Flowering House Plants for Low-Light Areas

Updated on October 20, 2017
Jeanne Grunert profile image

Jeanne Grunert is a Virginia Master Gardener, gardening magazine columnist, and book author. She is a full-time freelance writer.

Pilea mollis, or "Moon Valley." You can see the tiny flowers in the upper left.
Pilea mollis, or "Moon Valley." You can see the tiny flowers in the upper left. | Source

House Plants that Thrive in Low Light

Many homeowners give up on growing house plants because they have low-light areas (areas facing north or windowsills shaded by large outdoor trees that drastically cut back on the level of light reaching plants inside the house).

If you've ever looked for a list of house plants for low light, you've probably noticed that the list includes mostly foliage plants. Many offer beautiful foliage, but some of us just want flowers, even small flowers, on our house plants. Fortunately, there are a few flowering house plants for low-light areas that like north-facing rooms.

Many of these plants share common characteristics. It's important to understand the origins of your house plants in order to give them the proper conditions inside the house to grow and flourish. For example, many house plants for low-light areas hail from jungle areas, or areas where a thick canopy of trees provided dense shade. They adapted to living in the darker portions of the jungle. Taking a house plant suited for a low-light area and trying to grow it on a bright, hot, south-facing windowsill just won't do. The poor plant isn't adapted to the brighter light, so while you think you're doing it a favor, you're killing it with kindness.

Think about jungles. Most are high humidity and high moisture zones, and the two blooming house plants detailed below both appreciate frequent watering and high humidity. However, that doesn't mean soaking them or drowning them. Make sure that they are in pots with good drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. You can place a saucer or pan underneath the plants to catch the extra water. A tray of pebbles placed underneath the pots is ideal. Not only will it catch any extra moisture, but if kept with some water in it, the natural evaporation of the water will provide a source of humidity for the plants.

Where can you find these and other low lighthouse plants? Check your local nursery and greenhouse first. Many small, local greenhouses offer unique and exotic plants or can order plants from their list of growers just for you. You can also check your local 'big box' stores for these and other house plants.

Pilea mollis "Moon Valley"
Pilea mollis "Moon Valley" | Source

Pilea Mollis or "Moon Valley"

This cutie above is the Pilea mollis—common name "Moon Valley." The Pilea family of plants hails from jungle-type regions in Vietnam, Jamaica, and Central and South America. They make excellent house plants for low-light areas and prefer northern windowsills or areas well away from bright sunshine. They do like to have their soil moist, so check the soil frequently. Simply touch it with your fingertip; if the soil clings to your fingertip, it's moist. If it feels dry, water it a bit. Fertilize with a balanced and gentle house plant fertilizer every other month or even less.

Pilea mollis offers a very attractive flowering house plant for low-light areas. Although the blossoms are small, the combination of dainty flowers and intricate, textured and mult-hued foliage makes this plant an attractive focal point indoors.

Spathiphyllum or "Peace Lily"
Spathiphyllum or "Peace Lily" | Source

Spathiphyllum or "Peace Lily"

Spathiphyllum or "Peace Lily" is perhaps one of the best-known flowering low-light house plants. You find it in offices, in the atriums of hotels and office buildings, in florist shops and in homes everywhere. It has attractive foliage and when the plant becomes pot-bound, or grows too large for its container, it begins to flower. Each white shield-shaped flower lasts a long time, and the plant will continue to produce flowers until you take pity on it and replant it into a larger container. Like Pilea mollis, it prefers to be kept moist and enjoys higher humidity. It tolerates brighter light but still doesn't like direct sunlight; leaves may turn brown if kept in too bright an area. You can find this plant easily at most florists, big box stores, garden centers and home centers nationwide.

Other Considerations for Choosing House Plants

If you have pets or small children, it's always a good idea to check on whether or not a new house plant you're considering is toxic. Check with your child's pediatrician for potential toxic plants. For pets, you can check with your pet's veterinarian or the ASPCA offers a searchable database by pet of various plants.

Even if you have an apartment that only faces north, you can at least grow these and other low light house plants. More choices are available for rooms that get little sunlight, especially if you're open to foliage-only house plants. Visit your local nursery or garden center and be sure to read the plant care tags in the pots - these will quickly and easily identify the light requirements for each plant offered for sale. You can't force a plant to grow where it doesn't want to, so if it's a plant that needs bright sunlight, you can't make it "like" a darker room. Choose plants for the conditions you have, learn to give them what they need, and you'll enjoy beautiful house plants for many years to come.

© 2012 Jeanne Grunert


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    • Jeanne Grunert profile image

      Jeanne Grunert 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you Elsie! I appreciate your leaving a comment.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      I have many indoor plant, but not Pilea mollis "Moon Valley" I like the color of the leaves, have got the right place to put one. Will be looking next time I'm out for one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about low light area house plants.

    • Jeanne Grunert profile image

      Jeanne Grunert 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you for stopping by, ecogranny!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I love pileas and the peace plant, which thrived in some pretty awful office situations in the past. I've never had a pothos bloom, but they sure can brighten up a dreary, windowless room. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Moon valley is really lovely! I'll have to look for it.

    • Jeanne Grunert profile image

      Jeanne Grunert 5 years ago from Virginia

      Jaye, the Moon Valley plant is really interesting - texture of the leaves, colors, and flowers. A lot of plants dislike being moved. I lost several Peace Lilies that way. Thanks for stopping by!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 5 years ago

      Hi Jeanne,

      thanks for this article and for sharing with us this information.

      thanks again, voted up.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I had a Moon Valley plant for a long time and enjoyed it very much, but when I moved (now 12 years ago), it didn't survive the change. Perhaps its system was "shocked" , as some plants' are. I think it's time for me to get another one, since I have a low-light place that needs a houseplant.

      Voted Up++

    • snlee profile image

      snlee 5 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

      I mean hide ugly spots!

    • snlee profile image

      snlee 5 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

      Houseplants are ideal for interior decoration and can used to hide messy or ugly pots..

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick

      Big fan of indoor plants, especially the peace plant.