14 Awesome Plants That Can Thrive in Rooms With Low Light

Peperomia

Dark apartments or offices can be rather depressing spaces, and plants can bring a sense of life into a low light area and restore a sense of balance to a dark room. The only problem is, no plant can survive without some form of light. The only thing worse than a cave-like apartment is a cave-like apartment with a couple of dead plants in the mix.

There are many awesome plants that can live in rooms without windows; parlor palms, zz plants, cast iron plants and Boston ferns are all great options. Peperomias and swiss cheese plants are great selections and moth orchids are a beautiful low light choice.

To have some living companions in your office for a change, you must carefully pick your plant to ensure that they can adapt to low light conditions. I have taken the headache out of finding your perfect low light plant by providing you with 14 awesome options that can survive alongside you in the shadows.

Table Of Contents

How Do Plants Survive Without Windows?

We all remember learning about flowers and plants at school and how plants need light to photosynthesize (which is a fancy way of saying that they transform water, carbon dioxide, and light into sugar.) Through specialized organelles called chloroplasts, plants capture energy from sunlight and convert it into chemical energy.

Plants can survive on a variety of artificial light, but not all lights are created equal to indoor plants. Fluorescent lights are the most commonly used light source by horticulturists, particularly the fluorescent lights listed as ‘cool white.’ These provide orange, yellow-green, and blue light that indoor plants need, but due to their poor red light emission, they require an incandescent supplement for optimum care.

HID lights are also an excellent alternative for indoor plants, but the equipment needed to hold them can be bulky and not ideal in an indoor space. LED lights are great and require no ballasts but can be expensive in comparison to fluorescents and incandescent.

A simple rule of thumb is that your plant will require a ratio of incandescent light to fluorescent of 3:10 so for every 100 watts of fluorescent light, you will need to provide 30 watts of incandescent.

How Do I Know How Much Light my Plant Needs?

Luckily for you, most nurseries and online plant stores will provide you with information on your plant’s light requirements, and generally divide them into low, medium, and high light requirement categories. However, your indoor light’s wattage does not reflect how much actual light is reaching your plants. For the diffusion of light in space, let’s talk about foot candles.

What Is a Foot Candle?

Foot candles are a term that horticulturists talk about quite a lot when it comes to planting care. 

A foot-candle is a measurement of light intensity and defined as the illuminance on a one square foot surface from a uniform light of one candle. Generally, it is a measure of the density of the light that reaches your plant from a light source.

Footcandle (or FC) can be confusing, so you may use a free app such as the Lux Light Meter on Google Play or Lux Light Meter Pro on the the App Store to measure your light. (A more common light measurement is lux, which is one lumen per square meter, and you can calculate it by 1 foot-candle = 10.76 lux .) Indoor plants must have at least 25 to 75 FC to survive, and the preference is towards the higher end of the measurement.

Now that you are up to speed with what your indoor plant requires, here is a list of awesome indoor plants to brighten your gloomy room.

Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans)

Parlor Palm
Common nameParlor Palm
Botanical NameChamaedora elegans
Size Indoor2 in to 6 in Tall (50.8 mm to 152.4 mm), 2in to 3in Wide (50.8 mm to 76.2 mm)
Light levelLow Light
Foot Candle Minimum100 FT (1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum250 FT (2690.98 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Southern Mexico

Parlor palms have been a favorite indoor plant since it was introduced in America from the rainforests of Southern Mexico. Because the parlor palm was an understory plant in its native habitat, it has evolved to survive in the low light conditions similar to windowless interiors.

Parlor Palm Care

Overzealous owners can easily exterminate parlor palms. Because the palm does not have exposure to the drying effects and heat of direct sunlight, the parlor palm is susceptible to overwatering. One should only water the palm when the top 1 inch of soil is dry.

Other Palm Alternative 

Ponytail Palm, Elephant’s foot palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

This plant is perfect for people who frequently travel because this gorgeous palm can store water in its elephant-foot like trunk.


