Plants are the easiest way to brighten up a dark room but low light conditions are not every plant’s cup of tea. In fact, most plants thrive in medium to bright light conditions. Fortunately, there’s a gang of outlaws out there that simply love the shade. So, are you looking to brighten up a dark room or shady corner? Check out our list of the best shade plants you can pick for the light-deficient indoors!
1. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden Pothos is one of the so-called indestructible houseplants as it can put up with insane amounts of abuse and neglect, including next to no watering, frequent moving, and insufficient light. When light is too scarce it can thrive in artificial light which makes it great for spaces lacking natural light such as offices, lobbies, and cramped dorm rooms.
Other namesDevil’s Ivy, silver vine, money plant, Solomon Islands ivy, taro vine, centipede Tonga vine, ivy arum
Native toThe Solomon Islands
Light requirementsPartial shade to bright filtered light (direct sun may burn its leaves)
Water requirementsWater when the top 1-inch layer of soil dries out
ToxicityToxic to both humans and pets if ingested
2. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Here’s another low-maintenance houseplant that can tolerate the shade like a champ. In fact, if the Spider plant is older than 1 year and you expose it to light at night (including artificial light), flowering may be delayed and even blocked. We have talked about the Spider Plant on numerous occasions, but for the record, remember it is one of the most common hard to kill house plants in the world that also purifies the air (at least according to NASA studies) in your bedroom or living room, depening on what shady corner you want to spruce up.
Other namesRibbon plant, airplane plant, hen-and-chickens
Native toSouthern Africa
Light requirementsPartial to full shade; keep away from direct sun
Water requirementsOnce a week; sensitive to fluoride in tap water (leaves may turn brown)
3. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)
Here’s another shade-loving houseplant. The Peace Lily is a common occurrence in dark rooms, lobbies, and offices as it can bloom even in very low light conditions. Since this tropical plant is also an effective air purifier, it means that it makes a great pick for offices and homes.
It is one of those hard to kill plants we talked about on previous occasions. Our advice is to keep it as far as you can from your cat. Or the other way around. It is not a poisonous flower, but its pollen can irritate pets and kids. Some sensitive and allergy-prone adults are not immune either, so if you choose the Peace Lily from our list of best plants for shade, make sure you don’t keep it by the bed in your bedroom.
Other namesSpath, white sails, closet plant
Native toColombia tropical rainforest
Light requirementsPartial shade to full shade; avoid direct sun
Water requirementsAllow soil to dry between waterings
ToxicityPoisonous to small children and animals
4. Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
Philodendrons are known for their ability to adapt to indoor conditions like very few plants can. They thrive in hanging baskets or high spots from where their elegant stems can hang down loosely. It is a humidity loving plant so mist it regularly. It is a very forgiving plant, so it won’t mind if you keep it in low light.
Other namesSweetheart plant, vilevine, philodendron
Native toCentral and South America, especially Mexico and the Caribbean
Light requirementsLow light to bright filtered light; avoid direct sunlight
Water requirementsKeep soil moist but not drenched in the warm season; water occasionally in winter
ToxicityToxic to humans and pets
5. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
The cultivars with plain dark leaves live happily in the shade, while the variegated cultivars need moderate light to bright, indirect light to thrive. Never leave a Chinese Evergreen in direct sunlalso known as the Ten Commandments plantight. This plant is also a great air purifier which makes it an ideal option for bedrooms and offices.
Looking for shade-loving plants that also happen to improve your sleep? Check out this post by our expert: The 6 Best Plants for your Bedroom that Improve your Sleep
Other namesAglaonema, poison dart plant, painted drop tongue, silver queen
Native toSub-tropical and tropical Asia
Light requirementsFull shade (for the dark green cultivar); moderate light to bright filtered light (for the variegated one)
Water requirementsConsistent moisture as soon as the top 1-inch layer of the soil dries out
ToxicityToxic to people and pets if ingested
6. Prayer Plant (Maranta leucoreura)
The Prayer plant gets its name from its leaves’ habit of folding up before bedtime as if the plant were praying. Prayer plants enjoy low light conditions but if kept in the full shade they may become leggy. These plants don’t grow too large, so they are the ideal occupants of small office desks, shelves, and coffee tables.
Also known as the Ten Commandments plant (because of the ten stripes on each leaf), the Prayer Plant also makes one of the best office plants to enhance your working environment.
Other namesTen Commandments plant, maranta, rabbit’s foot, herringbone plant
Native toBrazilian rainforest
Light requirementsLow to moderate light, including artificial light
Water requirementsKeep soil moist but not soggy
7. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Next on our list of best shade plants to consider this year for your low-lit indoor garden is the Snake Plant, a regular guest of this website and an all-time favorite of many of us around here.
The Snake Plant is one of those plants that simply refuse to die regardless of how neglected they are. It fits nearly all types of interiors, is a great air purifier (the variegated cultivar), and is generally a very undemanding and forgiving plant. You can keep it in full shade and it won’t object.
Related post: Snake Plant Care Guide – How to Grow This Houseplant
Other namesSansevieria, mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, Saint George's sword
Native toTropical West Africa, primarily Nigeria
Light requirementsPartial shade
Water requirementsWater occasionally (plant is very drought-resistant)
ToxicityToxic to people and pets if ingested
8. Peacock Plant (Calathea Lancifolia)
Image credit: foliage_fixation on Instagram
The Peacock plant may be easily mistaken for the prayer plant, but their maintenance varies greatly. The Peacock plant is a tropical beauty that enjoys some shade too but needs a lot of humidity, so mist it daily or keep water in the plant tray to keep it happy. Here is its description, together with its care & maintenance guide:
Peacock plants are, like the bird, very decorative and showy. While the foliage may not contain the exact colors of the peacock, it displays vivid shades of green and maroon and is carried very proudly like the peacock’s tail.
Other namesCalathea, rattlesnake plant
Light conditionsLow to medium filtered light; keep away from direct sunlight
Water conditionsWater frequently (ensure good drainage); sensitive to tap water
9. The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
You know we love the ZZ plant and talk about it with every chance we get. Our luck is that this beauty is not only one of the most common houseplants you can care for even in the absence of any green thumb, but also one of the best shade plants out there!
The ZZ plant is considered to be the king of indestructible houseplants as it easily adapts to everything nature or a careless caregiver throws its way, including shady corners and infrequent watering. This beautiful plant can go weeks without water due to an underground potato-shaped rhizome that acts as an emergency water supply.
Other namesZamioculcas, eternity plant, aroid palm, Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant, golden tree
Native toEastern Africa
Light requirementsLow light (plant may not thrive) to bright filtered light (best)
Water requirementsAllow soil to dry between waterings; avoid overwatering
ToxicityToxic to both humans and pets
10. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidastra elatior)
Just like the ZZ plant, the Cast-iron plant is nearly indestructible. It fares well in dry conditions, it is not bothered if you move it frequently, and it actually thrives in the shade. The only downside of this Asian beauty is that it is a slow grower, which means that it is a bit more expensive than other plants on our list of best shade plants.
Other namesAspidastra, common aspidistra, iron plant, bar room plant, saloon plant
Native toChina, Japan, Taiwan
Light conditionsLow light, including artificial light and heavy shade
Water conditionsWater regularly in the warm season; reduce water in winter
11. Dracaena Lemon Lime (Dracaena fragrans)
Dracaena Lemon Lime is one of the best shade plants thanks to its ability to tolerate really well shady spots. But although low light conditions are not a deal-breaker for this type of dracaena, don’t expect the plant to thrive in full shade. Just avoid placing it in the full sun or in the full darkness.
Other namesCorn plant, lemon lime
Native toNorth Africa
Light requirementsLow to medium light, even permanent shade
Water requirementsWater once every 7-10 days; sensitivity to fluoride in tap water
ToxicityMildly toxic to pets
12. Japanese Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
This bizarre slow-growing palm thrives in warm, low-light, and humid conditions. Just like the ZZ plant, the Japanese Sago Palm is a tough as nails houseplant. It looks like a combo of a palm and fern but it is neither. This interesting plant has pre-historic origins as it belongs to an ancient plant family, the cycads.
Just a heads-up, this ornamental plant is poisonous, so don’t let pets and kids around it without the proper supervision. Other than that, the Japanese Sago Palm can make the central piece of a shade indoor garden and it is one of the most amazing trees to grow indoors. We call it a tree casually because cycads are distant relatives of cone-bearing conifers.
Other namesSago cycad, king sago
Native toSouthern Japan
Light requirementsPartial shade to full sun
Water requirementsWater occasionally (the plant is fairly drought-resistant)
ToxicityPoisonous to both pets and humans; it has a mortality rate of 50 to 70%
13. Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
Despite its name, the Swedish Ivy is neither Swedish nor an ivy. It mainly grows as a groundcover since it cannot climb or grab onto support like vines do. We added it to our list of the best shade plants because it is very tolerant when it comes to low light conditions. Who knows, maybe you can design a hanging plant-based indoor garden with and around it!
Other namesCreeping Charlie, Swedish begonia
Native toSouthern Africa
Light requirementsLow light to medium, filtered light; avoid direct sun
Water requirementsStart watering if the upper 1-inch layer gets dry
Ferns are highly adaptable when it comes to lighting conditions. The best ferns for rooms lacking natural light include the Boston Fern, the Kimberley Queen fern, and the Asparagus fern. Since ferns also love humidity, they’re great plants for your bathroom.
15. The Yucca Cane (Yucca elephantipes)
Yucca Cane also known as the ‘spineless yucca,’ is a type of yucca tree that lacks spines, which makes it a very popular houseplant. It is one of the best shade plants because it is very low maintenance and tolerates well low light conditions even though it would be much happier in medium light or full sun.
Related post: Yucca Plant Care – How to Grow This Tree Indoors
Other namesSpineless yucca, yucca tree, giant yucca
Light requirementsPartial shade
Water requirementsWater every 2 to 3 weeks (plant is drought resistant)
16. Rex Begonia
Rex begonia doesn’t need direct natural light to thrive. It is a beautiful plant with stunning foliage that differs from one plant to the next. Its Achilles’ heel, though, is overwatering.
Other namesIron cross, king begonia, fancy-leafed begonia, painted-leaf begonia
Light requirementsPartial shade to full shade
Water requirementsWater only when the soil is dry; avoid overwatering
17. Rubber Tree Plant (Ficus elastica)
The Rubber tree plant is a low-maintenance fig that just loves staying in the shade. Be careful though that this tough houseplant can reach up to 12 feet. So, give it plenty of room to grow. It is also drought-resistant and does not do well with overwatering.
Related post: Rubber Plant Care – How to Grow This Tree Indoors
Other namesRubber bush/plant, rubber fig, Indian rubber bush
Native toThe Amazon
Light requirementsPartial shade to full shade
Water requirementsKeep soil moist but not soggy in the summer; water 1-2 times per month in winter
18. Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)
The Nerve plant is a creeping plant with stunning dark olive-green foliage embellished with white, pink, or red vein patterns. The plant can grow in shade, but it loses the vein patterns if kept for too long in low-light conditions. It thrives in high humidity, soil included. We have included it in our top of most amazing, best office plants to spice up your workspace – and for all the right reasons!
Other namesFittonia, painted net leaf, mosaic plant, silver net leaf
Native toSouth America
Light requirementsLow to medium light
Water requirementsKeep soil moist but not drenched
19. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia amoena)
This plant is one of the absolute best shade plants for home and office because it is very tolerant, inexpensive, pretty, and easy to care for, just like many other aroids. The Dumb Cane plant gets its name from the fact that its sap, which is a skin irritant, may cause temporary loss of speech. This houseplant gracefully adapts to any lighting conditions.
Other namesMother-in-law plant
Native toWest Indies
Light requirementsLow light to medium light
Water requirementsWater as soon as the first 2 inches of soil are dry; avoid overwatering
ToxicityPoisonous to children and pets
20. Lady’s slipper (Paphiopedilum)
The Lady’s slipper plant is a low-maintenance orchid that is adapted to shade and high humidity. Is one of the most user-friendly orchids out there as it is not very demanding and can easily re-bloom in one’s home. If you want it to produce flowers though offer it a bit more light for a few weeks.
If you want to learn more about orchids and other shade plants, check out our guide on the most common houseplants to grow this year. For orchid understanding and caring guides, the American Orchid Society is one of the best resources out there!
Other namesPaphiopedilum, Venus’ slipper
Native toSouthern China and India
Light requirementsLow light
Water requirementsWater every 5 to 7 days; make sure that humidity stays at 40% -50%
21. Split-leaf Philodendron (Monstera Deliciosa)
Last – but certainly not least – on our list of best shade plants for low-lit rooms and corners is the Split-leaf philodendron. It is a tropical broadleaf evergreen that thrives in shade and warm temperatures, which makes them ideal for dark homes and offices. To keep this plant thriving you need to give it medium light, but full shade is also good as long as you don’t mind the plant becoming leggy and leaves not developing the trademark slits.
To make sure you get the proper philodendron for your tastes and needs, check out our guide on the most popular philodendron types. You may get another variety that tolerates shade well and needs low to moderate maintenance!
Related post: Easy Philodendron Care Guide – How to Grow this Plant
Other namesMonstera deliciosa, Swiss cheese plant, Mexican breadfruit, windowleaf plant
Native toCentral America and India
Light requirementsLow light to medium, filtered light
Water requirementsAllow top layer of the soil to dry out between waterings; keep soil moist but not drenched
ToxicityVery poisonous to children and pets
Finding a beautiful plant for low light conditions is not that hard, is it? Most of the best shade plants on our list are also happily low maintenance which makes them perfect for absolute beginners too. Do you know other shade-loving plants that should make it to our list? Drop us a line in the comments section below!