Plants require light to create food–a process called photosynthesis. When plants undergo photosynthesis, they use light to create carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide. Surprisingly, there are houseplants that don’t need sunlight.
For instance, low-light plants such as snake plants, devil’s ivy and many others can live on overhead lighting alone. However, every plant needs light to survive. Uniquely, low-light plants only need 25-100 foot-candles: the amount of sunlight received under a forest canopy.
Over time, low-light plants evolved to survive in the shady environment of rainforests, swamplands or other canopies. Due to their adaptations, many of these plants are popular houseplants. Below is a list of houseplants that don’t need sunlight.
8 Houseplants that do well without sunlight
Cast Iron Plant
With broad, glossy green leaves, the cast iron plant grows in a variety of light levels including indoors. As an evergreen perennial, they are very sturdy plants growing an average of 12 to 20 inches tall.
Dumb cane, also referred to as leopard lily, comes from Central and South America. Variegated multicolored leaves make dumb canes attractive. Due to their mild toxicity, keep dumb cane away from small children and pets.
Spider plants have thin, spider-like green leaves that grow rapidly spanning up to 2.5 feet wide and up to 3 feet long. Mandaianum, Vittatum, and Variegatum are the most common variations of spider plants. Their leaves are dark green with yellow stripes, pale green with white stripes, and white-edged leaves, respectively.
Peacock plants have broad, variegated leaves with purple undersides and stand up to 39” tall. Originally from the Brazilian rainforest, these evergreen perennials need humid environments to remain vivacious despite the season.
Peace lilies have broad leaves and produce stunning white flowers even in low light levels. As rainforest natives, peace lilies have glossy leaves used to protect from humidity. For optimal growth, place peace lilies away from air vents and children as they are mildly toxic
With small dark green leaves growing along either side of erect 2-3 feet tall stems, the East African ZZ plant is a sturdy houseplant. Plant them in warm environments over 76°.
Devil’s ivy has glossy leaves sprawling from dramatic vines–perfect for hanging plants. Also called Pothos, devil’s ivy is low-maintenance which makes it a perfect plant for inexperienced gardeners. However, keep away from small children since they are moderately toxic.
Snake Plants consist of over 70 species from the Sansevieria genus. Variations of snake plants exist in Africa, southern Asia and Madagascar. Aptly, their unique leaves stand erect and resemble snakes. Due to their toxicity, keep away from small children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you have a plant in a room without windows?
Yes, you can have a plant in a room without windows. Plants need light to create food, but some houseplants, such as snake plants, spider plants, ZZ plants and peacock plants, can thrive on overhead lighting alone.
Can indoor plants survive without sunlight?
Yes, some indoor plants can survive without sunlight. Instead of receiving light from the sun’s rays, houseplants such as snake plants, devil’s ivy, peacock plants and ZZ plants use artificial light from fluorescent bulbs or LED lights instead.