House Plants That Like Shade

Any plant that will thrive in the low light offered to house plants is likely to have evolved in a native habitat where there was plenty of shade. Although our homes seem light to us, they actually have very little light when compared to outdoor shade.

Try taking an indoor photograph without a flash and see how dark your interior space really is. So, if you want to grow house plants successfully, choose potted plants that have developed naturally in low light. There are a surprising number of plants that like shade and will thrive well as houseplants.


Grow the Aspidistra as a lowlight house plant. Known as the 'Cast Iron Plant', or the 'Parlor Palm,' this plant grows handsome, wide, sword-shaped leaves that will fill a pot with lush green. There also is a variegated form with streaks of white tracing vertical designs up and down the leaves. Although this plant likes shade and is one of the most undemanding plants for indoor culture, it will look more lush in good light.


Use a member of the Philodendron family for an ornamental house plant. Philodendrons are from a large family of tropical plants. Some, such as the Philodendron scandens or the Philodendron cordatum, create masses of green that bubble over the top of the pot in a tangle of heart-shaped leaves. Use them to dangle decoratively from tabletops, mantles and shelving. Other Philodendron varieties, such as the Philodendron selloum with its huge scalloped leaves on long stalks, can grow large and rangy. This plant is excellent to use in a good-size tub as a focal point. With good light and proper watering, it can fill a 10-foot square area and reach the ceiling.

Colourful foliage house plants

Look at some of the colourful foliage house plants such as the pink-spotted Hypoestes or white-veined Fittonia to brighten small areas. Sort through the various forms of Crotons to find brilliant red, yellow and green patterned leaves. Crotons do well in Florida in outdoor shade, but when they are brought into the low light of the house they will lose much of their intensity if placed away from the brightest windows. Most shade-loving plants with multicoloured leaves will put on their best displays if placed in a well-lit spot or with extra help from indoor grow lights.

Indoor palms

Decorate your home or office with elegant palms. Shade-tolerant palms such as the Caryota (Fish-tail palm), the elegant, slow-growing Kentia palm or the graceful Areca Palm are excellent palms that grow well in the reduced light and limited root space of a potted house plant. Give these palms big, decorative pots to show them off as interior decor

House plant shopping

Shop around for plants that are sold as house plants rather than trying to adapt your favourite outdoor plant to indoor conditions. There are hundreds of beautiful plants that evolved in deep shade, including ferns, shrubs and trees. Many naturally grow in the understories of tropical forests where treetops protect them from sun. Most prefer humidity and rich soil. Chose your house plant by the conditions of your home and the design effect you want to create with the plant's growth habit. And remember that all plants thrive best with as much light as you can give them, and with watering, soil and humidity that best mimics their natural habitat.