PLANTS THAT LOVE LOW LIGHT
One of the biggest challenges when designing with plants in the home is selecting the perfect plants for the right locations. Some plants need tons of light, especially those plants with gorgeous flowers. Others need bright indirect light, as they are native to tropical areas with long days, warm weather and process light quicker to produce energy to grow.
Finding plants that appreciate low light situations is not all that hard. Here are a few plants for you to consider adding to your home collection:
AGLAONEMA - (Chinese Evergreen) Talk about a super easy to grow and well behaved houseplant. The Chinese Evergreen is a low demanding, low light plant that adds charming color to any home. Native to Southeast Asia, the Chinese Evergreen is rated #40 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
ALOCASIA - (Elephant Ear) With their huge leaves and stunning range of colors, Alocasia are a dramatic designer houseplant. They can be as small as 6" or can grow large as trees. A native to Asia, Alocasia do require a little extra care but are worthy of consideration for your home.
ANTHURIUM - These easy-care indoor plants produce beautiful, long-lasting, waxy, heart- shaped “flowers” which are really modified leaves called “spathes” throughout the year. Anthurium spathes come in red, pink, white, and salmon and can be used in cut flower arrangements. Anthurium plants look beautiful as table centerpieces or on a reception desk in an office. Anthurium is a huge family of plants that are found in the New World tropics from Mexico to northern Argentina and Uruguay. The Anthurium is rated #41 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
ARALIA - There are several types of Aralia available with the most common being the Ming Aralia. They are native to tropical areas from India to Polynesia. Though these gorgeous plants make an awesome, low maintenance addition to the darkest corner of any room, they are a bit fussy and need a little extra care. They are not tolerant to over-watering, are not forgiving and will drop its leaves when it is unhappy. But the beauty of this plant makes it one to try.
ASPIDISTRA - (Cast Iron Plant) The Cast Iron plant, native to China, is an almost indestructible easy-care plant that survives where other houseplants quickly die. Water it or forget to water it, good light or poor light, warm room or cold room, the Cast Iron plant survives. Who can complaint about such a super, easy plant!
BEGONIA - This plant family is huge with a wide range of light needs. The Rex Begonia seems to be the most tolerant of low light, but try the Angel Wing Begonias as well. These plants are a bit tricky to figure out, but once you get into the swing of light, water and humidity they reward you with amazing colors in both their leaves and their blooms. Native to India, the Begonia has been part of parlors since the Victorian age. The Wax Begonia (Begonia Semperflorens) is rated #24 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
BROMELIADS - There are over 2500 species of bromeliads that are native to North, Central and South America. My favorites bromeliads are: neoregelia, aechmea, and guzmania. Bromeliad plants have spectacular flowers which are really “bracts” that stay colorful for 6-10 weeks. There are numerous varieties of bromeliads to choose from all with different leaf colors and shapes. The exotic looking bracts come in red, burgundy, pink, white, yellow, orange, and even a mixture of colors. Use a single bromeliad plant or combine three different bromeliads to create your own special arrangement. A bromeliad blooms once indoors, then it’s necessary to start a new plant using cuttings from the original plant.
CALATHEA - (Peacock Plant) Calathea plants, native to tropical South and Central America, Africa, and the West Indies, are grown primarily for their beautiful, brightly colored, upright, wide oval leaves. These wide leaves make them popular for areas of low light. The Calathea plant is a popular plant used for indoor office decoration purposes. It is often used in homes and businesses as well. This plant stays compact and manageable. Calathea can be a bit temperamental when it comes to care, however once you figure out its needs, it offers a colorful low light addition to your plant collection. The Calathea is rated #45 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
CORDYLINE - (Hawaiian Ti Plant) Also known as the Hawaiian Good Luck plant, this is one of the most colorful foliage plants you can purchase. Great by itself or in mixed arrangements, the Cordyline is native to tropical Southeast Asia, eastern Australia and some Pacific islands including Hawaii. As a small plant, this is a sweet tabletop plant, but make room because they do grow large enough to become a beloved tree. The Cordyline is not known as an easy plant because they are a bit finicky about watering, but like all of the other plants, with time and patience, you can work out the details together.
DIEFFENBACHIA - (Dumb Cane) Dieffenbachia is native to the tropics of Mexico and all the way south to Argentina. They are relatively easy-care houseplants that tolerate a lot of abuse! They are an understory plant is the native forests where they are from and love a medium, low light place to grow. But watch out, they grow - BIG! Be prepared to prune your plant as needed to keep it in check with your home space. They also like it warm and can not stand temps that drop below 60 degrees. The Dieffenbachia is rated #20 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
DRACAENA - There are tons of Dracaena available with my favorites being Janet Craig, Warnekii, Marginata, Song of India and Lime Lime. All are natives of tropical Africa. Talk about a uper, easy plant to add to your plant collection! They are one of the most popular plants used in homes and offices because of the ease of care they ask for. Dracaena plants can be used as table plants, but they are especially impressive as tall trees. They are extremely tolerant of lower light, prefer to live on the dry side and ask for very little attention. Talk about a well behaved houseplant! Dracaena "Janet Craig" is #5, Dracaena fragrans (Corn Plant) is #11, Dracaena "Warneckei" is #16, and Dracaena marginiata is #17 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
HEDERA HELIX - (English Ivy) English Ivy plants, native to North America, Europe, and Asia, can be found in over 100 different sizes, colors, and leaf shapes. Whether you want a plant to place on a table, hang from the ceiling, sit in a wall sconce, or train as a topiary there is an English Ivy plant for you. NASA has determined that English Ivy plants are excellent Clean Air Plants, ranking it at #6 and can absorb air-born toxins such as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and especially benzene. Check out our story about English Ivy.
