By: Heather Rhoades
Plants that grow in medium light are the perfect plants. They like light, so bright light is good, but not direct light. They’re good to go near a west or southeast window. Keep reading to find out more about which indoor plants do well in medium light conditions.
Examples of medium light loving plants are as follows:
African violet – The African violet (Saintpaulia) is your classic indoor plant. It blooms like crazy for some people, and never for others. This is a good plant to experiment with. It has fuzzy leaves that form a rosette, and the flowers come in a variety of pink and purple shades. It likes average to warm temperatures along with medium to high humidity. The soil should be kept evenly moist, but you should not get water on the leaves. The plants should be fertilized with diluted fertilizer each time you water.
Begonia – The begonia is a colorful plant. It has varied foliage and showy flowers. The ones with the large flowers (tuberous or Rieger begonias) are disposable. Longer-lasting flowers include the angel wing (has spotted leaves and little flowers), Rex (has variegated foliage), and B. schmidtiana (dark green crinkled leaves). Begonias like average temperatures and evenly moist soil. They require light fertilization, more regularly during growing season. One thing about begonias is that if you grow bedding begonias outdoors during the summer, you can pot them and bring them in for the winter. Just keep them by a sunny window.
Bird’s nest fern – Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) has apple-green fronds that get to be 3 feet (.9 m.) long. This is a great plant for the bathroom. It likes high humidity and average temperatures. The soil should be kept evenly moist. This plant grows somewhat slowly.
Boston fern – The Boston fern (Nephrolepis bostoniensis) is a popular houseplant. It’s a tropical looking plant that’s full and lush when it’s kept nice. The Dallas fern (N. exaltata Dallasi) is shorter and dense. Fluffy Ruffles has frilly fronds. You need to provide average temperatures and evenly moist soil for these to flourish.
Christmas cactus – The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) has a name that comes from the bloom. The flowers are pink and red with bent back petals. Depending on when it decides to bloom, it is sometimes called the Halloween cactus or the Thanksgiving cactus. There is even an Easter cactus. They like average to warm temperatures, but you should let the soil dry out between waterings. They take less water during the winter.
Croton – The croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is a nice plant with orange, yellow or red ribs on the leaves that make it look like it was dipped in paint. It likes medium to warm temperatures and high humidity.
Dumb cane – The dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) is another easygoing plant for your home. It has white and green variegated leaves and can grow to be 3 feet (.9 m.) tall. They like average temperatures and medium to high humidity. The soil should dry out between waterings.
Moon Valley pilea – This member of the Pilea genus, also known as aluminum plants, has dark veined leaves and looks like it’s quilted. It grows pretty fast. It likes cool to warm temperatures and high humidity. The soil should be dry between waterings, and you should pinch it back to keep it bushy.
Moth orchid – The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is the easiest orchid to raise. That really doesn’t say much though, because everyone knows orchids are difficult plants. There are a lot of flower shades and one stem that has blooms that can last 18 months. This plant likes warm days and cool nights. You should never overwater the plant, and remember to fertilize it once a month all year with orchid fertilizer.
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Read more about General Houseplant Care
Just because you live in a house or apartment with little natural sunlight doesn’t mean you’re destined to a space with no greenery. Rest assured you can still liven up your space with some of these large low light houseplants.
While most plants have better growth the more light they receive, the 18 plants covered in this article will grow to a substantial size even when they have minimal light exposure. These houseplants vary in their size, shape, and colors, providing lots of options for integrating large low light houseplants into your home.
Low light is not NO light or light so dim you could not read comfortably. All plants, other than mushrooms, require at least some light, and even the low light plants listed below require more light than most people realize. Low light is bright enough to read newsprint all day long. It is a location within a couple of feet of an uncovered north-facing window and within 6 feet of a south-facing uncovered window. Keep in mind that sheers, a porch overhang, a large tree or tall building outside the window can substantially reduce the intensity of the light.
Here are the plants that do well in low light conditions:
You will note that this is not a long list, and that is because there are so few plant species that have proven reliable in low light. Beware of retailers and plant labels that list other plant species as “low light”.
Have you noticed most plants or seed packages give some vague description of ‘place in full sun’ or ‘place in partial shade’, I keep wondering to myself ‘How partial?’ Like when I cook my favourite meal and the recipe says cook until brown, I keep wondering ‘How brown?!’
In the following article, I’ll tell you all about the light requirements for plants and why its one of the most important considerations when buying and placing a plant.
Plants need light to photosynthesize, certain plants only start flowering with the right amount of light, and others burn if they are in direct sunlight. In general, if your plants don’t get adequate lighting they shrivel and die. Let’s get scientific here, first let’s start off with a description of how light is measured.
