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Best Low Light House Plants

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What are the best low light house plants?

House plants are a terrific addition to any home.  They add life and interest to living spaces, many are low maintenance, and they help to clean your indoor air.  The effort to green your home, however, can be a bit more challenging when you have low light conditions.

(UPDATE 04/09/2015 I have also just published a post on the best flowering perennials for a shady garden which might be of interest to you as well)

My home has typical low light conditions.  It is a semi-detached house, with predominantly northern exposure (with some eastern and western exposure as well).  I have tried growing a variety of house plants; some with no success whatsoever, some with consistent success.  Now, each house is oriented a bit differently, has its own unique shade and sun characteristics, and your home’s geography also has a profound impact on what you can grow successfully.

I live in southern Ontario – we get bright sunny summers and relatively dark and long winters.  It is from this geography from which I speak.

Here are a few easy to care for house plants that I have had the best success with in low light conditions:

1)  Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

The Spider Plant looks wonderful.  It has long and graceful leaves that cascade down like the legs of a Daddy Long Legs spider.  The come in solid green or variegated (with green and white stripes).

The Spider Plant (note the little plantlets)

These plants are terrific for a couple of key reasons:

–>  They can grow very nicely in low light conditions.  They prefer bright, indirect light and are perfect even for a northern facing window.

–>  They are low maintenance.  Just don’t let the soil dry out completely or become soaked.

–>  Easy to propagate.  Simply remove a plantlet (they normally come out in Spring), and put it into moist soil.  The plant will grow and eventually produce its’ own plantlets which you can plant again.  Very easy.

2)  Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus oertendahlii)

The Swedish Ivy Plant (very easy to grow in low light)

The Swedish Ivy is a handsome and robust plant with lots of leaves.  It has green leaves with trailing stems.   Leaves can be solid green or variegated.  These are fast-growing and easy to care for plants.

These plants are terrific for a couple of key reasons:

–>  They can grow very nicely in low light conditions.  They prefer bright, indirect light and are perfect for even a north facing window.

–>  They are low maintenance.  Just don’t let the soil dry out completely or become soaked.

–>  Easy to propagate.  Just cut off a stem or two and put them in water.  In about a week or so, you will have roots that are long enough to plant (and make a new, free plant to enjoy in a new part of your home).

3)  Wandering Jew (Tradescantia commelinaceae)

The Wandering Jew Plant

The Wandering Jew is a beautiful vining plant.  It has green, heart-shaped leaves, with purple stripes and a silvery sheen.   Leaves can be solid or variegated
.  The leaves are purple underneath.  I prefer the look of he variegated leaves.

These plants are terrific for a couple of key reasons:

–>  They can grow very nicely in low light conditions.  They prefer bright, indirect light and are perfect for a western facing window.

–>  They are low maintenance.  Just don’t let the soil dry out completely or become soaked.

–>  Easy to propagate.  Just cut off a stem or two and put them in water.  In about a week or so, you will have roots that are long enough to plant (and make a new, free plant to enjoy in a new part of your home).

4)  Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentil)

The Famous Snake Plant (can grow just about anywhere)

The Snake Plant is famous for being able to grow just about anywhere and under a wide variety of conditions.  It will grow in bright light or shade, will withstand dry air, draughts and periods without water.  It also rarely needs repotting.  It is susceptible to overwatering in winter and exposure to near-freezing temperatures, however.

The Snake Plant is worthy for a couple of key reasons:

–>  They can grow very nicely in low light conditions (or high light conditions).  They can withstand periods of under-watering, and they look quite nice (even though they would be dreadful for a home that is Feng Shui positive due to its sharp, pointed leaves).

–>  They are low maintenance.  Just don’t let the soil dry out completely.  Be careful in low-light conditions and during the winter not to over-water, or the plant will rot (this has happened to me twice).

–>  Easy to propagate.  Simply cut off a portion of the leaf and stick it in compost.  It will soon root, and new leaves will begin to appear.

In summary, there are a good handful of plants that will grow very nicely in low-light conditions, that are low-maintenance, easy to grow, and easy to propagate.  Any of the plants highlighted here should work beautifully in a low-light home.

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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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6 comments

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    • Tyler on May 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Spider and snake plants are two personal favorites of mine. Can grow anywhere and don’t take a lot of maintenance. I’ve heard of wandering jew (odd name) but never actually grown it. Looks really nice. Going to have to find a start somewhere.

    • Jason on May 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm
      Author

    Thanks for your post, Tyler. Spiders and Snakes are reliable low-light plants (and they also look nice). The Wandering Jew is gorgeous as well, and it grows virtually anywhere. Good luck with your home planting. Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate it.

    froogalist

    • cynthia on January 25, 2013 at 4:17 am

    You might want to try pothos. I killed a couple of them before I realized that it does best with a degree of neglect. It is a beautiful vine, comes in solid green, or varigated with white or yellow. It tolerates low light very well. I have them at home, & they also handle cool temperatures (like 40’s) well. I have one in my office on top of files that spreads for 7 or 8 feet on each side. It is quite impressive & quite content with minimal care.

    • Jason on February 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm
      Author

    Thanks, Cynthia. I appreciate you taking the time to post. I love the idea of a plant that does best with a certain degree of neglect, as this means that even I can probably grow it. I’ll give it a try.

    froogalist

    • Sheila on February 23, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    We have a great window that does get indirect light but in the fall and winter times that area can get colder than the rest of the house. Are the Spider or the Wandering Jew tolerant of cold areas? I had another ivy there and you could see that the leaves had gotten cold and died. Or should I just move the ivy to another room during the colder months.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Jason on February 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm
      Author

    Hello Sheila,

    I have a Wandering Jew in my coldest room and it’s doing just fine. Haven’t tried moving a Spider there, but these plants can survice just about anything. It might be worth a try. If you do give it a try, please let us know how it works out. Thanks for comment.

    Cheers, froogalist

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