Thrive in the Dark with the Best Indoor Plants for Low Light

Our recommendations for the best indoor plants for low light are the Hirt’s Peace Lily Plant and the Cast Iron Plant. The requirement for low light set our bar for low maintenance too. We wanted a plant that was hardy and could 4it if we weren’t as attentive as we should be. Both our plants are excellent examples. Be sure to peruse our list below if you want to learn more about low light indoor plants.

Our Top Picks for the Best Indoor Plants for Low Light

What You Need to Know about Indoor Plants

Growing plants indoors offers the rewards of having greenery in the home. It also comes with its special challenges. While some manage fine, not all plants can survive in both indoor and outdoor settings. Limitations exist. There are several reasons. There is sunlight. There are the other basic needs for houseplants such as adequate water, correct temperature, and proper nutrition.


Sunlight is a complicated thing. It includes light from a full spectrum of wavelengths and their corresponding colors. Each one has a different effect on plants. Plants vary in their needs for light. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to plants that are sensitive to high-light conditions. Ironically, too much light can damage plants as too little will stunt their growth.


Meeting your indoor plant’s basic water needs means striking a balance. You must provide enough moisture without creating an environment that encourages mold and bacteria which can accumulate between waterings. Moisture will evaporate quicker in a closed gardening container. So, you need to pay attention to water needs on that end of the spectrum too. You’ll also need to consider the relative humidity of the environment.


Typical household temperatures are like tropical environments. After all, it’s easier—and probably preferable—to replicate a rainforest rather than a cooler northern climate. Temperature and light directly influence photosynthesis and plant respiration. They are fundamental to plant growth. So anything that affects them will also impact your indoor plant.

The two processes complement each other. With photosynthesis, a plant creates energy powered by sunlight. During respiration, a plant releases it along with oxygen. That’s why you’ll often see indoor plants referred to as being healthy additions to your home. As you might guess, there is a balance between the two processes that must be met.


Nutrition presents the same challenge for getting it right with light and water. And again, too much of a good thing is bad. Adequate nutrition depends on the specific needs of the plant. The amount of soil also matters. Remember, it’s about creating the right concentration of nutrients. And just like too much light can damage plants, too much fertilizer can do the same.

This video from the University of Wyoming Extension discusses how to fertilize indoor plants properly.

Let’s Talk about Light

As we explained, light needs vary with the plant. It’s helpful to consider the types of plants you have. You may think tropical plants need a lot of light. But think about their natural environment. The chances are that many tropical plants you find are ones that would grow as ground cover or at least in the understory.

That means that they are growing under the shadow of trees reaching the upper canopy. So, they’re used to low light conditions already. But what does low light mean? We can use the standard definitions of sun and shade to give us a framework for answering this question.

Full sun, for example, means at least six full hours of direct sunlight. Partial shade or partial sun is between three and six hours. On the opposite end of the spectrum, full shade or low light means less than two hours of indirect light. The key is indirect. These plants fare best without the intensity of direct sunlight.

Types of Plant Habitats

When choosing indoor house plants, it’s helpful to consider a plant’s natural environment. Several types of plants are suitable for indoor settings because your home isn’t too much different from what they know. You’ll find a wide array of both flowering and non-flowering plants that will grow indoors. You’ll also see varieties that tolerate a broad spectrum of living conditions from desert to tropical settings.

You’ll have your best success with indoor plants with low light needs if your home matches the conditions in which they thrive. You can cross off desert plants like succulents and cacti from your list. These plants need full sun to survive. Also, think about what you can provide. If you’re new to indoor gardening, you should consider low maintenance plants.

Tropical Places

As we discussed, many tropical plants prefer and will thrive in low light conditions. That is how they evolved. They can handle not having direct light, so you needn’t worry about an elaborate grow light setup. That fact alone gives them an advantage over plants with greater light needs. It’ll also make it easier to find a good fit.

The indirect light in your home is adequate. It replicates their natural environment. With plants, it’s often easiest to match the plant to your conditions rather than making a lot of changes. The same principle applies to outdoor gardening. It’s much easier to provide a good fit from the start rather than trying to create it. Remember that means extra maintenance.

Cool Environments

The plants that live in cooler environments also are smart choices for low-light conditions. Many live in the wild as part of the understory of forests. Think mosses. They differ from other plants. The air provides for their needs for moisture and nutrients. They make a great addition to a terrarium with other low light plants.

Other plants also do well in cool, moist environments. Think of plants of temperate rainforest like the ones that exist in the Pacific Northwest. These plants are smart choices for cooler rooms and those with a northern exposure. The chances are that no matter what the situation, you’ll find a plant that will thrive.

Our Recommendations: Hirt’s Peace Lily Plant and Cast Iron Plant

The Hirt’s Peace Lily Plant has its name going for it. The idea of bringing peace into the home is a good selling point. However, it has a lot more going for it. For one thing, it lets you know when to water it. If the leaves start to droop, it’s time to get the watering can. And fortunately, it’s not the worse for wear. That makes it easy to avoid over-watering.

What can you say about a plant called the Cast Iron Plant? It lives up to its name as a hardy plant that can handle low light and neglect if that should ever happen. It’s a good looking plant with large, dark green leaves that make it an attractive addition to your home.

Low light conditions needn’t prevent you from adding some welcome greenery to your home. Many indoor plants will thrive and even flourish in indirect light. The best indoor plants for low light will prefer the conditions that you can provide. Then you have a recipe for success.

Photo by abdecoral licensed under CC0.

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