We get asked many plant questions throughout the working week, and the most common is can you recommend a houseplant for a shady spot? We are always precise; all houseplants need some natural light, so shady means at least some light in the day.
All plants, from Cactus to Orchids, need water, feeding, warmth and light to grow big and healthy. No plant will grow in the dark. Even if it survives for a long time, it will eventually die.
How do plants grow in the shade if they need light?
Plants have adapted to grow in jungles and rainforests all around the world. A rainforest is made of tall trees with little or no undergrowth because the floor is typically dark, with little light penetrating through.
A jungle is formed with a wider variety of shapes and sizes of trees, where the canopy is thinner, which lets light through, and dense lower-growing vegetation can develop. Rainforests can grow worldwide, but jungles are only found in the tropics.
Most wildlife lives in the canopy or tops of the trees in a rainforest and on the floor in a jungle in dense undergrowth. All rainforests have some form of the jungle; usually, the remains of or result from cleared-away rainforests because of logging or other human activity.
Plants that can cope with shade are usually those that have grown to adapt to life in the jungle, where they receive some light and water during the day. Many houseplants grow in this environment as an epiphyte, or plant that grows on the surface of another plant and derives their moisture and nutrients from the rain and air or debris accumulating around them. Competition is fierce, and only the toughest plants will survive-perfect places to find hardy houseplants!
Many ferns, palms, dracaena and philodendrons happily grow in the shaded under-canopy. This means that plants that like shade also make perfect bathroom plants where the light is usually lower because the windows are frosted.
Now that you know more about where your plants grow in the wild and why your plants can cope with shade, here are some recommended plants for shady spots!
The Maranta Leuconeura Marisela is a beautiful variety of Prayer Plant that is hard to find in the UK.
Philodendron Scandens Brasil is special due to the variegated leaves, with strokes of yellow and lime green across the deep green foliage. One of the easiest plants to care for, it is tolerant to a wide range of light conditions.