The common understanding is that plants need light for them to grow well. But in the overall scheme of things, this could not be true for all plants.
If you are in a location where sunlight can be scarce most of the time, it is natural for you to be drawn to plants that grow in the dark. By growing in the dark, we mean in low light spaces or literally in the dark.
If you are curious as to what plants these could be, this post features some of the house and edible plants that you can grow in low light settings or in complete darkness, so read on.
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20 Plants That Grow In The Dark
House plants grow in the dark
For ornamental house plants or just container plants that you can place inside the home to provide greens and a shed of brightness but thrives in the dark, here are the plants that you should consider.
This one is understandably a part of this list because its native habitat would be thick forests where thick leaves and shades of trees outgrow this plant.
As such, it is so used to dark and low-lit surroundings making it tolerant to low light or complete darkness. It can be planted in pots, windowless or lightless rooms, and thrives even in humid climates.
Related: Ideal Plants For Low Light Areas
Also called the corn plant, they look like palms at first glance. It must be placed somewhere it would not get bright light. As a matter of fact, it could tolerate darkness so if you need to spruce up a dark place, this is a perfect choice.
There are just two concerns when it comes to this plant: it cannot tolerate overwatering and it is quite toxic to pets.
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3. Peace lily
This one is a versatile plant. It can fare well in bright rooms, but it could also tolerate low light to dark rooms. Aside from its glossy, lush, deep green leaves, it also sports white, delicate flowers.
It also has the capacity to purify air so you can divide as many cuttings as possible and scatter them in dark rooms. Water it regularly for it to maintain its lushness.
4. Snake plant
The Sansevieria is probably one of the best house plants in purifying air as has been established by NASA research. This one follows one principle: the lesser the light, the more vigorous the growth.
At night, this plant produces more oxygen than most plants making it a good kitchen or bedroom plant. Aside from that, it is very low maintenance. It could be left in neglect, and you would still find it growing lushly.
5. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)
You would love this plant because of its glossy, green foliage and very sturdy leaves. A lot of people would say that anyone can grow this houseplant that even those without the green thumb can keep it lush and green.
It thrives in bad soil conditions, low water, and low light. And as it lives in low light or darkness, you would find that it just gets greener by the day.
6. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Although a tropical plant, this is a house plant that could survive in complete darkness. As long as the plant is given the proper moisture, this plant can thrive on its own.
It is very low maintenance, and its long, waxy, bright green foliage can brighten up any room, even windowless spaces.
7. Maidenhair fern
Because it is a fast grower, it can be cut for some indoor container plants. Since ferns also have thick rainforests as their natural habitat, this one is used to low light or complete darkness.
As a matter of fact, this fern is the most widespread fern variety out there. Its leaves are super sturdy as it is indestructible even in strong rains and winds. This plant practically just needs moist soil to survive.
8. Chinese evergreen
This one is loved for its beautiful silver-green foliage and its low maintenance care requirements. They thrive in low light to dark rooms.
Perhaps, the only downside is that its waxy, yet beautiful foliage tends to magnetize a lot of dust. As such, you must wipe each leaf when you see that it has already gathered much dust in its foliage.
Also called as the devil’s ivy, this one is not just a very adaptive plant in terms of growing spaces and care requirements, but it is also one of those houseplants that you can keep in low light to dark rooms without fear of wilting.
Like the snake plant, it offers air purifying benefits so you would see water propagated pothos a lot in comfort rooms and in basements.
Related: How To Grow and Care for Neon Pothos
10. Spider plant
This last one here is like the snake plant and the philodendron. Despite their aggressive growth, they can thrive in low light areas or in complete darkness. Aside from that, spider plants also help in oxygen production at night, making the air purer by the day.
As such, they are placed in bedrooms and living rooms to spruce up the space. Just a fun fact, spider plants are also considered as one of the hardest to kill house plants and its foliage may be narrow and thin, but they are fairly indestructible.
Edible plants that grow in the dark
It also pays to know which edible plants thrive in low light and darkness for you to know which ones you should keep indoors for a fresh stack. Here are some of the herbs and vegetables that you can grow in the dark.
Technically, they are not plants but since they are edible and are a staple in the kitchen, might as well mention them in this list. These fungi naturally love the darkness as well as humid climates.