There are 2 things to consider:
Light intensity is measured in units called Lux. Lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. Of course, lumens is a measure of visible light as perceived by the human eye (Plants also use far red and far violet spectrums). However, lux is sufficient for measuring sunlight and is generally regarded as the standard way to measure light.
I bought a cheap lux meter and walked around the house to check how much Lux I was getting (see my results lower down).
Wikipedia describes the following values for various light scenarios:
Getting the right light for your specific plant could mean the difference between life and death (death of the plant! – not your own death…unless your plant is a gift from a partner)
Now we start to get some interesting measurements, especially for Plants. Your living room plants are received 50 lux while a plant outside is receiving 100 000 lux, that’s quite a difference – It like sun tanning at the salon vs Bondi beach without sun cream.
Here is a rough breakdown of the lighting needs of each type of houseplant (ideally for 10+ hours a day):
Most plants will survive at 10x lower values than specified but they won’t thrive (hence why low light plants can grow in the 50 lux living room).
So let’s break it down a bit further because it depends on some more factors, namely what season of the years as to how high in the sky the sun is and how much sunlight your plant will get.
Ok, I said I was going to get a bit more scientific, so I bought a lux meter online and walked around the house and the nursery, and my friend’s house, and some random houses and even an office.
I always thought my plants were dying because of poor watering, turns out half of them aren’t getting enough light. You would be surprised how quickly light drops off from your balcony to your living room. You can get a cheap Lux meter on Amazon (+-$30) and measure the light. Or use the light meter in the PlantMaid
Now that I’ve told you all about lux I should probably mention a quick disclaimer, Lux is the measure of the brightness of light visible to the human eye. Plants actually need more red and blue light for photosynthesis, so if you really want to get accurate with your light readings for plants you should use a PAR(Photosynthetically Active Radiation) meter. PAR meters are a bit more expensive, but they accurately measure light in the 400-700 nanometer range and are designed to measure plant light.
Using a LUX meter for natural sunlight gives a good indication of light for your plants, but don’t use it to measure fluorescent or artificial light intensity with it. Also, PAR lights measure the red and blue spectrum of light, but they don’t measure the UV spectrum which plants also use. So there are trade off’s with either light meter.
Here are the light level across a typical apartment unit with light coming from a west window:
So, you bought a plant and the label says its needs mild filtered light (with a hint of afternoon sun), but what does that mean!
Since the sun rises I the East and sets in the west different rooms in the house will get different amounts of light. let’s break it down by the type of light:
Bright light – Place right next to a north or south facing window (In the northern hemisphere this is in a south or south west facing window that will get maximum light. In the southern hemisphere this is the north or north west facing window.
Bright Indirect Light – This is any place where the plant will get a few hours of sun during the day but not the whole day. Roughly 1-2 meters away from the window in an east or west window. Or 1 meter away in a south window. The East window is often considered the best window for houseplants as its cooler than the west window without the dangers of overheating. West windows received full sun for part of the day and bright light for the rest, great for flowering plants.
Medium light/Partly shaded – This is where the plant gets some morning sun or some afternoon sun. Morning sun is less intense than afternoon sun, so putting your plants a few meters in from an East facing window works for maximum sun while reducing the risk of burning.
Low light / Shady – This is where your plant doesn’t get direct sun. Place in a north facing windows (if you are in the Northern hemisphere) or a south facing (window if you are in Southern Hemisphere) these windows don’t get any direct sunlight. Or place somewhere in the middle of your living room. This is generally more than 2 meters away from windows, such as near a staircase, in the passage or corners of rooms away from windows. Only low light plants will thrive here.
Spider Plants are also known as "Airplane Plants", "Ribbon Plants" and a few other nicknames. No matter which name you refer to it as, this plant is as happy sitting on a shelf as it is hanging in all it's glory. It's long, slender leaves add a touch of elegance to any room. They prefer bright, but indirect lighting, and they like quite a bit of water (with good drainage!) during the growing months, so water often in the spring, summer, and fall.
They are fast growing plants. Be sure to give them room to grow and re-pot to a larger container as needed.
There are a great many different varieties of philodendrons available (more than 400 species!!) ranging from vines all the way to what you might describe as tropical trees. You are sure to find one to fit somewhere in your space.
Because they are naturally found in the tropics, they will preform best as houseplants by mimicking the same environments. Bright light, warm temperatures, and lots of water are its desires.
