How to Grow Low Light Indoor Houseplants


Houseplants offer gardeners a way to bring the love of their hobby indoors, provided adequate care is taken in planning, choosing and caring for houseplants. Caring for houseplants when the lighting is not ideal can be a challenge. The choice of a plant is most important. Place sun loving plants near windows, while protecting the low light lovers in other rooms. For dim areas, choose a low light thriving plant such as ficus, snake plant, Chinese evergreen and the peace lily.

Step 1

Place the low light plant away from direct sunlight and bright artificial lights. Look for an area that maintains a light level of 25 to 75 footcandles for eight hours of the day. A footcandle is the amount of light cast on a white surface by a candle at a 1 foot distance in a dark room. Measure the light in the room with a handheld light meter, following the manufacturer's directions.

Step 2

Plant the low light plant in an adequately sized container with drainage holes in the bottom. Place a sponge over the drain holes, and fill the container with soil. The sponge will prevent the soil from eroding away during watering sessions and aide in retaining moisture to the plant.

Step 3

Increase the humidity around the plant by misting it lightly with distilled water once per day or placing the planter on a tray filled with pebbles. Pour water over the pebbles, ensuring the bottom of the planter is not submerged in the water. As the water evaporates, the air around the plant remains moist.

Step 4

Maintain the room temperature at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the temperature 10 degrees at night to mimic the outdoors. Houseplants are commonly tropical plants and require the warmer temperatures during the day.

Step 5

Move the plant away from drafts and air registers. This will dry the plant and increase the temperature surrounding the plant.

Step 6

Water generously two to three times each week until the plant is established. Water when the top 1 inch of soil becomes dry after the plant is established. Pour water through the entire container, allowing the excess to drain from the bottom of the planter. This will prevent root rot in the plant.

Step 7

Fertilize the plant with an indoor plant food formulated for low light plants. Choose a 20-20-20 fertilizer and apply according to the label directions every two weeks from March through September. Discontinue the fertilizer during the winter dormant months.

Things You'll Need

  • Light meter
  • Sponge
  • Tray
  • Pebbles
  • Misting bottle
  • Fertilizer


  • Texas A&M University: House Plants
  • University of Minnesota: Indoor Plants for Low-light Conditions
  • University of Vermont Extension: Low Light Houseplants
  • University of Georgia: Growing Indoor Plants with Success
Keywords: low light houseplants, lighting for plants, plant low light

About this Author

Christina Wheeler has been a professional freelance writer since 2007. She lends her expertise in animal care, gardening and home improvement to online publications such as Garden Guides and eHow. Wheeler studied business management at Ohio University.