If you’re looking to build your houseplant collection and greenify your home, one factor you’ll always have to keep in mind is light. Different plants have different lighting needs and some might need too much of it to be able to thrive in your home. If you can’t provide lots of direct sun, go instead for houseplants that don’t need sunlight and can thrive with just indirect light.
Keep reading for a list of 9 of my favorite houseplants that don’t need sunlight, including care information.
Note: Many sources, especially sellers, will list certain houseplant species like the ones mentioned in this article as ‘no light houseplants’ or ‘houseplants that can grow in the dark’. To put things simply, this is a lie.
All plants require light to photosynthesize, often more than we think. All of the species on this list are houseplants that don’t need sun, but they do need to be placed near a window and cannot thrive in a dark room. If your plant is not putting out much new growth and its soil appears to stay moist for ages, consider whether you’re giving it enough.
If windows are lacking, you can always supplement with artificial lighting instead!
Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant)
The ever-popular favorite Swiss cheese plant is a great option for those who don’t have direct sunlight to offer in their home. In the wild, this species will vine on the trunks of other, taller trees.
The canopy above it blocks out the sun’s harsh rays and instead creates a much more diffused light. In the home this means that although the Swiss cheese plant should still preferably be placed near a window, it doesn’t have to be one that blasts the plant with light.
As for Swiss cheese plant care beyond lighting, this Philodendron is not too demanding. Treat it as you would any tropical vining houseplant by planting in a light soil that drains well and allows the roots to breathe, such as potting soil mixed with orchid bark. Keep the soil lightly moist but never wet.
Remember that although there are some Swiss cheese plant cultivars that tend to stay a bit smaller, all of them still have the potential to grow massive. You might want to consider growing Monstera deliciosa’s cousin instead if you don’t have the space: Monstera adansonii.
|Soil type||Light & airy|
Calathea roseopicta (Rose painted prayer plant)
The amazing Calathea roseopicta is a typical prayer plant with beautiful foliage. It has been selectively cultivated to create all sorts of lovely color and pattern mixes that can range from bright green to almost black. Definitely one for houseplant enthusiasts who appreciate pretty leaves.
In the South American rainforests that the rose painted prayer plant naturally grows in, direct sun is naturally blocked out by taller trees. This means that in the house it definitely doesn’t have a need for direct sun and will actually be vulnerable to burning. Bright light is still appreciated but it should always be indirect.
The aforementioned actually applies to the Calathea genus as a whole. So if Calathea roseopicta (the rose painted prayer plant) is not your thing or you can’t find it, you can always consider one of its cousins such as Calathea ornata (the pinstripe Calathea).
Do keep in mind that almost all prayer plants are considered at least moderately difficult to grow and some are downright impossible outside of a greenhouse!
|Soil type||Moisture retaining|
Spathiphyllum sp. (Peace lily)
Peace lilies from the Spathiphyllum genus have always been a favorite choice for low-light areas that don’t receive sun. Dappled light works well for this species because it naturally grows on the forest floor where it won’t be reached by the sun’s direct rays.
This plant is the only one on this list that’s known for its flowers. They generally bloom during springtime and produce lovely white or greenish, single leafed flowers that can continue to pop up all the way into fall.
Although the peace lilies you’ll see in your local plant store are generally quite small, the species can actually grow into a very sizeable bush with more than ten flowers sticking out at the same time.
The peace lily is a great option for beginning houseplant enthusiasts and should be easy enough to care for. Keep yours very lightly moist and don’t forget to repot if it has outgrown its container when springtime rolls around.
Can you believe the leaves on these?! I can’t think of a single houseplant from the Alocasia genus that doesn’t sport the type of foliage that’ll catch anyone’s eye.
These tropicals are native to southeast Asia, where they grow on jungle floors where the light is blocked out by taller trees. Here, they can reach gigantic sizes. In the home they’ll stay a bit smaller but many can still get large enough to make a great centerpiece!
The most common Alocasia variety grown in the home is probably Alocasia x amazonica (pictured below), but don’t let your collection stop at that. Alocasia ‘Sarian’, ‘Stingray’, zebrina, ‘Black Velvet’ and many more are all gorgeous and suitable to grow as houseplants.
