10 Best House Plants for Low-Light Spots

It is true that the average house or basement apartment is nowhere near as light and bright as the outdoors, yet many plants can tolerate dim light, if given a helping hand. And some, like the Chinese Evergreen and the Aspidistra plant, like a shaded spot in your house just fine.

If light is hard to come by in your home, we suggest these low-light Houseplants for dim rooms, ordered by decreasing ability to withstand low-light conditions: 

  1. Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
  2. Aspidistra
  3. Asparagus setaceus
  4. Ferns – Lemon Button
  5. Maranta – Prayer Plant
  6. Monstera deliciosa
  7. Nephrolepis – Boston Fern
  8. Parlor Palm
  9. Heart-Leaf Philodendron
  10. Cissus rhombifolia – Grape Leaf Ivy

1. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) – Poor Light

Aglaonema is a genus of perennial evergreen plants in the family Araceae, native to southeast Asia, northeast India, southern China, Malaysia, New Guinea and the Philippines.

The plants in this genus are wonderful low light houseplants, and are among the easiest to maintain. They are one of the only plants which can survive long periods of time in poorly lighted and badly ventilated areas, making them ideal for offices and interior rooms with poor or fluorescent lighting.

The darker the leaves and stalks, the less light they require. Green varieties of Aglaonema can tolerate low light, but the variegated ones will maintain their health in the shaded part of a relatively bright room with indirect sunlight.

Never place these plants in direct sunlight.

Warnings: Aglaonema is highly toxic when ingested, calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stems can cause severe pain and irritation of the mouth and throat. Please, keep Aglaonema away from curious pets and children at all costs, or consider another houseplant.

2. Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant) – Poor Light

Aspidistra is a popular foliage house plant, once popular in Victorian homes because the plant can tolerate what are unfavorable growing conditions for most other house plants.

The Aspidistra plant handily accepts if it must exist in poor light, murky conditions, as well as in poor air quality, or warm or cold temperatures.

Despite their high tolerance of poor conditions, Aspidistra plants thrive under proper conditions so please do not neglect them just because you can. Your Aspidistra will flourish and look more attractive with proper care.

It is nicknamed the Cast Iron Plant for its near indestructibility, and makes an ideal housewarming gift for college-age irresponsible people. If you leave the plant in a dimly lit room and mostly forget about it except for watering it, it will maintain its size for years to come.

The disadvantage of growing so slowly means it takes a long time for this plant to reach a saleable size, therefore an Aspidistra plant can be very expensive to buy. On the upside, they can survive with little care for many (50+) years.

3. Asparagus Fern (setaceus) – Indirect Light

Asparagus ferns have a low sun requirement. While they do tolerate full sun, if exposed for too long, their leaves will yellow. These plants perform better with indirect morning sun and afternoon shade, or even light shade.

The best location for an Asparagus plumosa Fern is in a shaded corner of a bright room. If you have a north-facing window, the plumosa will be happy sitting near that. East-facing windows are also suitable, as the plants receive morning sunshine but not full midday sun.

Tolerant of heat: Unlike other ferns, because it isn’t a fern, the Asparagus Fern can tolerate high temperatures and will grow well throughout the high heat of the summer.

Warnings: Don’t eat the red berries of the Asparagus Fern, they can cause digestive problems.

4. Ferns – Lemon Button Fern – Filtered Light

Most ferns prefer shaded, damp soils, and the lemon button fern is no different. The lemon button fern’s light requirements are modest, as this plant will enjoy a spot where it receives filtered light as though planted in a protective forest.

Set this fern in partially shaded north or west window, and keep away from cold or hot drafts, and it will be happy.

5. Maranta – Indirect, Bright Light

The Maranta genus includes a few dozen low-growing plants native to Brazil, and one of these popular house plants is the beautifully presented Prayer Plant.

The Prayer Plant’s light requirements are easy to meet: it is happy in indirect yet bright light for most of the year, and does well under growing lights. Direct sunlight and heat can scorch the leaves of the prayer plant.

It is generally tolerant of lower light areas, as long as there is good air flow without any cold drafts (60-80F temperatures, aka indoor room temperatures, are just fine for this plant).

6. Monstera – Indirect, Bright Light

The Monstera deliciosa, or “Swiss Cheese Plant” (so named for the swiss cheese appearance of gaps in its foliage), is a vining plant that does not need a lot of light. But the more light it gets, the greater the size of its leaves and vining extensions.

It will handle many types of indoor lighting conditions except for prolonged periods in direct, bright sunlight. This plant is originally found on the bottom of the forest, thus it does not require a great deal of light to thrive.

