Hard-to-Kill Plants That Don’t Need Sunlight
While all houseplants need some sunshine, these varieties require less than most.
Maybe your living room doesn’t get the natural light you’d like or your office needs something green but the closest thing to the sun is a flickering fluorescent light. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a plethora of pretty houseplants! In fact, there are plenty of on-trend and beautiful houseplants that don't need sunlight (okay, all plants need at least a little sun, but these can survive with less than most). To figure out the top low-light houseplants for these tricky spaces in our homes, we spoke to plant pro Phoebe Poole of Weatherlow Florals. Here are her picks for the best houseplants for a room that’s short on sunshine.
Incredibly tolerant of neglect, snake plants do well tucked into that awkward corner that’s far from a window. Their cool, modern pointed leaves with variegated colors look beautiful in a small pot or a large planter. “Water when the top layer of the soil is completely dry, which usually takes about two to three weeks,” explains Poole.
You’ve probably seen the green or green and white variegated leaves of this hanging plant in many office settings. “Spider plants grow like weeds if you keep them trimmed and you don’t let them rot,” she says. “Keep a saucer underneath a pot with drainage to avoid that.”
You’ll also want to pull dead bits and leaves out of the pot. “It’s better to cut off a dying leaf or tendril, because then the plant puts more energy into new growth instead of trying to keep that leaf alive.”
Going overboard trying to care for a pothos can actually kill it—seriously. If they get too much real sunlight, it can do them in. “They almost want to be starved a little bit, so let them really dry out between waterings. I think one of the reasons they do so well in office settings is that people forget to water them!” says Poole. Stick a finger into the soil to tell if it’s dry, or lift the pot to see how heavy it is, a plant that needs water will feel pretty light. If your pothos is in need of a trim, you can create new little plants by placing the clippings in a cup of water on a windowsill until new roots start.
Beautiful, but complicated to care for, ferns can always be a little persnickety. “The tricky thing here is that they can’t be over or under watered. These plants really want to be humid, not wet,” says Poole. “You’ll want to put them in a clay pot (they breathe better) and don’t water it from the top. Instead, place small stones in the saucer underneath the pot. Place water directly in the saucer so that it’s hitting just the bottom of the pot. It creates its own humidity dome around the plant.” Keeping ferns in a room that gets some humidity, like a bathroom, is always a safe bet, too!
There are tons of varieties of ivy; some are pure green, while others have white and green variegation. Their cascading waves of leaves are very tolerant of neglect and you only need to water them when they’ve dried out completely. You never want them to be soggy.
“While you don’t need to trim them, if you want something bushier, you can cut them back. This is another plant that's easy to take cuttings from to grow new plants. Take the clippings and put them in a glass of water until roots form,” says Poole.
Might we introduce you to the future replacement for your fiddle leaf fig plant? Lower maintenance that the previously mentioned greenery, a bird of paradise has a tropical look but doesn’t need a ton of care. You want the soil to be damp, but never soggy, so make sure there’s proper drainage in place. Water it when the soil on top looks dry.