Low Light? No Problem

Low Light? No Problem

One thing that can discourage people from starting the houseplant journey of their dreams is living in a home that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight. I’ve been there. I lived in an apartment with two windows that both faced north to a row of trees. The view was pretty, but as far as sunlight goes, it was basically a cave, which wasn’t great for the roughly 70 house plants I had at the time. I was way too far in to change course when I realized how dark it was going to be inside, and I wasn’t going to ditch the collection I gathered at this point. I had to figure it out.

Enter this post, an offering of the things I learned that year through many a trial and error, in an attempt to help you out. If you don’t think you have the sunlight for houseplants, I assure you, you do. There are tons of plants that need incredibly little, and there are things you can do to give those that need more a better chance at getting it.

If you’re looking to start a new plant collection in a low light space, the first tip I have is to look for plants that tolerate low light. Here’s a quick list:

  • ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) 

  • Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

  • Most of the Dracaena genus pretty much

  • Ivy (Hedera helix)

  • Pothos (Epipremnum)

  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

  • Nerve plant (fittonia)

  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes)

  • Philodendron (most types)

  • Wandering dude (Tradescantia) 

  • Chinese evergreen (aglaonema)

  • Peace Lily (Spathyphyllum) 

  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum cosmosum)

  • Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)

  • Ferns (Basically any of them)

  • Begonia (also basically any of them

  • Honorable mention, Calathea/Maranta - These tolerate low light but are more difficult plants that I would avoid if you’re a beginner.

Also, within each of those listed above are a number of variations in color or shape to choose from. There are A LOT of plants that will do just fine in your apartment with one tiny window. 

However, no plants can survive complete darkness, and generally plants will grow faster with a bit more sunlight. So although you’ve set yourself up for success by getting plants that will do fine in low light, there are still things you can do to give them their best chance at thriving. 


First, keep the leaves clean. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that dusting leaves is a favorite plant care task of mine, and it’s not just because it makes them look pretty. Plants absorb sunlight through their leaves, right? If the entry point is covered with a layer of dust, it’s more difficult for that sunlight to get where it needs to go. Clean leaves absorb sunlight better, and it’s also a great way to prevent pests or other issues that can surface. 

This leads nicely into the second tip - keep your windows clean. I just cleaned my windows recently after moving into a new place, and it’s crazy how much of a difference there is in the brightness of my home. Windows already render sunlight as “filtered.” A layer of dust or grime thickens that filter, which allows even less sunlight through to your plants. Sunlight has already traveled such a long way to reach the inside of your home, the least you can do is keep the filter clean for when it arrives.

This third tip is definitely one that I learned the hard way. When plants transition to a more dim environment, they need less water. Plants need water and sunlight in combination to grow properly. Plants can’t process too much sunlight without enough water, they’ll dry out too quickly and die. Conversely, when plants get way more water than they do sunlight, they can’t use that water quickly enough and it sits in the soil and rots the roots. It’s all about maintaining a solid balance of sunlight and water, and if your plants aren’t getting a ton of sunlight, water them less often.

This tip was a quite literally a life saver for several of the plants I already had that preferred brighter conditions. Take the normal lighbulbs out of your table or standing lamps, and replace them with grow bulbs. I found a relatively cheap option on Amazon that worked great, that I still use today to give my plants an extra boost. You can get them here.

This last tip is a bonus that I learned after originally posting this blog prior to moving to Shopify. Give your plants a sun bath. Even just a few hours in a brighter area once a month can drastically improve your plant's photosynthesis. Moving a plant from a low light area to somewhere with direct sun might be a bit too drastic, so stick with indirect bright light (meaning your plant can't see the sun).

A space with low light may not be the ideal set up to start a bursting indoor jungle, but it’s no reason to keep it completely devoid of life. There are a ton of plants that will love your shady home, and now you have some tools to help them love it even more.  

Slow Green Death is always here if you need any extra help making your planty dreams come true, just reach out over on the Services page and we’ll figure it out together. 

Thanks for reading and may all your plants’ deaths be Slow and Green,




Original post date: March 1, 2023

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