7. Boston Fern – Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’

You’ll notice many ferns are on this list: Ferns prefer humid, damp soils as a general rule, and are used to filtered, indirect bright light. Accordingly, choose a spot in your house that has reasonable light levels — a north-facing window would be ideal for the Boston Fern.

8. Parlor Palm – Indirect Light

Parlor palm house plants like a little bit of light, and will do best by a window that receives some early morning or late afternoon light.

Lighting requirements for the Parlor palm: prefers low light and might suffer in direct sunlight, so do not worry if your space for this plant is not near your brightest windows.

Prefers bright, indirect light, but will thrive well in medium to low light.

9. Heart-Leaf Philodendron

Again, Philodendrons do quite well in low light conditions, and if they are in a room with a window, as long as they are not placed in direct sunlight, they will be happy. This low-light requirement is one of the best aspects of the heart-leaf philodendron‘s versatility.

Like the Monstera, plants that receive medium or indirect light will grow faster and produce more leaves than those kept in the shade.

Philodendrons should not be placed in direct sunlight.

10. Cissus rhombifolia – Grape Leaf Ivy

Grape Ivy plants prefer bright, filtered light without being subjected to too much complete shade. Related varieties such as ‘Ellen Danica’ and ‘Mandianna’ can tolerate lower light.

An easy way to tell if your Grape Leaf Ivy is receiving adequate light: If the stems stretch toward the light and new leaves are further apart on the stem, move your plant to a brighter location.

When deciding where to place your Cissus, remember that a bright yet indirect light exposure is most advantageous, though the plants can tolerate bright to moderate light if kept sufficiently moist.

How to Know If Your Plant Can Handle A Dimly Lit Space

If you are trying to choose the right house plant for a darker spot in your home, the rule of thumb is: the darker and thicker the leaves are, the more the the plant can withstand poor lighting.

How Long Can House Plants Survive Without Light?

How long your house plants will survive in no light at all depends on how actively they are growing and on the type of plant.

A plant with thick, waxy leaves or a dormant succulent that has not been watered for sixty days probably won’t be affected at all by sitting for a week or two in the dark. A fast-growing plant entering its flowering stage is a very different situation, however.

A Little Light or None at All?

If you store your dormant plants for a short period, it might be best to keep them in a light-sealed room. A small amount of light may be worse than none at all, since the plant could begin to make etiolated growth and lean in the direction of whatever little light they sense.

You may furnish a dark space with light-loving plants if you keep them there only a short time, then move them into a brighter space for a few hours of sunlight, or outside. 

Water VS Light

In general, the less light your plant has, the less water it needs.

Christmas Cactus = Better Than Poinsettia

Move over poinsettia, and make way for Christmas cactus!

There is nothing wrong with the poinsettia as a classic Christmas plant, with its green and red colourings, but why follow the crowd when you can revert to the original classic Christmas plant — the aptly named Christmas cactus?

Poinsettias are Wonderful, But Have Downsides

  • Poinsettias are two-month wonders.
  • Poinsettias are hard to grow for the average person, and are quite picky about what kind of light, warmth, fertilizer and water they need. Who needs high-maintenance plants to think about during the hectic holidays?

Christmas Cactus is a Great Contender for Best Holiday Plant

Christmas cactus, on the other hand, is an equally lovely plant, with staying power. These plants live for YEARS and give beautiful yellow blooms.

  • Most Christmas Cactus are bright red, and bloom just before Christmas.
  • Variations of schlumbergera are the Thanksgiving or Easter cactus, also named for their blooming timing.
  • Another thing the Christmas cactus has going for it, is it grows easily in a typical indoor environment. Unlike regular cacti, the Christmas cactus likes water every two weeks, as long as the soil is allowed to dry between waterings.
  • Christmas cactus tolerates relatively low-light locations in the house: north window? No problem. A west-facing window with full afternoon sun is a bit much for the Christmas cactus, though.
  • The plant does not suffer from pests and is not a heavy feeder. To improve vigour, add a mild formula of flowering pot fertilizer during the spring and summer growth periods. The plant has a small root system and will only need to be repotted when it becomes top heavy.

Recommended pro care tips: Through spring and summer, place the Christmas cactus in an east-facing window, watering every two weeks or so. In early October, take the plant and place it in the corner of a garage or room where it will be ignored but protected from frost. In early December, put the plant back in the east-facing window and resume its watering schedule. Ta-da! Blooms galore to enjoy in time for Christmas.

Multiply the Joy

If one plant is not enough, you can buy more or propagate new ones by taking short cuttings from the fresh new growth of healthy stems with a sharp knife.

