PHOTO: Olga Lipatova/Hemera/Thinkstock
January 21, 2016

If your home isn’t drenched in natural light, don’t despair. Although there are many houseplants that require bright light conditions, there are also plenty that do quite well with limited light. Here are details on growing a few of my favorite low-light houseplants. (Pet owners, consult with your veterinarian to determine the toxicity of any plants before introducing them to your home.)


1. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

This plant is incredibly easy to care for; in fact, I consider it almost indestructible. The glossy foliage is so waxy, it looks fake. The plant does best in moderate light, but it does quite well in an office with fluorescent lights or in a bedroom with only a small window. The ZZ plant is so carefree that it actually prefers to be watered only occasionally, maybe once every month. In fact, the foliage will turn yellow if it’s receiving too much water.

In the summer, ZZ plants can be moved outside to a shaded location if you’d like. As with most houseplants, during the summer months you should feed your ZZ plant a liquid, organic fertilizer every three or four weeks.


2. Variegated Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scadens ‘Variegata’)

This beautiful vine is so carefree, even those with extremely limited light can be successful. Although heartleaf philodendron prefers to be watered every seven to 10 days, if you forget from time to time, it’s very forgiving. This houseplant does well in hanging baskets or in pots perched on the edge of a shelf, where the vining stems can cascade down. To keep it contained, prune some of the lengthier vines back once or twice a year.


3. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Another vining houseplant, pothos is incredibly undemanding. It performs just as well in high light conditions as it does in low light. The heart-shaped leaves are thick and glossy, and though they prefer to be watered regularly, if you go on vacation or skip a week from time to time, pothos won’t mind. The variegated forms are quite lovely and are common in hanging baskets. The slender branches of this vine can reach upwards of 50 feet long, though an occasional trim will easily keep them in check.

4. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace lilies are both easy to care for and beautiful. The dark-green foliage reaches 2 feet tall and is topped with white, spathe-like flowers several times a year. Although the plant will wilt if it’s allowed to become overly dry, for the most part, peace lilies are very forgiving. It’s low-light requirements make it an excellent choice for apartments, office buildings and dorm rooms.

5. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

The bowl-like shape of this 2-foot-tall fern is very unique. The flat fronds unfurl from the center of the plant, looking much like the foliage of an ocean-dwelling kelp plant. Although bird’s nest ferns prefer to be regularly watered, they don’t like constantly wet soil. The plant will tolerate an occasional dry period, and it doesn’t require the super-high humidity that other ferns do. When watering this houseplant, try to keep the foliage dry and only water the surface of the soil.


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