Indoor Plants for Low-light Conditions
During the short days of our northern winters, we look to the indoor garden to maintain our green thumbs. Often the light levels in our homes are too low to support the sturdy growth necessary for many indoor plants. Don't give up, there are some beautiful foliage plants that will do quite well under these conditions.

Pothos
This low-maintenance vine is also commonly called pothos, and is often confused with heartleaf philodendron. Like philodendron, devil's ivy has heart-shape leaves and can be grown as a mounding tabletop plant, in a hanging basket, or trained upright on a pole. It's not fussy about how much light it gets, but the brighter the spot, the more variegation you'll see in the leaves.

Why We Love It: Devil's ivy is one of the more versatile houseplants you can grow. It looks great trailing out of a hanging basket, climbing up a pole or other structure, or just left to crawl over a tabletop or mantel.

Name: Epipremnum aureum 'Marble Queen'

Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep the soil moderately dry

Size: Trailing plant 8 feet long

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.

Snake Plant
This carefree succulent plant tolerates neglect extremely well. If you've had no success with houseplants other than plastic ones, give snake plant a try. In addition to the tall form pictured here, shorter, bird's-nest forms are available. All types withstand low light but appreciate brighter conditions. The only problem likely to develop is root rot if you overwater the plant.

Why We Love It: It's nearly indestructible and has architectural, sword-shaped leaves

Name: Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'

Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

Philodendron
Heart-leaf philodendron is a durable foliage plant that has long been the backbone of indoor gardening. It has pretty, heart-shape leaves and adapts well to low-light spots. It is often grown with stems trailing over the edge of bookshelves or large pieces of furniture.

Why We Love It: The climbing stems can attach to a moss pole or bark slab making it easy to create an upright tower of green.

Name: Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium

Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-80 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Trailing or climbing to 8 feet or more

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.

English Ivy
In many areas, English ivy is commonly grown as an outdoor ground cover. But you can also use it indoors. Grow a pot of ivy on a mantel or shelf where its stems can trail down. For a more formal effect, train the stems onto a topiary form. It's also exceptionally easy to start new plants: Simply cut off a 5-inch-long section of stem, remove the bottom leaves, and pot it up in moist soil. If you keep it moist, the cutting should root in a couple of weeks.

Here's a tip: Spider mites love to attack ivy. Help prevent them by periodically washing your ivy in the shower or bathtub with room-temperature water.

Why We Love It: It's a versatile vine plant with deep green or variegated leaves. We especially love using it to create topiaries.

Name: Hedera helix

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 55-70 degrees F.; keep evenly moist

Size: Climbs or trails to 6 feet or more

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets or children.

Zeezee Plant
Sometimes called eternity plant because it lasts so long, succulent zeezee plant tolerates low light and neglect. The thick, fleshy leafstalks are so durable that you might even think it's plastic. It is a slow grower, so purchase a large plant if you want a big specimen. Cut stems remain green and healthy in appearance for several weeks, even without water.

Why We Love It: This plant is so easy it's almost a challenge to kill it.

Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; allow the soil to dry between waterings

Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide

Note: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by children or pets.

Spider Plant
You may remember this from your grandmother's house; spider plants have been grown for years and are still popular today. Look for a number of varieties -- from types with plain green leaves to others that offer foliage marked with cream or white stripes. All make handsome hanging plants that develop plantlets at the ends of arching stems. These babies readily root in water or potting soil to start new plants.

Why We Love It: It offers tons of old-fashioned appeal and an easy-care nature.

Name: Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum'

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep the soil evenly moist

Size: To 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

Arrowhead Vine
One of the most common houseplants, arrowhead vine features distinctly arrow-shaped leaves (hence the moniker). Unlike a lot of plants, there are many different varieties from which to choose. Most have variegated foliage; depending on variety, the leaves may be green with white markings or bronzy-green with pink tones. Young plants form a mound about a foot high, but stems begin to vine as they mature, so you can grow them upright on a pole or let them trail in a hanging basket.

By the way, you may also see this plant sold as Nepthytis.

Why We Love It: The colorful leaves keep their variegation -- even in low-light spots, so this is a top pick for dressing up just about any corner of your home.

Name: Syngonium podophyllum

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep evenly moist

Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

Note: All parts of this plant can cause irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.

Corn Plant
Don't confuse this plant with the vegetable of the same name. This beautiful houseplant offers variegated leaves and a single upright stem -- so it resembles a decorative corn stalk without the ears. Plant several together in a large container for a fuller appearance.

Here's a tip: If your corn plant grows too tall, cut back the cane to a foot or two above the soil and new shoots to form below the cut.

Why We Love It: It bears colorful yellow-and-green-striped straplike leaves on an upright stem.

Name: Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 10 feet tall and 3 feet tall

Note: Corn plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by dogs.