Place a cluster of four or five stems in a four-inch diameter pot filled with sharp sand.

Water frequently, making sure the sand stays damp.

Within a few weeks, cuttings should have short while roots that ought to be transplanted in a new four-inch diameter pot and filled with potting soil.

You may pot all the cuttings together in one pot (spaced out appropriately) to ensure dense growth.

Boston Fern

Boston Fern air purifier

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”) is a type of Sword Fern, also known as the Boston sword fern, wild Boston fern, Boston Blue Bell Fern, tuber ladder fern, or fishbone fern. Verona fern is a three-pinnate variety of Boston fern, probably the best of the lace varieties for indoor growing.

What characteristics have these ferns that make them the most successful of all house plants?

Simply put: they look good and are long-lasting beauties.

Beautiful all year round and treasured for its lush foliage — which reaches a height of 4 feet and a spread of 5 feet, this fern does not grow flowers; instead of colourful flowers, it boasts feathery fern leaves which are best displayed as a hanging plant. And because it does not waste its energies on extravagances, the fern will last in your house for much longer than flowering plants.

Your aim should be to make your fern’s environment approximate to its native habit as possible. The resulting plant will be a combination of three things: the individuality of the plant itself, the environment you’ve created for the plant, and your own personality.

Benefits: The Boston Fern is effective at removing formaldehyde and for adding humidity to the indoor environment.

Boston Fern Care

  1. Water regularly, a little every day. Do not let your plant become dried out. A parched fern looks gray and dull, and droops. Do not keep the soil so wet that it is muddy. When a fern has “wet feet” continually, its leaves turn yellow.
  2. Keep the temperature moderate, not over 70 and not under 50. Ventilate the room if gas is used, but do not let the fern sit in a drafty area.
  3. Clean the leaves if they become dusty or buggy. The leaves are best washed when the air is such that they will dry off quickly. but not burn in the hot summer sun.
  4. Give your fern the best light in the house if you really want it to be happy. Ferns like direct sunlight only if the air is kept humid, which isn’t always possible in your house. Found on the forest floor protected by larger trees, it makes sense that ferns prefer indirect sunlight to semi-sun environments. Do not rotate your fern with the idea of making it develop symmetrically; all the new leaves will be underdeveloped, and only those exposed to the light will benefit at any one time.
  5. If your fern is happy and all these care requirements are met, the Boston fern will grow until it becomes root bound (and no, ferns do not like to be root bound in a pot too small for their potential). Repotting is best done in late spring (May or June), and if the plant can then be plunged into the soil outdoors, pot and all, in a shady corner of the yard, your fern will reinvigorate itself. During the year, fertilizer may be given in the form of weak sodium nitrate solution, Clay’s fertilizer, or any leaf food (ferns are not flowering plants, recall).

Quick Summary of FAQs

Fertilizer and Water

Feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer. Feed infrequently in winter; preferably use rain water to keep the soil moist but not soggy.  Water should be room temperature and free of chlorine and fluoride. (Boston ferns are sensitive to water temperature and chemicals). 

Pests

This plant is relatively hardy, though when it isn’t cared for properly, it can be prone to spider mites and whitefly pests, which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

Boston Ferns and Brown Leaves: Causes, Prevention, and Solutions

Being a forest dweller, your fern must have frequent misting and watering, or the leaves will brown and drop.

Be Gentle: Do not touch or move Boston ferns too vigorously: bumping walls, people or pets will cause the leaves to brown. Not a kid-friendly plant.

Best Soil for Growing Sword Ferns or Boston Ferns

Think about where you find ferns in forests: in damp, slightly acidic soil, in shaded areas, typically. Mimic those soil conditions and you’ll have a happy plant.

Soil should be well-drained, with an organic topsoil of humus and small stones to mimic the fern’s natural growing conditions. These ferns prefer an acidic soil with sand and humus. (You can utilize a pH test kit to make sure your soil is in the right range). Sword ferns can grow well in acidic soil (pH 5.6 to 6.0), but do better with a mildly acidic soil pH of 6.1 to 6.5, for both indoor and outdoor planting.

Boston ferns, like other houseplants, will grow to the size of their pot, at which point they will need repotting, or will slowly deteriorate.

8 Cute Indoor Plants for Very Small Pots

If you are limited in living space, then one of the best ways to spruce up your home is by shopping around for cute indoor plants for very small pots.

Table of Contents

The lovely thing about indoor plants that live in small pots is that they are often easy to care for, all while providing natural beauty to your home.

