A few houseplants can turn a bare, sterile space into one that’s much more inviting. They can help relieve stress and improve concentration. They even clean the air, filtering out toxins and releasing fresh oxygen. But what happens when you want to add some growing greenery to a windowless room or office? Luckily, some low-light houseplants can survive and even thrive in dim areas.
As long as you have plenty of artificial light – and maybe a small, full-spectrum desktop growing light – the following plants can bring a little cheerful nature to a gloomy space.
Pothos is a versatile plant. There are varieties that send out trailing vines, and varieties that remain bushy and compact. Some have lovely variegated leaves. They tolerate low light well, making them great for bathrooms or other badly lit spaces. One downside: pothos plants are toxic, so keep them away from children and pets.
When kept on a desk, spider plants can help remove pollutants from the air, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. They tolerate low light, but do better with moderate, indirect light. A couple hours a day with a growing light can help them thrive. Spider plants are also non-toxic, making them a good choice for homes with pets – although like catnip, their leaves have a chemical that can turn cats into addicts. Determined cats can turn almost any room into a hostile environment for a spider plant!
Several types of ferns tolerate low light well – after all, many ferns grow on forest floors, where light is filtered through layers of tree leaves and needles, making them ideal low-light houseplants. Try a bird’s nest, button, maidenhair or autumn fern for a low-light area. Many ferns are pet-safe, but some are not, so check the ASPCA Poisonous Plants page to be safe.
These tropical plants have brightly patterned leaves, often with touches of pink. Too much light, and the leaves lose their beauty, but they do need a little light each day, even if it’s artificial. These plants are picky when it comes to water – keep their soil moist, but not soggy!
Despite their name, peace lilies are not really lilies; they’re part of the Araceae family, not Liliaceae. Their white, yellow and green “flowers” are actually modified leaves. They like moist soil with good drainage and temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and do well without a lot of light.
Also known as snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, the spiky, upright leaves of sansevieria make a striking addition in a cubicle or to a side table. A snake plant would do well in an office with artificial lighting that is on for much of the day, but not so well in a room that’s often dark. They don’t require much water. Like pothos, sansevieria is toxic to people and pets when ingested.
Also known as Chamaedorea elegans or the neanthe bella palm, parlor palms are slow-growing, low maintenance plants that are native to rainforest climates. As low-light houseplants, parlor palms thrive – in fact, they seem to prefer low light to bright or direct light. Water sparingly.
Cast-iron plants are well-named, because they can do just fine in conditions many houseplants wouldn’t survive – low light, unreliable watering and general neglect. They’re not quite as flashy as some other plants, but their bright green leaves add a touch of color and life to dim areas.
Another easy plant for beginners is the Chinese evergreen. The hardy tropical plant can thrive despite dry air, low light and dry soil. They do best in low to medium light. The attractive, variegated leaves make them great low-light houseplants to add to a plain space.
While it doesn’t look much like its English counterpart, Swedish ivy can also be planted in a hanging pot, allowing trailing fronds to decorate a bare corner. This is another plant that will benefit from a small growing lamp to make up for a lack of natural light. It’s considered an easy plant for beginners, according to the University of Florida’s Gardening Solutions website.