Finding the right houseplant to survive in your shadiest spot at home can be a challenge. But there are actually loads of options of plants that don’t need sun!
As shown in a NASA study, even your shadiest room can benefit from air-purifying plants as several low light plants were shown to help reduce indoor air pollution, including the snake plant, peace lily, Madagascar dragon tree and corn plant.
In many ways, low light indoor plants are the best houseplants. They are often the most difficult to accidentally kill. They don’t mind if you forget a watering (or three). And they still have eye-catching foliage.
Here are just 10 of the many indoor plants that don’t need sun.
Table of Contents
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
- Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
- ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
- Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
- Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum or Golden Pothos)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii or White Sails)
- Sweetheart Plant (Philodendron scandens)
- Prayer Plant (Calathea)
- Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
- Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
What Are The 10 Best Low Light Plants For Your Home?
#1 Snake Plant
The snake plant (or Sansevieria) is one of the hardiest of all plants. It’s the perfect choice not only for your shady north-facing room, but also for forgetful waterers and houseplant novices.
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant has sword-like leaves that can grow to 8 feet tall. They are happy at room temperature and in the general humidity levels of a home.
Most importantly, they survive well in indirect or low light.
There are several varieties of snake plant, some with striped green leaves and others with yellow leaf edges. But all snake plant varieties are pretty indestructible.
Snake plants can go a very long time without water – sometimes even over a month. A snake plant’s only vulnerability is root rot. Make sure the soil has completely dried out before watering your snake plant again.
Top tip: Remember that snake plants prefer a drought over a drenching! Don’t water your plant again until the soil is dry.
Note: This plant is toxic to pets.
#2 Parlor Palm
The Chamaedorea elegans, or parlor palm, has been considered a fashionable houseplant since the nineteenth century. With its lush arched palm fronds it’s not hard to see why!
Parlor palms are slow growers but can eventually grow 6 feet tall, if they are given the right conditions and care.
Parlor palms are happy in indirect light – particularly as too much direct light can scorch their leaves. They enjoy room temperature and a monthly feed with a multi-purpose liquid fertilizer.
Avoid the perils of over-watering by checking that the top few inches of soil have dried out before watering your palm again.
Top tip: This plant prefers occasional droughts rather than over-watering.
#3 ZZ Plant
The zz plant, or Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is tolerant of shade and will be happy perched on a north-facing window ledge. Opt for a spot that is bright and warm but with no direct sun for best results.
This plant is an extremely hardy plant and can grow to 3 feet tall with very minimal care. It is used to long periods of drought, so it’s the perfect houseplant for anyone that forgets to water. It will thrive in the average temperatures of a home and doesn’t require misting.
Not only is the zz plant beautifully sculpture-like with its unique leaf formation, it is also very useful. The zz plant has shown to be an excellent air purifier.
Top tip: Only water when the top layer of soil is completely dry.
Note: This plant is toxic to pets.
#4 Cast Iron Plant
The Aspidistra elatior is so tough that its nickname is the “cast iron plant”! It can handle neglect and is (almost) indestructible.
It can go a long time without any water and thrives in low light conditions. Dim areas like corridors and corners or a room with a north-facing window are good spots for the cast iron plant. In fact, this plant won’t like a bright spot as direct light can scorch its leaves.
The cast iron plant can grow to 3 feet tall with large dark green leaves as long as 2 feet.
The ideal conditions to promote a cast iron plant’s growth are the ones that are already found in the average home: room temperature, indirect light and average humidity levels.
Top tip: This plant almost thrives on neglect – don’t water it until the soil is dry.
#5 Devil’s Ivy
The devil’s ivy – also known as golden pothos or Epipremnum aureum – is a fast grower and a forgiving houseplant. It gets its devilish nickname from its ability to survive in extremely low light and the fact that it is almost impossible to kill.
Like many plants that don’t need sun, this plant will thrive in low light and can overcome several missed waterings. It’s the perfect plant for a near-dark spot.
It is one of the easiest houseplants to care for because it is happy in the conditions of a home. No need to alter the temperature or humidity levels!
Devil’s ivy has beautiful leaves with a marbled pattern and works well as a hanging plant.
Top tip: This plant will enjoy a weekly misting with a mister or being in close proximity to a humidifier.
Note: This plant is toxic to pets.
#6 Peace Lily
Another great shade-tolerant indoor plant is the peace lily – or Spathiphyllum wallisii (white sails). Peace lilies keep their good looks even when kept in deep shade conditions.
The white sails gets its nickname from the pretty white flowers that can bloom if the conditions are just right. The soft green foliage does make a statement on its own too!
Peace lilies look good all year round. The key thing to remember to keep your peace lily looking its best is to not over-water it. Test the top few inches of soil before watering to avoid the soil becoming water-logged and impacting the health of your plant.
Top tip: Increase the light exposure slightly if you want your peace lily to bloom – but avoid direct sunlight as this can make the leaves go brown.
#7 Sweetheart Plant
The Philodendron scandens is often known as the sweetheart plant due to its lovely heart-shaped leaves.
This plant does well in low to medium light and will continue to grow in a shady spot. This is a great plant for bringing a little life to a semi-light corner in your home.
