When growing plants in the shade, you typically expect smaller houseplants for your efforts, right? Yet not all plants that can withstand or even prefer low light are necessarily vertically challenged. If you’re looking for low-light-loving houseplants that can also grow big and tall, which ones should you buy? I compiled a list with information on each plant that I think you’re going to love!
What are the best tall indoor plants for low light? The following tall indoor plants can grow in low light:
- Dragon tree
- Weeping fig
- Snake plant
- Dumb cane
- Chinese evergreen
- Heart-leaf philodendron
- Japanese sago palm
- Parlor palm
- Queen fern
- Dracaena limelight
- Arrowhead plant
- Money tree
- ZZ plant
- Peace lily
- Ponytail palm
- Ming aralia
Ahead, I’ll discuss the lighting requirements for each of the above houseplant species. I’ll also tell you how tall each plant gets so you can plan the adequate amount of room in your home or office. You’re not going to want to miss it!
17 Tall Low-Light Houseplants to Grow Today
As an FYI, to constitute being on this list, all indoor plants grow to at least 3 feet tall. Some are even bigger than that, and I’ll indicate as much. Without further ado then, let’s get started.
My first pick for tall low-light plants is the dragon tree or Dracaena draco. This tree has palm-like fronds and hails from the Canary Islands.
Most grow green fronds, but other varieties are available in a bright electric red. Indoors, your dragon tree may get as tall as 6 feet, sometimes more.
The dragon tree can grow perfectly well in the light, but it must be indirect light. If you only have low-light conditions for this indoor plant, such as at an office, that’s fine. So too is adding a bit more light to its environment, so medium light is good as well.
What’s very important when growing the dragon tree is to avoid direct sun, as the leaves are delicate and prone to scorching.
You won’t see figs much on this list, as some grow wider than taller, but not the weeping fig. The Ficus benjamina has an average height of 3 feet, but some can double that and stand tall at 6 feet.
That makes the weeping fig a great statement-maker in your living room, entertainment room, or even a spacious office or bedroom.
When grown outdoors, the weeping fig is used to partial shade and some periods of full sun. You can replicate those conditions with your indoor weeping fig by getting curtains that can filter the full brunt of the sun.
Then, position your plant near a westerly-facing or a southerly-facing window. Less bright light is also fine if that’s all you have.
With its tall fronds, the snake plant is a natural fit on this list. Some snake plants are a little smaller, between 1 and 2 feet tall, but others can grow in height to 4 feet with a width of about 3 inches.
The best lighting conditions for a healthy snake plant are indirect sun, but days of full sun are okay, and even more pertinent, so are days of low light.
More so than its lighting, you have to watch out for how often you water the snake plant. This indoor plant species is very sensitive to root rot, which could spell its early death if you’re not careful.
For all other facets of snake plant care, make sure you check out: Snake Plant Care 101: Everything You Need to Know
The Dieffenbachia or dumb cane is another good species to add to your tall indoor plant collection. Unchecked outdoors, the dumb cane has been known to reach heights of 4 to 5 feet, but indoors, it might be capped at about 3 feet.
Compared to many other common houseplants, that’s still some significant height.
As you shop for dumb cane cultivars, check the plant’s lighting requirements carefully. Some cultivars prefer bright light while others are more of a fan of filtered light, aka partial sun.
If you’re not familiar with the term cultivar, A cultivar is a gathering or assemblage of plants selected specifically for their desired characteristics that are ideally kept throughout propagation.
In other words , a plant or plants that are made or produced by selective breeding.
In this case you’ll want the version of the plant that has been cultivated to grow taller.
More dumb canes still can grow if the lighting is a little sparser, and those are the ones you’re looking for.
The Chinese evergreen can grow to 3 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. It’s also quite tolerant of spending time in the dark, doing better in low light than it does in bright sun. That gives you plenty of places to put the Aglaonema around your home or office.
Like the dragon tree, the Chinese evergreen has a slew of cultivars that can develop all sorts of compelling leaf patterns, so you might opt to start a whole collection!
