7 Houseplants That Like the Dark

We all know that plants need light. After all, that’s how they make their food via photosynthesis.
That said, not all plants tolerate direct sunlight. There are so many houseplants that like the dark and can thrive in low-light conditions.

You can use your office, bathroom, or low-lit living room to house plants like Japanese Aralia, Prayer Plants, Peace Lilies, ZZ Plants, Pothos, Parlor Palms, and Chinese Evergreen. And while these plants won’t thrive in pitch-black darkness, they do exceptionally well in the shade.

So let’s go over each of them and find out more about the ideal environment for their growth.

Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)

Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia is a gorgeous, hardy plant that thrives in a variety of conditions. Known for its large size, which can reach 16 feet outdoors and 6 feet indoors, its leaves can measure an entire foot across. Its dark, corrugated foliage and shiny black fruit make it an eye-catching houseplant.

Caring for Japanese Aralia isn’t that difficult. Aside from keeping it out of direct sunlight, which tends to bleach its gorgeous dark green leaves, you can do no wrong. It’s not fussy about soil pH, and it only needs watering when the soil isn’t moist.

To keep it looking its best, though, keep a bottle of liquid fertilizer handy during its growing season. Once fall comes, relegate the plant food to just once a month.

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Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

The Prayer Plant is a very distinctive houseplant with its showy foliage that has three colors decorating its surface. Although low and slow-growing, you can tell Prayer plants apart by their closing action at night, which makes the flat leaves look like praying hands.

This plant is more sensitive than Japanese Aralia in the sense that it prefers slightly acidic soil (6.0 pH). It also does poorly in soil that is too moist, as it leads to root rot.

Caring for a Prayer Plant requires placing it in partial to full shade, as well as creating a potting mixture that supports good drainage. Peat moss, loam, and sand, alongside a bottom layer of pebbles will ensure water doesn’t stagnate, causing the plant to collapse.

That said, you should never allow your Prayer plant to dry out completely, as this will kill it. Water it regularly and monitor the moisture level of the soil. You should also avoid using super cold water as this will compromise the plant’s ability to absorb water.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lilies are plants that grow in the shade of the forest floor of tropical Southeast Asia and South America. They’re not true lilies, as they don’t belong to the family Liliaceae. They belong to the family Araceae, which is more closely related to the Taro plant.

Peace Lilies are pretty easy to take care of; all they need is well-draining soil and partial to full shade to thrive.

They can also grow in water alone, which is a cool feature if you want to put them in a vase. Just make sure only the roots are suspended in water and that it isn’t covering the stems, as they can get mushy and rot very easily.

Peace Lilies in full shade will have amazing foliage, but don’t expect to see the bright white blooms unless you give the plant some indirect light. A couple of hours near a north-facing window in the early morning is enough to encourage blooming.

Just beware that Peace Lilies contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can be poisonous to pets and small children. So make sure you’re keeping your plant out of reach.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ plant

The ZZ Plant, also stylized as “Zee Zee”, is an excellent treat for beginners who are scared of temperamental houseplants. These lustrous, gorgeous plants almost look too perfect to be real!

ZZ Plants don’t require special care and can withstand drier conditions. They grow best in a bark or peat-based soil that’s well-draining. Watering should be left until the surface soil is visibly dry, about one inch into the pot. If it’s still moist, wait a couple more weeks to water it.

You can maintain its size and shape by placing it in an area with low light. However, if allowed a few hours in indirect sunlight, you’ll notice significant growth. You should re-pot the plant if you notice the plant’s roots circling around the potting mix and getting tangled.

When it comes to fertilization, a couple of times a year is sufficient for ZZ Plants. Even if you forget about it completely, you can catch up whenever and the plant won’t suffer in the process.

Keep ZZ Plants out of the reach of children and pets as they can be very toxic.

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Devil’s Ivy (Pothos)

Pothos is a great indoor plant, known for its trailing stems and variegated leaves. It can be used to cover trellises and walls, but will most likely need external support to keep the stems in place.

To get the fully variegated pattern on the leaves, you’ll have to subject them to indirect light every so often. If not, the green parts, rich in chlorophyll, will take over the leaf, losing its patterned appearance.

If that’s alright with you, then Pothos is a great low-light plant that will add a nice pop of color to your office or bathroom. Just pot the plant in a rocky, well-draining potting mix, and only water it when the soil has completely dried.

That said, you shouldn’t wait until the edges of the leaves have turned brown, because that’s a sign the plant got way too dry.

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Although native to Central America, Parlor Palms are a curious species that prefers lower temperatures and low-light conditions. They became popular as indoor decorations thanks to their lovely, delicate palm leaves and slender trunks.

Caring for Parlor Palms isn’t that difficult. They grow well in a peat-based potting mix that’s very well-draining since they can rot in waterlogged soil. To avoid any chances of that happening, you can wait till the soil is completely dry before you give the plant water.

Light from fluorescent lamps or north-facing windows is enough to keep Parlor Palms alive. This makes them ideal for offices or living rooms that don’t get enough sunlight. Just avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this will definitely scorch the leaves.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum)

Chinese evergreen

Another beautifully variegated plant from the Araceae family, Chinese Evergreen plants are a great addition to any indoor garden. This plant comes in different shades, with the darkest greens needing the least amount of light.

Chinese Evergreen isn’t picky about soil pH or texture. It just needs moist, but not too wet soil. Mixing some sand or perlite into your potting mix can help with that, as well as having sufficiently big drainage holes.

Come wintertime, you should let the plant rest for longer between waterings so as not to drench the roots.

Be careful with this plant, as well as other Araceae plants, as they can be poisonous to pets if consumed in large amounts.

Wrap-Up: 7 Houseplants That Like the Dark

Living in an apartment with not enough natural, direct sunlight can make you question whether getting plants is the best idea. Well, you can have houseplants that like the dark!

These 7 houseplants can survive and thrive in low-light conditions and make your office or bathroom look amazing in the process. Just make sure you’re giving them what they need in terms of water, soil, and fertilization.