Golden Pothos (Scindapsus Aureus)

Golden Pathos
Common nameGolden Pothos
Botanical NameScindapsus Aureus
Size Indoor6 in to 10 in (152.4 mm to 254 mm)
Light levelLow
Foot Candle Minimum100 FT (1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum250 FT (2690.98 Lux)
ToxicityToxic: Dogs, Cats, Horses, Humans
Water NeedsLow
Origin Solomon Islands

The Golden Pothos is an ideal starter plant for a student or to decorate low light areas such as bathrooms, basements, and offices. The Golden pothos is a hardy little plant with heart-shaped, bright green and yellow shaped leaves on trailing stems. 

Golden Pothos Care

The pothos plant can withstand arid conditions but will suffer from overwatering, which may cause its roots to rot. You should water your pothos when the top one inch of soil becomes dry, and especially during fall and winter, the plant should be watered less regularly.

Other Pothos Alternatives

  • Pearl and Jade pothos
  • Marble Queen pothos
  • Neon pothos


The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ Plant
Common nameZZ Plant
Botanical NameZamioculcas zamiifolia
Size Indoor15 to 23 in (40-60cm)
Light levelLow
Foot Candle Minimum100 FT (1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum250 FT (2690.98 Lux)
ToxicityToxic: Cats, Dogs, People
Water NeedsLow
Origin South Africa, Kenya

The ZZ plant is eye-catching with its upright, slightly arching stems and bright green pointed leaves. The leaves have a polished waxy look, which can often be mistaken for plastic and is ideal for brightening an office space or low light area.

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ZZ Plant Care

The ZZ is also somewhat forgiving of those of us who sometimes forget to water our plants. They are prone to tuber rot, so overwatering should be avoided at all costs. Because of its clustered size, one should repot the ZZ once a year, and fertilize it between April and August.


The Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis)

Boston Fern
Common nameBoston fern
Botanical NameNephrolepis exaltata
Size Indoor16 to 35 in (40 – 90cm) and up to 1.5 meters tall
Light levelLow/med
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-toxic
Water NeedsMedium
Origin South America, Mexico, Polynesia, Africa, West Indies

Boston ferns are popular indoor plants with their gently arching stems and feathery, serrated leaves. Because their natural habitat is around swamps and forests, water and humidity are essential to this plant, but they have a low tolerance of soggy soil. They are highly sensitive to direct sunlight and can sustain sunburn, so it is best to keep them in the shade or indoors.

Boston Fern Care

Boston ferns are hardy and relatively low maintenance as a plant. They do have particular humidity requirements and are often placed on top of wet pebbles or sprayed with a mist to retain their humidity in dry conditions. When watering, you should be liberal with your water and give it a good soaking monthly and allow the fern to drain appropriately. 

Generally, as a rule, you should only water your fern when the top 2.5 in (6.35 cm) are dry.


Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

Cast Iron Plant
Photo: Nino Barbieri CC BY-SA 3.0
Common nameCast Iron plant
Botanical NameAspidistra elatior
Size Indoor24 in (60 cm
Light levelLow
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Water NeedsLow
Origin Japan, Taiwan

The Cast Iron plant is renowned for being virtually bombproof. With its glossy black-green leaves, the cast iron plant lives up to its name in hardiness. Outdoors it makes unusual purple blooms but rarely blooms indoors.

Cast Iron Plant Care

Cast-iron plants are resistant to drought-like conditions and only really suffer when placed in direct sun or overwatered. Ideally, they should be potted in spring or summer every two years.

Other Aspidistra Varieties

  • ‘Okame/Variegata’ – a white and green instead of dark green
  • ‘Asahi’ – develops white tips as the plant grows
  • ‘Lennon’s Song’ – has light green or yellow striped leaves.


The Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Adonosii)

Swiss Cheese Plant
Common nameSwiss Cheese Plant
Botanical NameMonstera Adonosii
Size Indoor6.6 to 9.8 in (167.64-248.92 mm)
Light levelLow/medium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityToxic: Cats, Dogs, Humans
Water NeedsLow
Origin Central/South America, Mexico, West Indies

The Swiss Cheese Plant is a tropical perennial with distinctive holes in its large and glossy dark green leaves. In their natural habitat, they tend to use aerial roots to climb up the neighboring plant to a height of up to a staggering 60 meters (196 foot.) You can provide your monstera with a moss stick to help elevate the plant.

Swiss Cheese Plant Care

Because the Swiss cheese plant’s native habitat is jungles, they do not require much sunlight and will grow well in poor light conditions. You can assess if your monstera needs water by testing the first 3 inches of soil to make sure it is dry before you water. With the swiss cheese plant, you will need a peat layer to retain moisture without making the roots too soggy.

Other Monstera Alternative

The fruit salad/delicious monster plant bears large fruit that smells like a mix between a banana and pineapple. This can be dangerous to eat, so see the best way to eat it in the video below:


Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Peace Lily
Common namePeace lily
Botanical NameSpathiphyllum wallisii
Size Indoor3 in (76.2mm)
Light levelLow
Foot Candle Minimum25 FT (269.098 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum75-200 FT (807.30-2152.78 Lux)
ToxicityMildly toxic to Cats, Dogs, Humans
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Central America

The peace lily is a herbaceous perennial of the Araceae family, and this tropical perennial is not, in fact, one of the lily family. They have glossy cream or white lily-shaped glossy flowers and bloom twice a year. Native to tropical forests, they do not require much light and are a beautiful addition to windowless areas.

Peace Lily Care

Peace lily’s love damp soil and humidity but need good drainage to keep their roots from becoming waterlogged. If they are in a dry environment, they should be misted often to increase their humidity. They can react to chlorine in water, so you should filter your water first.

Peace Lily Alternatives

  • Domino peace Lilies have beautifully speckled green and white leaves.
  • A White Stripe peace lily has a distinctive white stripe down the center of its leaves.


The Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Prayer Plant
Common namePrayer Plant
Botanical NameMaranta leuconeura
Size Indoor6-8 in (152.4-203.2 mm)
Light levelMedium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Water NeedsMedium
Origin American Tropics, Africa, Asia

The Prayer Plant is striking, with its bright green variegated leaves and bright crimson veins. It was named after Bartolomeo Maranta, a 16th-century Botanist. It is called a prayer plant because its usually flat leaves fold up in the nighttime. Being a tropical plant, the prayer plant loves warmth and humidity and will ail in dry and cold conditions.

To see its amazing folding action watch this video:

Prayer Plant Care

The prayer plant’s soil should never become dry, and the plant should be drained well and never made to sit in soggy soil, which can cause soil rot. Prayer plants need high humidity and should be misted often in dry conditions. Alternatively, you may place the plant in a tray with stones in a thin layer of water to regulate humidity.

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Prayer Plant Varieties 

  • Maranta leuconeura Kerchoveana (Green prayer plant)
  • Maranta leuconeura Ornata has beautifully striated bands of dark and light green


Peperomia (Piperaceae)

Peperomia
Common nameRadiator plant
Botanical NamePeperomia
Size Indoor12 in (30cm)
Light levelLow
Foot Candle Minimum25 FT (269.10 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum75-200 FT (807.30-2152.78 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Central America, South America, Globally

If you would like so see a variety of peperomias you may watch this video:

Peperomias are one of an enormous family of plants and are mostly perennial epiphytes that grow on rotten wood. There have been over 1500 species recorded, and they grow in a multitude of colors and designs. They are ubiquitous across tropical and subtropical zones but are concentrated in Central and South America.

