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Shade-Loving Plants

Updated: Jun 23

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When it comes to gardening indoors, one of the biggest hardships hobbyists come across is getting enough sunlight. It can be hard to find that perfect south-facing window for the full, direct sunlight that many plants require. One solution to this problem would be to buy an ultraviolet grow light like this one we use in our greenhouse cabinets, but it is important to note that some can be harmful to your eyes and not everyone has the ability to invest in one. There are, however, plenty of plants that prefer shade to direct sunlight and if given the right conditions can thrive inside your home. It is important to note though while these plants appreciate low-light conditions, they cannot survive without at least some UV rays, whether they come from the sun or an ultraviolet light bulb. Shade-loving plants can live happily anywhere from a north-facing window to a high shelf in a bathroom if given the right conditions. Low-light plants that we have had the most success growing here at CB Flora include the Heartleaf philodendron, Brasil philodendron, Begonias, Snake plants, and Scindapsus. Calathea is one of our favorites; we usually carry Calathea majestica exotica, Calathea vittata, and Calathea rattlesnake.

Heartleaf and Brasil Philodendron

Low-light plants come in a wide array of shapes, colors, sizes, and with a variety of benefits. True to its name, the Heartleaf philodendron (known scientifically as Philodendron hederaceum) has glossy, heart shaped leaves that grow up to 12 inches long at its happiest. This plant is known as an evergreen climber, meaning that it remains green throughout the year and grows in a vine that likes to reach toward its light source. Mature plants of this variety grow white leaves called bracts or spathes which fulfill the reproductive role of flowers. They grow and produce more greenery with indirect or medium amounts of light. Additionally, they can be potted in soil or grown in just water. Once it gets adjusted to one, though, it may not easily transfer to the other. If you prefer your plants variegated with gorgeous colors, you may want to look into a Brasil philodendron.



Snake Plant

If you are interested in something that’s difficult to kill, you would probably do best to start with a Snake plant. Snake plants, or Dracaena trifasciata, are very common houseplants and go by many names. They are also known colloquially as mother--in-law’s-tongue and Saint George’s sword. You may recognize these plants from malls and offices everywhere. They are incredibly well-known for their air purifying qualities: NASA’s Clean Air Study found that it could remove 80% of toxins found in sick building syndrome, which is when many people living or working in the same building suffer from illness related to the air quality of their environment. In addition, they are low-maintenance and therefore are great plants for first-timers or neglectful plant parents. As evergreen perennials, they stay green all season and have a long lifespan. While they grow slowly, they average out at 8 inches. They don’t like much water, either; they should dry between each watering or else you’ll find yourself with root rot. They prefer medium light but they will do just fine in either extreme as they are hardy and versatile. They come in all shapes and patterns, but if you’re planning on keeping them in a lower-light environment you should spring for a darker colored variety.


Calathea

If you would prefer more of a challenge, we highly recommend Calathea! There are many variants of this plant, so it is important to do research on the specific kind before jumping in. Calathea are known for their colorful leaves that close at nighttime and open up back during the day. They like porous, well-draining soils and medium to bright indirect sunlight, but will tolerate low light well. Additionally, they do best in humid environments. Spray bottles work well for this purpose, as do humidifiers. We have had luck with these mini humidifiers and have multiple throughout the home. Finally, they are non-toxic to most pets so they are a great addition to busy homes.