Low light house plants

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)January 31, 2013

I mostly garden outdoors and in my greenhouse. I recently started remodeling my house and would like to add some plants to the two rooms I've just remodeled to add some beauty and remind me of the outdoors.

My office, it faces mostly North and slightly West. It never gets direct sun coming in the large window but the room is fairly light when the sun is out.

I'm looking for 1 tall plant and several plants for my desk, and other furniture in the room. Any suggestions on the kind of plants that will grow under these very low lighting conditions? Hopefully, something pretty.

The second room is my master bedroom large bathroom, there are two very large windows facing West and one large window facing North. I want some ideas for pretty even unique trailing or mounding plants and perhaps a larger plant.

I saw a few different varieties of rhipsalis do you think they could tolerate the lower lighting? The tag indicated that they could...but I know from the outdoor plants the information is not always reliable.

I appreciate the advice.

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Laura Robichaud

A peace lily would tolerate lower light. It would most likely LOVE the humidity of the bathroom.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Hi ladylotus!

I also have low lighting in my home. The plants that I have been successful with are pothos, sansevierias (a.k.a. mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant), chinese evergreen, zz plant and peace lillies. They are all doing well for me.

The pothos will give you a plant that will mound and trail. The ones I like are the Neon and Marble Queen. Marble Queen will lose some of its variegation in lower lighting. Mine did, but it is still beautiful! Sansevierias can be tall or compact, depending on the type that you purchase. Peace lillies can also get quite big.

I hope this helps some. Others on here are far more knowledgeable than me. I am interested to see what other suggestions you receive. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:24PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you for the suggestions. I've grown peach lilies and Sansevierias before.

Tonight I bought myself two pothos...one called Brazil which is a gorgeous green with lime green running down the center. The other is called Neon, which is very lime green.

Sarah, I see you are growing Neon too. It says it requires high lighting on the tag and I thought I would put it at the west window but if it can tolerate low light I might try it in my office.

Thank you again for the suggestions. What about the tall palms? I was thinking of trying one in my office.

I have a feeling this could get very addictive. I cannot afford to have an indoor addiction too. UGH.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:37PM
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Palms are good light plants. you might keep one green with low light, but new growth would be sparse and spindly.

Aglaonemas (Chi. evergreen) are excellent low light plants. I think Rhipsalis would make it, but they do like humidity. Most don't do as well in a pot with soil, if you go this route make sure the stuff is organic, loose, and holds can stay moist (and doesn't dry to an unwetable brick like pure peat). Never let the roots sit in water, and if the soil is waterlogged, then you have the wrong soil.

The various R. horrida forms does nice hanging. The spines are soft bristles that don't fall off easily and are not sharp. R. grandiflora is a bit fussier, but the naked stems are different. Kind of a brittle plant.

The flat stemmed kinds of Rhipsalis are tough. Not at all brittle, they make small white flowers in the winter, and pollination yields small berries. Not too sweet, but they don't have a bad taste either. The R. horrida here makes scads of small berries. Don't seem to get any fruit from things like R. crispata and that kind.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Ladylotus, my Neon seems content in low light. I've only had it for a few months, so time will tell. I keep it in my kitchen and I do leave a flourescent light on over the sink all night. Perhaps that makes a difference??? I'm just starting to grow plants in this house, so I'm really having to rely on trial and error. :)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:58PM
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Hey Sarah. Fluorescent lights don't give off the whole spectrum of light, and the amount is not nearly enough unless the plants are right up against the bulb. There are grow lights with broad spectrum light that are sold. Regular fluorescent lights will make the plants very spindly. Watch the new growth and see. It won't kill the plant fast, and you will get experience.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 10:16AM
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Two low light palms that I can recommend are Raphis (Lady Palm) and Kentia. I've been growing them in a north room that has two windows to the north and one to the west. They've done fine even with low humidity levels in the winter. They're not cheap, but sure are nice.

