Nothing enlivens your home like a lush, healthy houseplant. Studies show that keeping indoor plants is good for your health, too. They release oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, and help remove toxins from the air, while also lending a touch of natural calm to your living space.
We’ve all heard that most plants thrive in natural light, but what if your living space sees as much sun as an underground garage? Or maybe you don’t have a place for plants that isn’t shrouded in shadows. Sound familiar? Well, don’t despair. If you’re short on sunlight, you can still reap the benefits of houseplants. You just have to choose varieties that grow well in low-light conditions.
Our experts shared the following types of plants that are best suited to the low-light spots in your home.
With its sturdy and dramatic, variegated leaves, the snake plant is a perennial favorite for people seeking a low-maintenance, low-light plant.
“Any variety of snake plant is an excellent low-light choice,” says Madeline Sachs of Greenery NYC in Brooklyn, NY. “Additionally, they require very little water and are super air purifiers.”
Bonus: The plant commonly grows around 3 feet high, making it prized as a decor accent.
The cast-iron plant is another great choice for a less-than-sunny spot. If the name doesn’t grab you, consider this easy-to-grow favorite by its more elegant nickname, the ballroom plant. That’s because it’s frequently seen in large, indoor areas with artificial lighting, like malls and hotels. (Its Latin name is Aspidistra elatior.)
“They are great in the bedroom, as they produce their oxygen at night. Six large-specimen Aspidistras make enough oxygen for a human to survive on,” says Christian Figueroa, chief financial officer at The Wright Gardener in South San Francisco.
If you’re looking for something a little different, the ZZ plant’s thick, shiny leaves will brighten a room.
It’s a “great choice for those who forget to water, or travel frequently,” Sachs says. “The ZZ plant likes to dry thoroughly between waterings and tolerates low light like a champion.”
Keep in mind, however, the ZZ plant is toxic, so it’s not well-suited for homes with pets or very small children.
Pothos is forgiving when it comes to light and water.
“You see pothos varieties often, and for good reason,” Sachs says, explaining that it’s “one of the most forgiving plants when it comes to light and water, and it’s an excellent addition to a shelf or hanging planter because their foliage trails beautifully.”
Pothos are also easy to propagate, so you can make new plants any time you want. Just cut off a piece of stem about 6 to 12 inches long. Remove any lower leaves and submerge it in a glass of water. Change the water every week or so—it will continue to grow in the water.
Don’t let the name fool you—the Chinese evergreen is nothing like the bushy Christmas trees commonly associated with evergreens.
Love plentiful foliage? Sachs says the Chinese evergreen is the leafiest low-light plant of the bunch. It comes in light and dark green variegated varieties and is known for being very tolerant of dry conditions.
Many of the plant varieties that do well in low-light conditions also prefer infrequent waterings. This can be problematic for well-meaning plant lovers who tend to water too often. But a Natal mahogany is the perfect choice for overwaterers as it needs an abundance of water to survive.
And it definitely makes a statement with its large, showy stems that grow up to 6 to 8 feet indoors and feature dark, shiny leaves.
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