17 Plants That Can Grow in the Dark


If you love growing houseplants, the desire to ‘greenify’ as much of your indoor space as possible can be very strong.

But because plants need light to grow, you might be limited by inadequate lighting in some areas. And providing artificial lighting might be either impracticable or prohibitive in terms of energy cost.

But all hope is not lost. You don’t have to look too hard to find plants that grow in the dark.

These plants are usually very resilient with a high threshold in terms of the ability to tolerate neglect including insufficient lighting.

To be clear, when it comes to plants that grow in the dark, it basically means low-light tolerant plants that can survive in very shady or dark conditions.

So if there are some dark spaces you need to beautify with plants, read on to find out the amazing options we lined up for you to consider.

17 Plants That Can Grow in the Dark

 #1. Heartleaf (Philodendron)

Heartleaf (Philodendron)

This tropical, rainforest plant is one of the most well-known houseplants that can grow in the dark.

Commonly known as heartleaf, there are two basic types, the vining variety like the  Philodendron Brasil, Green Heartleaf Philodendron, and the Pink Princess, and the non-vining or upright Philodendrons like the Green Congo and Xanadu.

The low-maintenance plants are happy with just a little water about once weekly.

They also thrive best in indirect light or shady areas and would respond positively when placed outdoors in the shade when the weather is warm.

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#2. Prayer Plant (Marantha Leuconeura)

Prayer Plant (Marantha Leuconeura)

Marantha leuconeura is a low-light loving plant that belongs to the Marantaceae family of flowering plants with origins in the rainforests of Brazil.

Commonly called Prayer Plant, the strikingly variegated oval leaves fold upwards in the dark like hands clasped in prayers.

They grow best in well-draining soil away from direct sunlight.

The growth conditions also include high humidity; in essence, the colorful leaves might require frequent misting.

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#3. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

With their spadix flowers partially enveloped by a spathe, Peace lilies stand out as some of the most beautiful houseplants to grow.

Native to tropical regions of Asia and South America, they belong to the Araceae family of flowering plants comprising about 45 species.

Like most ornamental houseplants, they require well-draining soil to thrive.

Though they need frequent watering to keep the leaves lush, it is best to water only when the top 1 inch of soil is dry to avoid over-watering.

They are happiest in indirect light or shade but to get them to bloom, you want to make sure the light is very bright.

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#4. Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)

Corn plants are tall houseplants that look like tiny tropical trees.

Their fleshy trunks support strap-like leaves rimmed with reddish hues along the edges.

They rarely bloom indoors, but when they do, they burst forth with white flowers in small bunches.

They are averse to bright lights preferring instead low-light conditions and occasional watering for optimal growth.

The standard care for newly-bought young corn plants includes straightening the stems because the support provided by the small roots is tenuous.

With time, the roots become stronger to provide sufficient support for the plant.

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#5. Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum)

Also known as spider ivy and ribbon plant, the shade-loving spider plant belongs to the Asparagaceae family of flowering plants with origins in the tropical regions of southern Africa.

They are intolerant of direct sunshine despite their tropical origins and are considered some of the hardiest plants easily surviving less than ideal growing conditions.

But to get the best version of the slender, arching green leaves and star-shaped flowers, the tropical conditions must be replicated indoors.

These include a warm environment, high humidity, and loamy well-draining soil. You won’t have to wait long because they grow very fast.

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#6. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum)

Chinese evergreen

According to houseplant folklore, the low-light tolerant Chinese evergreens can make a newbie gardener look like an expert.

This is because they effortlessly tolerate neglect and can thrive in low humidity despite their tropical origins.

Neglect aside, they are happiest in well-draining potting soil, medium to low-light areas, warm temperatures, and humid conditions.

Also known as Philippine evergreens, they bear long, waxy leaves on rather short stems. In the right conditions and with proper care, expect them to bloom in the growing season for about a month.

Pet owners need to keep in mind that they are toxic to cats and dogs.

#7. Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

The snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) was formerly known as Sansevieria trifasciata until 2017 when the similarities between it and species in the Dracaena genus were hard to ignore.

The low-light loving tropical plant is so tough many think it is indestructible.

Perhaps, but it certainly won’t survive soggy soil when it is overwatered.

Also known as Mother-in-law’s tongue and featuring green sword-shaped leaves, they can grow up to 8 feet tall.

Their utility as great houseplants doesn’t end with aesthetics and the low-maintenance profile, they are also great at removing toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air.

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#8. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

With a name like ‘parlor palm’, it is immediately clear this plant was created to delight folks indoors.

The native of Central America is a slow-growing plant with light-green, palm-like leaves growing from thin stems.

They are also excellent air purifiers and reach a maximum height of about 6 feet indoors and almost 20 feet outdoors.

But it typically takes several years to attain such heights and plant care needs to be spot on.

That care includes never over-watering or letting to soil become soggy for long. They also suffer in direct sunlight, preferring shady areas or low-light conditions.

