Understanding Low Light Conditions 🧐
The ambiance of a space can be significantly influenced by the amount of light it receives. When we delve deeper into indoor gardening, grasping the concept of "low light" becomes essential.
It's not merely about dim corners but understanding the fine balance where plants can exist without direct or high-intensity sunlight.
What Exactly is Low Light?
Low light conditions do not equate to a dark room devoid of any sunlight. Instead, it describes an environment where daylight permeates but remains either indirect or of reduced intensity.
According to a detailed study on Gardening Solutions by the University of Florida, low light areas are "Areas with light intensity this low usually receive very little natural light. Many are lit by overhead lights only. They are often far from windows or found near a heavily shaded area."
The Influence of Windows and Direction
A crucial aspect of indoor light conditions is the direction your windows face:
North-facing windows: Often deemed as "true low light," these windows rarely get direct sunlight, making them ideal for many low light-loving plants.
South-facing windows: While these windows can provide bright light for a good part of the day, placing plants farther back in the room or using sheer curtains can create low light conditions.
East and West-facing windows: These windows provide a mix, with mornings (for east) and afternoons (for west) getting direct light. Plants placed away from the direct path of these rays can still experience low light.
External Obstructions and Their Role
It's not just the innate direction of the windows but also external factors that play a pivotal role. Nearby buildings, tall trees, or even awnings can cast shadows, effectively turning what could have been a bright spot into a low light zone.
Hence, observing the pattern of light and shadow across different times of the day can offer insights into the best placement for your indoor plants.
The Difference Between Survival and Thrival
While numerous plants can hold their own in low light, it's crucial to understand the distinction between merely surviving and genuinely thriving.
Some plants might display slower growth, fewer flowers, or even altered leaf colors when deprived of their optimum light conditions. If your plant isn't doing well in a dark corner, consider adding a source of artificial light there.
Thus, regularly monitoring and adjusting plant positions, if necessary, can ensure they remain not just alive but vibrant and flourishing.
For more information about light requirements for most popular indoor plants, check our Houseplant Light 101 blog section.
Benefits of Indoor Plants in Low Light Spaces 🤩
The allure of nature and the gentle rustle of leaves isn't just reserved for sun-drenched gardens. Even the dim corners of our homes and offices can emanate the serenity of a green retreat, thanks to indoor plants that flourish in low light. But the perks of having these shadow-loving greens stretch far beyond their obvious beauty.
Boosting Mood and Indoor Air Quality
Mood Elevator: The therapeutic power of plants isn't just a gardener's folklore. Their very presence in our surroundings has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and induce feelings of well-being, even in spaces with minimal light. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information supports the psychological benefits plants bring, including mood enhancement and reduced stress levels.
Air Detoxifiers: Beyond their soothing aesthetics, plants play an active role in purifying the air we breathe. NASA's groundbreaking study on air-purifying plants highlighted their capability to absorb toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia, ensuring that even in confined, low light spaces, the air remains refreshingly clean.
Enhancing Aesthetics and Interior Design
Design and Beauty: A strategically positioned plant can be the perfect accent to a room, adding layers of depth, texture, and color. The shadows of low light spaces can enhance the beauty of certain plants, making them visual centerpieces that elevate the ambiance of any room.
Versatile Decor Elements: From sprawling vines to upright ferns, low light plants offer an array of design possibilities. Their varied forms and hues provide designers and homeowners with a wide palette to infuse spaces with a touch of nature, be it as decorative elements, spatial highlights, or thematic enhancers.
Themes and Narratives: Plants can seamlessly integrate into various decor themes - whether you're looking for a tropical oasis, a bohemian rhapsody, or a minimalist zen corner. The right indoor plant not only complements the design but often becomes the around which other elements revolve.
Keep reading to learn Top 10 Indoor Hanging Plants for Low Light. 👇
This table provides a quick reference for the care of each plant, though it's essential to understand each plant's specific needs in greater detail, especially when introducing them to a new environment.
#1 Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) 👶
My baby rubber plant feels perfect in a low light (~150 foot-candles at mid-day)
Overview and Origin
The Baby Rubber Plant, scientifically known as Peperomia obtusifolia, is a compact perennial native to South America, particularly the tropical rainforests of Brazil. Belonging to the Peperomia family, this plant is often mistaken for a rubber plant due to its thick, glossy, and rubbery green leaves.
