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

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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)

cosy-home-interior-design-with-house-plants-at-window-spider-plant

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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

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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.

3. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)

staghorn fern plant

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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)

aglaonema chinese evergreen in flower pot.

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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 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 plant

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Like most of the fern varieties, Maidenhair ferns are pretty to look at but need 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. 

6. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)

Aspidistra elatior plant

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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 condition. The only requirement: keep them away from the sun and place them in the corners of your home or risk getting their leaves scorched. 

7. Peacock Plant (Calathea Makoyana)

peacock plant

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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, moist soil and you can only water with distilled or rainwater only (yes, it is that particular). 

8. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)

parlor palm plant

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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 plant

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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)

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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)

© 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 plant

© Nikolay Kurzenko | 123rf

This tropical plant thrives in low light 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.

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