors. Although it’s a slow grower, it requires only indirect light and should be kept out of direct light to keep its leaves from being scorched. It can also grow well in poor soil, making this a great indoor plant option for someone getting the hang of their green thumb.
Houseplants can be the perfect way to spruce up your home, improve the air quality and even improve your ability to focus. Start with these 17 best plants for growing indoors, and turn your home into a beautiful garden today.