Darkness Dwelling Plants
By, Rob Sproule
I hear it daily. People wanting to have more plants in their indoor spaces, for health or aesthetics, but don’t have enough light.
I’ve got good news. While some houseplants need a sun-drenched solarium and some need an “average room’s” light, some need almost no sunlight at all.
ZZ Plant: (a little artificial light)
Don’t get this plant if you like to dote. It’s ready-made for the neglectful owner, and the only way to kill it is by loving it too much.
ZZs don’t flower, but they product arched stems of dark green, glossy oval leaves that resemble stylized feathers. They’re a favourite in shopping mall planters where they double as ashtrays and don’t mind a bit.
They’re perfect for windowless rooms, including cubby bathrooms and basement kitchens. Needing only small amounts of indirect sun or flouresant light, the leaves will actually yellow in direct sunlight.
Let it dry as much as a cactus in between waterings. If the leaves turn yellow, it’s getting too much water so ease off. If you forget about your plants or take frequent, long holidays, this one is for you.
Peace Lily: (artificial light or a little sunlight)
Also called the “Closet plant,” peace lilies combine ease of care with air-cleaning virtuosity. It needs almost no light, blooms beautifully, and pulls benzene and formaldehyde out of the air.
They’re a favourite in offices for air cleaning and because they thrive with very little sunlight. Fluorescent is fine for them as long as there is some very indirect light coming from the window down the hall.
Peace lilies don’t like to dry out, but that doesn’t mean we should keep them waterlogged. They’re actually quite drought tolerant, and if you’re unsure about when to water them just wait until they wilt a little. While wilting cripples some plants, for peace lilies it’s akin to putting their hand up to ask for water.
Their glossy white blooms, which you’ll instantly recognize, come frequently and last a long time. They make excellent cut flowers for an exotic arrangement.
Chinese Evergreen: (a little sunlight)
If you’re a novice wanting to look like an expert, go with this one. Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema) often come striped or speckled in lush creams and exotic pinks, making them look a lot harder to care for than they really are.
They thrive in low or indirect light, but like it a little warmer than most houseplants. If you like a cozy 21-22 degrees C and keep it away from cold drafts, you’re golden.
Let the soil dry out (to your first knuckle) between waterings. Keeping it wet, or leaving stagnant water in the saucer, can bring on root rot. Older plants will produce flowers structured like a peace lily or a calla (it’s in the Arum family), but they’re nothing to write home about.