Surely, you’re familiar with the standard philodendron, but what about its heart-shaped counterpart? The Philodendron hederacerum is a Caribbean and Central American indoor plant that grows romantic-looking leaves shaped like little hearts.
The plant itself is anything but little though, with some heart-leaf philodendrons boasting reported heights as tall as 20 feet!
Yet worry not, as indoors, your heart-leaf philodendron won’t ever reach such lofty heights. Instead, you can expect an average height of 4 feet, maybe a few feet more.
By providing indirect sun and medium light, you may encourage more growth.
If you’ve noticed that your philodendron’s leaves have turned yellow, this isn’t necessarily a lighting issue. Instead, it can be a sign of the plant’s age, as the leaves yellow as they mature.
The yellow leaves can also be a sign of irregular watering so consider your recent care habits if you notice yellow leaves popping up on your heart-leaf philodendron.
Japanese Sago Palm
Here’s a fun houseplant species I have yet to introduce you to on this blog. The Japanese Sago palm or Cycas revoluta grows in the northern part of that country as far out as the Ryukyu Islands.
Make some room for the Japanese Sago palm in your low light living room or office , as it often grows up to 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall when fully grown.
You can encourage that growth by always avoiding direct sun for this palm, as its foliage is sensitive to the heat.
If you notice wilting in the Japanese Sago palm’s fronds, then it’s getting too much light. Indirect light and even dimmer lighting conditions will suit this plant best.
If You have an office with no windows, You’ll want to read:
From one palm to another, next on the list is the parlor palm or Chamaedorea elegans. Topping out at about 4 feet tall, the parlor palm has been known to double in height if you care for it especially well.
The parlor palm prefers low light above all other lighting conditions. Some sunlight, especially from a northerly-facing window, is also good. Windows in this part of the home or office get very little light throughout the day.
A fern to add to your collection of low-light tall indoor plants is the queen fern. Also known as the Nephrolepis obliterata or the Kimberly Queen fern, this Australian fern species has appealing fronds in a bright, natural green.
Height-wise and width-wise, the Kimberly Queen fern commonly grows 3 feet.
Medium lighting is a requirement for the queen fern. Also, you need to induce plenty of humidity. I always recommend using a humidifier for these purposes.
You’ll know your queen fern isn’t doing well if its fronds begin getting crispy and brown. That’s a humidity issue, not a lighting problem, by the way.
You should be well acquainted with the dracaena species if you’re a regular reader of this blog, but the dracaena limelight may be new to you. This cultivar more than earns its name due to its bright lime-colored leaves with an appealing glossy texture.
You have a lot of this plant to love too, as the dracaena limelight can grow to heights of 5 feet.
Although you might assume the dracaena limelight would be fussy about lighting, that’s not the case at all. As a relative to the dragon tree, the dracaena limelight also does exceptionally well in low lighting.
If you were to provide this plant with too much light, you could prevent its lime-green hue from developing as vividly. That would be a real shame!
That being said, consider moving it further away from the light if you notice the brightness of its green leaves beginning to fade.
Ideal for office desks or decorating an apartment, the arrowhead plant or Syngonium podophyllum is a climbing aroid species with leaves in the distinct shape of arrows.
Keeping the plant contained indoors will limit its height to 6 feet. Outdoors, when let loose, the arrowhead plant can grow far more generously.
If your cultivar is especially variegated, then make sure it has at least filtered light, preferably brighter than dimmer conditions.
What is variegation? This plant term refers to the color of the zones across a plant’s foliage and stems. In other words, if your arrowhead plant has a lot of color variety, it needs more light than average.
On the other hand, if your plant has only a single color or two, then low-light to mid-light won’t bother it nearly as much.
If Your looking for a small plant for a low light office, try: 22 Low-Light Succulents for the Office
Few plants grow to the heights of the money tree, which can stand at 60 feet tall when planted outdoors. Now, if you’re wondering how you’d ever get a 60-foot tree in your home or office, you don’t have to.
Indoors, the money tree usually grows to an average height of 6 feet, which is far more manageable in an indoor setting!