Peperomia Plant Care

Most peperomias have rounded leaves that are plump and mimic the leaves of succulents. Despite the similarities in looks, peperomia is a plant that needs constant moisture and prefers damp soil. They come from the tropics, so their need for humidity must be kept in mind. People often place the peperomia on a tray with stones and water to ensure they stay humid.

Unusual Peperomias Varieties

  • Red Ripple peperomia (Peperomia caperata) has deeply fissured reddish-purple leaves 
  • Teardrop peperomia (Peperomia orba) has gorgeous small teardrop-shaped leaves.
  • Jelly peperomia (Peperomia clusiifolia ) has broad upright leaves with an unusual pink and cream edging.
  • Columbian peperomia (Peperomia metallica var. columbiana) has distinctive purple bronze leaves with a metallic silver stripe in their center.


Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

Moth Orchid
Common nameMoth Orchid
Botanical NamePhalaenopsis spp.
Size Indoor8 – 38 in (20-30cms)
Light levelLow/medium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Malaysia, Borneo, Philippines, Taiwan, China, Australia, New Guinea, South East Asia

The Phalaenopsis is the most elegant and beautiful of your low light options. Their arching stems and long-lasting and delicate blooms are a feast for the eyes. The (Orchidaceae)has 700 genera and some 28,000 species. Orchids boast a kaleidoscope of different shapes and colors. They tolerate low light well but thrive in medium indirect light and do not tolerate direct sunlight well.

Moth Orchid Care

Orchids prefer to remain dry, and the best way to water them is to let the water run through the moss and out the drainage holes for a minute or so then allow it to drain completely. This watering should be done every two weeks or so. The orchid should rest on bark like potting medium with a cover of moss to retain moisture.

Moth Orchid Varieties

  • Golden peacock moth orchids(Phalaenopsis Golden Peoker) have a fantastic splash of purple across their white petals and a bright yellow center.
  • Sogo David moth orchid is a stunning yellow with pink flecks becoming denser at its center.
  • Y.N Moth Orchids have a beautiful purple-red bloom that lasts longer than most moth orchids.

If you would like to see some wonderful Moth Orchids, you can view the clip below:


Anthuriums

Anthuriums
Common nameTailfower, Laceleaf
Botanical NameAnthurium
Size Indoor12-18 in (30-45cm)
Light levelMedium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityToxic to Pets, Humans
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Caribbean, South America, Central America

Anthurium is a genus of over 1000 different species of flowering plants. Anthuriums have glossy heart-shaped leaves with heart-shaped lily-like blooms in a variety of vibrant colors. They are a bit fussier than many indoor plants and need more attention, but their beauty is a prize worth the effort.

Their bright flowers make great centerpieces and tabletops. They not only look gorgeous; they are also great air purifiers. Anthuriums are also a great choice to brighten a bathroom or kitchen because of their love of humidity.

Anthurium Care

Anthuriums thrive on brought, indirect sunlight and warm, humid temperatures, and they do not respond well to the cold. Because many anthuriums are epiphytic ( grow on other plants, not soil), they sometimes need to be supported by a stake or small trellis.

The anthurium soil requirements are similar to that of orchids, and you can use orchid pre mix with a bit of sand and peat moss thrown in. The soil should be kept moist and well-drained, and you should water the plant whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch.

Some Anthurium Varieties

  • The Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andreanum) has a glossy and nail varnish red flower and shiny heart-shaped leaves
  • Black Anthurium (Anthurium watermaliense) has gorgeous deep purple flowers that almost look black in some lights.
  • The Bird’s Nest (Anthurium hookeri) has large deep green leaves. 

To catch a glimpse of some Anthuriums and get some great tips you may view the clip below:


Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider Plant
Common nameSpider plant
Botanical NameChlorophytum comosum
Size Indoor24 in (60 cm)
Light levelMedium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-Toxic: humans, Cats, Dogs
Water NeedsMedium
Origin South Africa

Spider plants are popular in offices, hanging baskets, and rooms with little light. They have upright and dense foliage with narrow leaves and can create cascades of arching plantlets that can reach 3 feet long. Although they don’t often flower indoors when they do, they create a plethora of tiny white flowers.

