By Andrés Muñoz

While some of us might have had a green thumb before we were all sent indoors, the pandemic has invited more of us to reevaluate our relationship with our living space. Adding plants to our homes brings personality and serenity while also enhancing the room’s appearance and atmosphere. 

Unfortunately, many of us might have had very little experience when it comes to growing plants or believe that we don’t have adequate space for a plant to grow healthily. 

There is an ongoing belief that plants require large amounts of constant sunlight to thrive, and while that may be the case for some, others have flourished in much harsher conditions, specifically low light environments. It is possible to have beautiful plants in a low-lit apartment! 

Here are five plants that thrive in low-light conditions and some general pointers on properly taking care of your green friends in the shade. 

If you’re looking for bright and colourful plants, these might not be the ones suited for you. Most low-light plants have darker foliage. Since darker colours process photosynthesis much better, plants with dark green or even black leaves can survive with less sunlight. 

Secondly, plants that survive in these conditions are generally accustomed to challenging environments, using less water and nutrients than their sun-seeking counterparts. For this reason, be sure you don’t overwater these plants. 

ZZ Plant

Also known as the Zanzibar Gem or aroid palm, this is one of the hardiest plants out there. It is native to the forests in Eastern Africa, has shiny and green leaves shaped like ovals, and grows up to 3 feet tall. It is a highly resistant, drought-friendly plant, so don’t worry if you forget to water it. It (thankfully!) thrives on neglect thanks to its rhizome—an underground stem that works as a water reserve

Warning: if ingested, its leaves are toxic to both humans and animals, and its sap can cause skin irritation.

Lucky Bamboo

A native of Southeast Asia, this plant has been used for thousands of years in Feng Shui as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. While an arrangement of 4 stems is not recommended, one with 3-stems represents happiness, long life, and wealth. 

Oh, and it is not actually bamboo! 

Strangely enough, it belongs to the same family as the lily. It is also known as Curly Water Bamboo or Goddess of Mercy plant and grows in both water and soil. It isn’t toxic to humans but can cause a lack of coordination, weakness, and vomiting in pets. 

Cast Iron Plant

While several of these low-light plants might be toxic, the Cast Iron Plant is a safe option for all. Originally from China and Japan, it is exceptionally sturdy and requires little water and even less light. Its large, dark green leaves take a long time to grow, reaching a mature height of 3 feet. 

This plant is the best option if you have windows that face north or south, as direct sunlight is its biggest threat.  

Chinese Evergreen

Also known as Aglaonema, these plants are very popular for indoor environments thanks to their looks, ease of care, and resilience in poor light, dry air and drought. That being said, you should keep it away from drafts, as its colourful leaves might turn brown. 

To prevent dust on the leaves, wipe them with a damp rag, or simply put them in the shower and then let them dry naturally. 

Spider Plant

Last but not least, the spider plant is non-toxic and has tremendous air-purifying qualities. It thrives with minimal watering and has long and arching leaves, making it a wonderful hanging plant. Try to have it closer to a window, as the striping on the leaves will be more prominent if left in indirect and/or low light. 

Just as with the Cast Iron, direct sunlight is a no-no here. Since they grow so easily, always keep them trimmed, as they can look messy if left unattended. 

If you don’t have as much light in your home, don’t be discouraged from your botanical dreams; just get one of these plants instead! Remember the general rules for low-light plants: They thrive on neglect thanks to their hardiness, so water them sporadically (every several weeks) to prevent the roots from rotting due to overwatering. Since direct sunlight would scorch them, keep them in the shade. 

Finally, keep in mind before purchasing that some of these resilient to low-light and water plants might be toxic for pets and humans. So choose carefully adequately and handle them with care when setting them in your home. Now that you know about these low-light plants let your indoor green thumb grow!