If you’re living in a house or apartment without much light or have no more space on your well-lit windowsills it can sometimes be difficult to find plants that can survive with a little less. Don’t despair, though, because they’re out there!
Although all plants do need light, this list contains 7 species that need a lot less than average.
Note: there is no such thing as a ‘no light’ plant. All plants need quite a bit of light. To measure light, you can search for a light meter app on your phone. The plants listed below need around 50-200 foot-candles in order to thrive, though they can survive on less. If the amount of light is drastically lower, you might need to invest in grow lights to keep them happy.
Sansevieria (snake plant)
Sansevieria (pictured above), also known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, is one of the most popular low-light plants. It comes in many different varieties and is easy to care for as long as you keep in mind that it really doesn’t need a lot of water at all, especially in low-light conditions: the most common cause of death for this plant is probably overwatering and generally giving it a little too much attention.
Provide your Sansevierias with well-draining soil and be sure to use pots with drainage holes. When it’s time to water, thoroughly soak the soil and drain any excess water. To prevent the roots from rotting, wait until the soil has dried out quite a bit before watering again.
You can buy Sansevieria online here!
Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant)
The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is loved for its easy care, low light requirements and decorative looks. Like Sansevieria, it does best when left alone for most of the time and is much more suitable to withstand neglect than excess watering. However, to keep your ZZ plant looking its absolute best some care requirements should be kept in mind.
During Summer, you can water once a week or once every two weeks depending on how moist the soil is and how much light the plant is getting. During Winter even less water is needed. Be sure not to overwater: this plant does not appreciate wet soil.
If you’re not seeing any growth at all on your ZZ plant, the amount of light in its current location might unfortunately just not be adequate. Moving the plant or using grow lights will most likely fix this problem.
You can buy a ZZ plant online here!
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Epipremnum aureum, better known as Pothos or devil’s ivy, is one of those plants you always see in malls and restaurants. And for good reason! This plant is decorative, very easy to care for, easy to propagate and, most importantly, it will grow fast even when lighting conditions aren’t ideal. A good watering when the top of the soil gets dry and at least some light is all it needs to thrive.
Its vining nature makes Pothos a great choice for hanging baskets, which comes in handy when you don’t have spacious windowsills to work with. If that doesn’t work for you either, you can even keep pothos cuttings alive in a vase or glass of water.
More information about propagating Pothos can be found here.
Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Another super easy low light plant is Aspidistra elatior, better known as the cast iron plant. Like most other plants on this list the cast iron plant isn’t loved for its flowers but for its lush green foliage (or green and cream colored, if you happen to stumble upon a variegated specimen). Although this plant is usually grown outdoors in gardens, its hardiness and ability to withstand low light conditions also makes it a great houseplant option. Watering-wise, it isn’t fussy: just let the soil dry a bit between waterings during Summer and reduce the amount and frequency during the Winter months.
Like the ZZ plant the cast iron plant is known for being a very slow grower, especially in low light conditions. Don’t let this discourage you! Unless the plant is putting out no new growth at all even during the Spring and Summer months, it’s probably fine. If you feel like it’s not doing well moving it to a more well-lit spot might help, though keep in mind that it really doesn’t like to be exposed to direct sunlight.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants, much like Pothos, are appreciated for their ability to withstand low light conditions, super easy propagation and suitability for hanging planters. They are great beginner plants that don’t require a lot of care to thrive: though bright, indirect light is preferred, a little less light shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Water as soon as the soil has had some time to dry, never allowing it to become soggy to prevent root rot.
Spider plants can be propagated by planting the “spiderettes” they lend their name from. These baby plants (pictured below) hang from the mother plant like spiders and can just be snipped off and planted into well-draining potting soil. After planting, keep the spiderette well-watered and roots should soon start to appear.
You can buy spider plants online here!
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Though often marketed as such and sold rooted in water in vases and small pots, Dracaena sanderiana/braunii or lucky bamboo is not actually a type of bamboo. Loved for its quirky appearance, easy care and ability to withstand low light conditions, lucky bamboo can be much more than a temporary way to brighten up a room a little until it eventually dies from neglect. If well cared for, these plants make a great permanent addition to your collection.
When growing lucky bamboo in water, be sure to regularly do a water change, preferably with bottled water. When growing lucky bamboo in soil, water regularly during Summer but avoid standing water as this can quickly cause root rot.
Blue star fern (Phlebodium aureum)
Like many other fern types, Phlebodium aureum or blue star fern is a good choice for spots with a little less light. Because they naturally appear on forest floors or places that are otherwise shaded by higher trees and plants they don’t do well in direct sunlight and prefer light shade. Blue star ferns are decorative and relatively easy to care for: they just need a humid environment (or regular misting) and moist (not wet) soil.
Because blue star ferns are naturally epiphytic they don’t appreciate being planted in potting soil; an epiphyte soil like orchid bark is a better option.
A full caresheet for blue star ferns can be found on Houseplant Central here.
If you have any more questions about these low light plants or want to share your own experiences with keeping plants in low light conditions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!