If you love indoor greenery but don’t have a full-sun location, you’re in luck. There are indoor trees that thrive in low-light environments.
We have compiled some of the choicest indoor trees that don’t mind poorly-lit areas that can be perfect for your interior decor.
So without further ado, let’s see them.
8 Amazing Low Light Indoor Trees
1.) Dragon Tree (Bleeds Red!)
Dragon trees (Dracaena) are a fantastic addition to your home because of their distinct look and little need for direct sunlight. Of course, natural sunlight does help, but your dragon tree can comfortably do without it.
But there is a catch – this tree will grow a little slower than if it had direct sunlight. But, rest assured, the plant would grow, just not as fast.
If you’re wondering where the dragon tree got its name from, it’s a Greek word that means “female dragon”.
The myth goes that a one-hundred-headed dragon named Landon guarded sacred apples in the Garden of Hesperides. Unfortunately for Landon, Hercules killed Landon, and it is said that a dragon tree grew with every drop of bloodshed by Landon.
In fact, the dragon tree still kinda “bleeds” red. As if the plant is injured a red-colored resin will emerge.
Another crucial benefit of having dragon trees in your home is that, like sunlight, you don’t need to water them all the time. Instead, you should water the plant only when the soil is dried out and needs a top-up.
Best grown in well-composted soil or potting mix. With a slightly acidic soil mixture between 6-6.5 pH (PDF).
Dragon trees thrive with neglect, so they’re an excellent starter plant. Just make sure to re-pot them in the spring if they get too root-bound (you’ll know this if they start to wilt).
Don’t place them near an air conditioner or draft window, as dragon trees don’t do well with dry, cold air. Doing so will cause their leaves to be yellow and turn brown.
If you have pets, you might want to consider another plant on this list. Unfortunately, this houseplant is toxic to them, no thanks to the saponins it contains; dragon trees have zero tolerance for our furry friends, cats, and dogs.
It could cause severe reactions in your pet, ranging from vomiting, incoordination, weakness, dilated pupils, increased aggression, etc.
So, if you must have the dragon tree and have pets, do your best to keep them away from this low-light rockstar.
2.) Umbrella Tree
Tall trees stand out anywhere you place them in your home, and the umbrella tree (Schefflera Arboricola) doesn’t disappoint.
It could grow up to 6 feet indoors, and you don’t have to be worried about the amount of sunlight it receives. The umbrella tree thrives in low light conditions, but it would be even better if you placed it in a spot with indirect light.
Be careful not to expose this plant to too much bright direct sunlight because it could kill it. The umbrella tree thrives best in mid-to-low light; it also helps to give it filtered light by placing it a little bit away from the window.
The umbrella tree will improve your air quality, health, and well-being like other trees on this list.
You can select from different varieties, including Green Gold, Gold Capella, and Dazzle. Then, depending on your taste in plants and decor, you can grow them tall or short—your call.
Like dragon trees, umbrella trees are not pet-friendly, so take appropriate precautions if you’re a pet lover.
3.) Dwarf Banana (Can Grow Bananas!)
The name of this tree does not imply that it is a short plant with stunted growth. On the contrary, the plant got its name because it has a short stalk (the main stem). This low-light-thriving tree can grow up to 6 feet and give your home a pretty look.
The tree has prominent paddle-like leaves that would draw the attention of anyone that comes close. Unfortunately, it also has rough edges and an unpleasant-looking area of color, but that fades as the plant matures.
If you need to handle the tree, do so with care because the leaves are fragile and could tear easily. Avoid leaf shine products as well.
Also, note that the Dwarf Banana tree tends to grow fast, so if what you want is a tree that takes a longer time to grow, you might want to steer clear.
But if you love the fast-growing plants, you can boost growth by feeding your Banana tree with fertilization. And here’s the best part, the Banana tree poses no threat to house pets.
These plants do well in rich, moist soil that is well-draining. Use peat moss, loamy soil, and sand to produce excellent potting soil.
You can also get these plants to produce mini-bananas! Place the tree in a 10-12″ diameter pot and use a booster to enhance fruit production.
4.) Rubber Plants
Rubber Plants (ficus elastica) are among the most popular indoor plants. The look and feel of this plant add color to any interior. Rubber plants fit the bill if you need a plant that will blossom even in low light conditions.
Like every other plant, the rubber plant needs your care and attention. You should readily provide the right amount of water and light to keep the leaves soaring and the plant healthy.
Water the plant whenever you notice the lower leaves falling out. While this houseplant fares well in lower light conditions, it is in its element when exposed to bright indirect light.
Also, try not to move it around, causing large temperature and light changes, or rubber plants lose their leaves. This also happens when the plant is too dry, wet, or in a drafty room.
Be careful whenever you handle the plant because the sap may cause skin irritation for some people. It is best to wash your hands each time you make contact. Also, check for bugs from time to time and use a warm water solution to wipe them away.
5.) Lady Palm
This indoor plant is another one that doesn’t mind living in a home without access to bright light. However, it does act like a lady, as it takes its time to grow and will mesmerize your guests with its wholesome appearance.
