Raise your hand if all of your plants are currently squished into the one spot in your house with bright light… 🖐️ We understand the feeling! But thankfully, there are some plants that can tolerate the low light spaces in your home.
A low light area technically has between 50 and 250 foot-candles of light; a foot-candle is a unit of light intensity defined by one lumen per square foot. The direction your windows face makes a difference in quality of light. Place a low-light plant within:
- 2–3 feet of a window with northern exposure
- 3–5 feet of a window with eastern exposure
- 4–10 feet of a window with western exposure
- 10–18 feet of a window with southern exposure
Keep in mind that a plant growing in low light requires less water and fertilizer than the same plant in brighter conditions. Unfortunately, variegation or color in a plant’s leaves is often lost or muted in low light, and a plant that is tolerant of low light may grow faster in brighter, indirect light.
Houseplants Tolerant of Low Light
- Arrowhead Plant – Syngonium podophyllum
- Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea seifrizii
- Cast Iron Plant – Aspidistra elatior
- Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema
- Dumbcane – Diffenbachia (does best with medium or indirect bright light)
- Dracaena Janet Craig – Dracaena deremensis janet craig
- Heartleaf Philodendron – Philodendron scandens oxycardium
- Kentia Palm – Howea forsteriana
- Lady Palm – Rhapis excelsa
- Nerve Plant – Fittonia albivensis
- Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum (may not bloom heavily in low light)
- Pothos or Devil’s Ivy – Epipremnum aureum (may grow long and spindly; pinch back occasionally for fuller appearance)
- Prayer Plant – Maranta leuconeura
- Rattlesnake Plant – Calathea lancifolia
- Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) – Sansevieria trifasciata; recently reclassified as Dracaena trifasciata; certain cultivars prefer brighter light (new leaves grown at extreme low-light levels may be long and thin)
- Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum
- ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Although we consider most outdoor ferns to be shade tolerant, many indoor ferns prefer indirect, bright light to low light, but will not tolerate prolonged direct sun. Staghorn Ferns and Asparagus Ferns are especially low-light tolerant.
Do I Have Any Other Options?
Give plants a 90-degree angle turn each month to promote balanced growth by exposing different sides to the window.
In darker rooms, consider purchasing two of the same plant and switching the plants out on a 2 to 4-week basis; keep one plant in more ideal conditions while the other is in the darker space, then switch them before the “dark” plant shows signs of decline.
The best way to decide which low light solution works best for you is to experiment! Play around with the different options to find out what’s fitting for your plants and current light conditions. Happy Planting!