Just because you don’t have a big, south-facing window doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to growing plants indoors. All you have to do is choose a little more carefully, says Karl Gercens, a horticulturist at Longwood Gardens. Here are his suggestions for plants you can grow successfully in low-lit rooms. In this article, you’ll learn and discover about 5 houseplants that thrive in the dark.
The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), a member of the philodendron family, is ideal for places where the sun never shines. Gercens says that, with proper care, it can even thrive in low-light rooms with only a little supplemental lighting. “The most important thing is to not overwater it. The thick stems are a water-storage mechanism to help it get through seasonally dry times.”
There are lots of palms you can grow indoors, but according to Gercens none of them can top the kentia (Howea forsteriana). Just make sure you find the real deal, not another palm that looks similar. Gercens explains that you can find lots of cheap palms, like the majesty palm, at big-box stores, but they’ll surely lead to pest problems down the road. “The kentia is certainly more expensive than any other palm you can choose, but it’s worth it. It resists pests and keeps its elegant look far longer,” he says.
Also called mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is bold and architectural. Gercens recommends it because there are so many cultivars to choose from with interesting leaves in a variety of colors and heights, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits your décor. But he cautions that overwatering is a certain death sentence for the snake plant. “Be sure to let the plant dry slightly to the touch between waterings, and never let it sit in a pan of water.”
“What a wonderfully leafy texture this provides to an indoor landscape,” Gercens says. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) is a bushier plant with leaves of green to silver. It prefers warm, humid air, so Gercens advises placing the pot on a tray of moist pebbles. “The evaporating water from the pebbles will humidify the surrounding air,” he explains.
African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) is a small plant with soft leaves and petals that comes in a variety of colors. It’s just the thing to add a spot of cheeriness to a dark room since it doesn’t need a lot of light to bloom. “If you can provide artificial light to these plants inside a warm home, you may get nonstop blossoms,” Gercens says.