Indoor Plants for Low Light
Some of the most colorful and easy-care indoor plants thrive in low-light conditions. Use them to add color and life to every room in your home. Check out our top picks for dark rooms.
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Probably the most popular houseplant in the world, heartleaf philodendron, Philodendron hederaceum, is super tolerant of dark interiors. This fast-growing vine works well in hanging baskets or trained to climb a small trellis or totem. All you have to do is water it when the soil feels dry to the touch. Two newer varieties offer colorful foliage. 'Brasil' has gorgeous gold-and-green variegated foliage. 'Micans' sports purple flushed leaves with a satinlike texture.
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Often confused with Philodendron, pothos, Epipremnum aureum, will thrive in any room of your home as long as you keep it out of full sun. It's an easy-care vining plant that you can train onto a trellis or allow to tumble over the edge of a hanging basket. Pothos comes in a variety of colors and bicolors, including dark green, chartreuse, white-and-green, yellow-and-green, and spotted silver. Water pothos whenever the soil feels dry, and trim back the plant if it starts to get leggy.
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Looking for a houseplant that tolerates dark corners and neglect? Check out ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia. This African native will do just fine even if it only gets fluorescent light in an office or shop. It also tolerates dry conditions, so it's ideal for someone who travels frequently. ZZ plant looks great, too; it produces upright, slightly arching stems covered in shiny, dark green leaves. Water ZZ plant when the top inch of soil dries out.
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Popular since the Victorian era, parlor palm, Chamaedorea elegans, is a slow-growing Mexican native that does well in low-light situations. It grows 4 feet tall and makes a bold statement in any room. Parlor palm only needs to be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch, but it does help to mist the plants once in awhile during the winter.
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Ever since they were first discovered in the late 1800's, Boston ferns, Nephrolepis exaltata, have played an important role in interior design. These gorgeous plants develop bright green, arching fronds that look great in urns or baskets. Boston ferns thrive in partially shady indoor and outdoor locations away from cold drafts or heat ducts. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, and mist often during the winter to minimize leaf drop.
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When it comes to colorful leaves, few houseplants offer as many options as Dieffenbachia. These gorgeous tropical plants feature a wide range of speckled or splotched leaves in either yellow-and-green or white-and-green. Although they grow well in dark rooms, they do prefer some bright, indirect light to keep them from getting too leggy. Dieffenbachia is poisonous, so keep it out of reach of children and pets.
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Although Gloxinia can't survive in a completely dark room, it will bloom beautifully anywhere it can receive bright, indirect light away from full sun. A close relative of African violet, Gloxinia develops large velvety, trumpetlike flowers in a variety of jewel-like colors. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Use warm water and avoid getting the foliage wet. Feed once a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer while the plants are in bloom.
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Create a tropical getaway in your living room with Monstera deliciosa. Occasionally called Swiss cheese plant, Monstera produces huge, bright green, attractively cut leaves. Monstera has a dense, bushy shape, but over time, it will begin to stretch and climb a trellis or wood totem. If you want to keep the plant compact, simply prune back the vining branches. Water Monstera whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, and fertilize once a month during the spring and summer.
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Cast Iron Plant
Here's a houseplant that truly lives up to its name. Cast iron plant, Aspidistra elatior, thrives on neglect and lives happily in dark rooms with only occasional watering. Plus, this rugged plant spreads slowly, so it rarely needs repotting. Cast iron plant grows 2-3 feet tall and produces dark green narrow leaves. There is also a variegated form, but it can be difficult to find.
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There's no mistaking where this handsome houseplant got its common name. Corn plant, Dracaena fragrans, produces straplike leaves that bear a strong resemblance to sweet corn. The plants grow 3-6 feet tall and thrive in low light. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Corn plants are sold in bush form or on tall, architecturally interesting bare canes.
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Over the past few years red Aglaonema has taken the houseplant world by storm. With spectacular red-pink-and-green leaves, this new introduction will brighten even the darkest room. Red Aglaonema doesn't mind dry soil either, so it makes a great gift for forgetful gardeners. Originally called Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema is almost foolproof.
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Easy and elegant: that's how we describe peace lily. This low-light houseplant sends up pure white flower spaths on tall, graceful stems. Peace lily also has shiny green foliage that looks great even when the plants aren't blooming. Often sold under its botanic name, Spathiphyllum, peace lily grows 18-36 inches tall and makes a relatively undemanding houseplant. However, it does require regular watering and will wilt dramatically if allowed to dry out completely.
