Houseplants: Low Light

When choosing houseplants, it is very important to identify selections that will do well in the different light conditions in your home. Some houseplants prefer bright light that occurs near a south- or west-facing window. Others like a little less light, like you might find across the room from a bright window. But probably the most difficult situation for any houseplant is in low-light conditions, such as you might find far from any window or in a room with only a little natural light. Only a few houseplants will thrive there.

Here are a few of the best:

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) bears large deep-green leaves, which have bold silver markings in some varieties. Grows about 2 feet high and at least as wide.

Mother-In-Law's Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) has thick, upright, sword-like leaves, beautifully marked with shades of green, yellow or white. Most grow about 12-18 inches high, but there are also dwarf varieties. Mother-In-Law's Tongue is about as tough a houseplant as you can grow, adapting to a variety of conditions.

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is the classic Victorian Palm with wonderfully textured feathery dark-green leaves. Can grow up to 8 feet high but usually remains smaller.

Philodendrons are a large family of plants that thrive under low-light conditions, including the popular Heart-Leaf Philodendron, which is a vining plant that can be trained to climb a wire pillar or is grown in hanging baskets. The closely related Split-Leaf Philodendron, however, is actually not a good choice for low light, as it will become spindly with small leaves.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a vining plant with heart-shaped green leaves splashed with yellow. With good care, it can climb seemingly forever.

Spathiphyllums bear large, arching deep-green leaves and beautiful Calla-like white flowers on tall stalks. Also known as Peace Lily, this is one of the few plants that will bloom in low light. There are many types to choose from, ranging in height from less than 2 feet high to over 6 feet high.

Even the plants described above will need some natural light to thrive. None will grow well in a dark room or one with no windows. Water and fertilize regularly, but be careful not to over-water because the soil will be slow to dry out.