However, it's quite distinct and much smaller in comparison. The leaves are typically rounded, and in some varieties, they come with a delightful variegation of green and creamy white.
The plant's compact growth habit and resilience make it an ideal choice for indoor gardening, especially in low-light conditions.
Care Guidelines and Tips
Light: While the Baby Rubber Plant can tolerate a range of lighting conditions, it prefers bright indirect light. However, it's quite adaptable and will also do well in low light environments, making it suitable for spaces away from direct window light.
Water: The Baby Rubber Plant doesn't like to be kept consistently wet. Allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it's better to err on the side of underwatering.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is essential. Consider using a mix that's designed for succulents or cacti, or you can make your own by adding perlite or sand to a regular potting mix.
Temperature: This plant prefers temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). It's not frost-tolerant, so ensure it's kept away from cold drafts or sudden temperature drops.
Humidity: Baby Rubber Plant is relatively tolerant of varying humidity levels. However, if the air in your home is exceptionally dry, consider placing it on a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase the humidity around it.
Fertilization: During its growing season (spring and summer), you can feed the plant with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks. Reduce feeding in fall and winter when the plant's growth slows down.
#2 Golden Pothos Plant (Epipremnum aureum) 🥇
Distinguishing Features and Growth Pattern
The Golden Pothos, is an evergreen low light hanging plant recognized for its heart-shaped leaves adorned with unique variegation patterns.
The leaves, often a vivid green, are marbled or streaked with yellow or white, giving the hanging plant its 'golden' moniker.
These cascading vines can grow impressively long, making them a favorite for hanging baskets or as trailing elements in indoor decor.
Golden Pothos plants are prolific growers under the right conditions and can trail or climb many feet. In their natural habitat, they climb up tree trunks or drape over other vegetation.
Indoors, they often display a trailing growth habit, but can be trained to climb trellises or other supports.
Simple Care Guide for Thriving Growth
Light: Golden Pothos is versatile when it comes to light requirements. It thrives in bright, indirect light but is also well-known for its tolerance to low light conditions. However, extremely dim conditions might reduce the vibrancy of its leaf variegation.
Water: Watering should be moderate. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out before watering again. The plant is more forgiving of occasional under-watering than over-watering, which can lead to root rot.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is a must for Golden Pothos. Standard indoor plant potting mix works well. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from stagnating.
Temperature: A comfortable room temperature between 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C) is ideal. Avoid placing the plant in areas with cold drafts.
Humidity: The plant isn't particularly demanding about humidity and can adapt to average home humidity levels. If the air is too dry, the occasional misting can be beneficial.
Fertilization: During the active growing season (typically spring and summer), feed the Golden Pothos once a month with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Reduce feeding frequency during dormant periods.
#3 Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) 💚
Heart-shaped Allure and Popularity Reasons
The Heart Leaf Philodendron, with its signature heart-shaped leaves, stands out as one of the most beloved low light indoor hanging plants worldwide.
Its elegant, glossy green leaves exude a simplistic charm that appeals to both plant aficionados and beginners. Apart from its undeniable beauty, the plant's popularity can be attributed to its adaptability and low maintenance nature.
This makes it a favorite for those looking to add a touch of green to their indoor spaces without delving into complex plant care.
The cascading vines of the Heart Leaf Philodendron can create a lush green canopy in hanging baskets, or when allowed to trail along shelves and tabletops.
Alternatively, they can be trained to climb, wrapping around supports or trellises, showcasing their heart-shaped foliage in a vertical display.
Ensuring a Healthy Life in the Shadows
Light: While the Heart Leaf Philodendron appreciates bright, indirect light, it is also one of the most forgiving plants when it comes to low light conditions. However, to maintain its vibrant green hue, avoid placing it in deep shade for extended periods.
Water: The plant prefers its soil to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. Wait until the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch before watering again. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it's crucial to ensure the pot has proper drainage.
Soil: A light, well-draining potting mix works best for this Philodendron. Mixing regular potting soil with some perlite or orchid bark can improve drainage and aeration.
Temperature: The Heart Leaf Philodendron thrives in temperatures ranging from 65°F to 78°F (18°C to 25°C). It is sensitive to cold, so avoid placing it near drafty windows or air-conditioning vents.
Humidity: The plant is quite adaptable but prefers higher humidity levels. If your home is particularly dry, consider misting the plant or placing it on a tray filled with water and pebbles to raise the ambient humidity.