The spider plant thrives well indoors under fluorescent or incandescent light but does not tolerate cold or draughts. They are among the easiest plants to propagate because their babies start growing at the end of their long stems.

Spider Plant Care

Spider plants need fast draining and well-aerated potting mix and should be watered often during the warmer months and less over winter. They only need to be repotted if their root balls start to protrude over the edge of their pot.

Spider Plant Varieties

  • Zebra (Chlorophytum Laxum) .is a fast-growing plant with bright green leaves and yellow edges
  • Variegatum (Chlorophytum Comosum) is also called ‘reverse variegated’ because it has green, arching fronds with white edges
  • Hawaiian Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Viridescens) is also known as ‘Golden glow’ because of the champagne tones in the center of the glossy green leaves.


Rex Begonia (Begonia rex)

Begonia
Common namePainted Leaf begonias
Botanical NameBegonia rex
Size Indoor12 -18 in (30-45cm)
Light levelMedium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityToxic: Humans, Cats, Dogs, Horses
Water NeedsMedium
Origin South/Central America, Asia, Africa

Begonias are from the family Begoniaceae, which has over 1,800 plant species. The Rex begonia is treasured for its brightly colored and asymmetrical leaves, which can vary from red, green, and silver to purple. The short leaf stems grow from the rhizome root and unusual red cover their underside.

The begonias flowers are small and pink but should be removed so that they do not drain the plant’s reserves from their leaf growth. Because it is a relatively short plant, it makes an excellent desk or tabletop plant.

Rex Begonia Care

Rex Begonias do not tolerate direct sun very well and prefer bright indirect light. A peat-based potting mix is ideal as long as it has ample drainage. Rex begonia can be on the fussy side, and it is a question of trial and error when it comes to finding their perfect ratio of water light and humidity. 

You should only water this plant when the soil is dry to the touch and less frequently in the dormant winter months. Because they are a tropical plant, humidity is essential, but spraying or misting can discolor leaves. A wet pebble tray is the best option to regulate your begonias’ humidity.

Rex Begonia Variations

  • Salsa Rex begonia has beautiful silver leaves alternated with green and burgundy red and grows about 8’’ or 20cm high and wide
  • Silver Limbo begonia has eye-catching metallic silver foliage with purple-black undersides. The leaves are smaller than most begonias, and the plant only grows to about 6’’ (15cms)
  • The Fairy Rex begonia is a delight with its silvery veined leaves highlighted by pale pink

If you would like to see some gorgeous begonias you can view this video:


The Goldfish Plant (Columnea Gloriosa

Goldfish Plant
Common nameGoldfish plant
Botanical NameColumnea gloriosa
Size IndoorCascading stems of 3 ft, 2’’ height (8 cm)
Light levelMedium
Foot Candle Minimum75-100 FT (807.30-1076.39 Lux)
Foot Candle optimum200-500 FT (2152.78-5381.96 Lux)
ToxicityNon-toxic to cats, dogs. May cause irritation
Water NeedsMedium
Origin Central/South America, Caribbean

This cousin to the African violet is called a goldfish plant due to the profusion of orange, yellow flowers that cover its cascading stems. The Goldfish plant is perfect for hanging baskets or on a counter or sill and can live for up to 10 years if cared for well (and repotted regularly.)

Goldfish Plant Care

The goldfish plant requires well-drained and aerated soil, preferably a combination of sphagnum moss, perlite, and vermiculite. They enjoy the bright indirect sun and grow well in artificial light conditions as long as you keep it out of the air that is too dry or cold. They are susceptible to mold and rot, so every care should be taken not to overwater them.

Final Thoughts

With so many choices available, even in less than ideal lighting situations, you will be able to enjoy growing a variety of plants that will thrive in your low light environments. Happy growing!

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