The Q&A Archives: Houseplant Recommendations

Question: What are the best houseplants for low natural lighting?

Answer: . Houseplants thrive under varying degrees of light, so you're wise in figuring out how much light will be available in the spot you've chosen, and then picking plants adapted to the amount light you can provide.

Indoor plants fall into one of five basic categories in terms of light requirements. They are: 1) Full sun, which is defined as an area with as much light as possible, within 2 feet of a south-facing window. This suits desert cacti, succulents and pelargonium. 2) Some direct sun, defined as a brightly lit area with some sunlight falling on the leaves during the day. Examples are a west-facing or east-facing windowsill, a spot close to, but no more than 2 feet away from an unobstructed window. This is ideal for most flowering houseplants. 3) Bright but sunless, an area close to but not in the zone lit by direct sunlight. Many plants will grow well in this area, which generally extend for about 5 feet around a window which is sunlit for part of the day. A large sunless windowsill may provide similar conditions. 4) Semi-shade. This is a moderately lit area, within 5-8 feet of a sunlit window, or close to a sunless window. Only a few flowering plants will grow here, but it's suitable for many foliage houseplants. 5) Shade. Defined as a poorly lit area, but bright enough to allow you to read a newspaper during several hours of the day. No flowering plants will grow here, but many foliage plants, such as Aglaonema, Aspidistra and Asplenium, will grow here. The difference between northern light and southern light is the intensity and duration. South and west exposures are the most intense, north and east are slightly lower on the scale, but can provide bright enough light to keep many plants growing. Each location is unique and many plants that reportedly don't like certain exposures may very well thrive where they shouldn't. Use the guidelines on the plant tags or in the catalog descriptions to help your place your plants so they'll receive the right exposure. Hope this information helps you choose just the right houseplants.

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