Fertilization: During its growth phase, usually in the spring and summer, feed the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. In fall and winter, you can reduce or stop fertilizing.
#4 Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) 🪴
Unique Antler-shaped Fronds and Aesthetic Appeal
The Staghorn Fern is an epiphytic fern, meaning in its natural habitat, it grows attached to trees rather than in the soil. What truly sets this fern apart from other indoor hanging plants are its distinctive fronds.
The fern produces two types of fronds: the sterile, basal fronds that are flat and shield-like, which anchor the plant to its growing surface and the fertile, antler-like fronds from which it gets its common name.
These antler fronds, with their dramatic shapes and intricate patterns, are what give the Staghorn Fern its striking aesthetic appeal.
The juxtaposition of the flat base fronds and the protruding antler fronds creates a visually arresting display, making the Staghorn Fern a coveted choice for wall mounts, plaques, or hanging baskets.
Steps to Maintain and Propagate
Light: Bright light suits the Staghorn Fern best. Direct sunlight can scorch the fronds, so ensure it's protected from the harshest rays, especially during midday.
Water: The watering needs differ slightly due to the mounting. Mist the antler fronds regularly, and soak the base (or shield) fronds once a week. If mounted on a plaque, it might be helpful to take it down and soak it in water for a few minutes before hanging it back up.
Temperature: A comfortable range for Staghorn Fern is between 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). It's best to avoid extremes, as both frost and very high temperatures can damage the plant.
Humidity: Staghorn Ferns thrive in high humidity. Regular misting, especially in drier environments or during winter when indoor air tends to be dry, can be beneficial.
Fertilization: Every couple of months, feed the fern with a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer. Ensure that the fertilizer doesn't directly contact the plant but is instead applied to the growing medium or moss.
#5 Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) 🪴
Lush Fronds and Reasons for Its Popularity
The Boston Fern, with its graceful arching fronds and delicate feathery leaves, has long been a favored choice among houseplant enthusiasts. Its dense, luscious green foliage offers a refreshing burst of nature, making it a top pick for both classic and contemporary interiors.
Beyond its beauty, the Boston Fern's resilience and adaptability have further cemented its status as a household favorite. Whether adorning a hanging basket, gracing a pedestal, or sitting on a windowsill, this fern effortlessly adds a touch of elegance and vivacity to any space.
Detailed Care Regime for a Vibrant Fern
Light: Boston Ferns prefer bright, indirect light. While they can tolerate some amount of shade, a spot near a north or east-facing window would be ideal. Direct sunlight, especially during the peak hours, can scorch the delicate fronds.
Water: Keep the soil consistently moist but never soggy. When the top inch of the soil feels dry, it's time to water. Use lukewarm or room-temperature water, as cold water might shock the plant.
Soil: A rich, well-draining potting mix is essential. An even blend of peat moss, sand, and garden soil usually works well. Ensure the pot provides adequate drainage to avoid root rot.
Temperature: Boston Ferns thrive in temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). They're sensitive to drafts and sudden temperature drops, so ensure they're not placed near doors or air-conditioning vents.
Humidity: This fern loves high humidity. If the air in your home is dry, consider misting the fern daily, placing it on a tray filled with pebbles and water, or using a humidifier. The fronds will brown if the humidity levels drop too low.
Fertilization: During its growth phase, from spring to early fall, feed the Boston Fern with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month. Reduce or stop fertilizing during the dormant winter months.
#6 Prayer Plants (Maranta leuconeura) 🙏
The Captivating Nightly Ritual of Leaf Folding
One of the most enchanting features of the Prayer Plant is its diurnal movement, where its leaves, which lie flat during the day, gracefully fold upwards in the evening, resembling hands in prayer. This phenomenon, known as nyctinasty, is a response to changes in light, and it's a true spectacle to observe.
The combination of this unique movement with the plant's strikingly patterned leaves — often a mix of greens, reds, and purples — makes the Prayer Plant a mesmerizing addition to any indoor plant collection.
Best Practices for Nurturing in Dim Spots
Light: While the Prayer Plant prefers bright, indirect light, it can adapt to lower light conditions. If you notice the colors on the leaves becoming less vibrant or the patterns fading, it might be an indication that the plant desires a bit more light.
Water: The Prayer Plant enjoys consistently moist soil. However, it's essential to avoid overwatering. Water when the top layer of the soil feels dry to the touch. Using room-temperature water is recommended as these plants are sensitive to cold water and can develop brown leaf tips if exposed.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is essential. A mixture of potting soil with some perlite or orchid bark can provide the required aeration and drainage. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom.
