Shade Tolerant Houseplants

Shade tolerant houseplants are those that may thrive in higher levels of light but that maintain growth and color if conditions are shaded. Since indoor conditions generally include a lower level of light than outdoors, shade tolerant houseplants offer shapes and colors you desire without worrying about adequate light. Though they receive little light, shade tolerant plants often display vivid foliage that adds interest to your space.


Dumbcane plants (Dieffenbachia) are low-maintenance houseplants adaptable to many surroundings. This houseplant displays large green leaves accompanied by several marking possibilities including spotted patterns, stripes, the presence of veins in a different color than the foliage or dots, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Thriving in bright filtered light, dumbcane is shade tolerant and prefers well-drained soil. For watering, fully saturate soil with water and wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil dries before the next application. Keep dumbcane in a temperature range from 60 to 75 degrees F and avoid drastic fluctuations in temperature. As indicated with the name "dumbcane," this plant is toxic when ingested, causing a numb mouth; additionally, the sap of dumbcane may cause dermatitis. Dumbcane grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet and a width of 1 to 3 feet.

False Aralia

False aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima) is a shade tolerant houseplant that displays "handlike" arrangements of narrow leaves in a copper hue that turns deep gray-green, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. As false aralias mature, foliage tends to appear heavier and leaves widen. Thriving in partial sun to partial shade, false aralia continues to grow even in shaded conditions. This houseplant prefers well-drained, fertile soil. False aralia upright shrubs and trees grow to a height of 6 to 25 feet and a spread of 3 to 15 feet.

Cast Iron Plant

Cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior) are widely used as shade tolerant evergreen houseplants because they thrive in very low levels of light. This herbaceous perennial plant displays clumping large glossy leaves in a solid dark green hue or in a variegated variety. Cast iron plants grow well in several soil types, tolerating both acid and alkaline pH levels as well as sand and loam. The cast iron plant grows to a height and width of 1 to 2 feet.

Keywords: shade tolerant houseplant, houseplant light level, houseplant shaded condition

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.