But how do you know which small plant to choose from? Different plants will have different needs, but of course, for many people, the best plants are the ones that demand little of your time.

To guide you, we have rounded up eight of our favourite cute indoor plants for very small pots to help you narrow down your choices. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

  • Air Plant
  • Anthurium
  • Baby Toes
  • Chinese Money Plant
  • Echeveria
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Pothos
  • String of Pearls

1. Air Plant (Tillandsia)

Air plants make the best shelf plants because they are beautiful, tiny, and are relatively easy to take care of. Air plants are all about adding an earthy element to your home, and because they don’t need soil to grow, you can plant them in a variety of containers, including terrariums.

tillandsia

If you do plant it in a terrarium, make sure that there is a proper circulation of air so that the plant can breathe. Overall, caring for an air plant is easy because they need full sun and just a couple of water mists a couple of times a week.

  • Fun Fact: Air plants are epiphytes meaning they are plants that can grow on top of other plants.

2. Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum)

The anthurium plant is a cute indoor plant for very small pots that can brighten up any room in your house. They resemble red poppies in their delicate appearance yet are surprisingly sturdy. Though you will often see this plant in red blooms, anthurium does come in other colour options, including white, pink, green, orange, purple, black, and even yellow. Anthurium grows best with indirect, yet bright light, and makes for a stunning tabletop piece. Like many other indoor plants, caring for an anthurium is not too difficult.

  • Fun Fact: These colorful heart-shaped plants are not flowers, and they can re-bloom all year.

3. Baby Toes (Fenestraria)

Baby toes are a unique indoor plant that fares well in small pots. As the name suggests, baby toes have small sprouts that resemble a baby’s cute little toes. This plant is part of the succulent family and requires similar maintenance.

Fenestraria like porous soils.

These are great plants for tiny apartment living because they thrive in indirect sunlight. However, they do need to be well-drained and require a bit of maintenance.

  • Fun Fact: Baby toes are native to Namibia and South Africa, and this plant can survive in harsh environments like hot summers and cold winters.

4. Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Show me the money plant.

A Chinese Money Plant is one of the most unique looking indoor plants because of its simplistic look. The leaves on this plant are unnaturally round, with one leaf protruding from each node. They don’t require a lot of attention and will live in partial shade, though they do need to be well-drained. Their unique look makes them great tabletop and bedside plants.

  • Fun Fact: These plants are also called missionary plants because a Norwegian missionary brought this plant home to share with loved ones. Because they are so easy to propagate, finding someone with this plant and acquiring a snippet is the best way to start growing your own.

5. Echeveria (Echeveria)

Echeveria By Eria Wei – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67252607

When you think of succulents, echeveria is likely the plant that comes to mind. This pretty succulent works well in bathrooms, tabletops, and shelves. The biggest draw for echeveria is the fact that it grows in a variety of pretty colors. Also, it is one of the sturdier succulents making it relatively easy to care for as well. It does best in partial or full sun, and it needs to be well-drained or dry in order to thrive.

  • Fun Fact: This succulent is native to semi-desert areas of Mexico. Their origins make them drought resistant.

6. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena braunii)

Lucky Bamboo can be a great conversation starter because of its spiral growth. When growing lucky bamboo, you can choose to grow it in a small pot with water or soil. However, this plant looks more elegant when planted with water in a clear vase.

If you grow it in soil, be sure to water it once the first inch of the soil starts to feel dry. If you plant it in water, it’s best to use filtered water and swap out the water every 7-10 days.

  • Fun Fact: Lucky bamboo is a popular plant in the practice of Feng Shui. This plant is believed to bring health, luck, and love to whoever owns it.

7. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Epipremnum aureum By Joydeep, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33355833

If you are limited on counter space, then pothos is a cute indoor plant that can tie any room together. This plant grows best in small hanging pots, and as the leaves grow bigger, they can make a statement in a room without taking up valuable space.

  • Fun Fact: Pothos are great at purifying the air. Because of this, these are ideal plants to have in your bedroom or office.

8. String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Senecio rowleyanus leaves By Flickr user Forest and Kim Starr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/starr-environmental/9288933114/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29575798

The string of pearls plant is the new craze when it comes to cute indoor plants for very small pots. This delicate plant is a member of the succulent family and grows in long, pearl-like strings. This unique growth makes it a perfect plant for home decor. It grows best in indirect sunlight, and it needs to be well-drained. For the best display, planting it in a basic pot will really allow the plant to “pop-out.”

  • Fun Fact: The string of pearls is classified as a succulent vine. Stems trail on the ground, and during the winter, this plant blooms tiny white flowers.