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Five Best Houseplants for Low-Light Areas

Updated on December 19, 2007

Nothing brightens and softens up a room like a thriving green plant. While some people have a natural knack for keeping plants alive, it's not always that easy for everyone else. One of the biggest problems with indoor houseplants, is finding the right plant for the light level you have in your home.

You might be lucky enough to have plenty of south-facing windows with more than enough sun to accommodate any plant you choose, but that's not usually the case for most people. We all have shady corners and rooms with little natural light. What are the best plants to choose for these indoor situations?

There are several excellent candidates for your darker spots, and they are pretty easy to care for plants as well. Some of these plants will grow quite large, so make sure you have enough space before buying one. A cute little plant in the store may grow large enough to require a room of its own.

I've selected the 5 best plant species for low-light areas. I'm giving both the common name as well as the botanical (Latin) name, just in case your local plant store doesn't use the same common name. That can happen, so knowing the Latin name will eliminate any confusion. Besides, it makes you sound smart. The sp. means that any species in that family of plants will do.

Chinese Evergreen
Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

(Aglaonema sp.)

This is the most popular shady-spot plant because it is lovely to look at and will grow easily for just about anyone. Though called an "evergreen", it looks nothing like a pine or fir tree. The leaves are large (1 ½ feet long) and often variegated, though you can select varieties with different patterns or plain dark green. The plant itself grows in a clump of upright leaves on short stems, and can grow to 3-feet tall. It's very tropical-looking and can fill up a whole corner of a room.

Snake Plant
Snake Plant

Snake Plant

(Sansevieria sp.)

This plant is also known by the other common name of Mother-in-Law's Tongue. The Snake Plant is a very dramatic looking plant, with long stiff leaves that stand straight up from the base of the plant. Most varieties have stripes or other variegation patterns, in yellow or silver. They are a desert plant, so don't overwater. Let the soil dry out between waterings. The leaves can grow between 2 and 3 feet in height.

Peace Lily
Peace Lily

Peace Lily

(Spathiphyllum sp.)

Most low-light plants are only foliage, but the Peace Lily offers you a gorgeous and huge white flower as well as large, dark green leaves. The single-petaled flower will rise up above the leaves for an attractive view. Not only will it grow in low light, it's considered an excellent plant for cleaning toxins out of your air. The Peace Lily prefers damp soil and shouldn't be left to dry out completely between waterings. The leaves are somewhat toxic, so should not be kept in an environment where children or pets might eat them. These plants will also grow between 2 and 3 feet high.

Devil's Ivy or Pothos
Devil's Ivy or Pothos

Devil's Ivy

(Epipremnum sp.)

Unlike the large plants mentioned so far, the Devil's Ivy (often also called Pothos) is a smaller climbing plant, particularly suited for hanging baskets or table-top pots. Its leaves are green and mottled yellow, though other colours can be found as well. This plant is a common sight in offices, to brighten up cubicle desktops. When the runner vines get too long or unkempt, feel free to keep in pruned to a manageable size. You can let the vines hang free, or train the plant to grow upwards on a small trellis.

Cast Iron Plant
Cast Iron Plant

Cast Iron Plant

(Aspidistra sp.)

Our final low-light plant is another large and leafy one, though a little less impressive in looks than the others. The leaves are usually plain green, and will grown to about 2 feet in length. It's a tough and sturdy plant (hence the name) and will grow in almost any conditions. A nice choice for someone with a brown thumb.


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    • profile image

      House Plants Decor 5 years ago

      Friendship is often best expressed, and sustained, with little gifts. And there are, after all, many occasion when a large house plants or elaborate trough would be out of place. Moreover, children sometimes like to buy a small house plants with their pocket-money. So it is nice to know that they, too, are well catered for. Most flower shops have a wide choice of small plants suited to the most modest pocket.

    • Shannon Armstrong profile image

      Shannon Armstrong 5 years ago from Prineville, Oregon

      Regardless if it kills or simply renders you speechless and drooling the point is ... BETTER SAFE THEN SORRY!

      If you have a pet or child just take necessary precautions .

