It’s great to let the sun shine in every once in a while, but some (or all!) parts of our home might not have the opportunity to welcome in the sun’s rays. We can mostly remedy a lack of natural light with lamps and other lights, but many houseplants need direct sunlight to survive. A simple solution is to furnish your sun-deprived rooms with plants that don’t need sun.
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Low-light houseplants are great for spots in a room that need touches of green, but might not have enough direct sunlight for most plants to survive. All of the plants below can thrive with indirect light and the majority of them can thrive with artificial light.
Take a look at our list of 18 plants that don’t need sun, so you can pick the best greenery for your home.
Best Plants That Don’t Need Sun
1. Bromeliad (Bromeliaceae)
Bromeliads are tropical plants that usually come with vibrant pops of color. Their unique look and tropical feel make them a top houseplant choice. Bromeliads look best on shelves, on tabletops or even on the floor, depending on the species.
Most bromeliad species prefer bright indirect sunlight as opposed to direct light. Indirect light means that the sun is not directly hitting the plant. An example of direct light would be if your plant were outside directly under the sun, or if you placed your plant next to an open window with the sun shining directly on it. Extended exposure to full sun can damage a bromeliad’s leaves. It’s best to keep it near, but not directly in front of, a window. Bromeliads can also thrive on fluorescent lighting if natural light is not available.
2. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese evergreen plants are easy to grow and are among the many indoor plants that don’t need sunlight. Many people say it’s a great plant to start with if you’re new to caring for houseplants. Older Chinese evergreen produce flowers that look similar to calla lilies and look best on the floor next to furniture and filling in open spaces in the home. Younger Chinese evergreen are compact enough for desk, tabletop and shelf decor. These plants also made it to NASA’s list of air-filtering houseplants, so Chinese evergreen plants are both easy to care for and healthy choices for your home!
The Chinese evergreen’s specific sun needs depend on the colors of its leaves. Generally, if you have a plant with darker leaves, your specific plant prefers low light. Varieties with lighter-colored leaves like pink or orange prefer medium light. Like many other plants on this list, Chinese evergreen should not be placed in direct sunlight to avoid scorched leaves.
3. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
The cast iron plant is also commonly referred to as the iron plant because of its hardy nature. It can survive a wide variety of conditions that make it a top choice for black thumbs and busy plant owners. Its rich green leaves are perfect for accenting any corners of the room that need a natural touch.
Cast irons are low-light plants that can survive almost anywhere in your home. They are slow to grow, but also really hard to kill. The only requirement is to keep them away from direct sunlight in order to keep their leaves from getting scorched or turning brown. If you want to give your cast iron plant some extra care, wipe down its leaves once a week with a damp cloth to keep the dust off. Clean leaves allow it to more easily take in the sun and all of its nutrients.
4. Dracaena (Dracaena)
The dracaena is a common houseplant that’s easy to care for in your home. This plant comes in many varieties and looks great on shelves, tabletops and as floor decor. The larger varieties, like the dracaena massangeana, have a tree-like look and work especially well as floor decor.
Dracaenas grow best in bright, indirect light, but can survive in low and medium light if needed. Dracaena’s are also among the top air-purifying plants that can filter out the toxins in your home. Take a look at our dracaena care guide to learn more in-depth information about caring for your dracaena.
5. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
Dumb canes are beautiful plants that are commonly found adorning both homes and office spaces. They are called dumb canes because all parts of the plant are poisonous. Therefore, this plant should be kept away from pets and children. It can cause swelling and other problems if consumed and can cause itching if its sap touches the skin. When handled properly with minimal contact, this plant’s danger is minimized.
Dumb canes can thrive between low and high filtered light depending on the species. Filtered light refers to sunlight that shines through something else like a sheer curtain or a window. Most species can survive on low filtered light, but may not continue to grow depending on the variety. Double-check what species your dumb cane is to see what type of light it prefers.
6. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy are beautiful climbing plants that can turn any drab wall into a fresh work of art. Ivy is also great on trellises, fences and other places that allow its vines to grow. However, keep in mind that the vines do take a couple years to grow if you’re growing from seed.
English ivy prefer bright indirect light, but can tolerate low light. The more light this ivy gets, the more beautiful color will show through its leaves. However, direct light can lead to its demise. Many other ivy varieties like the pothos listed below also work well in indirect light and shady spots.
7. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)
Maidenhair ferns are elegant plants that elevate any room, but are also very easy to kill! That being said, the beautiful leaves and overall look of this plant are more than worth the extra work. Many fern varieties, like the Boston fern and bird’s nest fern, thrive well in indirect sunlight.
Maidenhair ferns like indirect, bright light and are easily affected by direct sunlight. They also prefer high humidity and do not like dry soil, so they must be moist, but not overly-watered to avoid root rot. These plants also prefer distilled water over hard water (a.k.a. water that usually comes from the sink).
8. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Parlor palms are lush plants that are great for your dining room or living room. Owning a parlor palm in the Victorian era was an indication of a family’s affluence. Although not as exclusive in today’s world, the parlor palm still brings a sophisticated feel to any room it occupies.
Parlor palms can grow in low light, but grow the best in medium light. They also prefer shadier areas instead of bright areas, so you don’t have to worry about keeping them too close to a window. Parlor palms can even thrive with artificial light if needed.
9. Peace Lily (Sathiphyullum)
Contrary to popular belief, a peace lily is not a true lily at all. The white “petal” is actually a leaf bract that grows around the yellow flower. Take a closer look the next time you see one! Standard peace lilies can grow between 24 to 40 inches, so they are mostly used as floor decor.
