Hopefully, your home includes at least a few big windows that let in lots of sunshine for your light-loving houseplants, especially if you also have a lazy pet who requires daily naps in a puddle of sun. But we all have at least one room that never gets good light, even in the height of summer. Plus, some of us like to keep the shades drawn – you know, to create an air of mystery with the neighbors (and to stay cool on hot days). Plenty of plants can thrive in dim and shadowy spaces and actually do best with just a little natural light every day. The hardest part about finding the best low-light indoor plants might actually be narrowing down your many choices.
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1. Air Plants
Talk about low maintenance. Air plants (Tillandsia) don't even need soil in which to grow, and they can survive with just a little light. All air plants really need is the occasional mist of water from a spray bottle, so you never have to worry about overwatering. They're also the perfect hanging plants for anyone who has limited space and for anyone living in a place with high humidity. Mount plant hangers from the ceiling or tuck air plants into terrariums to display on shelves.
2. Cast Iron Plant
Their name is a good indication of their hardiness. Cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior) are nearly indestructible, like cast iron itself. They can flourish in low-light conditions and actually do better when they're kept out of direct sun. Cast iron plants can grow to be a few feet tall when grown as indoor plants, and they have glossy dark green leaves.
3. Chinese Evergreen
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) is a popular indoor houseplant for beginners. They don't require much maintenance, do well in lower light and have lovely green foliage speckled with white, red or other shades of green. One caveat is that you should avoid Chinese evergreen if you have pets who might chew on your plants, as it can be toxic for cats and dogs.
Commonly known as dumb cane, dieffenbachia is about as easy to pronounce as it is to care for. That is, it might take just a little trial and error to get it right. This isn't a houseplant that can thrive with total darkness, but it can do well as long as it gets some bright, indirect light. Its oval-shaped leaves can grow to be more than a foot long.
5. Golden Pothos
Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is also known by the common name devil's ivy. Despite its grim name, this is an easy-care plant that can brighten up any space. There are actually a few types of pothos plants that produce different shades of greenery. Golden pothos leaves are green with yellow speckling. Plant golden pothos in hanging baskets so you can admire the way the ivy vines curve and trail down as they grow.
6. Lucky Bamboo
Who knows – maybe adding a lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) to your windowsill will change your fortune overnight. At the very least, you'll have an interesting-looking plant to admire every time you enter the room. These plants, which are characterized by curved and braided stalks, can eventually grow to be a few feet tall and do well with indirect light.
7. Peace Lily
As names go, the peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is perhaps at the opposite end of the spectrum from the devil's ivy. They are not pet-friendly (lily plants can be fatal to animals that ingest them), but they're the perfect potted plant for a dim corner of a pet-free home. Peace lily plants can grow to be several feet wide and several feet tall, with broad green leaves and delicate white flowers.
8. Prayer Plant
The name "prayer plant" is used to describe many plants of the Marantaceae family because their leaves droop or fold up at night, creating the appearance that they're praying. Calatheas are a popular kind of prayer plant that do well in medium light. Their wide green leaves are adorned with colorful markings, and they're ideal for pet owners with naughty animals because calatheas aren't toxic to cats or dogs in small quantities.
9. Snake Plant
No matter how you feel about snakes themselves, snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are easy to love. They're a kind of succulent, so they're hardy and tough to kill. Because they have stiff, narrow leaves that grow straight up, they're fairly compact and can make a great tabletop houseplant for a room that doesn't get much direct sunlight.
10. ZZ Plants
ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) definitely have the most punk-rock name of all the low-light houseplants. They grow long stalks lined with finger-length shiny green leaves and do well with bright, indirect sunlight. If you find yourself humming "Sharp Dressed Man" every time you water your plants, well, consider it a bonus of ZZ plant ownership.