Houseplants enhance home-office and living spaces and give rooms a warmer, more welcoming look. Urban dwellers in small spaces also find that plants are an attractive way to define working and living zones. Aesthetics aside, studies have shown that houseplants provide considerable health benefits by filtering indoor air toxins. And recent research shows that the presence of houseplants can boost your attention span.
Low-Light Tolerant Houseplants
Many houseplants sold in greenhouses and farmers’ markets need bright conditions to survive and thrive. Yet, city apartments often have little light for greenery. Many urban dwellers know all too well the frustration (and expense) of bringing home healthy looking plants, only to see them wither and die within weeks.
So what can you do? Look for plants that will grow well in the available light in your space. The following five plants are exceptionally tolerant of low-light conditions and often require little maintenance to stay healthy and green.
The heart-leaf philodendron is one of the most popular houseplants, not only for its tolerance to low light conditions but also for its ability to withstand a little neglect and to quickly propagate with cuttings. Its strong, trailing stems and heart-shaped, deep green leaves lend grace and warmth to any room. This robust plant can handle many levels of light, though direct sunlight will burn the leaves and very low levels of light will produce smaller leaves. It doesn’t mind being a little root-bound, and cuttings from this plant root quickly in water and easily transfer to soil.
Also called the snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue has tough, vertical blades for leaves that often have variegated coloration. With its tall, spiky form, mother-in-law’s tongue provides unique texture to any space. Like the philodendron, this houseplant is adaptable to many levels of light, tolerates less water and fertilizer, and handles varying temperatures well. Mother-in-law’s tongue is actually killed by too much attention—the main reason people lose this hardy plant is by overwatering.
Since Victorian times, the parlor palm has been a favorite indoor plant, giving a room an almost tropical appeal with its small stems and feathery leaves. Some varieties can grow quite tall, reaching roughly four feet in height with a wide diameter, while others stay small enough to fit on a windowsill. The parlor palm enjoys filtered light and regular watering, though overwatering will rot the roots. Of all the palms, the parlor palm is the easiest to grow and most tolerant of minor neglect.
The spider plant is common enough to be a houseplant icon. The long, gracefully cascading leaves of either solid spring green or striped variegation, plus the plant’s hanging plantlets on long stems, makes it perfect for hanging baskets or areas that showcase trailing greenery. Ideally, this plant likes filtered light and regular watering, though it handles lower light conditions and a little forgetfulness with aplomb. Just like the philodendron, spider plants are simple to propagate and like being a bit root-bound. The plantlets often have sturdy roots growing even before they are snipped from the mother plant and swiftly root in either water or moist soil.
Dracaena has many variations, most with arresting and colorful long leaves fountaining out of the main stalk. While slow growing, this plant may grow very tall, from two to 10 feet, so it makes a good floor plant with a dramatic flair. They tolerate low light and dry soil quite well, and their chief nemesis is overwatering. The dracaena is a favorite of homeowners and offices alike since it is nearly carefree and its slow growth means long-term placement is possible.
Choose Wisely = No More Brown Thumb!
Heart-leaf philodendrons, mother-in-law’s tongue, parlor palm, spider plants and dracaena are very common plants, easily obtained and seen frequently in a wide variety of locations. But they shouldn’t be dismissed just because of their familiar nature—these plants are so popular and ubiquitous because they are some of the toughest houseplants around. If you’re looking for a hardy plant for low light, you can’t go wrong with these five species of gorgeous greenery.