There’s no better way to spruce up your indoor space than with a few houseplants. What if you’re low on space, and don’t have the best natural light? Hanging plants to the rescue! We’ve rounded up a list of the best indoor hanging plants for low light environments.
Whether you simply want to brighten up a dark corner, or turn your home into an urban jungle, there’s an excellent hanging plant out there for you. Some of the best hanging plants will even tolerate or thrive in a northern-facing window.
What is considered low light for plants?
When you’re researching the best indoor hanging plants for low light, it’s important to remember that low light doesn’t mean zero light. While some plants thrive or tolerate low light levels, all plants need some light.
If you remember what was taught about photosynthesis way back in school, you might recall that light is needed to kickstart photosynthesis. This amazing process converts light, oxygen, and water into energy (carbohydrates) for the plant to grow, bloom, and make seeds. Without enough light, plants slowly wither away and die.
When gardeners refer to low light, they typically mean indirect light. A good way to remember what low, indirect light is, is any light that allows you to comfortably read a newspaper or book.
If you want a more technical definition of low light for plants, the University of Minnesota defines it as, a lightbulb of 10–15 watts.
If you don’t have enough natural sunlight, you might need to use artificial light.
Tips for caring for low light plants
Low light plants have different needs than plants that thrive under bright light conditions. For one thing, you don’t need to water low light plants as much. It’s often best to allow the soil to dry before the next watering.
Now and then, it’s a good idea to send your low light plants to a brighter spot for a week or two in another corner of your house. Just be sure to avoid direct sun as some low light plants scorch under the heat.
The best indoor hanging plants for low light
Here’s a list of 10 best indoor hanging plants for low light (in no particular order).
#1: Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
The Heartleaf Philodendron is a good variety for low light. It’s a popular houseplant because it’s low-maintenance and needs little watering. Plus its heart-shaped, shiny leaves spruce up any dark corner. A bonus is that philodendrons have air-purifying qualities. This vining plant is great for trellises or stairway banisters. Grows up to 8 feet.
Care: Low or indirect light. Water once a week (or every other week), or when top half of soil feels dry. Keep the vines lush by periodically trimming them.
Similar to philodendron, pothos are also a great vine to keep in a hanging basket. Pothos that are placed on tabletops often get entangled. Hanging them in baskets helps keep them tangle-free. There are a variety of cultivars in various shades of green, yellow, and a “silver” variety. On average, pothos grow to 6-10 feet. While there are many different types of pothos, an especially good variety for low-light is the Jade pothos. Pothos also have great air-cleansing properties.
Care: Tolerates low or indirect light, but prefers bright, indirect light. Allow soil to dry completely between waterings.
#3: Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
In their natural rainforest habitat, bird’s nest ferns attach themselves to other plants to grow. At home, you can try growing it atop wood or stone for a striking look. The amount of light these ferns get determines the shape of the leaves. More sun results in crinkled leaves. Less sun produces flatter leaves. A good plant to keep in humid areas such as the bathroom.
Care: Loves humidity, keep moist. It’s best to avoid direct sun as this turns the leaves yellow.
#4: Boston (or Sword) fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
These lovely ferns add a splash of bright green to your decor. The curved, graceful fronds are ideal for a hanging basket. Bonus, the Boston fern works to clean your indoor air. This humidity-loving fern does well when you keep them cozy away from drafts or heat registers. Grows up to 3 feet. Pet-friendly.
Care: Low or indirect light, give it plenty of room for air-circulation. Keep well-misted during the winter months.
With its trademark cut-leaves, the monstera is also known as the Swiss Cheese plant. It’s one of the most popular tropical houseplants. While it initially isn’t a plant you would think of planting in a hanging pot, it tends to stretch and twist out over time. If it becomes too unruly, simply prune it back. While monsteras tolerate low light, they prefer medium to bright indirect light.
So if your monstera starts looking leggy, or if the leaves don’t “split” it’s a sign it needs more sun. Windows facing east, west, or south are okay.
Care: Tolerates low indirect light, likes humidity. Keep soil slightly moist, and you should have a happy plant.
