15 Indoor Plants That Can Handle Low Light

Woman taking photo of potted plant with her smartphone
PIKSEL / Getty Images

Not all areas of your house can be perfectly lit, but that shouldn't keep you from adding plants to all corners and nooks to create the perfect home oasis. There are actually many houseplants that thrive in shady spots, including flowering plants, large ferns, small succulents, indoor palms, and a wide variety of greenery.Plants do a lot more than contribute to your home's aesthetics, with research showing that adding hanging plants to a room decreased carbon monoxide and improved overall air quality. Houseplants have also been found to improve emotional and psychological well-being.

Here are 15 great low light indoor plants to add to your home.

Some of the plants on this list are toxic for pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 15

Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Prayer plant (maranta leuconeura) on a table

Firn | Getty Images

Also known as the rattlesnake plant or the red-veined prayer, these plants are native to the American tropics, where they are low-growing, spreading plants that thrive in greenhouse-like conditions with high humidity, warmth, and gentle air flow. They also prefer warm, filtered water.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium, indirect light.
  • Water: Weekly; allow soil to dry halfway down planter.
  • Soil: Peat-based, well-draining mix.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
2
of 15

Japanese Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Japanese sago palm in a pot

Kathyn8 | Getty Images

Sago palms are native to Japan, and their slow growth rate (sometimes only one leaf per year) makes them an ideal houseplant, because they almost never need to be repotted. That said, it's best to buy mature sago palms, because propagating your own to adulthood can take years. These plants are ancient, with fossil records proving they co-existed with dinosaurs hundreds of millions of years ago. Sago palms are extremely poisonous and should not be in homes with children or pets.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Indirect light; too much shade leads to sparse foliage.
  • Water: Drought tolerant, but prefers moderate moisture in soil.
  • Soil: Well-draining sandy mix, rich in organic matter.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
3
of 15

Jewel Orchid (Ludisia discolor)

Jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor) in a pot

soniabonet | Getty Images

Native to Southeast Asia, northern India, and China, jewel orchids have large, velvety reddish-green leaves and can produce delicate whitish-pink flowers. Unlike other varieties of orchid, this plant enjoys shade, as well as high humidity, and grows well in bathrooms with their steamy air and fluorescent lighting.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: No direct sun; enjoys low light.
  • Water: Even watering when top of soil dries.
  • Soil: African violet potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
4
of 15

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Snake plant in a pot indoors

Grumpy Cow Studios | Getty Images

Snake plants are easy to care for houseplants with sharp, angular leaves that are typically striped with green and yellow. These long-leaved and hardy perennials have a slow to moderate growth rate and spread via underground stems that pop up with new growth. Snake plants are tolerant to a home's natural humidity and also prefer a room-temperature atmosphere.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium, indirect light; tolerates sun and shade.
  • Water: Water regularly, allowing soil to dry well before re-watering.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
5
of 15

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia seguine)

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) being grown inside

nzfhatipoglu | Getty Images

The dumb cane has been a well-liked houseplant dating back to the Victorian era, with its thick, large leaves featuring patterns of green and yellow. An herbaceous perennial native to the Caribbean and South America, these plants reach heights of 10-12 feet outdoors, though they rarely reach that size in indoor conditions. The plant is toxic, producing sap that swells the tongue and throat when ingested, leaving a person unable to speak — which led to the plant's common name, dumb cane.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Diffused light or partial shade; tolerates full shade.
  • Water: Water thoroughly, allowing top of soil to dry before re-watering.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
6
of 15

Red Peacock Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema widuri)

Red peacock aglaonema on a wooden floor

Kittiwut | Getty Images

Red peacock plants are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea and have brightly contrasting, glossy red and green leaves. This houseplant is considered particularly durable as it tolerates low light, dry air, and drought. That said, as a tropical plant, it thrives in warm and humid conditions. This plant is toxic and should be kept away from children and pets.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Indirect, medium to low light.
  • Water: Water when top 1-2 inches of soil dries; less frequently in winter.
  • Soil: Well-draining and fertile.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
7
of 15

Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium podophyllum)

Arrowhead plant in a pot on the table

Firn | Getty Images

Native to Central and South America, the arrowhead plant gets its name from distinctive leaves that resemble the shape of arrowheads. These plants have a tendency to vine as they age, making them ideal for tall or hanging planters, but they can also be trimmed to maintain their shape. Fast growing and lush, arrowhead plants enjoy humid environments with regular misting and should be kept from direct sun. Use gloves when working with the plant as a poisonous but non-lethal sap causes skin irritation.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Tolerates low light; medium, indirect light ideal.
  • Water: Two or three times per week; keep soil moist.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
8
of 15

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Close up of a peace lily bloom

Ivana Ferencak Maruna | Getty Images

Contrary to its name, the peace lily is not part of the lily family, instead related to other popular houseplants including the philodendron and the alocasia. Native to Central America, these plants are part of a genus of more than 40 species of tropical herbaceous perennial evergreens. Growing up to 3 feet tall indoors, groupings of peace lilies often produce impressive displays.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Medium, indirect light.
  • Water: Water when top inch of soil has dried out.
  • Soil: Well-draining. Peat moss and sand blend.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
9
of 15

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Parlor palm in a pot on a dresser

Studio Light and Shade | Getty Images

Parlor palms are a long-popular, shade-tolerant houseplant native to Central and South America. In addition to enjoying low light, these palms also require infrequent watering, making them a great plant for beginners. Parlor palms are also sometimes called bamboo palms because of their bamboo-like stems, and they produce inedible fruits (though fruiting is rare indoors).

