Best Indoor Plants for Basement Apartments


Plant growing in partial shade and thriving. A lot of aerial roots

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When it comes to selecting the best indoor plants to grow in a dark and possibly windowless basement apartment, you’ll have to be very careful with the plants you choose. They should be low-light-loving plants that are not just hardy but O.K. with humidity, shade and cold air, if they’re going to thrive in a dark, cold and possibly even damp conditions. That said, you’re going to need to specifically choose the best indoor plants for basement apartments.

The best indoor plants for your basement apartment include:

  • Baby rubber plant
  • Cast iron plant 
  • Oakleaf grape ivy
  • Pothos
  • ZZ plant
  • Snake plant
  • Spineless yucca
  • Rex begonia
  • Monstera
  • Parlor palm
  • Spider plant
  • Swedish ivy
  • Mint
  • Philodendron

Keep reading to learn more about why these 14 houseplant species are the ideal candidates for the low-light conditions that your basement apartment is so known for. Whether you like small, tidy houseplants, bigger ones, and even plants with colorful foliage, there’s something for you on this list.  

14 Indoor Plants That Are Perfect for a Basement Apartment

Baby Rubber Plant

The Peperomia obtusifolia or baby rubber plant also goes by the name pepper face. Obtusifolia means “blunt-leaved,” which is a great way to describe this plant. As the rubber in its name alludes, the baby rubber plant has a plastic-like texture throughout its leaves.

Growing a neat 10 inches in maturity, the baby rubber plant prefers low-light conditions over bright, harsh light. Do be aware that this Peperomia can dry out quickly. You’ll need to do the soil test every few days to determine when it’s time to water your baby rubber plant. 

Need a refresher on how to do that? Just put your finger a few inches into your baby rubber plant’s soil and feel how moist it is. When the soil dries out, it’s time to water your houseplant. 

Cast Iron Plant

Another nickname for the cast iron plant is the bar-room plant. That should tell you what kinds of conditions this houseplant will prosper in. Neglect-tolerant, the cast iron plant can withstand temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit without shedding leaves or becoming stressed. 

Do avoid the cast iron plant cultivars, including the Variegata, Lennon’s Song, Hoshi-Zora or starry sky, and Asahi or morning sun. They’d need more sunlight than what you can likely provide, as these cultivars grow in bright, filtered light. Low light is fine for less variegated cast iron plants. 

Oakleaf Grape Ivy

Here’s a plant I haven’t discussed yet on the blog, the oakleaf grape ivy or Cissus alata. If you’re in the mood for lots of foliage in your basement apartment, the oakleaf grape ivy won’t disappoint. As a trailing ivy, its vines can extend 10 to 18 feet long. The leaves that sprout from the vine have a glossy texture and an appealing dark green hue.

Admittedly, low light can stunt the oakleaf grape ivy’s growth, which might be preferable if you wish to limit its size. That said, if you’d like to see what the grape ivy can do when it’s let loose to grow, provide moderate to bright light, even if that comes from an artificial grow light rather than the sun. 

As an FYI, if you choose to grow the oakleaf grape ivy, this plant does not produce grapes. That’s the Vitis vinifera

Pothos

From one species of indoor ivy to the next, the devil’s ivy or pothos is another wise pick for your basement apartment. It won’t hog up too much room in your indoor garden, growing between 4 and 8 inches tall despite that it’s a vine. Low light won’t trouble most pothos plants, but high light from the sun is alright too.

I must say this: just as with the baby rubber plant, most pothos cultivars are to be avoided in a basement apartment. From the pearls and jade pothos to the Jessenia pothos and marble queen, the variegation in the leaves does not do well in low light. You can maybe try the neon pothos or golden pothos, but be aware that if the pothos doesn’t get enough light, its color will drain. 

ZZ Plant

The seemingly unkillable Zanzibar gem or ZZ plant absolutely has a place on this list. Its tall, waxy leaves will make you think it’s a succulent, as will its watering needs. (That is, water about every two weeks, maybe every three weeks.) You’ll quite like those waxy leaves if your basement apartment is rather dark, as the ZZ plant’s leaves can reflect light to make any room in your dwelling seem brighter. 

Snake Plant

If you’re looking for an indoor plant that might outlast your lease several times over, try the snake plant. In the right conditions, the Sansevieria trifasciata can live for decades. Those conditions can include low light. As has been the case the entire time, do make sure that you select a less variegated snake plant for your basement apartment, as the more colors and patterns, the more sunlight your houseplant will require. 

