Most people know the benefits of bringing indoor plants into their work and living spaces: the improved sense of wellbeing, the lower stress levels. But many of us wonder how we can grow plants in apartments and offices where there is little or no sunlight (or indirect sunlight at best).
All is not lost. In the same way that plants thrive on the forest floor, beneath the tree canopy and layers of vegetation, there are plants that don’t need much sun and can survive in darker rooms. Below we explain how you can live your plant parenthood dream, even in low light, with a selection of hardy houseplants.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best low light plants are from places with little sun. But there are also some tough varieties from Africa and the Americas that can tolerate extreme conditions:
Speaking of forest floors, ferns are your archetypal easy to grow low light plant. There are many different species of fern, some die back in the fall and produce new shoots in the spring and are known as croziers. Others are evergreen and give an atmospheric feeling of woodland foliage all year round. They are, of course, used to growing in the shade, making them one of the best low light indoor plants.
English Ivy hails from the British Isles and is an excellent addition to a north facing window sill. It also trails down happily from a hanging basket, or a bookshelf. The great thing is that it comes in many different varieties with different shaped leaves and colours. Perfect for a dash of colour to brighten up a dingy room.
Native to Eastern Africa, the ZZ plant is well known for its hardiness and ability to tolerate drought conditions and low light. It is thought the unusually high water content of its leaves and petioles (stalks that attach the leaf to the stem) is one of the reasons it can tolerate very low light. And the less light available, the less water it requires.
Also called golden pothos, money plant or devil’s ivy, this plant is distinctive for its heart-shaped, glossy leaves and variegated leaf colours. It can be grown in water or soil and does well in bathrooms and offices as it prefers low light to direct sunlight. It is one of the most popular climbing houseplants and is sometimes confused with the similar looking heartleaf philodendron.
Philodendrons can be found in many different varieties, with large or small leaves, some heart-shaped like the pothos, some in vining or upright varieties. They are considered to be a very easy houseplant to grow, which makes them a popular choice in many countries around the world. Although they prefer bright and medium light, they do very well in low light conditions too.
Calatheas are also known as prayer plants. They are a popular choice for offices and other indoor spaces. Often with variegated, striped or patterned leaves they can be found in bright greens and reds and add a splash of colour and interest to interiors.
Calatheas prefer indirect light and do well in low light conditions as their broad leaves can absorb plenty of light. They are tropical plants native to the Americas and are found at the foot of trees in shaded areas of the jungle. They prefer a humid environment that is not too dry and should be kept out of direct sunlight, which can burn their leaves.
Anthuriums (or flamingo lilies) are native to Colombia and Ecuador and make exotic houseplants with red, pink or white blooms that can flower all year round. The blooms are actually modified leaves, which is why they last so long.
These plants can flourish in low light with plenty of foliage but in order to produce more blooms they need some indirect light. Their leaves will burn in direct sunlight though, so it’s important to get the balance right. These colourful plants are an excellent choice for adding some colour to interiors of offices and homes.
Dracaena sanderiana, Chinese water bamboo or lucky bamboo, has been an important plant in Chinese culture for over 4000 years. Native to the tropical rainforests of Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, the plant, which is actually a type of tropical water lily, is thought to bring good luck and fortune to the bearer and is used frequently in Feng Shui.
Lucky bamboos are common gifts during festivals such as Chinese New Year and are often tied with a red ribbon. The plant can grow directly in water or well aerated soil and is flexible to both bright and low light conditions, although it grows faster in bright light.
Although spider plants prefer bright light they can thrive in areas where there is a lot of fluorescent or artificial light and little natural light. These plants originate from tropical and Southern Africa. When they are well cared for, they produce white flowers which can become spiderettes, smaller spider plants which can be planted as a separate plant.
The plant is named for the spider-like qualities of these baby plants that hang down from the mother, like spiders on a web. Spider plants are easy to care for and can tolerate some drying out of the soil.
Selfgrow plants thrive in low light
The team at Selfgrow has invented a new growth medium, MediumX, which allows plants to take in water and nutrients on demand. With Selfgrow many more plants can now thrive in low light conditions as they alway get their needs met and are never overwatered.