      It's much easier then saying " I wish I had done more" .

      If you don't want to take action, it's your business. At least now you have the information. I have birds and Grand kids that are precious to me.

      I could never forgiv myself if something happened and I chooose in advance to not take action to avoid their pain, illness or worse.

      On that note ~


    • profile image

      Annette 6 years ago

      We live in an apartment with plenty of light source. However, the bedroom has a "black out" curtain over the blinds because of the bright light coming in at night. It is not a thought to open the blinds in the mornings when we are working, and two plants have already perished, unlike our other household plants that flourish. Thank you so much for this source of information. I will investigate at the local plant nursery and purchase at least 2 of your suggestions.

    • profile image

      tarun 6 years ago

      waste thngs

    • profile image

      Robin Wilson 6 years ago

      Why not visit your local nursery? Take a few photos of the room you want to use to give them an idea of the light conditions. I bet they would be more than willing to give you some expert advise.

    • profile image

      kay 7 years ago

      can anyone help with some advise i moved into new apartment and bought some lovely parlor palms now the apartment isn't dark it has lot natural light but my plants just dried up and died this happened before in my last home but that was old barn conversion and not great light so i thought id try them again in new home as its bright but no such luck so i went out and bought 4 more realy large palms different to the parlour ones as the leaves are much bigger theses plants were 5ft tall and wonderfull looking in my lounge but after xmass they again just dried up and died iv just put them in the bin with tears in my eyes as they cost a lot of money , i always sprayed the leaves with water and fed them and never allowed themm to dry out so what am i doing wrong, i cant afford to buy anymore of theses palms again, but i realy want some large statement plants in my lounge can anyone advise just what would be the best kind to buy that is leafy and grows to about 5ft possaibly bit more that would be ok with centeral heating , not that i blame heating entirely as i said my old home was never as warm as this new one and still they died , please hope someone can help :(

    • LSKing profile image

      LSKing 7 years ago from East Coast United States

      I've owned all of those house plants and they're great in low light. I had to move and gave all of my house plants away. After reading this hub I can't wait to get more.

    • profile image

      Angela 7 years ago

      Thanks, I really wanted plants inside my house, but there hardly enough windows are lights.

    • greenatheart profile image

      greenatheart 7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Interesting Hub. Very clever for a gardener's need. Kudos!

    • profile image

      Thomas 8 years ago

      I lover plants. I have some of these plants in my garden and house. You feel fresher when you see plants. I also installed solar shed light in my garden to light up a bit during the night.

      Thomas of

    • profile image

      pachuchu1977 8 years ago

      Very useful article

    • profile image

      Abdulhady 8 years ago

      Very informative, Thanks a lot, I love plants very much, I have many of it

    • laringo profile image

      laringo 8 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

      I love houseplants. A couple of these I never heard of. I"ll have to go to my local nursery to try to find them Great HuB!

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 9 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Nice info. ... glad I found this hub!

    • Julie A. Johnson profile image

      Julie A. Johnson 9 years ago from Duluth, MN

      Terri, I had no idea Peace Lilies are low light plants. I've been thinking about getting one, now I know I will. Thanks for the tip. Julie

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 9 years ago

      Hi, when I moved into my home, the last thing I thought about was lighting for plants, and boy, how I wish I had! I have one teensy window that faces east, and my biggest windows face north! The only thing I have had luck with is pothos and some plant I picked up in Target a few years ago. I have no idea what its name is, but it seems to thrive in neglect! The other issue I have is I don't have a big house, and no windowsills to speak of, which I hate. I have tried hanging plants, but I get so little light in here they didn't do well either. Guess I'll have to be content with the 4 plants I have.

      Thanks for the plant choices though, I might try them.

    • Live N Learn profile image

      Live N Learn 10 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi! Your hub which has specific information about houseplants definitely compliment my new hub, which offers generalized information about plants and their potential to be a profitable home-based business. I hope I can do a much-detailed hub about plants someday. Thank you for enlightening me further! More power!

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub. I will love to have plants like this inside the home. Luckily we live in area there is plenty of sun light, but this will be useful in apartment buildings. Thanks.