12 indoor plants for low light


Here are some of our favourite low light indoor plants to grow.

Pouf and gray armchair in spacious living room interior with plants and sofa near wooden table

© Katarzyna Białasiewicz | 123rf

Here’s a fact: Plants need some sunlight to grow and if you deprive them of their needs, they can’t grow or develop properly.

But what happens if you’re living in a home that doesn’t see a lot of natural light? Can you still grow plants at home without killing them? The short answer is yes. Contrary to popular beliefs, not all house plants need direct sunlight to thrive. In fact, some indoor plants can actually die from constant sun exposure. 

Enter low-light indoor plants. Not only do they require minimal sunlight to survive, but some of them are also incredibly easy to care for

For rooms with no windows or those with only minimal lights that need a touch of green, consider growing these plants: 

1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) requires little sunlight to survive.

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While spider plants thrive in a bright environment, they, unfortunately, despise direct sunlight. Expose them out in the open for a week and you’ll find yourself a dead plant. Instead, place them near the window to receive bright indirect sunlight. Spider plants also help to purify the air, so having a few of these at home will make the indoor air much, much fresher

2. Peace Lily (Sathiphyullum)

Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum wallisii requires very little sunlight to survive.

© JO-YI CHANG | 123rf

Don’t confuse this flower with a lily, this white-flowered plant flourishes in shady locations. Artificial light like fluorescent light works too, though not as effective. Like spider plants, they’re easy to care for and are one of the best plants to purify the air.

Read more: How to grow and care for aloe vera plants

3. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) thrives well in the humidity of the bathroom and requires little sunlight to survive.

© Susan Flashman | 123rf

If you want the staghorn fern to thrive, place it in your bathroom where the humidity level is high. It’s also the perfect location because you don’t typically get lots of sunlight in the bathroom. Tending this plant may take some effort as it’s one of the high-maintenance plants on the list. Remember to keep the soil moist, but not overly damp, or it’ll wilt. 

4. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) is popular for its low maintenance. Darker coloured variants require less sunlight while lighter coloured variants require a little more sun.

© Kunchit Jantana | 123rf

Another popular houseplant amongst Malaysians, the Chinese Evergreen plants are tolerant of neglect. And if you’re new to this indoor plant business, it’s one of the best plants to start with as it requires minimal effort. But be wary of the colours of the leaves. If your Chinese Evergreen has darker green leaves, then it only needs low light. Conversely, those with lighter-coloured leaves would require medium sunlight. But never under any circumstances put them under full sun or you’ll see brown leaves within days. 

5. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum) requires only filtered sunlight, and is a high maintenance plant.

© faithie | 123rf

Like most of the fern varieties, Maidenhair ferns are pretty to look at but needs a lot of work to maintain — one small mistake and you’ll find yourself a dead plant. Aside from not exposing them to direct sunlight (place them somewhere with filtered light like by the window sill), they also prefer places with humid conditions and moist soil. But keep in mind, over-watering will kill them. If your home lacks space, put them in a hanging basket and create a vertical garden in your living room instead. 

6. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior) thrives best with little to no sunlight.

© Simona Pavan | 123rf

Also known as the iron plant (because of how hardy the plant is), the cast iron plant is another crowd favourite among the black thumbs because it can survive in a medium to low light situations. The only requirement: keep them away from the sun and place them in the corners of your home or risk getting their green leaves scorched.

7. Peacock Plant (Calathea Makoyana)

Peacock Plant (Calathea Makoyana) a high maintenance plant that requires little sunlight to survive.

© kirarinxxx | 123rf

The peacock plant goes by many names — rattlesnake plant, zebra plant or more commonly known as the cathedral windows. Elegant and luscious, this beautiful foliage plant is said to resemble the peacock’s feather, hence the name. It’s also not an easy plant to care for as it has particular needs — humid temperatures, low to medium light conditions, moist soil and you can only water with distilled or rainwater only (yes, it is that particular). 

8. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans) can grow in any condition and requires minimal care.

© Tatiana Epifanova | 123rf

Perhaps one of the most popular indoor palm varieties, the parlor palms can grow in any condition and best of all, they only require minimal care. They also prefer to be in a shaded area, so avoid placing them near the window. 

9. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) can survive anywhere in the house, requires little care and thrives on little sunlight.

© vaitekune | 123rf

There are many reasons why people love having dumb cane at home. It’s easy on the eye, can grow up to few feet tall, is low maintenance — give it any standard potting soil, room temperature and average humidity, and it’ll grow on its own — and you can place it anywhere at home for the dumb cane is another indoor plant that doesn’t need sunlight to survive

10. Snake Plant (Dracaena Trifasciata)

Snake Plant (Dracaena Trifasciata) are easy to grow and requires little care.

© 123rf

You’ve probably seen one or two of these snake plants (or some call it Mother In Law’s Tongue) around. Malaysians love having this at home because they’re easy to grow, can survive even if you put them in a shady spot, adds a tropical feel to your home and purifies the air. 

11. Sword Fern (Polystichum Munitum)

Sword Fern (Polystichum Munitum) are pretty to look at and prefers the shade.

© Tatyana Abramovich | 123rf

Here’s another shade-loving plant to consider. Sword ferns also perform best in bright indirect light and thrive in humid conditions. While they are commonly found in wooded areas, sword ferns are becoming a popular houseplant in recent years. It’s a great plant for new plant parents to start with as well as they can easily adapt to different soil conditions and weather. 

12. Umbrella Palm (Cyperus Alternifolius)

Umbrella Palm (Cyperus Alternifolius) can grow anywhere where there is little sun.

© Nikolay Kurzenko | 123rf

This tropical plant thrives in low light situations and can grow in any area of your home that gets very little natural light. Like most houseplants in the list, umbrella plants need good drainage as well to remove the excess moisture. Water it once a week to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Remember to keep the soil moist, not damp otherwise you’ll end up with another dead plant, this time via root rotting.

These plants can generally be found in any of Kuala Lumpur’s 9 best plant nurseries. If indoor plants is your thing, you will also want to read up on:

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