5 House Plants That Don't Need Sunlight

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

If there's one way to brighten up a dull space, it's with a house plant or two. 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 our list of the prettiest house plants that don't need sunlight and can thrive with minimal attention. Brighter—and greener—days are ahead.

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Dumb Cane

dumb cane

This tropical house plant will happily live on any bookshelf or side table, no matter your sunlight situation. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, dumb cane—or dieffenbachia, if we're being technical—prefers diffused sunlight or partial shade, but will tolerate full shade. It also likes typical house temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees. Water it regularly and it will flourish in your care.

One thing you'll want to note is that this plant is poisonous to adults, children, and pets. In fact, dieffenbachia was originally dubbed dumb cane because its sap can cause swelling of the mouth and throat when ingested, leaving one unable to speak—or worse.

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Spider Plant


Spider plants are another hardy house plant for people who lack a green thumb or access to direct sunlight. "Spider plants appreciate bright to moderate indirect sunlight, but that doesn't mean they can't survive without sunlight," New York Botanical Garden-certified horticulturist Bliss Bendall told Real Simple. "Established spider plants can accommodate different types of light." (The one lighting situation they hate, though, is direct, hot sun, which can burn their leaves, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.)

You'll want to take special care not to overwater your spider plant; a good rule of thumb is to keep the soil moist. And fear not: The spider plant gets its name because it grows small plantlet clumps that somewhat resemble spiders, not because they attract arachnids.

English Ivy

English Ivy

English ivy is nothing if not resilient. According to SFGate, it thrives in any amount of light, from full sun to full shade. If you choose to bring English ivy into your home, you should plan for it to climb, and keep it in a hanging basket or framed trellis. Of course, you can prune your ivy to whichever shape you like.

Water your ivy thoroughly and allow the soil to dry to the touch to a depth of one-half inch before watering again. 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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pothos plant in woven planter on table

There's a reason pothos is the quintessential cubicle plant: It can survive in spaces with little natural light (and even a few fluorescents!). In fact, the only lighting pothos doesn't like is bright, direct sun. The adaptable plant can be grown in water or soil and nutrient-dense and nutrient-poor soil. Water your pothos every one to two weeks and be aware of the common signs of over-watering, such as yellowing leaves and black stems. The beginner-friendly plant will give you lots of payoff for very little effort.

Snake Plant

snake plant on counter
Shutterstock / Vitaliy Kyrychuk

Snake plants are another house plant that can tolerate pretty much any indoor conditions. They thrive in low to high light levels, but do best about 10 feet from a window, according to HGTV. Keeping this plant happy is all about providing it with the proper amount of water. Because snake plants are succulents—meaning they store water in their leaves and roots—they don't require much to drink, and overwatering them could kill them. Touch your finger to the soil each day; when it feels dry to the touch, wait one or two days to water.

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