Although Alocasia is not the easiest houseplant to grow, it can still definitely be done with the right care. You’ll have to keep in mind that they do like plenty of humidity and won’t respond well to low temperatures. Grow yours in a mix that is well-draining but retains some moisture and don’t forget to always keep the soil lightly moist.
|Soil type||Well-draining with peat|
Asplenium sp. (Bird’s nest fern)
If we’re talking about plants that don’t need sunlight, it’s only logical that a fern would make the list! Many ferns can be grown indoors in spots that only get indirect light, but one of the easier varieties would be from the Asplenium genus: bird’s nest ferns.
The nice thing about bird’s nest ferns is that they aren’t nearly as fussy about humidity as most of their other fern cousins. Although they won’t do well in very dry air, they don’t need greenhouse-like conditions either and can even tolerate their soil drying out a bit.
Many Aspleniums naturally grow on trees as epiphytes ,but they’ll be fine in a pot in the home. Use a mixture that retains plenty of water, like peat or a peat replacement (such as coco coir). Then mix this with some perlite or bark to allow excess moisture to drain.
If you like ferns and would like to go beyond just Asplenium, try having a look at the article on types of easy ferns to start with. Another one of my personal favorites would be the blue star fern, which doesn’t need sunlight and makes a great choice if you’re looking for something eye-catching.
|Soil type||Moisture retaining|
Ficus elastica (Rubber tree)
If you love indoor trees but don’t have a lot of experience with houseplants, you might want to skip the fiddle leaf fig mentioned above and go for its cousin instead. Ficus elastica, also known as the rubber tree, is another beautiful species from the Ficus genus and this one is known for being a bit easier to grow.
Although it likes bright light, direct sun is not needed to grow a rubber tree successfully. In fact, as mentioned in the rubber tree caresheet, the variegated version of this plant is actually in danger of burning when placed in the sun. This Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’ is therefore a great option for those windows on the northern side of your house (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is).
All in all, this species is an amazing choice if you’re looking for a large eyecatcher. It grows quite quickly, too, so you can easily get a small plant and watch it evolve to its lovely adult form.
Another prayer plant makes the list, although this time it’s a Stromanthe, not Calathea. Although the standard version of this species is already quite a sight to see, it’s especially appreciated for the ‘Triostar’ cultivar. This variety features amazing variegated leaves with a mix of pastel pink and green on the top and a deep pink on the bottom.
Like the previously mentioned rose painted prayer plant, Stromanthe sanguinea is found in the South American rainforest where tall trees block out direct sunlight. Because of this, it has evolved to prefer filtered light. This especially applies to the variegated version, which easily sustains burn damage because of the lighter patches on its leaves.
Like other prayer plants Stromanthe sanguinea can be a challenge to care for, especially because of its humidity needs. It’s by no means impossible though, so if you’re up for the challenge then head over to the Stromanthe sanguinea caresheet to find out what this plant needs.
|Soil type||Moisture retaining|
Chlorophytum comosum (Spider plant)
If the prayer plant mentioned above and its challenging care seem a bit too much for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other houseplants out there that don’t need direct sun but are a bit more beginner-proof. One of my favorite easy choices is the classic Chlorophytum comosum, which is commonly known as the spider plant.
Spider plants are a grass-like species that has also been selectively cultivated to produce a few types of variegation and even a variety with curly leaves (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Bonnie’). All of them are sensitive to direct sun and easily burn, so place them near a window that only gets indirect light or use a thin curtain to diffuse the worst of it.
This species is ideal for a hanging planter because its foliage hangs downward. It will also produce little pups that dangle like spiders from a web in their search for soil to touch down on. You can easily propagate these to produce more spider plants!
Scindapsus pictus (Silver Philodendron)
We’re all familiar with Pothos as an option for indirect sun environments, but have you ever considered the similar Scindapsus pictus? The funny thing about this species is that it’s commonly known as silver Philodendron or satin/silk Pothos, but in reality it’s neither. Its growth habits and care are similar though, so if you can grow a Pothos or Philodendron, you can grow this one.
This species is naturally found in South East Asia, where its vining habit allows it to creep up taller trees’ trunks. The canopies above it tend to block out direct sun, so in the home it’s a good contender for windows that receive indirect light.
You can grow your silver Philodendron in a hanging planter and let its vines dangle down, but the plant can also be mounted to a totem so it will climb. No matter how you grow it, its satiny green and silver leaves make it a decorative, low-light addition to any houseplant collection.
If you have any more questions about these houseplants that don’t need sun or if you want to share your experiences with any of the species on the list, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!