Temperature: Maranta thrives in temperatures ranging from 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C). It's sensitive to sudden temperature changes, so it's best to keep it away from drafts or vents.
Humidity: Prayer Plants love high humidity. If the indoor air is dry, consider placing the plant on a tray filled with water and pebbles, misting the leaves regularly, or using a humidifier to increase the ambient humidity.
Fertilization: During the growing season, typically from spring to early fall, feed the plant with a half-strength, balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Reduce the frequency during the dormant winter months.
#7 English Ivy (Hedera helix) 🏴
The Classic Trailing Plant with Timeless Charm
English Ivy, renowned for its cascading vines and delicate, lobed leaves, holds a special place in the world of indoor plants. Its elegant trailing nature makes it a perfect choice for hanging baskets, wall mounts, or as a tabletop centerpiece.
Whether it's gracing the facades of historic buildings or adorning a cozy apartment, English Ivy has an ageless appeal that never goes out of style. Its versatility extends beyond aesthetics; the plant is also hailed for its air-purifying properties, making it a desirable choice for health-conscious plant enthusiasts.
Care Guidelines for Preventing Pest Infestation
Light: While adaptable, English Ivy prefers bright, indirect light. It can tolerate some shade, but if the ivy becomes leggy or its vibrant color fades, it might need more light.
Water: Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry. It's essential to ensure that the pot has adequate drainage to prevent overwatering and root rot.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is crucial. A combination of peat moss, perlite, and sand often provides the right environment for English Ivy roots.
Temperature: Ideal temperatures range from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Avoid placing the plant near heaters or drafty windows, as extreme temperature changes can stress the ivy.
Humidity: Medium to high humidity levels are best. If the indoor air is dry, consider misting the plant or placing it on a humidity tray.
Fertilization: Feed English Ivy with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Reduce fertilization frequency during fall and winter.
#8 Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) 🕸
Recognizing the Unique Baby Shoots or "Spiderettes"
The Spider Plant, named for its signature offshoots that dangle like spiders on a web, is one of the most recognizable and widely loved houseplants. These offshoots, affectionately termed "spiderettes," are miniature versions of the mother plant.
They emerge from long, slender stems, creating a cascading effect that adds depth and character to the plant's appearance.
This unique feature, combined with its variegated green and white-striped leaves, makes the Spider Plant an eye-catching addition to any indoor setting.
The spiderettes can also be easily propagated, offering plant enthusiasts a chance to expand their green collection or share with friends and family.
Ensuring a Long, Spiderette-filled Life in Low Light
Light: While the Spider Plant is adaptable to various lighting conditions, it thrives best in bright, indirect light. However, it can tolerate low light settings. If placed in direct sunlight, the leaves may get scorched, so it's best to avoid intense, direct exposure.
Water: Watering should be moderate. Allow the topsoil to dry out between watering sessions to avoid over-saturating the plant. Using lukewarm water can help prevent potential leaf tip browning, a common concern with Spider Plants.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is crucial. Combining regular potting soil with some perlite or sand can provide the necessary drainage and aeration.
Temperature: Spider Plants prefer temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). They are relatively hardy but should be protected from sudden temperature drops or cold drafts.
Humidity: Though they can tolerate a range of humidity levels, Spider Plants appreciate a more humid environment. If the air is too dry, occasional misting can be beneficial.
Fertilization: Feed the Spider Plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its active growth phase (spring and summer). Reduce or eliminate fertilization during the dormant winter months.
#9 Nerve Plant 🌿
Veined Leaves and the Intrigue It Adds to Spaces
The Nerve Plant, also known as the Mosaic Plant or Silver Net Leaf, is a captivating addition to any indoor space. Its most striking feature is the intricate network of bright veins that crisscross its dark green leaves.
These contrasting colors create a mesmerizing pattern that draws the eye and enhances the aesthetic appeal of any room.
The plant's compact and bushy nature makes it an ideal choice for terrariums, dish gardens, and small plant displays.
Its unique appearance, reminiscent of a delicate piece of art, can transform an ordinary space into a focal point of botanical intrigue.
Key Considerations for Its Care in a Low Light Environment
Light: The Nerve Plant prefers bright, indirect light to highlight its vibrant vein patterns. While it can adapt to lower light levels, too little light may cause the leaves to lose some of their vivid coloration. Avoid direct sunlight, as this can scorch and fade the plant's beautiful leaves.