I think the pothos you guys are taking about are actually philodendrons. I'm not sure but, the varieties you mentioned makes me think philo.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Your description would be good for some these a i Owen ,dieffenbachia , calathea, peace Lilly's , chance evergreen they would do great in your era. Good luck,hears a picture of a few of them

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:03AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

here is a list of shade plants
Hindu rope plant
arrowhead vine
spider plants
peace lilY

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:12AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Monet, I agree, those sound like Philos, but I agree with the suggestions of them. Epiphytic vines can be quite sensitive to sun, seeking the darkness unless/until they find a sturdy support to climb, thus many make good candidates for house plants for low light spots.

Low light will kill some plants, while others will sit in suspended animation indefinitely. So it might be a good idea to get plants of an already pleasing size, if your wallet will allow. Buying tiny plants and expecting them to grow quickly could be disappointing, frustrating. Here are some plants that will not be killed simply by insufficient light, unless you drown the roots, freeze to death, gets bugs, something else besides just very little light...

Aglaonema modestum
Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm)
Pothos (Epipremnum)
Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant)
Philodendron scandens (plain green heart-leaf Philo)
most Philos in general

Others I would try, because any quantity of direct sun while outside during summer burns them, at least here it does.
Cordyline fruticosa 'Red sister' (Hawaiian Ti plant)*
Tradescantia spathacea
Dracaena sanderiana (same plant used for lucky bamboo)
Dracaena fragrans (corn plant)

Boston fern does fine with no direct light.

* Yes, you see pics of these growing in full sun, but every attempt I made to ease this plant into ANY direct sun resulted in burned leaves on my plant. Even when I waited for a new leaf to "start out" that way while letting the other leaves burn. New leaves burned too. When I gave up and put it where it was in total shade, it started looking fantastic. So take this recommendation with this in mind, although these are not expensive plants even when nicely sized, mine was $10 for a pot of 5 individuals, the tallest one almost 3 ft tall, so it's not like it's a big investment if you think it's pretty and worth trying. It's only been inside for about 2 months, but is still growing pretty new leaves in a spot I was worried would be way too dark, one of only a couple plants that get nothing but brightness while inside.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:27AM
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The Ficus Wrangler

Neon and Marble Queen are definitely pothos varieties - I've been an interior landscaper for a long time, and we use them a lot. However, Brazil is a type of philodendron scandens.

I pretty much agree with all the stuff about low light plants, except that I've found that while calathea and maranta are listed as "low" light plants, they aren't really, and they're much harder to have success with than the peace lilies, Chinese evergreens, pothos, philodendrons, snake plants, zz, some palms, and corn plants. Almost as important as selecting the correct specie for low light is to make sure the soil aerates thoroughly between waterings. Soil should be only barely damp, all the way to the bottom of the pot, before you water again.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 10:50PM
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x.Codonatanthus Sunset hanging around in northern window

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:33AM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I am going to go plant shopping again this weekend. I feel like I need a fix...this winter is still dragging on.

x.Codonatanthus Sunset is really nice. Looks like the foliage is a bit similar to a jade.

Slick what is the pinkish streaked plant in the back? I really like the looks of that one and it would fit in very well in my office.

Have a great weekend.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Your Question is not very hard but tricky, First because low light plants have to adopt to there environment and humidity has to be. A big must and as for not getting sun in threw your window is no problem it could be improvise by 50 wt plant lights witch is one thing I use my self I only have a east and west window and now for the winter I get no sun light so I use the lighting my self and trust it works, and as fore the type of plant you have in mind they will work but just remember to leave them in there pots until they adopt into there new environment and as for a tall plant I would go with palm tree Plant or deffenbachea they would go very well, as for me I grow peace Lilly's, Calathea, Chiniec evergreen ,stromanthe Triostar which work for me with the same environment you have. Good luck and help these tips work. And most of all watch your watering now for the winter.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:43PM
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That is Stramantha Trio-star there beautiful you can find them at HD but they need a lot of humidity I have humidifier for my indoor plants excellent choice good luck. Keep me posted on your work. P.S

