Plants That Grow in the Dark

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.

Share this post!

Yes, you CAN grow houseplants with just artificial light and NO window!  Ok, well they can’t quite grow in the dark…but read on.  I have recommendations below and it is based off of past experience so I know it can be done, and it can be done successfully!

plants that grow in the dark

Be wary of some sites that you might read on the internet.  I have read so much gardening information that simply isn’t true.  There are so many sites that just regurgitate what other sites say and they don’t necessarily have any personal experience to back up the claims.

Anyone can post anything online these days.  Fake news is flourishing everywhere, and not just in politics!

Try and follow credible sources, and if needed, just experiment yourself and see if it works!  This is how we learn.  And there ARE many ways to do things. The right way is what works. So don’t be afraid to try different methods until something works for you.

No one is born with a green thumb, and a “green thumb” is a skill like anything else.  If you have a “knack” for something, it comes from experience, so get out there and garden! 

There is no such thing as luck.  Luck comes from being persistent, and having an inquisitive nature.  If you don’t put in the time to experiment and have no passion to learn, I can’t do much for you.  You will have to live with your black thumb.

Anyway, let’s get to choosing some office plants that don’t need sunlight.

Choosing the RIGHT plant for an area with no window is key.  You can’t just plop any plant anywhere you want and expect it to thrive.

Choose the wrong one for the location, and it will languish and die a slow death!

Fortunately there are a few options.  There are more potential options than my list below, but I’m limiting it to 4 great choices because I have personal experience with growing the following with no windows and using just fluorescent ceiling lights.  

Here are my top 4 desk plants that don’t need sunlight:

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo is probably the easiest plant that you can grow, ever.  See the picture below.

They are normally sold growing in containers that are filled with only water and rocks.  Of course, you can grow them in soil too, but most of the time you’ll only see them growing in water for some reason. Fine.

Simply keep the pot filled with water and you should be good to go for a very long time.  Distilled water is best (room temperature).

You can use tap water and this is really what I do most of the time but eventually you will get hard water deposits and this will start to build up and potentially harm the roots.

You’ll see a white crust start to form on the canes of the bamboo and on the inside of the pot and on the surface of the rocks.  You can scrape this off gently when it occurs.  If you use distilled water, you will avoid this issue.

Also, did you know that lucky bamboo is not a bamboo at all? It is actually a type of Dracaena.

A lucky bamboo can survive for years with no fertilizer but it will not thrive.  It will eventually start to turn yellow and lose its vigor.  You’ll see posts everywhere saying they don’t need fertilizer, and this is just plain silly.

If you love lucky bamboo, check out this lucky bamboo fertilizer.  You will thank me later.

Change the water completely every week or two to keep it fresh and clean.  Your lucky bamboo should thrive for years if you follow these tips.

Parlor Palm

So many different types of indoor palms have been a pain in the read end to grow indoors, except for this one!

Parlor palm (Chamaedora elegans) is one of my favorite indoor houseplants and definitely my favorite indoor palm by far.  

It is fairly slow growing, but it can get to a nice size over several years.

I’ve had this one, pictured above, in my home by a window for a long time.   However, I’ve also grown them successfully in window-less areas as well.

As a general rule for most plants, make sure the drainage in the pot is good, and water when the top of the soil starts to feel dry to the touch.  

I’d like to tell you water once a week, and this is good for most plants, but it really depends on how warm or cold your area is, and other environmental conditions.  Just feel the surface of the soil with your finger, and if it’s dry, water it!

What ever you do, don’t subject your palm to extremes in moisture. Don’t let it dry out completely, ever. It will quickly turn to a mess if you do so. And don’t let it get waterlogged either. Never let it sit in standing water for extended periods of time.

As far as fertilizing goes, I would use a fertilizer that is meant to apply every time you water, or use 1/4 strength fertilizer every time you water.  

I use the liquid dropper bottles of Schultz All-Purpose fertilizer every time I water and follow the directions on the label.

If you are lucky, these will also bloom for you, but it’s doubtful in a window-less area.  I’ve had the one in the picture above bloom regularly but it is next to a window and also is several years old.  

Regardless, they will make a beautiful foliage houseplant for window-less area.

Devil’s Ivy or Pothos

This is a fantastic plant and is pictured below from an old office of mine (with zero window), along with my lucky bamboo.  The devil’s ivy, or Pothos, is the vine that you see rambling across my old office bookshelves.

At the point when I took that picture, the plant was still pretty small!  At one point, I tied clear fishing string on the walls and trained it up the walls!

Pothos is one of the easiest plants you can grow.  Follow the same watering directions that I described under the parlor palm section and you should be good to go.  

Don’t ever let this plant get bone dry, or the bottom leaves will start to yellow and fall off.  If you are attentive to proper watering, you’ll have a monster vine in no time.

plants that grow in the dark

I had regular random hallway walkers at my workplace comment at how shocked they were that my plants were doing so well with no window.

Remember, it’s about the right plant for the right place.  Not the other way around.

Peace Lily

Most of you are probably familiar with peace lily.  You see them everywhere and they are great low light plants. Mine have even flowered in windowless areas!  

Follow similar watering directions as the devil’s ivy. Peace lilies also despise their soil being bone dry.

When they dry out too much, you’ll notice that their leaves will start to droop.  If you notice this, water it immediately and they will perk back up! There are smaller leaf varieties of this, and there are also ones with huge leaves.

The one pictured below is in my home several feet away from a window, and is thriving.  I’ve grown them successfully under just overhead ceiling lights at work in areas with no windows.

These plants will tend to get dusty because of the broad leaves, so periodically, take a damp paper towel and wipe the leaves off. Your plant will thank you.

Or if you prefer, take your peace lily to the bathtub, or to the shower with you, and rinse off the foliage with tepid water.

In addition, if you take good care of it, you will be rewarded with flowers. Some of them are even lightly fragrant.

Other Choices

If you don’t particularly jive with any of the plants above, the following should also do well for you in window-less areas:

Heart leaf philodendron (similar in habit to the devil’s ivy, but most of them are just a plain dark green instead of the beautiful mottled leaves of the devil’s ivy).

Cast iron plant  As the name suggests, these are tough as nails!  I have one at home that my grandmother brought back from Italy decades ago, and she divided her plant up and gave me a piece.  They have large broad leaves and require frequent dusting of the leaves to keep them clean.

ZZ plant.  Another plant that’s as tough as nails.

Chinese evergreen  Another very tough plant and great for low-light areas.

If you would like to explore a much more detailed account of how to grow many of the plants mentioned above, and more, you won’t want to miss out on my new book, Essential Houseplant Mastery:  The Novice’s Guide to Growing & Propagating the 12 Easiest Houseplants

It includes a chapter on each of the following plants:

  • Pothos
  • Pilea peperomioides
  • Monstera delicios
  • Snake plant
  • Parlor Palm
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Peace Lily
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Air Plants
  • African Violets

In addition to specific care on each plant, I also go into how to propagate each plant.  I also have additional chapters on important topics such as how to properly water houseplants, how to fertilize, and how to repot.  I have also added my personal experience with growing each plant.

It is an indispensable guide for houseplants for the beginner!  So be sure to check out Essential Houseplant Mastery.  It is currently in eBook format and a paperback will be available sometime in 2019.

What are your favorite low light plants?

Share this post!

Leave a Reply