Water: Fittonia prefers consistently moist soil. It's essential to water the plant regularly but ensure the soil isn't waterlogged. The plant will quickly show signs of distress, like droopy leaves, if it's too thirsty.
Soil: A well-draining, peat-based potting mix is ideal. Ensure that the container provides adequate drainage to prevent root rot.
Temperature: Nerve Plants thrive in temperatures between 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C). They are sensitive to cold drafts and sudden temperature changes, so it's best to keep them away from doorways or windows that are frequently opened.
Humidity: High humidity is crucial for the Nerve Plant. Its thin leaves can dry out if the air is too arid. Consider misting the plant regularly, using a humidity tray, or placing it in a terrarium to maintain adequate moisture levels.
Fertilization: During the active growth phase, usually spring and summer, feed the Nerve Plant with a diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks. In the dormant months of fall and winter, reduce the frequency or stop fertilizing altogether.
#10 ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) 🌿
Shiny, Dark Green Leaves with a Striking Appearance
The ZZ Plant, with its glossy, dark green leaves, is a symbol of modern plant aesthetics. It effortlessly adds a touch of sophistication to any interior space. The plant's leaves are thick and waxy, growing in an elegant, arching pattern that captures attention. The plant not only stands out because of its sheen and structure, but also because of its resilience, earning it a reputation as the "unkillable" plant. Whether you're a seasoned plant enthusiast or a beginner looking for a forgiving plant, the ZZ Plant is a top contender.
Tips for Ensuring Its Prosperity in Low-Light
Light: ZZ Plants are incredibly adaptable when it comes to lighting conditions. While they appreciate bright, indirect light, they are notably tolerant of low-light environments, making them an excellent choice for spaces with minimal natural illumination. It's worth noting, however, that very little light may slow its growth.
Water: The ZZ Plant's succulent-like qualities mean it stores water in its roots, reducing the frequency of watering required. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent over-watering and potential root rot.
Soil: A well-draining potting mix is essential. Cactus or succulent mixes, combined with standard potting soil, can create an ideal environment for ZZ Plants.
Temperature: They prefer temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C) and should be shielded from cold drafts or sudden temperature fluctuations.
Humidity: ZZ Plants are not overly fussy about humidity levels. They can thrive in both low and high humidity environments without the need for additional humidity interventions.
Fertilization: Feed the ZZ Plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its growing season (spring and summer). Given its slow-growing nature, it doesn't require excessive nutrients, so it's important not to over-fertilize.
Cleaning: The plant's glossy leaves tend to attract dust. Gently wipe them down with a damp cloth occasionally to maintain their shine and ensure efficient photosynthesis.
Embracing the Beauty of Shadow-Loving Plants
In the botanical world, every plant has its preferred habitat and specific needs. As we've explored, numerous plants not only tolerate but thrive in low-light environments.
These shadow-loving species bring life and vitality to spaces that might otherwise remain barren. Their adaptability is a testament to nature's versatility and the profound ways plants can flourish under varied conditions.
The Therapeutic Essence of Indoor Gardening
Beyond aesthetics, there's a therapeutic essence to tending indoor plants. The simple acts of watering, pruning, and observing your plants grow can be incredibly calming and grounding.
Studies have shown that interacting with plants can reduce stress, increase productivity, and enhance overall well-being. By welcoming these low-light plants into our spaces, we invite a piece of nature's serenity into our daily lives.
1. Can I move my low-light plants outdoors?
Yes, many low-light plants can be moved outdoors, but it's essential to acclimate them gradually to prevent shock. Start by placing them in a shaded area, avoiding direct sunlight. Monitor them closely for any signs of stress and move them indoors during extreme weather conditions.
2. What signs indicate that my plant isn’t receiving enough light?
If a plant isn't receiving adequate light, it may show signs like leggy growth (stretched stems), smaller than usual or yellowing leaves, or a decline in its overall growth rate. The plant might also lean towards the light source. A plant that was once flowering might cease to produce flowers if it's not getting enough light.
3. How often should I water indoor hanging plants in low light?
The frequency of watering indoor hanging plants in low light largely depends on the specific plant and the environment. Generally, plants in low light use less water than those in brighter conditions.
Check the soil regularly, ensuring it's somewhat dry before watering again. It's always better to under-water than over-water, as over-watering can lead to root rot and other complications.
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