8 Easy Houseplants That Don't Need Sunlight

These indoor plants have an instant brightening effect, even if your space is dim.

If there's one way to brighten up a dull space, it's with houseplants. Unfortunately, the problem with dim, dull spaces is that they often lack sunlight—something most plants need in excess. But if you're nervous your room with north-facing windows (or no windows at all!) will kill any plant you bring home, fear not. Read on for experts' recommendations for the prettiest houseplants that don't need sunlight and can thrive with minimal attention. Brighter—and greener—days are ahead.

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8 Houseplants That Don't Need Sunlight

1. ZZ Plant

zz plant
Stephanie Pomerenke / Shutterstock

The ZZ Plant has a lot going for it: It's low-maintenance; it doesn't need to be watered frequently; and it has thick, glossy leaves that are sturdy and vibrant.

It also can tolerate low-light environments, notes Lindsay Pangborn, the gardening expert for Bloomscape. "It will grow fastest in medium to indirect bright light, but it can adapt to a spot far from a window or under fluorescent lights by slowing its growth while remaining lush and green."

Rebecca Sears, CMO and resident green thumb at Ferry-Morse, recommends paying close attention to your ZZ plant's leaves. If they're yellowing, it could mean you've overwatered the plant, but if they're falling off, you may not be watering it enough. "Watering every one-to-two weeks is usually sufficient, especially if your plant isn't getting a lot of sunlight," she says.

2. Snake Plant

snake plant
New Africa / Shutterstock

Snake plants are another houseplant that can tolerate pretty much any indoor conditions.

"These plants have thick, succulent leaves and roots that allow them to store excess energy and survive for long periods while remaining full and green," explains Pangborn. They should only be watered once the soil is totally dry.

Sears says snake plants actually prefer growing in low light, but she adds that the PH of their soil is important and should be kept between 5.5 to 7.0 "for optimal growth." A simple soil testing kit can help you determine this.

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3. Tradescantia Zebrina

Tradescantia Zebrina plant
Burhan Oral GUDU / Shutterstock

If you're looking for a vining plant that'll cascade as it grows, consider a Tradescantia Zebrina (also known as the Inchplant).

Pangborn says this easygoing plant doesn't need much sunlight, but if it's not getting any light, its leaves' vibrant stripes may fade.

Aside from its purple hue, another thing that makes this plant unique is that it grows well in containers with other plants, notes Sears. She adds that it's important to keep the top inch of soil moist, which you can determine by sticking your finger in the soil or using a moisture meter.

4. Spider Plant

spider plant

This is another beautiful trailing houseplant for people who lack a green thumb or access to direct sunlight. "Spider plants can thrive in low-light conditions and only need to be watered once a week," says Sears.

In fact, the worst thing you can do to your spider plant is put it in hot, direct sunlight, as this can burn its leaves, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

One note here is that while spider plants are safe to keep around dogs, "they can be mildly hallucinogenic to cats," notes Sears.

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5. Philodendron Heartleaf

A Heartleaf Philodendron plant in a terra cotta pot.
Phuttharak / Shutterstock

"For those looking to brighten darker corners in their living spaces, the Philodendron Heartleaf is a great option," says Pangborn. "In fact, placing this plant out of direct sunlight is best, since the harsh rays can scorch its foliage."

This romantic-looking houseplant would fare well on a shelf or in a hanging basket, so its "vining stems and heart-shaped leaves [can] grow gracefully downwards," shares Pangborn.

Depending on its placement, this plant should only be watered once every one to two weeks.

6. English Ivy

Close up of a hanging English Ivy plant in a window
ArtBackground / Shutterstock

You probably associate this trailing plant with the facades of buildings, but if grown indoors in low to moderate light conditions, it'll actually stay more controlled, says Sears. It will still climb, though, so only opt for this houseplant if you can put it in a hanging basket or on a trellis.

As for watering, Sears says it's important to allow the soil to dry out before rehydrating it; too much moisture will stop it from growing.

Note that this plant is poisonous to humans and many animals; keep its trailing leaves away from curious hands and paws.

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7. Peace Lily

peace lily houseplant
New Africa / Shutterstock

"Peace Lilies are the perfect plant to brighten up a dark corner, thriving in low, indirect sunlight," says Sears. She even recommends this houseplant for the bathroom, "as they are accustomed to humid environments and thrive from the
steam of a shower."

They only need to be watered once every seven to 10 days (maybe more frequently if you live in a dryer climate), and if you notice the leaves turning yellow, it could mean it's getting too much sunlight, Sears cautions.

8. Faux Plants

fake plants in modern room
Shutterstock / Anastasiia Chepinska

Of course, there's really no plant that requires no sunlight, as this is what they use to create food for themselves through photosynthesis. However, when a plant adapts to low light, it senses a decrease in the ability to photosynthesize. "The natural response is for the plant to slow its growth and conserve its resources," explains Pangborn.

For this reason, Paris Lalicata, plant expert for The Sill, recommends faux plants for those who truly have no light or who simply don't have the time to care for real houseplants. "Faux plants only need the occasional dusting to keep them looking clean!"

More tips for low-light plants.

woman watering plants
MixMedia / iStock

One of the most common causes of death for low-light plants is overwatering, says Pangborn. "When a plant is in a low-light environment, its growth will slow and subsequently it will use water much more slowly." You'll also want to reduce your frequency of fertilizing.

And if you're moving a plant from a very sunny spot to a shadier one, you may want to do so gradually. "This approach can help reduce the likelihood of leaf drop," Pangborn notes. However, if you do notice some dropped leaves, it's usually not cause for concern.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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