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No need for bright sunshine with these five beautiful houseplants!

Would you love to have more houseplants, but aren’t sure if you have enough bright light to keep them happy and healthy? Tagawa Gardens can help!

Proper light is easily one of the most important parts of having healthy houseplants. But just because your home or office doesn’t have lots of beautiful bright light, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for plants that have no personality.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the plants the good folks in Tagawa’s Houseplant Department recommend for moderate- to lower-light settings.

And be sure to check out the “closing tips” at the end of this blog for advice that will apply to all of the plants featured here.

Monsteras

Monsteras just shout “welcome to the rainforest!” It’s the tropical feeling that a lot of indoor gardeners want.  Enter monsteras. When you think “monstera,” think “monster,” as in big! With time, the leaves of these plants can get very large, ten inches across or more!

Monsteras (and a lot of the tropical plants we’ll feature here) grow naturally in rain forests under the protective canopy of much taller trees. In our homes, monsteras are happy with bright, indirect light, ‘though a few hours of soft morning sunlight is fine, but never full south- or west-facing hot sun which will burn the leaves.

In their natural setting, the roots of monsteras attach to large trees as the top growth climbs and vines upward.  That means the tropical rains that drench the plants can freely drain away and the monstera’s roots never stay soggy. To recreate that environment, monsteras grown in pots will always need well-draining soil and excellent drainage to avoid root rot.

When they’re grown indoors, monsteras should be watered thoroughly whenever the top few inches of the soil has dried out, with any excess water allowed to drain away freely. The plants shouldn’t be watered again until the soil finger-deep has dried out.  Then, they’ll be ready for another drenching.

Fittonias

Not all tropical plants are meant to be big. Take fittonias for example. These compact plants grow as a ground cover in their natural setting, so they naturally stay fairly short. The soft and varied patterns on the leaves of different types of fittonias make a lovely addition to any plant collection.

Because fittonias are ground dwellers, they’ll do fine in moderate to bright, very indirect light. Too much sun will burn their leaves, but the veining and coloration of the leaves will also fade if they’re not getting enough light.

Water fittonias thoroughly, and then, as with monsteras, let the top one-third or so of the soil dry down before watering again. They like humidity, so see the “closing tips” below.

Peace Lily

No bright light is needed for this sweet flowering plant! Peace lilies are extremely easy to grow, and require only moderate light levels… maybe a few feet from an east window, or next to a south- or west-facing window with a sheer curtain or on a desk in the middle of a very well-lighted office.

Peace lilies prefer soil that is lightly but consistently moist, never soggy. In the dry air of our homes and offices, they may show tip burn on their leaves without the help of some additional humidity. See “closing tips” at the bottom of the blog for some options.

Calatheas

Talk about eye-catching! The many varieties of calatheas (as seen at the top of this blog) don’t need flowers to impress!

Calatheas need enough light to keep their patterned foliage bright and bold.  Medium- to bright but indirect light will be perfect. Avoid direct sun unless it’s filtered through a sheer curtain or window shade.

Calatheas prefer soil that’s kept slightly moist all the time, but never soggy. Good drainage is essential. And they do not appreciate room temperatures that are less than about 65*.

ZZ’s

You’ve probably seen ZZ’s or zamzams in big planters in offices or stores, where they’re never in truly bright light, much less sunshine. Most likely, those ZZ’s look happy and robust with their shiny smooth green leaves and arching stems.

ZZ plants will grow faster and larger with brighter light, but they’ll look just fine with very soft, indirect light, too. They’re far from demanding, and are often considered one of the easiest houseplants to grow.

Water them thoroughly, then let any excess water drain away freely. Water again as the top one-half of the soil in the pot begins to dry down. If the leaves start to drop, insufficient water may have prompted the zamzam to go dormant, just as it would during the dry season in parts of Africa where it’s native.

Closing tips

  • Misting plants to increase the humidity isn’t helpful long-term.  For plants that are sensitive to dry air, consider using a pebble tray.  Fill a saucer or shallow dish with an inch of pea gravel or marbles, add an inch of water, then set the plant on top of the pebbles so its pot is sitting just above the waterline.  Add more water to the tray as it evaporates. Humidifiers placed nearby are also extremely helpful.
  • Grouping plants together for display will help create a kind of “bubble” that can increase the humidity in the area immediately above and around the plants.  Besides, plants displayed as a group will usually have more visual impact than plants displayed by themselves.
  • Even with plants native to rainforests, few of them will tolerate soggy soil or pots that don’t drain properly. Remember: the #1 cause of houseplant death is over-watering!
  • As will all houseplants, including those mentioned here, never assume that a child or pet will leave them alone. It’s always best to keep the plants away from curious little hands or paws.
  • Don’t place any houseplants, these included, near heat or AC vents, or where they catch drafts of cold air from opening doors or windows.