Spineless Yucca

The stick yucca or spineless yucca, aka the Yucca elephantipes, is for those apartment renters who have a lot of space and aren’t sure how to fill it. Since it’s a tree, when grown indoors, the spineless yucca can reach heights of 6 to 7 feet tall. Put it in a nice corner and then watch it grow. Just keep the temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees.

Although low light is not the spineless yucca’s favorite, if that’s all you have available, this smart houseplant can learn to adapt. Ideally, putting your yucca in a westerly or southerly-facing window is wise, as it will get the appropriate amounts of sunlight. 

Rex Begonia

Let’s add some color to your indoor garden! The painted-leaf begonia or rex begonia is a perennial, semi-tropical plant that can grow between 12 and 18 inches in a spacious indoor environment. Each colorful leaf may have a width of 5 inches and a length of 9 inches, so these are some large leaves we’re talking about here!

The rex begonia is intended for low light or medium filtered light. I wouldn’t expect as much color out of your painted-leaf begonia in a darker apartment, but even muted colors will make your place of living more pleasant to be in. 

Just make sure you clean its leaves every now and again so they don’t get dusty. This will help your begonia photosynthesize with whatever light it has. 

Monstera

Even though you live underground, you can put yourself in a tropical frame of mind instantly with the Monstera deliciosa in your basement apartment. How much growth you’ll see from the Monstera is admittedly dependent on its care, so while yours might not reach heights of 10 to 15 inches, since you live in an apartment, that’s far from the end of the world. If you can provide bright, indirect light, the Monstera’s growth rate should increase. 

Parlor Palm

Those delicate fronds of the parlor palm or Chamaedorea elegans were not designed to withstand sunlight. Direct light will burn the tiny, leafy fronds to a crisp, necessitating you having to cut away the damage and start over with a mostly naked plant. Maybe a bit of sun like that from the dawn or dusk hours is good for the parlor palm, but nothing brighter.

As you can imagine, the parlor palm will do more than well in dim light, but the plant will thrive. You’ll be more likely to have your parlor palm reach heights of 6 feet tall, where it will make an awesome addition to your basement apartment. 

Spider Plant

If you don’t mind foregoing stripey cultivars such as the zebra grass spider plant, the variegated bonnie spider plant, the Hawaiian spider plant, or the bonnie spider plant, then the Chlorophytum comosum will make a lovely plant companion for those who call basement apartments home. Low light can suck the color from variegated spider plant leaves, much as is the case with the pothos.

In a perfect world, the light from easterly, northerly, or westerly-facing windows will promote the most color and growth from the spider plant. 

Swedish Ivy

The Plectranthus verticillatus or Swedish ivy isn’t a true ivy as it’s in the Lamiaceae family rather than the Hedera genus. It still looks and behaves like ivy though. When fully grown, the Swedish ivy can reach 10 inches high and spread as far as 3 feet. You can theoretically cover your whole wall in Swedish ivy!

Yes, that’s even if your apartment is dark. Too much light is the worst thing for the Swedish ivy, as its plentiful button-shaped leaves are prone to burning. If your apartment does get some sun, then put the houseplant by a northerly or easterly-facing window. 

Mint

If you decide to start growing your own edible plants in your indoor garden, you might feel limited by how little natural light you have available in your basement apartment. One herb you can reliably grow time and again is the mint plant. Having fresh sprigs of mint available will liven up basil pesto, Greek yogurt, and even smoothies. You can also use mint to make tea for better digestion.

Mint is one of those few indoor herbs that will live in low light. This plant prefers soil pH that’s 6.0 to 7.0. You should keep the soil moist more often than not. I’d recommend the fingertip test as always to tell you when it’s time to water your mint plant.  

Philodendron 

My last houseplant suggestion for your basement apartment is the philodendron, a sizable plant that can reach heights of 3 to 8 feet and widths of 6 feet indoors. You can grow the philodendron in all sorts of fun ways, from a hanging basket to a pot or container. If you want your philodendron to climb, you can train it to, but you’ll need a pillar covered with wire to start that process.

The low light won’t bother your philodendron in the slightest. Here’s a fun fact: if you want to grow that most beloved of indoor plants, the heart-leaf philodendron, this plant will do fine in darker conditions too! 

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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