Best Indoor Plants That Require No Sunlight

Photo by Eneida Nieves on

Don’t Let Low Light Conditions Hold You Back

All of us would like to have south facing living rooms with loads of natural sunlight. Why couldn’t city planners have thought ahead and designed streets to maximize solar energy? Alas they did not and here we are picking up the pieces.

Just because you live in the city and have no garden, or maybe you live in the suburbs and can’t be bothered to tend to one – doesn’t mean you have to live without plants around you. In fact, all animals (and yes that includes us) benefit from being surrounded by our photosynthesizing compadres.

Before you start protesting about how little light there is in your home; let’s take a look at what is considered direct sunlight and its opposite low light, and how much plants really need to survive. 

A lot of people mistakenly believe that the main limiting factor for the survival of plants is their exposure to sunlight; when actually the key breaking point is all based on temperature. Most plants cannot survive below 0 degrees Celsius. 

Do you let your thermometer cross that threshold regularly?

If the answer is no, then you’re in pretty good standing to find success with most plants. But just to be sure, here are all the shade loving plants that also tolerate the potted life.

Low Light Loving Plants

What is considered low light? Four hours of sunlight or less, or any type of artificial lighting is considered low light. If your window faces north – that’s low light too.

A lot of these plants will not only be happy in your darker rooms, but they will also help purify the air and clean away toxins. I’ve put a star beside the Peace Lily plant because it is not the easiest plant to take care of; but many people will be charmed by it’s beauty to look past its demanding nature.

  • Pothos
  • Spider Plant
  • Snake Plant
  • Peace Lily*
  • Bamboo
  • Cast-Iron Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dragon Tree
  • Parlor Palm
  • Split-Leaf Philedendron
  • Staghorn Fern
  • Boston Fern
  • Mother Fern

Ferns of all kinds are great options for low lit environments because that’s their natural placement in nature. They’re the understory that captures the little light that comes through the canopy of the forest. When going for a walk in the forest, take note of the kinds of plants that grow there. These will be shade loving plants as a general rule.

Bamboo you might be surprised to see on the list because they seem like tropical plants, but they too grow in very crowded forests with little light penetrating through. They also grow very quickly, so they will be encouraging to have if you haven’t kept plants before.

When shopping for plants and you’re unsure which ones will fit the criteria, just remember the pattern – narrow leaves with thick stalks or branches at the base of the plant prefer low light. The leaves will have a very dark colour, but are not very thick or spongy. A lot of low light plants have long narrow leaves – Dragon Plant, Spider Plant, etc so look out for varieties that have this trait.

All these plants will be content during the winter months as well, as long as you keep them inside! If you do have some potted plants you keep on your balcony or patio, bring them inside when the temperature hovers around/near 5 degrees Celsius.

Different rules apply for shade loving plants that you intend to plant in the garden. The hardiness zone you live in will be the biggest deciding factor. Check out this interactive map if you live in the UK, and here’s an overview map for North America if you want to learn more about your climate.

High Light Loving Plants

When learning a new pattern, it’s helpful to understand the opposite so that you can have a point of reference. It will also be a surprise to most that plants that need more light require just six hours of direct light per day. That’s only two hours more on average from our shade loving plants above.

High light plants tend to have wide or thicker leaves (think Aloe plants), or leaves that fan out in all directions. This is logical because they’re trying to capture all the sunlight they can.

Many tropical and sun loving plants can be grown indoors if provided supplementary lighting which will offset what they’re not able to get on their own. Grow lights are becoming ever more available and can expand the repertoire of plants you can produce at home.

If you’re interesting in checking out our Kokedama, we have several varieties that require low lit environments or else their mossy ball bases get dried out. A great option is the cute as a button, Lemon Button Fern.


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