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Indoor Plants for Low Light Areas

If you are seeking fresh green foliage for indoors, tropical plants not only add colour and contrast but most will also clean the air inside your home. For homes with low light levels, choose shade tolerant tropicals including those with large dark green leaves. These in general are more efficient at converting light into energy thereby requiring less light indoors than most other tropicals. The following is a listing of tropicals tolerant of low light levels in the home:

BromeliadBromeliads

  • easily adjust to indoor culture
  • beautiful foliage plants with strappy leaves in red, green, purple, orange, yellow, striped, spotted or banded
  • very tolerant of fluctuations in temperatures, drought, humidity and light
  • leaves arise from a central cup which is designed to hold water
  • plants can be forced to bloom by exposure to ethylene gas (place it in a tightly closed bag for up to 10 days with a ripe apple – the apple will give off ethylene gas as it decomposes)

 

Chinese EvergreenChinese Evergreen (Aglaonema sp)

  • a plant with great foliage
  • leaves are punctuated with shades of silver, grey or shades of green, making it an attractive choice for brightening up low light areas of the home
  • keep on the dry side especially through winter
  • avoid cold drafts
  • Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children

DracaenaDracaena

  • dramatic foliar plants with a carefree nature
  • large group of species which include varieties that can grow up to 6' tall
  • long strap like leaves, deep green in colour often with red or yellow variegation
  • undemanding in that they tolerate low light, low humidity and very forgiving with the odd missed watering
  • brown leaf tips and spots indicates plant is getting too much light (scalding)
  • Tips: To prevent Dracaena from growing too large, repot every second or third year using the same pot or one slightly larger. Keeping the roots confined like this will slow down growth
  • tops can be cut off which will encourage two new stems to grow from the cut area within weeks
  • poisonous if eaten or chewed on by dogs

FernFerns

  • valued as airy indoor ornamental accents in the home
  • huge genus of plant, some dating back to prehistoric times
  • the key to success with indoor ferns is humidity and a constant moisture level
  • place on pebble trays or mist daily for extra humidity
  • some varieties with leathery fronds tolerate less water than most – the more airy and soft textured varieties require a consistent level and can actually sit in water
  • Tip: To supply extra humidity for ferns, double pot them – place the main container into a second larger container lined with moist sphagnum moss; keep the moss moist or evenly wet
  • use room temperature water as cold water may spot foliage

Peace Lily
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp)

  • extremely popular tropical often seen in offices and malls due to its tolerance to low light
  • deep green leaves topped by bright white blossoms resembling a calla lily, last for weeks
  • one of the best air cleaners for your home
  • keep evenly moist at all times

 

heart leaf philodendronPhilodendron Philodendrum

  • one of the easiest adaptable plants for indoor culture
  • inexperienced houseplant owners will have no trouble growing these
  • there are vining and non-vining types
  • the vining types sport beautiful heart-shaped leaves which need a supportive structure to climb or can be left trailing over bookshelves or along the top of kitchen cabinets to 8' or more
  • these are easy to propagate – simply clip off a trailing stem, place in a glass of water; within weeks rooms will develop and form new plants
  • the non-vining types have an upright, large spreading growth habit needing lots of space

 

Ponytail PalmPonytail Palm (Beaucarnia recurvata)

  • has a sleek bulb-like trunk with lush, long curly leaves that make it visually stunning
  • not an actual palm nor a tree; actually is a member of the Agave family
  • also known as Bottle Palm or Elephant Foot Tree
  • during winter, water once monthly as water is stored in the large basal tuber
  • must be grown in a cactus type soil that drains quickly
  • tolerate low light if placed near a window
  • very long lived; tubers become progressively larger with age
  • fertilize occasionally with 20-20-20 during the summer

 

PothosPothos (Epipremnum aureum)

  • a low maintenance vine also known as Devil's Ivy
  • heart-shaped leaves can be grown as a tabletop plant, hanging basket or trained upright on a pole
  • not fussy about light
  • keep on the dry side
  • propagate by rooting trailing stems in water
  • Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children

 

Snake PlantSnake Plant (Sanseveria sp)

  • also known as Mother-in-Laws Tongue
  • a carefree succulent plant that tolerates neglect extremely well
  • one of the best tropicals for beginners
  • sword shaped leaves lend a modern look to any home or office
  • plants look amazing grouped in threes or fives in a long, narrow planter
  • besides the taller forms, there are shorter bird's nest forms available which are under 12” in height
  • all types withstand low light conditions
  • avoid overwatering, keep dry

 

Spider PlantSpider Plant (Chlorophytum sp)

  • popular during grandmother's time and still popular today
  • several types available from plain green to variegated to ones with curly leaves
  • a more recent introduction 'Orange Splash' has bright orange at the base with wider leaves but non-vining
  • the common types make handsome hanging baskets which develop plantlets at the ends of arching stems
  • these root readily in water to develop numerous babies
  • keep slightly on the dry side

 

Umbrella PlantUmbrella Plant (Schefflera sp)

  • one of the most popular indoor plants as it is so easy to grow
  • characterized by foliage arranged in groups of 3-7 leaflets arrangement at the end of a stem – similar to spokes on a wheel or umbrella
  • tolerate low light; do not tolerate direct light as foliage can burn
  • tolerate dry soil followed by a thorough soaking
  • can be cut back to any height desired to induce branching and a bushier plant
  • Tip: If foliage drops and blackens – due to overwatering. If foliage tips curl – due to underwatering

 

ZZ PlantZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

  • since the Latin name of this plant is such a mouthful, many people refer to it as the ZZ Plant, Fat Boy or Eternity Plant
  • a very tough, drought resistant and low light plant making it ideal for the forgetful and neglectful gardener
  • native to East Africa in countries like Zanzibar and Tanzania
  • thick fleshy leaf stalks so durable that one might think it's plastic
  • display small, gloss leaflet running up and down thick stems which can get up to 3' long
  • must be kept dry – especially in winter as overwatering will cause leaf yellowing and eventually entire leaf stalks will collapse
  • an excellent choice as a decorative focal point in modern homes for that 'contemporary' look
  • small green flowers form at the base of the plant

With proper selection of tropicals, one can have plants for every room in the home. We encourage you to try different varieties as each home is different in terms of light, humidity and growing conditions.

 

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