HOYA - (Wax Plant) This plant gets its name from the gorgeous, waxy blooms and elegant leaves it displays when its happy. There are over 200 species of the easy to grow almost indestructible tropical hoya plant. Most are native to Asia including India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, There is a great diversity of species in the Philippines, and species in Polynesia, New Guinea, and Australia. They have long trailing vines that often intertwine making beautiful hanging baskets. Under the proper conditions hoya plants produce five-pointed, star shaped, fragrant flowers in red, white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and even black. Even a plant novice will be successful growing a hoya plant if they are careful not to over-water.
LUCKY BAMBOO - (Dracaena sanderiana) Talk about a super easy plant that is happy with limited light! A Lucky Bamboo plant is really made up of the cut stalks of a Dracaena Sanderiana and is native to West Africa and Eastern Asia. Followers of Feng Shui believe that the Lucky Bamboo plant brings prosperity and good fortune to a home or business. Lucky Bamboo plants require very little care and grow practically anywhere as long as you keep the water clean and chemical free.
MARANTA - (Prayer Plant) The Prayer plant, native to Brazil. Asia, and Africa, is a very unique plant. Becuase they need limited light, they make a great plant for decorating in rooms lacking tons of sunlight. The large patterned leaves with hues of red, green, brown, and cream, lift up and fold together each evening as though praying and open again the next morning. They are a higher maintenance plant, needing constant moisture and a warm, humid environment. The Prayer Plant is rated #32 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
MONSTERA - (Split Leaf Philodendrun, Swiss Cheese Plant) The Split Leaf Philodendron, also called monstera deliciosa or swiss cheese plant, is a large, popular, easy-care houseplant that is not really in the philodendron family. These plants are native to the jungles of Mexico, Panama, and India. If you want a big, tropical, low maintenance plant, this one is perfect. The Split Leaf Philodendrun appreciates limited attention and lower light to grow well. This is one plant to plan to add to your collection!
NEANTHE BELLA PALM - (Parlor Palm) Do you want a palm tree for your home that is low maintenance, can tolerate limited light and looks gorgeous in every decor? Then you need to consider the beloved Parlor Palm. This small palm tree is native to the rainforests in Southern Mexico and Guatemala. The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world and has been gracing parlors since Victorian times. A Parlor Palm can be small enough to use in a terrarium or tall enough to sit on the floor. Since these palms require very little care, it is the perfect plant for offices, businesses, and for less than optimal growing conditions in homes. The Parlor Palm is rated #21 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
PEPEROMIA - By far my most favorite of the low light plants, there are over 1000 varieties of peperomia plants and most are native to Central and South America. All peperomia plants are semi-succulents with very similar care requirements. Less than bright light, reduced water and a warm place to grow, Peperomia are easy to grow, non-demanding plants perfect for the home decorator. When small, peperomia houseplants can be used in dish gardens and terrariums. Indoors, mature peperomia plants never grow taller than 12”-18″ and are ideal for tables. Some varieties make excellent hanging plants.
PHILODENDRUN - The Philodendrun family is a vast group of awesome houseplants that appreciate low light. They are native to the West Indies and the tropical rain forests of Central and South America. My favorite include Philodenrun Selloum, known as the Tree Philodendrun which is native to South Africa which needs a lot of space as it grows very large. The Heart Leaf Philodendrun stays relatively small and looks great as a table or hanging plant. Heartleaf philodendrons are some of the most popular plants we use in homes and offices; they thrive on neglect and are almost impossible to kill. Philodenrun Selloum is ranked #25 and Heart Leaf Philodendrun is ranked #26 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.
PILEA - With over 715 species, the Pilea family is massive. They are distributed throughout the tropics, subtropics, and warm temperate regions (with the exception of Australia and New Zealand). The most popular of houseplants are by far Pilea peperomioides - Chinese money plant, Pilea cadierei - aluminium plant, Pilea involucrata - friendship plant and Pilea depressa - Baby Tears. This group of plants are tough, hardy plants that need regular watering but are willing to grow in less than perfect, light environments. Used in terrariums and mixed gardens, pilea a great in small containers and hanging baskets. Consider adding these great plants to your collection.
SPATHIPHYLLUM - (Peace Lily) Looking for one of the best plants for super low light, that needs limited attention and tells you when it needs water, consider the Peace Lily. The Peace Lily originated in tropical forests around the world where it grew close to the forest floor in the shade of the larger plants. This helps explain why Peace Lily plants are one of very few indoor plants that can bloom even in medium to low light. NASA lists the Peace Lily at #10 as one of the best plants to clean the air of harmful toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.
SYNGONIUM - (Arrowhead) This super easy houseplant has two botanical names with Nephthytis as its other name. Arrowheads are native to tropical America, where they are found from Mexico to Brazil. Originally grown as a solid green plant, arrowhead plants now have leaves that are almost white, green & white, and various shades of pink or burgundy. By far one of my favorite plant for beginners, the Arrowhead plant is rated #19 on the NASA Clean Air Plant List.