The Lady palm plant (Rhapis excelsa) is small, but the fronds give a good account. You can tuck the plant into a corner, and as it grows, the green fronds will spring forth and fill that space. It’s a beauty to behold!
Unlike most other plants, you can also place the Lady palm near doors since they are unaffected by a rush of cool winter air.
Keep the plant alive and bubbling for you and your guests by watering and using slow-release fertilizer during the growing season. You should keep this up, especially in summer and spring when Lady palm needs to be fed water when the well-draining topsoil gets dry.
The colder months are kinder to the plant. You don’t have to fertilize, and watering should be less regular.
Lady palms can combat disease well, but mild diseases such as leaf spot can occur. They can also suffer from pests such as mites, scales, and mealybugs in interior environments.
6.) Parlor Palms
Parlor palms (Chamaedorea Elegans) have been a favorite for indoor decoration for centuries, and they’re still one of the most sought-after indoor plants.
We have found that most newcomers to indoor gardening tend to choose this plant, and it’s understandable why they do. Parlor palms may not require as much attention as some other plants. For instance, it can go days without water, and you’d still find it alive and healthy.
Not only is the plant a die-hard, but it also beautifies and warms your household, giving you a distinct view and atmosphere you would love. And, of course, Parlor palm thrives in low light, adapting faster than most to your indoor setting.
The Parlor palms fronds are popularly used in flower, Palm Sunday, and wreath decorations due to the ability to live up to 35 days after being cut.
Parlor palms are resilient and adaptable, but they don’t do well in certain conditions. You want to ensure the room is warm enough, not dry or cool. If your home doesn’t meet these conditions, don’t fret; find an area that generally has higher humidity, such as near a bathroom. Generally, keep the plant away from anything that produces dry air, such as an air conditioner.
7.) Corn Plant
Another tree to consider if you want a tree that thrives in low light conditions is the corn plant (Dracaena fragrans). Unlike some of the plants on this list that can manage bright lights, the corn plant cannot; too much sunlight can be the undoing of a corn plant.
Corn plants have been popular ever since the mid-1800s in Europe. Often called “false palms,” they look like palm trees.
Keep them away from corn plants if you have cats or dogs or both at home. Better still, choose a different indoor plant that is more tolerant of these animals. If your pets ingest any part of this plant, they will have severe symptoms that could be fatal if unchecked.
Caring for your corn plant is simple, keep them in a high humidity environment and ensure the soil stays moist (to provide extra moisture if your home is humid enough, you can mist the plant with water every couple of days). And like other plants, be sure to water and fertilize the plants as often as needed.
Once you get the growing conditions figured out, corn plants are pretty easy to take care of.
8.) Kentia Palm
Kentia palm plants (Howea forsteriana) are known for enduring conditions that other houseplants cannot. Also, an indoor Kentia palm can reach a towering height, making it an excellent focal point in your home. Kentia palms have large palm-shaped leaves, and the tree can grow very tall over time.
Once developed, Kentia palm plants are drought-tolerant, though they don’t like to be too dry or wet. Only water when the top inch or two of soil dries out. Mist your Kentia palm from time to time to provide humidity and get rid of dust.
You can expect your Kentia palm indoor tree to thrive in low light conditions, but note that it will grow slower. On the other hand, the plant doesn’t grow fast, so you might want to get one that is the exact size you need for your space and expect little growth.
Kentia palms require very little pruning, and over-pruning the trunk can permanently damage it. However, you should carefully pick old leaf bases off (PDF) rather than yanking them off since this might result in lasting scarring or trunk rot disease.
Indoor palms are rarely infected; however, spider mites, mealybugs, and insects can attack them. Insecticidal soap or neem oil can often help deal with pest problems.
Although low light indoor trees don’t require much sunlight, they still benefit from exposure to some light. Place your houseplants near a light source, not alienating them from light. Also, remember to care and pay attention to your indoor trees; water them, humidify the air or spray mist, and fertilize them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tree can grow without sunlight?
We’re not aware of a tree that can grow without any sunlight at all. Trees will need at least indirect sunlight. Which the low light indoor trees on this list are perfect for.
What is a low light tree?
This mainly means that the tree doesn’t require direct sunlight. But, most will do well with indirect and a little morning sunlight.
What is considered low light for plants?
Low light can be measured with light meters (phone apps can do this but check accuracy). Many on our best low-light tree list require about 100-500 foot candles of light.
What is bright indirect light?
Bright indirect light will make a room bright enough to read in. Without direct sunlight. Usually found in shaded west and south-facing windows. Along with windows on the east and north sides of a home.
Is Ficus a low light plant?
Yup, the Ficus will do well in low lighting interiorscapes. Look for it to be featured on this list soon.
Houseplants Toxic to Pets: www.isvma.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ToxicPlants.pdf
The Effect of Low Light Intensity and Temperature on Growth of Schefflera arboricola in Interior Landscapes: www.journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/42/1/article-p65.xml
Palm Diseases and Nutritional Problems: www.hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/palm-diseases-nutritional-problems/
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.