Not all houseplants are created equal, which makes your job as a plant parent slightly complicated. All plants require a different level of care, especially when it comes to the amount of sunlight and water they receive. You might also be under the impression that plants need tons of natural sunlight and water to survive, but that’s not exactly the case. There are many low-light plants that can survive in the darkest, shadiest spots of your home, office space, or anywhere else in need of greenery. While some of the indoor and outdoor houseplants on this list are forgiving and tolerant in all conditions, most of these varieties actually grow faster and stronger when they have less light to work with.
But let’s be clear: low light doesn’t mean no light. “In order to grow, low-light plants still require some indirect light, often from a north-facing window and away from the windowsill,” Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers, tells us. While low-light plants can vary in their overlook look, leaf shape, and color, many of them have one common characteristic: “broader, thinner leaves that allow them to adapt to this climate over time.” Still, some plant types require more TLC than others, so brush up on the specifics of each green beauty to find the right fit for your space (and green thumb).
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No household plant list is complete without mentioning the trusty, tolerant spider plant. “It’s a graceful plant that makes a statement anywhere — from a tabletop to a mantel, or with its lovely arching leaves as a hanging plant,” Bloomscape Plant Mom Joyce Mast tells us.
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Although this common houseplant doesn’t need a ton of sunlight to survive, it won’t do well in dry, hot conditions. It’s really a tropical plant, which means that it prefers warm, humid weather — ideally somewhere between 70 – 72ºF.
This tabletop-friendly plant, which has a two-tone pattern that resembles reptile skin, doesn’t like the feeling of sun on its leaves, making it ideal for low-light environments. But there’s no need to fear: Although it’s named after a venomous snake, these glossy greens are completely pet-friendly.
This small-but-mighty plant also goes by the name Devil’s Ivy because, well, it’s immune to death. That means, it’ll survive under harsh fluorescent office lights, no light at all, or even a few weeks without water — take our editor’s word for it.
Monstera Deliciosa Floor Plant
It’s famous on Instagram for a reason: This floor plant can withstand low light and semi-drought conditions. Along with purifying the air, the heart-shaped leaves bring a soothing calm to any space.
When treated just right (low, indirect light and weekly waterings), this Rubber Plant will grow tiny white flowers. But if you happen to have a sunny spot or windowsill nearby, it won’t hurt to stick it close to the sun since it also thrives in medium light.
Bird’s Nest Fern
Ferm plants are the be-all and end-all of houseplants. They’ve been around for millions of years, thriving in all kinds of light and water conditions. Bird’s Nest Fern, in particular, thrives in low-light areas. Pay attention to its leaves to see if it’s getting too much light: The more crinkled the leaves, the less light it needs.
“This houseplant is great for plant parents whose homes have little light and little time to care for their plants,” Palomares says. Sounds like you? Then try this glossy green, available in table or floor plant sizes, in your space for added style and air purification.
Also called Fittonia, this small-leaf variety naturally grows as ground cover in native South America. To truly thrive, it needs tons of water and shade, making it ideal for windowsill planters, small containers, and terrariums. But the less light they receive, the less colorful the leaves will be.
If you’re a first-time plant parent, consider the Philodendron Brasil: This trailing plant is “incredibly forgiving and will tolerate all kinds of neglect, including low light, poor soil, and inconsistent watering,” according to Mast. Perfect for bookshelves or plant hangers, the vines spill out rather quickly, giving newbies the reassurance they desperately need.
A symbol of growth, luck, and prosperity, Braided Bamboo is loved by many because it brings feng shui to any room. It’s also extremely easy to take care of: It grows best in low indirect light, slightly damp soil, and temperatures ranging from 65 – 95°F.
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