What are the best house plants for low light? I have one bay window in my house that is plant heaven. Plants love this window. They thrive on the sill. This window is eastern facing and gets a lot of indirect light all day long. However, I realized that a lot of the other surfaces in my house where I can place plants have low light. I found a few indoor plants that are doing well in these corners of my home, but I wanted to know what else to look for as I add to my indoor jungle.
Bright Light, Indirect Light, and Low Light for Indoor Plants
First a word on light. Does my house have low light? Bright light? What exactly is indirect bright sunlight? You can find me in a plant nursery, staring at a plant tag trying to figure out if my house has the right light for it. Most information on sunlight in a home is broken down by which direction your windows face. A southern facing window is supposed have the most bright direct light during the day. However the southern facing windows in my house face my neighbor’s 2 story house, which ends up blocking those windows from a lot of direct light. The western facing windows in my house get a lot of direct late afternoon light that is very, very bright. Yet – plants in my home do best in our Eastern facing windows.
All this is to say that the direction your windows face does not necessarily dictate the type of light those windows receive. Here is what I find to be a more practical breakdown.
The windows in my house that face west get the most bright light. However, except in the summer months they only receive about 3-4 hours of this bright light. This is probably not enough light to sustain a plant that wants to live in bright light. A window receiving bright light is usually facing south or west. I would say a room with bright light is the room in your house that is hottest in the summer.
A room with a lot of indirect light is usually bright enough during the day that you could easily read a newspaper without switching on a light. Maybe you have a lot of windows in this room. It could have eastern facing windows. However, a room with southern or western facing windows has indirect light a few feet away from the windows! Think: parts of the room where the sun doesn’t shine through onto the floor. Or maybe those bright windows have a sheer curtain across them creating bright, filtered light.
Dark rooms! Dark corners of bright rooms. Tables far from the light of a window. Areas where you couldn’t read a newspaper without more light. This is low light. My low light areas I’m looking to add plants to are the corners of my living room that has a west-facing window. The window however, looks out onto our porch that is shaded by a large tree.
Best house plants for low light: my recommendations
These are the plants I have in low light situations in my home that are doing well. A note on low light plants – for the most part their soil is not drying out as much as a plant in indirect or direct light. I tend to water my plants in low light less, to avoid soggy roots, or moist soil that can attract fungus gnats.
Pothos (Epipremnum Aureus)
I’ve written a lot about this hearty plant. It’s attractive green leaves can add some life to a dark corner. Pothos also does well near artificial light as a supplement to the daylight.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
Snake plants are having a moment. Our snake plant was an impulse buy at the grocery store. I had seen so many snake plants on Intagram and thought they looked really cool. Snake plants have a reputation for being a real “set it and forget it” plant that is easy to care for and hard to kill. So far, it’s loving it’s spot in the darker corner of our room. It has some baby leaves trying to poke through, and I’ve read growth on the snake plant does slow a bit when in darker light.
Nerve Plant (Fittonia Verschaffeltii)
The nerve plant is actually a ground cover native to South America. It usually grows low to the ground under a canopy of trees, so can thrive in low light. This plant in particular likes moisture so I have it sitting on a bed of pebbles in a tray i pour water into to try to keep the humidity around this plant higher. Though it likes moisture, it does not want wet roots, so I still let the soil dry out between waterings. It’s sensitive though, so I have to keep an eye out. Native to a rain forest, it doesn’t want to go desert-dry.
Best House Plants for Low Light: My Wish List
I recently read the philodendron is the most popular houseplant…in the WORLD! It’s easy to care for and also tolerant of low light, so it’s an easy win for people just starting out. IT can trail and look attractive in hanging baskets. There are some visually interesting variety of philodendron available, and I have my eye on the Brasil variety.
Note the popular Monstera plant is a variety of Philodendron, but not often what is meant when people talk of the philodendron plant.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)
Oh the ZZ Plant – another popular one I’ve seen on the internets and the social media a lot. I credit the popularity of this African native plant with its reputation for being tolerant of both low light and neglect! It can live while only receiving fluorescent light and can be ignored for a bit without dying, so if you travel, or just forget about it for a while, it’ll still be good to go.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
Spider plants are making a comeback. These familiar plants are supposed to be tolerant of low light. They get their name from the baby plants that grow from runners (stolons) off the main plant. I recently purchased a spider plant and it immediately started browning at the leaf tips and became infested with fungus gnats. I’m suspicious that it had a plant disease or issue that contributed to its early demise, but I’d like to try again. I read that the brown leaf tips could be caused by tap water, and next time I will try to water it with bottled or even rain water instead.
What plants have you had success with in low light areas of your homes?