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:51PM
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One big thing I didn't say was watch the micro gro soil for indoors is not the best for indoor plants because the moist is great but the drainage is bad and will give root rot and bugs if anything I'm in Brooklyn and know a plant nursery that cells better soil than the mirico gro me I use black Gold potting soil and is excellent.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Very close to a Jade in plump leaves different in shape and size. Takes as long as a jade to get flowers from as well. Differences once they start flowering they flower more freely than a Jade a-lot less light needed, it's flowers look more like the gold fish plant.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:54AM
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From what I've read, blue light makes the difference for whether plants get spindly. Fluorescent lights are often labeled with a color temperature: a number representing the temperature of an object that would emit light of that color. The most common around here is 2700, which is very orange with almost no blue. But much higher numbers are available, which are very blue and should theoretically be much better at keeping plants from getting leggy.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:27PM
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How about a cordyline fructosia??

I bought this one - basically full grown - over the weekend for $8.99.

And, the tag read under light requirements "lighting - enough for reading"

Which I've translated as indirect is good.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:07AM
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The Ficus Wrangler

Oooh, I'm so excited. Someone making plant tags that actually have helpful information. What is the name of the grower? I've been explaining low-medium-high light in terms of reading for years ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv7-3p-nqMM ).

Regarding your cordyline - pretty plant, by the way - I would give it as much light as possible without getting hit by direct sunlight. Cordylines are not used very often in interior landscaping because, under interior conditions (medium low - medium light) they just don't do very well, not nearly as well as the more commonly used species. They are very susceptible to spider mites, among other problems. Of course, yours might be a newly developed variety that doesn't have those problems.

Here's a tip for dealing with plants that are atractive to spider mites - about every other week, or at least once a month, use your spray bottle filled with water and a little (1 tsp) liquid soap, and spray it lightly over your plant, tops and undersides of leaves. Not only will this show any webbing even before you might notice it otherwise, but it also kills/discourages the mites. After spraying you can wipe down the leaves with a paper towel or soft cloth - one hand under leaf, other hand wiping - which not only keeps the plants nice and clean but helps to kill/discourage the bugs,

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 1:58PM
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I don't know the grower, but I'll take a photo of the tag tonight so that I'll remember it - when I tell you tomorrow.

I currently have the plant in a second floor landing - outside my apartment. Since I couldn't tell if it was infested or not - I didn't want to bring it inside and risk my other plants until I had a chance to see it over the next week or two and see if there were any 'vermin'.

So, it's on the second floor landing, sharing space with my Rosemary bush. It's a cold landing - low to mid 40s. - and with a large West facing window. (that's not curtained). The rosemary bush does well there, right in front of the window. And the cordyline - is about 3 feet away from the glass - on that little table. (this time of year, there's mid afternoon sun - with only the late afternoon direct/minimal.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:07PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you so much for all the suggestions. I've written them down and will be picking up a few more plants. I really appreciate that some of you took the time to post photos of your plants.

I have been reading a lot of past posts and am gaining a better knowledge of what some house plants require. I was surprised when reading one post that mentioned potted plants should be repotted every 3 years or the health of the plant begins to deteriorate. Gave me a little boost to repot some of my outdoor plants that I have housed in my little greenhouse.

I will post some photos of some of my newly purchased plants when I get a chance.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Glad you feel more confident, Lady. A little greenhouse sounds fun, bet you have a blast with that.

I usually repot plants much more often than 3 years, just depends on how fast the roots fill a pot. In lower light, the growth will be much slower, but since plants don't always do what we assume they will, I think it's best to check them in the spring to see which need to be repotted, and not just do it according to an arbitrary schedule. If you see a decline in a plant before the three years, be suspicious of the roots and check to see if the pot is full of them.

Looking forward to seeing your pics!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:01AM
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