10 Indoor Plants That Do Well in Darkness

Bedroom with soft light, monstera and pothos plants.

JC Designs

Not everyone has the luxury of living in a space that basks in natural light—and you may have one too many dead plants to prove that. But that doesn't mean you have to give up indoor plants for good; the key is just choosing plants that do well in a low-light environment.

Low-light plants are great solutions for spaces that do not have an abundance of natural light. That said, it is important to note that just because a plant can tolerate low-light levels does not mean that it doesn't want light or that it does not require just as much care, according to plant pro Cara Anderson.

Anderson lists a few suggestions to know before placing plants in low-light areas.

  1. Monitor soil moisture. Less natural light for the plant also means less light and solar heat to dry out the soil. Many plants need to dry out between waterings, and this can be hard to monitor in shaded areas.
  2. Clean and dust leaves. Plants in corners and on shelves may be prone to more dust, which can affect the little amount of light that the plant is getting.
  3. Pest control. Similar to any plant, always check monthly for pests. It's important to catch pests early before they get out of control or spread to other plants.
  4. Plant rotation. Slightly rotating your plants every month will help encourage even growth. If your plant is in a corner, this is even more important.
  5. Careful fertilization. Typically, low-light plants do not require as much fertilization; however, every plant differs and should have a fertilization schedule tailored to its needs.

Many plants labelled as low-light actually prefer medium or filtered bright light levels, according to Anderson. Though some will tolerate low light, they will thrive, flower, and grow substantially larger with more light. A good strategy is to arrange your room or space based on what your plants require first, rather than adding them in after the fact.

Below, find our favorite indoor plants that do well in darkness, along with handy tips on caring for them to get you started.

Meet the Expert

Cara Anderson is the designer and owner of Plant Roost Design in Winnipeg, Canada, which specializes in corporate and residential indoor plant wall design.

01 of 10

Pothos

hanging pothos plant in a dark room

Jordan Lye / Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: All-purpose potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.1 to 6.5

Want something that's super low maintenance and easy to care for? Choose any variety of pothos, also known as devil's ivy.

"Pothos plants should be everyone's go-to low-light plant," Anderson says. "They are nearly indestructible and do well with neglect. They are great at telling you what they need, and the leaves will often wilt when the plant needs watering."

Pothos plants naturally want to climb, not hang. If you allow it to climb a trellis or your wall, it will thrive and produce leaves that are 2-3x the size you will typically see.

Pothos
The Sill Marble Queen Pothos $54
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02 of 10

ZZ Plant

potted ZZ plant sits on a desk with an open laptop

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  • Botanical Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: All-purpose potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

"ZZ plants will tolerate just about anything," Anderson notes. "They will actually grow somewhat well with typical household or office lighting and have roots similar to a succulent, allowing it to go long periods without watering. They are a great plant for beginners or those who are not home very often."

These plants can thrive on neglect—just make sure to water once a week and let the soil dry out between waterings. You can also propagate by separating clumps or with a little more effort using leaf cuttings. Keep out of reach of children and pets, as ZZ plants are toxic if ingested.

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
Greenery NYC 10" Zamioculcas Zamifolia $90
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03 of 10

Snake Plant

Snake plant in jute basket with handles stands on floor

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  • Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Sun Exposure: Low to moderate, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 7.0

Sansevieria, also known as snake plants or mother-in-law's tongue, are majorly popular in interior design, and it's not hard to see why, given that they're fairly low maintenance. They can thrive in both bright light and low light, but water intake will depend on how much light they get.

"Snake plants are known for their hardiness and ability to take neglect," Anderson says. "Similar to a ZZ plant, they can go long periods without watering and can do well with artificial lighting. One great thing about them is they grow straight upwards and don't take up too much room for offices or smaller spaces."

When in darker spaces, limit your snake plant's water intake—they're much more tolerant of drought than overwatering, so let the soil thoroughly dry out between waterings.

snake plant in white pot
The Sill Snake Plant Laurentii $57
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04 of 10

Rubber Plant

rubber plant next to a bench in a dark room

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  • Botanical Name: Ficus elastica
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Fast-draining, all-purpose potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0

Rubber plants are a great choice for their beautiful foliage, and bonus: They thrive in low light.

"Rubber plants are beautiful and fairly easy plants," Anderson says. "They have the ability to grow very large and almost tree-like. They tend to dry out quickly and require more watering than other plants, but will tolerate a little neglect if you forget about them now and then."

