If you think you don't have enough light to grow great houseplants,
Q I would like to buy some houseplants to brighten up the rooms in my house during winter, but the spots I have for plants don't get a lot of light. Are there plants that I can grow in low light?
- A.M. Watertown, Mass..
A Larry Hodgson, author of "Houseplants For Dummies," recommends 14 indoor plants that will tolerate low-light levels, although he's quick to add that they all prefer at least medium light (near a window, but not on the windowsill). He also notes that some may lose a few leaves or stretch a bit when the light they receive isn't bright enough.
Two houseplants that are particularly long-lived in low-light conditions are cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), which has leathery, lance-shaped leaves; and heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens oxycardium), which can be grown as a climber or allowed to trail.
Other good choices that Mr. Hodgson recommends:
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), which has attractive variegated leaves.
Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans), a tall plant that has wide green leaves with broad yellow stripes.
Creeping fig (Ficus pumila), a vine that has small heart-shaped leaves that trail.
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia), which usually has yellow and green leaves and grows up to six feet tall.
Dwarf schefflera (Schefflera arboricola), a smaller version of schefflera that's easier to grow than the standard schefflera and isn't as bothered by pests.
English ivy (Hedera helix). For more color, look for variegated cultivars. Keep it in a cool room.
Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia), which is great in hanging baskets.
Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata), which has narrow, spiky leaves edged in red.
Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans Bella), a smaller palm that eventually reaches about three feet high.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), a low-light plant that produces white flower stalks. Keep it well-watered. Should it wilt, immerse the entire pot in water until bubbling stops and it will probably recover.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), a climbing or trailing vine with variegated leaves.
Warneckei dracaena (Dracaena deremensis Warneckei), which has leathery green leaves, often with white stripes.
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