Rubber Tree
An old-fashioned classic, rubber tree gets its name from the sticky, milky sap it exudes if injured. It eventually grows into a large tree, but you can easily keep it shorter by pruning back long stems, causing it to branch into a multi-stemmed shrub.

Note: In frost-free areas, you may see rubber trees as a full-size shade trees outdoors.

Why We Love It: Its big, dark green shiny leaves definitely make a statement. The older plants get, the larger they become -- a good-sized rubber tree makes a big, dramatic accent in any room.

Name: Ficus elastica

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-80 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide

Note: The milky white sap may cause irritation to people with sensitive skin.

Schefflera
Also commonly called umbrella tree, this plant offers glossy foliage with leaflets that radiate out from a central spoke, similar to the ribs of an umbrella. A close relative, dwarf schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) has smaller, thicker leaflets and shorter stems. Both are sometimes classified in the genus Brassaia.

Why We Love It: Its large glossy green leaves create instant tropical flair.

Name: Schefflera actinophylla

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep the soil evenly moist

Size: To 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide

Green Dracaena
Some varieties of green dracaena, such as 'Janet Craig' have solid green leaves. Others such as 'Warneckii' (pictured), bear white, cream, gold or chartreuse stripes on their foliage. All form compact rosettes when young, but eventually become striking upright foliage plants. They tolerate low light, but produce better color in medium to bright light.

Why We Love It: It's a durable, upright plant with good-looking leaves.

Name: Dracaena deremensis

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-75 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 10 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Note: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by dogs.

Boston Fern
Boston fern's arching, lacy fronds make it well suited to hanging baskets or for display on a pedestal. Don't let its delicate appearance mislead you, though: This tough plant that will live for decades if you keep it moist and give it moderate light and enough humidity. The variety 'Dallas' is more compact and more tolerant of dry air.

Why We Love It: Boston ferns create a classic feel in any room. Their beautiful, arching fronds work well with any decorating style -- but especially cottage and country.

Name: Nephrolepis exaltata

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep evenly moist

Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

Other Great Ferns to Grow Indoors


Cast-Iron Plant
One of the toughest you can grow, cast-iron plant withstands neglect, low light, low humidity, and a wide range of temperatures. It grows slowly so purchase a plant that is large enough for the space in which you intend to use it. Several varieties have white or yellow variegation on their leaves.

Why We Love It: This plant really lives up to its name: It's nearly indestructible.

Name: Aspidistra elatior

Growing Conditions: Low light; 45-85 degrees F.; keep evenly moist during active growth, barely moist in fall and winter

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

Chinese Evergreen
This plant has great foliage; the leaves are punctuated with shades of silver, gray, or shades of green making Chinese evergreen an attractive choice to brighten low-light areas of your home. Take a cue from shopping mall plantings and use Chinese evergreen as a ground cover around an upright, treelike houseplant. Or showcase it alone as a specimen plant.

Why We Love It: It's extra tough and has attractive leaves that brighten low light spots.

Name: Aglaonema commutatum

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep evenly moist

Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.


Dieffenbachia
Several closely related species share the common name of dieffenbachia. All produce canelike stems with lush foliage variegated in green and white. Grow one by itself to for a tree appearance or several together in a single container for a shrubby look. One of the plant's common names, dumb cane, comes from the effect of the toxic sap that if eaten causes swelling and numbness in the mouth and throat.

Why We Love It: Its large, green-and-white leaves create a decidedly tropical look to any room of your home (and it's great for decorating decks and patios in the summer).

Name: Dieffenbachia spp.

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 60-80 degrees F.; keep evenly moist

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous and can cause severe irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat if eaten or chewed by pets or children.


Dracaena
This plant is as impressive as its name. It bears tufts of long, narrow, deep green leaves edged in red at the tips of woody gray stems. Young plants are shrubbier, but soon grow more upright. The variety 'Tricolor' has pink-and-cream leaf margins, and is sometimes known as rainbow plant.

Why We Love It: Its grassy leaves on tall stems give it a festive appearance.

Name: Dracaena marginata

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-75 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Note: This tree is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by dogs.



Peperomia
Peperomias are a diverse group of small houseplants with waxy and often highly textured leaves. Red-edge peperomia (pictured) has a narrow band of red surrounding a wide creamy leaf margin. Other peperomias we love include ripple peperomia, watermelon peperomia, baby rubber plant, and silverleaf peperomia.

Why We Love It: Its waxy, colorful foliage adds a splash of color in any room -- without taking up a lot of space.

Name: Peperomia spp.

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 60-75 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

Note: This plant is poisonous if eaten or chewed on by dogs or cats.



With careful selection, your indoor garden can be food for the soul when the wind is howling and the snow is falling.