With the days getting shorter and shorter, it’s time to accept that another winter is just around the corner here in Alexandria. For some of us, spending most of your daylight hours at work is even more dreadful than the cold itself. Heck, even your houseplants struggle with the lack of sunlight in the winter! On the bright side, winter makes us appreciate the coziness of our homes even more—and what better way to make your living space even cozier than by filling it with low light houseplants?
Since most of the time spent at home during the winter is in the dark, now is the time to revitalize dim areas of your home with these indoor plants for low light conditions.
Indoor Plants for Low Light
These guys are truly heroes of the houseplant world. While plants that flourish in the sun are easy to come by, it’s not so easy to add greenery to the dimmest areas of your home. Ironically, these spots are where we crave the presence of plants the most! To save you the process of trial and error, we’ve picked out five of our favorite indoor plants for low light conditions.
Not only does the ZZ plant require very little sunlight, but it’s also about as low-maintenance as they come, which has made it a popular choice for malls and offices. ZZ plants feature tropical-looking, oval-shaped, dark green leaves. Their smooth, glossy finish allows them to reflect light and effectively brighten any area of your home—even windowless rooms, like your bathroom!
As mentioned before, ZZs aren’t demanding when it comes to plant care. For people who travel often, work a lot, or just plain forget to care for their houseplants, the ZZ plant is an “EZ” plant that pretty much thrives on neglect. Interestingly enough, the worst thing you can do for your ZZ is to give it too much love and attention. They can get by on very little indirect sunlight or fluorescent light, and will actually burn if they’re placed in direct sunlight, so keep them away from the window. Wait until the soil has completely dried out before watering—even though they look like a tropical plant, they don’t drink like one.
Parts of the ZZ plant are poisonous, so keep them on tables or shelves that are out of reach for children and pets.
Native to the tropical rainforest floors of Colombia and Venezuela, peace lilies are more than used to living in the shade. Although they aren’t true lilies, their white hood-like flowers resemble those of calla lilies. Since they can grow a few feet tall, most varieties are used as floor plants, adding a bright, exotic touch to dim rooms with their light flowers and broad, glossy leaves. Peace lilies have also been named one of the top air-cleaning houseplants by NASA—not only do they help to make the air in your home cleaner and safer, but they look great doing it!
Since they’re used to the mostly-shaded floors of the rainforest, peace lilies need only a small amount of sunlight or fluorescent light to grow. While they don’t like to be waterlogged, they don’t like bone dry soils either—usually, watering them once a week will keep the soil nice and moist. Luckily, peace lilies are pretty resilient to drought, and their drooping leaves will tell you when they’re thirsty. In the summer, mist their leaves with a spray bottle to increase humidity and make them feel right at home.
Peace lilies can cause harm if ingested, so it’s best to have their container elevated off the ground if there are curious kids or pets around.
No list of the low-maintenance houseplants is complete without pothos, also known as devil’s ivy. This trailing vine dangles over the edges of hanging containers, brightening the room with its charming, heart-shaped leaves. Its green foliage is often variegated with light green, yellow, or white—although the solid green varieties perform best in low light. Pothos is another plant on NASA’s list of top air-purifying houseplants.
The best part about pothos is that it can be placed pretty much anywhere in the home. It can grow with very little light, but it can also thrive in bright, indirect light. If you get tired of keeping your pothos in the corner, you can move it closer to the spotlight without harming it. Since they can be hard to reach in their hanging baskets, you’ll be relieved to know that they prefer to have their soil dry out completely between waterings. If you notice the leaves starting to droop, it’s time for a good soak.
With a nickname like “devil’s ivy,” you can probably guess that this isn’t a plant you want your family or pets to ingest. On the plus side, since it’s a trailing vine that doesn’t need much attention, it’s usually already placed out of reach.
The strappy, upright leaves of snake plants are a refreshing change from the broadleaf foliage you typically see in houseplants. Along with their unique architectural shape, snake plants add life to the room with their many variegated patterns. As an evergreen, you’ll be able to enjoy their air-cleaning leaves all year long.
Snake plants are super versatile when it comes to placement in your home—although they can adapt to full sun, they also thrive in pretty dim areas. They’re perfect for people who travel often or just don’t have the time to tend to their plants. If you’re someone who forgets to water their plants more often than they remember, this plant will actually thank you for it! Overwatering is the number one way to kill snake plants. They need to be planted in very well-draining, sandy soil and watered only when the soil has dried out. An all-purpose cactus potting soil is ideal.
Snake plants will cause nausea and vomiting when ingested, so keep them elevated and away from pets who might think their strappy leaves look tasty.
Cast Iron Plant
You only need to read the common name of this plant to get an idea of how robust this houseplant is! Don’t worry, we’re not talking about fake, metal foliage here—the leaves of this low light plant are broad, smooth, green, and definitely alive. Cast iron plants are so tolerant and adaptable, they’re considered pretty much indestructible. Their ability to flourish on the forest floors of East Asia means they’re adapted to very little light, although they can also grow in bright, indirect light, too.
All this plant asks for is a container with drainage holes and a well-drained potting mix. Aside from that, water it every now and then, only when the soil feels dry to the touch. As relatively slow growers, they won’t even need to be repotted very often—maybe once every few years!
Unlike many common houseplants, cast iron plants are non-toxic and pet-friendly. Although you wouldn’t want to encourage your cat to nibble on your new favorite plant, you can take comfort in knowing that it wouldn’t do any harm.
The ability that low light indoor plants have to bring life to the otherwise dark, dead corners of your home is truly amazing. With the short days ahead, it’s nice to have greenery that flourishes in your home despite the extra darkness. If you’re looking for some indoor plants for low light, look no further than our local garden centers in Virginia (Alexandria and Belle Haven) and Lothian, Maryland.