Steer clear of variegated cultivars for low-light spots, as those varieties need more sun to maintain their coloring.

Rubber plant in basket pot on a wood stool
PlantVine Ficus Elastica ‘Burgundy’ $50
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05 of 10

Wart Fern

Wart fern in a black pot with a wood stool in the background

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  • Botanical Name: Microsorum scolopendria / Phymatosorus scolopendria
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 4.0 to 7.0

Wart ferns are known for their characteristic wavy leaves, and they are one of the hardiest ferns around, as they are pretty drought-resistant and ideal for low light. They provide unique foliage and a great deep green color, perfectly for brightening up even the darkest of spaces in your home.

Water them once a week and mist every two weeks, as they do best in high humidity.

Like most other ferns, wart ferns look great in a hanging planter. Be sure to give them plenty of space (at least a foot or two) to spread out.

Wart fern in grower's pot held by a woman
PlantVine Wart Fern $24
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06 of 10

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen next to an entryway bench

JC Designs 

  • Botanical Name: Aglaonema
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.6 to 6.5

Aglaonema, most commonly known as Chinese evergreen, are ticketed as one of the easiest to care for house plants out there. For low-light environments, stick to darker varieties, as more colorful leaves may grow less vibrant without enough light, though they will survive.

In nature, they grow in humid environments, so mist your plant often, and don't let the soil dry out completely. Aglaonema are very slow growing, so don't be surprised if you only need to repot every few years.

Silver bay aglaonema in a black pot
Modern Garden Aglaonema Silver Bay $69
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07 of 10

Weeping Fig

weeping fig in basket on wood floor

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  • Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Rich, fast-draining potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

Choose a Ficus benjamina, commonly known as weeping fig, to aid in air purification. Keep in mind that like other ficus varieties, the weeping fig tends to drop leaves when it experiences a change in environment, so avoid moving it around too much. Remember that, like many ficus varieties, Ficus benjamina are toxic to pets and humans if ingested.

ficus
Brighter Blooms Ficus Benjamina $90
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08 of 10

Peace Lily

Peace lily with white flowers on bedside table

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  • Botanical Name: Spathiphyllum
  • Sun Exposure: Low, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 6.5

"Peace lilies win the all-time drama award of plants," Anderson jokes. "They are fairly easy to maintain, fast growing, and tolerate lower light levels—however, they are very dramatic when they do not get enough water. The leaves will wilt and droop when the soil is too dry and it will appear nearly dead." However, peace lilies bounce back once they're watered again.

This being said, the peace lily is not a good plant if you are going to travel or leave for long periods of time. If you have pets or children around, you'll want to keep them well away, as these plants are toxic to pets and humans if consumed.

Peace Lily
Pretty in Green Plants Peace Lily $24
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09 of 10

Asparagus Fern

overhead view of asparagus fern and coffee drinks on wood table

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  • Botanical Name: Asparagus aethiopicus / Asparagus densiflorus
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 6.8

The feathery asparagus fern, also known as Sprenger's asparagus, is easier to look after than most of its cousins. Actually, it's not a true fern at all, but rather a member of the lily family.

It does well in low-light spaces, and has delicate leaves that should be kept away from direct sunlight. Asparagus ferns prefer to be kept moist, both through at least weekly watering and frequent misting.

Asparagus ferns are mildly toxic to humans and pets and can even cause skin irritation, so be sure to keep them away from curious mouths and hands. Handle with gloves when necessary.

Small asparagus fern in a pot next to clippers
PlantVine Asparagus Fern $23
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10 of 10

Peperomia

hand holding watermelon peperomia plant in gray ceramic pot against white background

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  • Botanical Name: Peperomia
  • Sun Exposure: Low to bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining peat-based soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 6.0

Peperomia are a common—and very trendy—plant option these days. Because their leaves hold water like a succulent does, this variety, also known as radiator plants, prefers to be on the drier side. Aim to water once a week, but let the soil dry out completely before watering next. Most importantly, keep them out of direct sun.

Pilea peperomioides
Etsy Pilea Peperomioides $22
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Article Sources
MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Houseplants: Safe and Toxic VarietiesUniversity of Connecticut Home and Garden Education Center. 2016

  2. Asparagus Densiflorus (Sprengeri Group). North Carolina State University Extension.

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