#9. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

In its natural environment in the South Pacific (more specifically Solomon Islands), it grows under the shade of taller trees making it essentially a low-light plant.

Because it is very forgiving in terms of neglect, it is very popular in offices where it can thrive in heavily shaded areas and drought-like conditions for long periods.

Also commonly called Devil’s ivy or Devil’s vine, it features heart-shaped green leaves with variegations of different colors depending on the species.

The leaves grow on long trailing vines that would rather grow horizontally. But they can be easily trained to grow upwards on trellises.

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#10. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The ZZ plant, also known as the Zanzibar gem, is a tropical plant native to Eastern Africa.

The slightly toxic plant grows best in partial shades, well-draining soil, and average household humidity and temperature.

It is considered a great starter houseplant for brown thumb newbies because it’s ridiculously easy to care for, easily surviving months of neglect.

The shiny, heart-shaped leaves are borne on slim, trailing vines that are equally shiny.

The waxy leaves and stems are the primary reason folks mistake them for plastic or artificial plants at first glance.

#11. Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)

The universally popular orchids are some of the best flowering plants to keep indoors when looking for a plant to brighten dark spaces.

It belongs to the Phalaenopsis family of orchids comprising about 60 species. The native to South East Asia and Australia can grow virtually anywhere in orchid mix, with high humidity, and temperatures between 50 and 85°F.

Their tall arching branches, known as spikes, tower above the leaves at the base of the plant.

Often the spikes need to be supported with a stake to remain upright. This is however a small sacrifice considering the huge rewards of soft, beautiful flowers.

#12. Staghorn ferns (Platycerium spp)

Staghorn ferns are non-flowering plants native to Australia and South Asia with the distinct trait of having two types of leaves.

One set of leaves is shaped like the antlers while lower down the plant are the basal-like, flat leaves.

They are commonly grown indoors in hanging baskets using growth substrates or plagues to anchor the roots.

Also known as elkhorn fern, they are typical epiphytes that don’t require soil to survive.

They get all the required nutrients from the air. As well as the ability to thrive in low light conditions outdoors, they also thrive in shady but bright and warm locations. Indoors, they are happiest in bright, indirect light.

#13. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

In its natural habitat in Southeast Asia, the rubber plant is huge, reaching up to a height of 100 feet.

When grown indoors starting from a young plant, it quickly adapts to indoor conditions to grow to a manageable size. Despite the size, caring for them is pretty straightforward.

You’d need well-draining soil that is kept moist, warm conditions, and moderate humidity to get the best from it indoors.

The ‘best’ includes the uniquely oval-shaped, broad green leaves with a bluish tint.

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#14. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp)

Dumb canes are seasonal bloomers belonging to the Araceae family native to the tropical regions of South America and the Caribbeans.

It’s natural to wonder why a popular houseplant with large showy leaves would have a name like ‘dumb’. It was so named because it’s very toxic to humans and pets. The name is no longer in vogue though.

Dumb canes are herbaceous perennials that can adapt to different lighting conditions but would grow best in partially shaded areas or bright indirect light.

And if other growing conditions like well-draining soil, regular weekly watering, and warm location with high humidity are present, the reward is lots of awesome palm-like leaves with cream variegations forming a sort of canopy over the stem.

#15. Cast-iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

This native Asian plant has a reputation for being extremely resilient. This makes it a great choice for gardeners that are likely to forget that plants need lots of TLC to thrive.

The perennial plant is unlikely to survive wintry conditions but like all the plants here, can adapt to low-light areas as long as other growing conditions are spot on.

And their ideal conditions for growth? Watering it when the well-draining soil is almost dry, warm temperatures befitting a tropical plant, partial to full shade, and moderate humidity.

When properly taken care of, the long glossy, green leaves and white or purple summer flowers would add a lively, tropical feel to any space.

#16. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

In the feng shui sub-culture, the lucky bamboo is said to bring good luck and fortune to whoever has one.

Native to Africa, they are actually perennial shrubs and not real bamboos. They feature unique stalks that appear braided and can grow to a height of 3 feet and support small, green leaves.

They are very tough plants able to survive neglect for long.

Ideally, though, they’d grow best in very shady locations but would also adapt excellently to brighter spots or dark areas, warm temperatures up to 90°F, and moderate humidity.

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#17. Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)

With their bright red, white, or pink flowers, the wax begonias can effortlessly add color and fun to indoor spaces.

The low-maintenance and easy-to-grow plants are originally from Central and South America making them tropical plants only suitable as houseplants in temperate regions.

While they can grow in low light conditions, they are happiest in very bright or partially shaded locations.

Other growing conditions include well-draining soil, temperatures above 65°F, and above average humidity. When watered regularly, expect the awesome blooms in summer.

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Conclusion

The list above is not the final word on plants that grow in the dark.

There are still quite a lot out there. It takes just a little research online to find other amazing choices.

While this guide is mostly about ornamental houseplants, there are several edible, low-light tolerant plants too.

Again, a bit of research would unearth these gems.