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What Are the Best House Plants for Low Light?

By: Jessie Keith

Chinese evergreen (Agleonema spp.) is one of many great low-light house plants.

“What are the best house plants for low light?” Question from Vesta of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia

Answer: All house plants need some filtered light, but many will tolerate low to moderate filtered light from windows. I tend to go for shade-loving house plants with bold, colorful leaves. Here are a few of my favorites for small and large spaces.

Low-light House Plants for Small Spaces

Chinese Evergreen: The brilliant leaves of Chinese evergreen (Agleonema spp.) are boldly colorful and shade-loving. These low, lush plants originate from the humid tropics and subtropics of Asia where they survive in the forest understory. Two of my favorites for color include ‘Two Tone Moonstone’, with its pink and white leaves speckled with green, and the poinsettia-like ‘Red Zircon’, which has crimson-red leaves edged in green.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): This super tough house plant can tolerate both low water and low light. Some varieties are tall and upright while others are compact and pretty. I like the little ‘Gold Hahnii’, which has gold-striped pale green leaves. It is part of the Costa Farms Plants of Steel collection.

Tricolored Prayer Plant (Stromanthe hybrids): As the name suggests, the low-growing tricolor prayer plant (Stromanthe ‘Triostar’) has three-colored, lance-shaped leaves with bold markings of cream, rosy purple, and green. It originates from Brazilian rain forests and requires low to moderate light and sufficient moisture and humidity for good growth.

Rattlesnake Plant (Calathea lancifolia): This easy-to-grow house plant is very attractive with its elongated, dark green speckled leaves with purple undersides. Give it average moisture and low to moderate light. This is one of many attractive Calathea. Click here to view more of these shade-loving house plants.

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum): Is a trailing house plant best grown in a hanging basket or on a mantle where it can trail beautifully. It has heart-shaped leaves and is very hard to kill.

Low-light House Plants for Open Spaces

Variegated Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’): This rainforest trailer and climber has very large leaves with decorative holes, hence the common name. The variegated form is extra pretty and grows a little more slowly.

Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata): The unusual, shiny fiddle-shaped leaves of this large house plant add textural beauty to homes. It is also a rainforest plant adapted to lower light.

Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans). The common parlor palm makes a very pretty house plant. It grows in low light and looks elegant in large spaces in the home. Be sure not to over water it.

Cutleaf Philodendron (Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ ™): There are lots of beautiful philodendron that grow well in low light, but the cutleaf form looks extra attractive. Click here to view it and other attractive philodendron.

Care

Aside from filtered light, warmth, and humidity, most of these tropicals need plenty of rich, moisture-holding soil to dig their roots into. At planting time, provide them with containers that are several inches larger than their root balls. Make sure the pots have drainage holes at the bottom and deep saucers to catch excess water. Two of the best Black Gold mixes for substantial water-holding ability are Black Gold Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Mix, which is OMRI Listed and contains coconut coir, and Black Gold All Purpose Potting Mix, which is our #1 best seller for house plants of all kinds. Keep the potting mix evenly moist, never wet, and fertilize regularly with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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