They do not need light for photosynthesis as they rely on sawdust, wood, and straws, among others. If you live in a place where light is scarce, you should culture your own mushroom.
12. White asparagus
We are used to green asparagus but there is a white counterpart of this famous veggie. The white asparagus gets its color from lack of light or darkness. The asparagus crowns are planted deep in the soil, in a dark room.
It takes a year before they can be harvested and used like regular asparagus. Consuming white asparagus gives you a load of iron, potassium, niacin, thiamin, as well as vitamins A, B6, C and E.
13. Forced rhubarb
Did you know that you can take rhubarb crowns in a dark room and literally force them to grow there? This method is commonly done in places with long winters.
As soon as the roots look chilled by frost, they are taken in a dark room and warmed through lighting candles or artificial light.
They are then further covered with soil, sawdust, or peat. Forced rhubarbs can be a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and calcium during long winter days as they could be harvested just after six weeks.
This one might strike as unfamiliar to you which is understandable because it is like the lettuce of Europe. They are added in salad greens and are fondly called chicon.
Like forced rhubarbs, the roots of chicory are forcedly harvested during the winter to be transferred in a dark bin, covered with soil or peat.
After a month, they can now be harvested. As soon as the forced roots are transferred in the garden bed, you would find that they would produce a distinctly differently looking foliage in the spring or summer.
This is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and it is probably one of the easiest edibles to grow in complete darkness.
Its crunchy texture makes it a popular ingredient in stir-fry dishes and all you must do to have a steady supply of bean sprouts is to soak it overnight and then lay them in an absorbent cloth.
After that, enclose the cloth in a dark carton or cupboard and wait for a few days to weeks before they can be ready. Do not harvest the first bean sprouts that you see because they still have a bitter tang.
This popular herb is something that you can grow indoors. It can tolerate consistent low light areas, but it could not fare well in continuous darkness.
Nonetheless, it is still an edible that should be listed here because compared to other greens, mint is hardy. It also comes with a lot of uses beyond the kitchen since it is a natural repellent of insects and pests.
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A lot of people do not know this, but this superfood can be grown indoors and in low light. All you need to do is plant some kale seeds in a pot and acclimate it immediately to the light conditions of the home. If you want to grow it in very low light areas, you can do so.
This is a practical way of urban gardening and in saving you a trip and a couple of dollars just to add kale in your diet. And just to be clear, all other salad greens including chard, lettuce, and others can be grown in low light too.
This is another all-around spice and herb that you can grow indoors and in low light. Ginger is very adaptive.
You can leave it in the fridge and expect it to sprout in a couple of days. But if you intend to have a fresh supply every now and then, you can grow them in pots and place them where it is warm and moist.
They do not need a lot of light to grow, just these two mentioned requirements here. And if you see the first leaves sprouting, note that you can also use the leaves for ginger tea or add them in your Asian salad.
19. Chameleon plant
This plant is one of the most adaptive and hardiest house and edible plants out there. They say that where nothing grows, this plant can surely thrive.
It is listed here in the edibles because it is a staple in traditional Vietnamese cuisines. Its natural habitat would be wet, shady, or dark locations.
It is, however, recommended that this plant just be grown in containers if you are using them for culinary purposes because they are fast growers and they tend to become very invasive.
20. Fiddlehead fern
This fleshy fern is like all its fern cousins: they love the shade, low light, and can thrive in complete darkness. This one is considered as a forage food and can be found as an ingredient in many traditional and indigenous cuisines.
As it is edible, it can also be added in salads. They are easy to grow and thrive in neglect. In the garden, they often sprout alongside hostas and other shade loving perennials.
What edibles can be grown in partial shade?
If you are drawn to a more sustainable and organic way of preparing food, might as well have your own urban garden somewhere in the backyard. If low light and total darkness can be challenging for you, here are the edibles that you can grow in partial to full shade:
- Brussels sprouts
While we have been accustomed to the fact that light is one of the most necessary requirements to grow plants, we find here that it is not always the case. Some plants are hardy when it comes to climatic tolerance while some thrive even in the worst conditions. But those that thrive in the darkness and in minimal care are the ones that are truly exceptional.
The good thing here is that you would never run out of plant choices to grow in the dark. Be it for ornamental or culinary purposes, there is a whole range of plants to choose from. With this list, you can already make a masterful choice of what plants you can grow in the dark.