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Which Plants Grow in Low Light?

peace lily image by Ronnie Howard from

Sometimes areas that would benefit from the beauty of plant life, both indoors and out, just don't receive enough light to grow the most common plants, flowers and shrubs. A variety of plants which grow in low light are available over the internet and from local nurseries. Plants grown in shade require well drained soil, adequate moisture and balanced fertilization. In addition, flowering plants in shade gardens or darker indoor settings will not produce as many blooms as ones grown under more optimum lighting conditions.

House plants

Chinese evergreen, rubber tree plants, snake plants and peace lilies all will adapt to low light planting. The Chinese evergreen, snake plant and peace lilies are all flowering varieties. The common rubber tree can grow to heights of 6 to 10 feet. These plants are all hardy and low maintenance, but the leaves will require dusting at regular intervals.

Ground cover

Lily of the valley, English ivy, pachysandra and periwinkle are all good choices for plants grown in low light along banks, under trees or adjacent to buildings and other structures. Lily of the valley, an early spring bloomer and English ivy, an evergreen, will do well in the densest shade. Periwinkle, another spring flower, will also bloom off and on throughout the summer.


azaleas image by apeschi from

Rhododendrons, mountain laurel, azaleas and holly are evergreen shrubs that do well as low light plants. The leaves of rhododendrons, mountain laurel and azaleas are toxic to some animals. Holly berries are poisonous to humans. Some people have reported getting ill from eating honey made by bees collecting pollen from rhododendrons and azaleas.


Early spring blooming bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, hyacinth and some varieties of tulip will do well in low light areas shaded by trees that haven't yet produced their leaves. They receive enough sunlight to flower and the plants will mature throughout the growing season to come back the following spring.


sweet spring violets image by Maria Brzostowska from

Jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium and wild violets will thrive in extreme low light planting areas. Cardinal flowers, wild petunia and Jacob's ladder will require some filtered sunlight for an hour or two during the day. Wildflowers do best in an environment closely resembling their native habitat and generally require organic mulch.


Japanese laurel, witch hazel, hydrangea and Japanese maple are options for shrubs tolerating shady parts of the landscape. Japanese laurel, which can be pruned as hedges, witch hazel, which grows quite large, and hydrangea are attractive flowering shrubs. The Japanese laurel is more tree-like and known for its striking reddish purple foliage.

Vegetables and herbs

basil image by aliengel from

Although they are not suited to densely shaded gardens, leafy vegetables such as leaf lettuce, spinach and kale can be grown in shade. They will not be as bushy, but the leaves are just as flavorful. The same applies to basil, parsley, chives and especially mint.

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