This heart-shaped trailing plant has a well earned reputation for being one of the most low maintenance houseplants. Extremely tolerant of being neglected and not super picky about its lighting conditions, there's no reason not to own one. There are several varieties available, so whether you are adding to your collection or getting started with your houseplant addiction, a new to you variety can be found to suit your tastes and environment.
Given the right location and care, the Rubber Tree (or Rubber Plant) can grow to 10 feet tall or more! You will definitely want to give this one room to grow. We admit that Rubber Trees are not the easiest on our list to grow, but with the unique glossy leaves and great burgundy color, we feel that it is well worth the effort. Rubber Trees like a medium to bright light environment, and strongly dislike direct sunlight as well as low light conditions. They like to be watered evenly and consistently, but they do not like their roots to sit in water, nor do they like to dry out for long periods of time. Depending on the humidity level of your climate- a rule of thumb is to water every 7 days or when the top 1 inch of the soil is dried. Let the plant drain when watering.
Between the fact that this houseplant is known for being low-maintenance, and with several different sized varieties available, there is really no excuse for not owning at least one. Peace Lilies don't mind low light conditions, which make them especially good for apartments and offices where natural bright light can be more of a challenge. Keep them watered as soon as the soil dries out, and you'll have a happy plant for years to come.
The tall and elegant leaves of the Snake Plant make it an interesting element in any room. There are many different cultivars available with a variety of different variations in silver, white and gold as well as different sizes and heights. This easy-going houseplant enjoys medium light and does not like to be over watered, making a perfect specimen if you tend to be a houseplant neglecter. Most of the varieties are taller, so plan ahead when choosing a pot to compliment your decor.
Jade plants are arguably the easiest plants in the succulent family to grow as houseplants. That being said, they do need a little bit more attention in order to thrive. Jade plants need a lot of bright sunlight in order to grow thick and full, so this is not the plant for low-light conditions. Grow these plants in a sunny window- south-facing is ideal. Also, Jade plants do not like to be over watered. Water seldomly and with a light hand. The soil should be moist, but not wet. Make sure your container drains extremly well.
This tropical foliage houseplant is so easy to grow that everyone will think you have two green thumbs. Not picky about light, soil or moisture, it's no wonder that the Chinese Evergreen is one of the most popular houseplants on the market. With the wide variety of cultivars featuring different leaf colors, sizes and shapes, you are sure to find one (or two or three) that will be at home in your abode. If you find that your Chinese Evergreen looks stressed, make sure it is not too dry or too wet, and perhaps try adding some humidity to its environment by setting the pot on top of a saucer with rocks and water. Also, clean off its leaves from time to time by giving it a shower or wiping them off.
A versatile plant, the Arrowhead Vine can be grown as a vining plant, or as an upright, bushy specimen by pruning off any runners that develop. They grow well in a low to medium lit room but thrive in a bright, indirect light. The darker-leafed varieties do best in lower light conditions while the variegated types appreciate brighter light. Arrowhead plants are tropical and therefore prefer the soil to be damp during the growing season, so don't neglect your watering chores! They also prefer a higher humidity environment and enjoy the containers sitting on a bed of wet pebbles and/or an occasional misting of hanging baskets. They do not like cold weather, so keeping them in temperatures above 65 will yield a very happy vine.
Commonly called the "Umbrella Plant", Scheffleras are great houseplants provided you have the conditions suitable for them. They want bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sun will burn the leaves, but too little light will cause the plant to become spindly and leggy looking. They like to dry out completely between waterings and then watered thoroughly. Too little water will have them saggy, but too much will cause yellowed leaves and root rot. If you treat them well, your Schefflera will live long (and prosper!).
English Ivy is considered to be an invasive species when grown outdoors in certain areas of the country. This is good news for those of us growing it as a container-bound indoor houseplant since that generally means it is easy going and will not meet its demise very easily. It will even thrive for you as long as you give it what it wants most: plenty of bright light. They don't care much for being over watered and will protest if you neglect to water them for too long, but they do appreciate some humidity. Given its trailing habits, English Ivy looks and performs very well in a hanging basket that has good drainage, or spilling out of a decorative pot on a shelf. They are also perfectly suited for using to make topiaries.
Of course, the very best houseplant is the one in your house. There are so many from which to choose, more than one is necessary!
For a splashy option that will brighten up a dim corner, Justin Hancock, a horticulturist at Costa Farms, says to look no further than the Aglaonema. "This group of plants come in selections that have pink, red, cream, chartreuse, white, and gold variegation, and they can grow pretty much anywhere, including spots with low light and low humidity," he explains, noting that they can also withstand a neglectful watering schedule. "Like most houseplants that tolerate low light, it's a pretty slow grower, so you don't need to worry about frequent repotting or it getting out of hand."