Peace lilies enjoy low to medium light and can also thrive on fluorescent light. The more light the peace lilies receive, the more likely they are to produce white flowers. They can thrive in areas with less light, but are much less likely to flower. The peace lily is also one of the best plants to purify the air. Take a look at our peace lily care guide to learn more in-depth information about caring for your peace lily.
10. Peackock Plant (Calathea makoyana)
The peacock plant is known by many names: cathedral windows, rattlesnake plant or zebra plant. These names originate from its beautiful foliage that some say resembles the beauty of a peacock’s feathers. Peacock plants are known for being very showy and for being particular with their care. They prefer humid temperatures, distilled or rain water and moist (but not damp) soil.
Peacock plants prefer low to medium light and can experience sad leaves with an excess of direct light. Pale markings on the leaves are a sign of too much sun for this plant. When shopping around for a peacock plant, its best to pick a healthier species and to avoid smaller plants with brown leaves. You’ll have more success raising a healthy peacock plant if you start with a healthy one.
11. Pepperomia (Pepperomia)
Pepperomia are smaller plants that can make a nice green splash on your desk or table. There are more than 1000 varieties of peperomias found mainly in South and Central America. These plants prefer dry soil and can withstand a few days of missed watering thanks to their thick leaves. The leaves come in colors like gray, red, cream and green.
These plants prefer bright, indirect light and can still flourish under fluorescent lights. Peperomias can also prosper in partially shaded areas if necessary. Avoid direct light to deter burnt leaves.
12. Philodendron (Philodendron)
Philodendrons are most known for their lively foliage and distinct look.The heartleaf philodendron specifically is a hardy plant that can withstand most conditions with minimal care, including low light. Philodendrons come in climbing and non-climbing varieties and can grow as tall as three feet and as wide as six feet with proper care.
All species of philodendrons prefer bright, indirect light and can also thrive in partial shade. Be wary if your philodendron begins to have long and skinny stems with long gaps between the leaves. This is a sign that your philodendron is not getting enough light and should be moved to a brighter area. Take a look at our philodendron care guide to learn more in-depth information about caring for your philodendron.
13. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos plants are great beginning plants for anyone who is just starting their plant care journey. These plants can grow beautiful, long vines that are great for accenting walls and creating a tropical feel in any room. Due to this, they’re best grown as hanging plants or potted on a desk.
Pothos plants prefer medium indoor light, but can live in low light. Too much direct light can turn their leaves yellow, while a lack of light will make their beautiful leaves turn pale. Take a look at our pothos care guide to learn more in-depth information about caring for your pothos.
14. Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
When night falls, the prayer plant’s leaves become folded like hands prepared to pray. This plant is commonly known for its pink veins and oval leaves. Prayer plants look beautiful in hanging baskets thanks to their unique leaves.
Prayer plants prefer bright, indirect light, but can tolerate low light. However, if it does not get enough light during the day, the leaves will close in the evening and will not reopen. This plant’s leaves will also begin to fade if it does not get enough light. It prefers high humidity and moist soil.
15. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Snake plants are also known as mother in law’s tongue. It’s suggested that this nickname comes from the leave’s sharp point. Its striped color earned its name as a “snake” plant because it slightly resembles a snake’s skin. They are visibly tall plants and hardy enough to withstand the most forgetful plant parent. Snake plants can hold up their sturdy look even with a few weeks of neglect.
Snake plants can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, but prefer indirect light. They easily rot, so it’s important to let their soil dry between waterings. Take a look at our snake plant care guide to learn more in-depth information about caring for your snake plant.
16. Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants have long and skinny foliage that arch out from its roots. Its leave resemble the legs of a spider. Spider plants are also sometimes referred to as spider ivy and ribbon plant. These plants can produce small white flowers when cared for correctly sprout spiderettes, or baby spider plants that can be repotted to grow more spider plants.
Spider plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight and can thrive without much natural light. These plants can thrive in areas with a mix of fluorescent and natural light. Spider plants can sometimes have browning leaves. This is a result of exposure to fluoride in water. Watering with distilled or rain water can help deter browning and keep your plant nice and green.
17. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)
Staghorn ferns are extravagant plants that are a tad picky when it comes to its living conditions. Other nicknames for the staghorn fern include antelope ears and elkhorn fern. The staghorn fern is perfect if you want a low-light plant with a unique aesthetic.
These plants prefer bright, indirect or filtered light and do not like direct sun. This plant cannot survive with artificial light, so its best to place it wherever you get the most natural sunlight without placing it directly in the way of the sun’s rays. Just like several high-maintenance plants on this list, it prefers moist, but not overly damp soil.
18. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcasi)
The ZZ plant is one of the hardiest plants around and is nearly impossible to kill. Its lush foliage and tough nature make it one of the best plants for anyone in desperate need of some green. It also has waxy looking leaves that give it a nice shine. It’s a great plant to have if you want to decorate an empty spot in your home or need another friend to add to your houseplant collection.
The ZZ plant thrives the most in bright, indirect light, but can live in very low light. It can also tolerate areas with no natural light and minimal amounts of fluorescent lights. It does not like direct light and will begin to have yellow, curling leaves if it takes in too much light.
If you’re still unsure if your plant can survive, you can always test out different spots in your home to see how it reacts. If the leaves starts to have dark, brown or dried-out leaves, then your plant is getting too much sun and should be moved to a shadier area. If the leaves are small and pale while the plant seems to have stunted growth, its not getting enough sun and should be moved to a brighter area if possible. If you feel that your plant might need extra help, take a look at our guide to reviving a dying plant so you can quickly nurse your plant back to good health.
Now that you know about some plants that don’t need sun and tips for caring for each of them, you should take a look at our guide to the best houseplants for every room to get an idea of how you can add the right touches of green to your home.