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Brighten the dark corners of your home with the cheerful foliage of prayer plant, Maranta leuconeura. This easy-care charmer sports variegated green-and-cream leaves with bright red veins. It gets its name from the fact that the leaves fold up at night. Prayer plant only grows 6-8 inches tall, so it's a good choice for an end table or bookshelf. Water the plants whenever the soil feels dry to the touch and keep it away from direct sunlight.
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Perfect for a hanging basket or urn, the trailing foliage of English ivy is a great choice if you want to lush up a dull room. English ivy comes in a wide variety of leaf colors and shapes and thrives in low light. In fact, it's the perfect plant to grow on a cool, north-facing windowsill. You also can train English ivy into a variety of topiary shapes. English ivy can be bothered by spider mites, so mist the plants often to prevent these pests from gaining a foothold.
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One of the most colorful members of the dracaena family, variety 'Tricolor' has beautiful, straplike red-green-and-cream leaves that add a touch of elegance to any room of your house. 'Tricolor' is often sold as a standard (tree form) in different heights so you can cluster several together to create a miniature forest. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch and remove any faded leaves as they appear.
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Native to Central America, arrowhead vine, Syngonium podophyllum, can tolerate a wide range of low-light conditions. Its handsome foliage can be bright green, bronze, or variegated. When young, arrowhead vine forms a bushy mound; over time the plants will begin to vine, making them ideal for hanging baskets or trained up a trellis or totem. Pinch your plants if they begin to get too leggy. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch.
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Perfect for terrariums or dish gardens, Peperomia grows only 4-10 inches tall and offers a wide selection of different leaf shapes and colors. This plant grows best in medium to low light. It has few insect or disease problems. Here, Peperomia 'Watermelon' thrives in a location where it receives some indirect light from a north-facing window.
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Add a touch of elegance to any room in your home with Phalaenopis, commonly called moth orchid. These easy-care beauties hold their blooms for up to four months and are ideal for low-light locations. Moth orchids come in a wide selection of colors and bicolors. They are generally sold in two sizes: standards that grow 18-24 inches tall and dwarfs that stay under 12 inches in height. Moth orchids grow in bark or moss and should only be watered when that material feels dry. More orchids die from overwatering than under watering.
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The bold, red, pink, orange, white, or purple flowers of Anthurium are a welcome treat during the dark days of winter. These tropical beauties don't like overly dry or wet soils, so it's important to keep the soil slightly moist at all times. Anthurium blooms best in bright, indirect light, but will do just fine in darker situations, although flowering may be limited. However, the plants have bright green, heart-shape leaves that keep the color show going even when they are not in bloom.
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Perfect for any room in your house, ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, is virtually indestructible. It's a fascinating and unusual plant with long straplike leaves sprouting from a large, fat base that gives this plant it's other common name, elephant's foot palm. If you travel a lot, ponytail palm is ideal because the plant stores excess water in its chubby base, so it can go for several weeks without being watered. Ponytail palms are sold in a variety of heights from tabletop to tree-size.
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Don't let the common name of this amazing houseplant scare you off. Spider plant, also called airplane plant, gets its name from the many runners it sends out with baby plants at the tips. Available in dark green and variegated forms, spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, makes a great tabletop or basket plant in low-light conditions. During the winter, mist the plants frequently to help prevent the leaf tips from turning brown.
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When you think of yucca plants, sunny desert conditions probably come to mind. But indoors, yucca cane is almost as happy in a dark corner where you can enjoy its leathery green, lancelike foliage and attractive tan bark. The plant won't grow as quickly in a dark room as it does in a sunny spot, but it will be just fine as long as you don't overwater it. Offer moisture only when the soil feels dry to the touch.
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The jewel-like leaves and flowers of begonia will turn any dark room into a festival of color. There are many species of begonia to choose from, but one of our favorites is rex begonia that comes in different varieties sporting multicolor leaves in an assortment of silver, green, pink, red, orange, and burgundy. Growing 4-8 inches tall, rex begonias can also be used in terrariums or dish gardens. Rex begonias do best in soil that's kept just slightly moist at all times.
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Columnea develops tubular orange or yellow blooms that give these jungle natives their common name, goldfish plant. Although Columnea blooms best in a bright location, the plants themselves will thrive in darker rooms where its trailing, shiny, dark green leaves will be appreciated. Columnea makes a great basket plant. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
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A gorgeous slow-growing vine, Hoya, or wax plant, thrives in bright indirect light, but does almost as well in darker locations. Hoya comes in either flat-leaved or crinkled- leaved forms and will occasionally produce clusters of highly fragrant white flowers. Flat-leaved Hoya also comes in solid green or variegated cream-and-green leaves. You can train a Hoya up a trellis or totem or allow it to trail over the edge of a pot or urn. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch.