We’ve seen it more and more on social media and in catalogs such as Anthropologie, Ikea and Crate and Barrel, where houseplants are becoming a large part of the interior design of a room. Often I’ve seen cactus, succulents, palms or Fiddle Leaf figs being shown, but what about the areas of the house where there is not a lot of natural light? For many of us, this can be almost the majority of the house! Luckily there are some options for those areas of low to medium light but no direct light of any kind (and I’m not just talking about ferns although we do have a wonderful selection!)
Calathea lancifolia- Rattlesnake Plant: I have been looking for these forever and have finally been able to get my hands on a few! These plants have the coolest leaves! The leaves look like someone hand painted each one with perfect stripes and dots then dipped the back of the leaf in red paint. They can tolerate some early morning sun or diffused light, but prefer a shady location as direct sun can burn the leaves. Because this plant is native to Brazil’s tropical climate, you can place a tray under your pot with pebbles to hold moisture that will add humidity to the surrounding air. Tips on watering: during the growing season, (May-August) water frequently keeping the soil moist. During the winter months cut this down and only water when the top soil becomes dry to the touch.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia or commonly known as ZZ Plant: This is a very versatile plant and can tolerate the least amount of natural light. This is why you often see it in malls or other commercial spaces where there is little to no natural light. The bright green, shiny leaves are thick and waxy and it can be mistaken for an artificial plant because of that. It is best to water ZZ plant when the top inch or so of the soil is dry. It is very forgiving of under watering but if you see a leaf drop you will know it is time to give it a drink. ZZ plant will help purify the air in your house or office.
Sansevieria or Snake Plant: Similar to the ZZ plant, this can also tolerate low light levels, up to bright light. There are several varieties of Snake plant that all have different patterns and markings on the leaves. The thick, sturdy, sword shaped leaves come out from the base of the plant and eventually can grow 2-4′ tall. A fun fact about Snake Plant is that it is one of the most recommended plants for improving air quality, because it converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen at night. It also filters out benzene, formaldehyde and a host of other toxins.
Nepthytis or Arrowhead Plant: This hardy houseplant is very easy to care for and will tolerate very low light. It is slow growing, which makes it great in a smaller space. That being said, as it does grow it will actually tend to vine which makes it good in a hanging basket, or trained up a trellis. If you want to keep it more compact and bushy, that is easy to achieve by regular pruning. Water arrowhead plants when the soil starts to get dry- they like to be moist but not soggy.
Aglaonema or Chinese Evergreen: The rule of thumb with these is the lighter the leaves, the more light it needs. It never wants to be in direct sun, but some of the Aglaonema have white in the leaves which will stay that way with more bright light. If the leaves are more green, it will be fine in a lower light location. Water these plants when the top 2 inches of soil become dry. Try to keep away from drafts from air vents.
Diffenbachia or Dumb Cane: This is an easy to care for houseplant that will do well in low to bright light. The lush leaves are patterned with white and green to really brighten up an area inside. Dumb Cane likes lots of water in the summer but can be kept on the dry side during the winter months. Unfortunately, it is toxic to pets.