Unlike many other low light plants, the sweetheart plant likes its soil to be slightly moist so aim to water it once per week in the summer. Reduce your watering in the winter months to once every two weeks. Using a mister, humidifier or water pebble tray are all great ways to increase the humidity for your plant.
The sweetheart plant is very easy to care for and can grow to around 5 foot indoors. This plant is an eager climber and looks great in a hanging pot or growing up a grow pole.
Top tip: Trim back your sweetheart plant’s stems in the summer to prevent stringy growth. Make a clean cut after the leaf node to encourage bushier growth.
Note: This plant can be toxic to humans and pets.
#8 Prayer Plant
Calatheas are often called prayer plants due to their impressive ability to furl and unfurl their leaves – like hands at prayer. Watch as your plant spreads out its leaves in the morning to catch some sunshine, before curling them back up at night.
Calatheas are recognizable by their boldly-colored striped leaves. Their stunningly patterned foliage is surprisingly soft to touch.
Although prayer plants do need some indirect light, they can thrive well in light shade conditions. Try placing your plant on a north-facing window ledge or in a medium-bright room away from direct light.
Calatheas like warm temperatures so select a room that is warm and bright without any cool drafts. Although prayer plants enjoy the warmth, they don’t need to be kept in the sunlight – a corner spot away from the window will be just fine.
The best growing conditions for prayer plants include well-draining soil, warm conditions and frequent watering.
Top tip: As they require a little more care than other low-light plants, the prayer plant is ideal for houseplant owners with a little experience.
#9 Corn Plant
The corn plant or Dracaena fragrans is a pretty low maintenance houseplant with lovely green foliage.
The corn plant performs best in light shade or indirect sunlight. A room with slatted blinds can be a great place for a corn plant. They can tolerate low, medium and even full sun, but are happiest in shadier conditions.
The corn plant is a slower grower that typically reaches 4 – 6 feet tall. It has a thick cane or stem which produces long, narrow leaves that look like upward-growing corn stalks. If you are lucky, your corn plant may even develop white flowers.
Top tip: Variegated corn plants (ones with striped multi-colored leaves) grow faster with medium levels of sunlight. If you are looking for a corn plant that grows best in low light or shade, opt for a non-variegated variety.
Note: This plant is toxic for pets.
#10 Madagascar Dragon Tree
The Madagascar dragon tree is a pretty species from the Dracaena genus – related to the corn plant. The dragon tree, or Dracaena marginata, has slimmer leaves than its cousin but it tolerates shade just as well.
There are three different types of dragon tree with slightly different colorings: some have dark red leaf edges with a green center, some have a green center with red and yellowish stripes and others have very thick red leaf edges.
Madagascar dragon trees, like yucca plants, tend to shed their bottom leaves naturally to support further growth. The dragon tree plant can grow to 6 feet indoors and is a relatively slow grower.
Like many shade-loving plants, the dragon tree only needs a little water. Wait for the top few inches to dry out before watering it again. They can survive for months without water and so are quite hard to accidentally kill.
Dragon tree plants are happy in most light conditions, from medium to low light. Just watch out for direct sunlight which can scorch the plant’s leaves.
Top tip: Fertilize your Madagascar dragon tree monthly in the summer to encourage new leaves.
Note: This plant can be toxic to pets.
FAQs About Plants That Don’t Need Sun
Are there any plants that don’t need sun?
All plants can survive without sunlight for a short amount of time (in fact plants need nighttime as much as they need the sunlight of daytime). But some plants – like the zz plant or cast iron plant – are better adapted to surviving on almost no light at all.
Which is the best plant for partial sunlight or light shade?
The best plants for indoor spots with partial sunlight or light shade are the peace lily and the Madagascar dragon tree. If you want your peace lily to bloom, it will need a little indirect sunlight. Equally the dragon tree will grow quicker with access to indirect light.
Which is the best plant for a dark or windowless room?
The best plants for a dark or windowless room are devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and the cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior). They are both very hardy and will continue to grow even in very shady conditions.
Do all shade-loving plants not need much water?
As a general rule, most shade-loving plants need very little water and are susceptible to root rot if over-watered.
However there are some exceptions. For example, the prayer plant (Calathea) and sweetheart plant (Philodendron scandens) require a little more attention when it comes to watering. Make sure to water these plants around once per week, or whenever the top few inches of soil are no longer moist.
Which is the best low maintenance shade-loving plant?
The snake plant, zz plant and the cast iron plant are all great low maintenance options. They can survive a missed watering or two, will grow well without regular fertilizing and are happy in the temperature and humidity conditions of the average home. All three are very hardy and difficult to accidentally kill!
Can low light plants help to purify the air?
Yes! A NASA study on houseplant air purification recorded a reduction in indoor air pollution even with low light plants, such as the snake plant, peace lily, Madagascar dragon tree and corn plant.
Go On – Fill That Dim Corner With A Splash Of Green!
Don’t despair at the thought of your plantless low light spot! There are plenty of houseplants that cope well with partial and even limited light.
The cast iron plant and devil’s ivy in particular will thrive in dark rooms with little complaint.
Key things to remember:
- Be extra careful not to over-water your low light houseplants as they tend to need far less water than other plants. Test the moisture levels in the soil before watering.
- Rotate your low light indoor plants to promote even growth.
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