Indirect light benefits the money tree most, especially mid-level indirect lighting with some bright light thrown in for good measure. Just make sure that you never put the money tree where it will absorb direct sun.
Although it looks tropical, this tree does not like such bright light, as the sun can burn its leaves.
The ZZ plant has a reputation of being really difficult to kill. Plus, it stands at 3 feet tall (at most, some are a bit smaller), so it should definitely be on this list of low-light houseplants.
If you’re new to indoor gardening, I always recommend you start with a ZZ plant to gain your green thumb confidence.
You can learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t without your plant dying.
So what kind of light does the ZZ plant need? Well, it doesn’t really have a strong preference. Seriously. You could give the ZZ plant bright light for a while and then low light and it will be fine either way.
You can even feed it varying quantities of water, but keep in mind that the more sun exposure it gets, the thirstier this plant will be.
I keep a ZZ plant in a hallway of my home that only gets 3 to 4 hours of low light per day. This particular ZZ plant looks amazingly healthy while only needing to be watered about twice a month.
Add some flowering foliage to your indoor garden with the peace lily. This houseplant is nicknamed the closet plant due to its tolerance of a variety of lighting conditions, including overhead fluorescents in an office, partial shade, or medium light.
Even if you don’t have any windows around, such as in a cubicle, the peace lily can still grow.
Too much sun can negatively affect this plant, which grows to about 4 feet tall.
If You’ve Grown Your Peace Lily Too Big, I’ve got you covered: Peace Lily Too Big Here’s What to Do
If you notice the leaves have streaks across them, then they’ve been scorched by the sun. The same is also true if the leaves are browned.
Leaves that have turned yellow are a warning sign to get your peace lily out of the sun before it begins burning further.
Here’s another flowering plant known for its appeal, the bromeliad. With well over 3,500 species, you more than have your pick of cultivars. Most bromeliads are red or orange with hints of yellow, but plenty of other fun colors abound.
On average, bromeliads will reach a height of 2 feet to 3 feet, so this plant is not a space hog at all.
Most bromeliad varieties do prefer bright sun, but not all. The Pitcairnia, Vriesea, Aechmea, Canistropsis, Nidularium, and Neoregelia cultivars all grow best in shade.
When it comes to finding shade in your home for your bromeliad, consider creating more shade by hanging thicker curtains or by placing your bromeliad behind another, taller houseplant from this list.
The thin and curvy fronds of the ponytail palm will make it a distinct addition to your indoor garden.
These palms reach heights of around 3 feet when grown indoors, but their outdoor counterparts can grow to 20 feet, sometimes even taller!
As the seasons change and the daylight hours become shorter and shorter, there’s no need to panic if you’re growing a ponytail palm that requires very little water.
In the warmer months with longer days, this palm will gladly drink in much larger amounts of water. During these warmer months you’ll also notice a much more regular schedule while it’s also soaking in the longer days of bright sunlight.
Then, as the dark stretch occurs in the autumn and winter, the low-light conditions won’t hinder its growth and it will begin to settle into a slow growing state again.
My last recommendation for tall, low-light houseplants is the Ming aralia or Polyscias fruticosa.
This Indian evergreen shrub species has glossy, segmented leaves that are often dark green. It’s a stately plant at 6 feet max.
The ideal lighting for the Ming aralia is indirect yet bright light, but it will be just fine if you can’t always provide that.
This plant won’t begin wilting if it gets periods of shade throughout the morning or afternoon, just do your best to prevent entire days without indirect bright light not all day every day.
Augment your Ming aralia lighting with lots of moisture and humidity. If your Ming aralia dries out, its usually a sign that its health could begin declining.
One key component of houseplant growth is usually to bathe them in light. The 17 indoor plants on this list prove though that’s not always the case.
Most of these species can withstand low light, and a handful even require low light to retain their foliage color and grow big and tall. If you’re an office worker or an apartment dweller or you’re lacking light in a space you’d like to add a tall indoor plant too, you now have some of the best options to choose from.
Best of luck in adding any of these fantastic tall but low light loving options to your indoor garden!