Top 10 Shade Tolerant Plants

Do you have a shady spot at home and don’t know how to fill it? It’s true most plants thrive in brighter environments, however, there are certain species that can withstand the darker places in our homes. 


When choosing your plant, there are certain criteria to focus on to ensure its survival in its designated shady spot. First, look at the leaves. Plants with dark green leaves tend to do better in lower light conditions. Most of our shade tolerant plants are naturally found on the forest floor and have adapted to absorb whatever light penetrates the rainforest canopy. 


For this reason, their leaves have a greater mass of chlorophyll, which allows them to absorb the maximum amount of available light. Avoid anything with variegated - or brightly patterned – leaves. As beautiful as they are, they are unlikely to survive a dark space due to their need for bright light to retain those vibrant colours.

Secondly, remember that low light does not mean no light. These plants have done an incredible job of adapting to very little light. However, they still need access to natural light to photosynthesise. Even a little boost from a far back window allows them to survive.  

Finally, it is important to remember that the brighter the light, the faster your plants will grow. Shade tolerant plants will tolerate lower light conditions and happily survive, but they will have less energy and will grow much slower as a result.

Bearing in mind the above points, here are our top picks for shade survivors. 

1. Dracaena

There are many different varieties of Dracaena in existence, from types with spikey red edged leaves to thick, dark, glossy leaves. They all survive well in low light. Native to tropical Africa, Dracaenas are renowned for their air purification and shade tolerance. Water when the top inch of soil has dried out and feed once a month during the growing season.

 2. Zamioculcas zamifolia

Also known as a ‘ZZ’, these plants are known for being indestructible and are one of our most shade tolerant options. They easily adapt to different environments and can be found in rocky grasslands and tropical forests in East Africa. 

Zamioculcas are also a perfect option for a plant novice, as they want to dry out completely before re-watering. This means watering can be done as little as once every 6-8 weeks!

3. Sansevieria

Sansevierias come in many varieties and are native to Africa, Southern Asia and Madagascar. They thrive in all levels of light but are another one of our most popular shade tolerant options. Like all succulents, they store moisture in their leaves and like their compost to dry out completely before re-watering. If you are worried about a dark spot and favour easy care plants, this is a great option for you!

4. Aspidistra

A Victorian favourite, the Aspidistra is extremely tolerant of shade. It is commonly known as the ‘Cast Iron Plant’ due to its ability to withstand shade, draughts and drought.  This elegant plant favours watering when the top inch of soil has completely dried out and fed once a month during the growing season.

5. Scindapsus pictus

If you are looking for a slightly more patterned option, a Scindapsus Pictus could be the plant for you! Favoured for their silvery splotches, the Satin Pothos have incredible cascading vines and are native to South-East Asia. Water when the top inch of soil has dried out and mist frequently.

6. Hedera helix

A hardy trailing option is Hedera helix, commonly known as English ivy. These are lovely creeping plants that can withstand lower light and temperatures. In fact, ivy likes to be kept around 10 to 18 degrees so are happy in a draughty spot in your home. To keep your ivy happy and healthy keep the compost evenly moist and cool.

 7. Boston Ferns

Naturally growing on the ground of forests and swamps, the Boston Fern is native across the West Indies, South America, Polynesia and Africa. It is known for its impressive cascading fronds so why not raise it up in a plant stand in a living room or place on your bathroom shelf? Mist frequently as they are humidity lovers, and water when the top inch of compost is dry. 

 8. Palms

People are always surprised to hear that tropical palms are actually pretty shade tolerant. 

Their lush, splaying leaves are easily burned in direct light so are a perfect option for an empty corner away from the window. Palms are humidity lovers too, so be sure to mist them a couple of times a week to keep their foliage lush and prevent excessive browning of leaf-tips!

9. Spathiphyllum

Known for their air purifying qualities, Peace Lilies are native to South America. They are super easy to care for and let you know when they are ready to be watered by slightly drooping their leaves! 

Alternatively, check that the top inch of compost has completely dried out before re-watering and mist frequently. When your Spathiphyllum stops flowering, move to a cooler spot and reduce watering for a few weeks to promote new blooms.

10. English Ivy

A hardy trailing option is Hedera helix, commonly known as English ivy. These are lovely creeping plants that can withstand lower light and temperatures. In fact, ivy likes to be kept around 10 to 18 degrees so they are happy in a draughty spot in your home. To keep your ivy happy and healthy keep the compost evenly moist and cool.


Plants for an internal or windowless room?

Sadly, no plant can survive in the complete darkness of an internal or windowless room. For this reason, we would only recommend our three most shade tolerant options which are Zamioculcas zamifolia’, ‘Aspidistra’ or any type of ‘Sansevieria’ - but be sure to move them into a bright room for a day once a week to allow them to photosynthesize. Alternatively, have two of the same plant and rotate them between a light room and a dark room. 

Another way to overcome the light issue in windowless rooms is to invest in a grow light. 

Grow lights can also help to give your plant a boost by mimicking sunlight. Here at Grow Urban we stock one of the most sophisticated grow lights on the market. The ‘Plantspectrum16’ is designed to enhance plant growth by using a full-spectrum LED light module. 

Whether it’s a north-facing room, shady hallway or just a dark corner, I hope this guide has helped you acquire all the information you need to ensure you choose the right plant for your space! 

Now, with our brand-new website, finding a plant for a shady spot has never been easier. 

Use our ‘Shade Tolerant’ filter to browse what’s currently in stock. Alternatively, pop into one of our stores and our Plant Gurus can guide you to our ‘Shade Tolerant’ plant room where you can hand pick the right plant for you.