#6: Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Also known as the airplane plant, this is one of the most resilient houseplants. It survives even in low light conditions. I know because I’ve kept a thriving spider plant in a north-facing window for years. While there are many varieties, the most common one is the variegated variety with a light yellow or white stripe down the middle of each leaf. Spider plants produce many spider babies (aka “pups” or plantlets) that are perfect for propagation.
The graceful and thin leaves grow quickly, great for hanging planters. Spider plants are great for purifying indoor air according to a NASA study. They were found to be especially effective in removing formaldehyde.
Care: Tolerates low light, but prefers bright to medium indirect light. Prone to root rot so avoid overwatering. Mist periodically. Keep away from cold windows.
#7: English ivy
Even if you have a window facing north, this lovely trailing plant thrives. Available in a number of different colors, and shapes, you can train this plant to grow around trellises or other structures too. Mist well to ward off pests. English ivy looks awesome with a few long vines spilling over the edge of hanging baskets. English ivy vines can grow fairly long. You might need to hang your planter higher up!
Care: Place in low or indirect low light. Keep soil moist, but not too soggy. Does fine in cooler temperatures.
#8: Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum)
While they start off bushy, these vines stretch and twist over time making them perfect plants for hanging baskets. Colors range from golden-bronze, to green. This humidity-loving plant may be perfect for a bathroom or kitchen. Grows up to 3 feet.
Care: Low to medium indirect light. This tropical plant likes moisture and humidity. Keep the soil moist, and the plant well-misted.
#9: Peperomia (Peperomia caperata)
This striking plant comes in plenty of varieties that differ in leaf shape, color, and variegation. This is a disease and pest-resistant plant that’s great for newbie or neglectful plant parents.
The emerald ripple peperomia (Peperomia caperata) features striking, heart-shaped foliage and deeply corrugated leaves. When it blossoms, it produces white flowers. Place this beauty in a north or east-facing window where it can avoid direct light.
Care: Indirect, bright light. Allow topsoil to dry between waterings. Adjust your watering schedule by season (less watering in cooler months). Water plant from the bottom to avoid getting leaves wet.
#10: Wax plant (Hoya)
Also known as Hoya, the wax plant comes in either flat-leaved or crinkled varieties. If you’re lucky, your wax plant may bloom with small white flowers. Like other vines, you can train your wax plant to twist around trellises or other structures. Vines may reach up to 4 feet. Wax plants are easy to propagate.
I have a wax plant (H. carnosa) that’s facing our north-east window which gets indirect sunlight for only a couple hours a day. It’s still doing well! Although with the low level of light it receives, it hasn’t bloomed much.
Care: Low to bright indirect light. Likes humidity. Keep soil moist in warmer months and water less in winter. Keep well-misted. Keep away from direct sun as leaves tend to scorch.
What happens when plants don’t get enough light?
Our list of the best indoor plants for low light is a great starting point, but sometimes your plant needs more light than you realized. Here’s a few signs your plant needs more light:
- It becomes leggy which means its stems stretch towards the light and begin to look thin.
- A change in leaf color. Some may take on a paler appearance from pale green to white. This is due to the lack of chlorophyll from low light levels.
- Plants that normally flower no longer produce blooms.
- Leaves begin to grow more spaced apart on each stem.
- Plants shed their leaves.
- Once variegated plants (with more than one color) turn solid green.
Are there any plants that don’t need any light?
Not really. While some greenhouses or stores may advertise “no sun” plants, all plants still need some light, whether its natural or artificial.
Plants that lack sunlight often turn paler due to a lack of chlorophyll. Some plants have evolved to exist in extreme low light conditions (think underneath other plants, or under a thick rainforest canopy) with wider, thinner leaves to absorb any sunlight they can.
There’s a ghost plant (Monotropa uniflora) that’s purely white. However, it’s classified as a parasite as it survives off of other plants.
What type of pots are best for hanging plants?
That depends on the water needs of your plant.
Clay or terracotta pots are great for plants that don’t like overwatering. The natural, porous material allows for good air circulation.
Ceramic pots are good for your humidity-loving, tropical plants as they tend to hold water well.