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Ideally moderate-bright indirect light, can tolerate low light; avoid direct sun.
  • Water: Important not to overwater; wait one or two weeks depending on plant location.
  • Soil: Peat-based potting mix; does not tolerate salt.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
10
of 15

Lucky Bamboo (Dracena sanderiana)

Person misting lucky bamboo plant

sansubba | Getty Images

Lucky bamboo has a reputation as a nearly indestructible houseplant, capable of growing in water alone. In feng shui, the plant is highly prized for its energy, with its hollow interior and flexibility representative of adaptability in the face of hardship as well as openness of the innermost spirit. If you grow your lucky bamboo in water, it needs to be changed every few weeks and given a bit of liquid fertilizer occasionally, with enough water in the container to completely cover the roots. This plant is nontoxic to humans, but dangerous for cats and dogs to consume.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Prefers indirect light; tolerates low light better than sun.
  • Water: Water frequently.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
11
of 15

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

Staghorn fern hanging indoors

Thais Ceneviva | Getty Images

Platycerium ferns are also known as elkhorn or staghorn ferns due to their distinctive fronds that resemble the shape of antlers. Native to tropical and temperate areas of South America, Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia, these ferns are found growing on trees and rocks, meaning that for them to thrive indoors, they do best mounted onto substrate, where they attach themselves with roots and absorb the nutrients they need not through soil, but through their fronds.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Indirect light.
  • Water: Enjoys misting and regular watering.
  • Soil: Mature plants absorb nutrients through their fronds.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
12
of 15

Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)

Bloom of a flamingo flower plant (Anthurium)

skymoon13 | Getty Images

Known for their attractive blooms, anthuriums are native to Central and South America, and are often found growing on other plants. Their open, heart-shaped flowers remain vibrant for months, making it a popular houseplant. Keep in mind that if the plant is kept in very low light, it will flower with less frequency and grow more slowly. The plant should be kept away from pets and children.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Can tolerate all levels of indirect light; no direct light.
  • Water: Water when top of soil dries out.
  • Soil: Moist, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
13
of 15

Bromeliad (Nidularium innocentii)

Nidularium innocentii species in bloom

Thomas Lehtinen | Getty Images

There are many popular houseplants in the bromeliad family, and some genera need more light than others. The genus nidularium prefers lower light, and has softer and more pliable leaves than its less shade-tolerant relatives. A tropical and tender perennial, its central leaves turn a bright pink or crimson during the flowering period.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Light shade.
  • Water: Water weekly, directly into center of plant.
  • Soil: Humus-rich, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
14
of 15

Bush Lily (Clivia miniata)

Clivia miniata (bush lily) growing indoors

Markus Volk | Getty Images

Clivia, or bush lilies, produce large, vibrant, blooms of red and orange and grow well in indirect light and shade. This tropical plant is native to South Africa, and is also drought tolerant after its thick, water-retentive roots are well established. Cutting off spent blooms will keep the plant from spending energy on seeding. This plant is toxic and should be handled with care and kept away from pets and children.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Partial sun to dappled shade.
  • Water: Water thoroughly at first planting, then regularly, with less water in winter during dormancy.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining mix.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
15
of 15

Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)

Nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis) growing in a pot

Jessica Lia | Getty Images

Nerve plants get their name because they have a habit of fainting, or wilting dramatically, whenever they need water or get cold. Native to Peru, they spread and provide ground cover, meaning they can adapt to shady areas. This also means the plant has a trailing habit and can cascade over the sides of planters. Many varieties have distinctive pink veins on the surface of leaves, which are typically less visible when the plant receives less sunlight.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Will scorch in direct sunlight; medium, indirect light is ideal; tolerates shade.
  • Water: Water regularly, keep soil barely moist.
  • Soil: Well-draining, moisture retentive.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
View Article Sources
  1. Pegas, Priscilla Nascimento, et al. "Could Houseplants Improve Indoor Air Quality in Schools?."  Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, vol. 75, 2012, pp: 1371-1380., doi:10.1080/15287394.2012.721169

  2. Hall, Charles, and Melinda Knuth. "An Update of the Literature Supporting the Well-being Benefits of Plants: a Review of the Emotional and Mental Health Benefits of Plants." Journal of Environmental Horticulture, vol. 37, 2019, pp: 30-38., doi:10.24266/0738-2898-37.1.30

  3. Butler, Richard J., et al. "Testing co‐evolutionary hypotheses over geological timescales: interactions between Mesozoic non‐avian dinosaurs and cycads." Biological Reviews 84.1, 2009, pp: 73-89, doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2008.00065.x