Houseplants are still gaining popularity – but what if your home has lots of shady corners away from windows, where your greenery simply won’t get the light it needs? Are there houseplants that like shade and can thrive in the darker areas of your home?

You could get some ideas from the Giant Houseplant Takeover, an exhibition of houseplants at the glasshouse at the flagship RHS Garden Wisley that starts later this month. Each room of the house will be themed around different kinds of houseplants, including a shady living room.


Here, Emma Allen, garden manager at Wisley, recommends five plants which will withstand shady spots in your home.

Best houseplants for shade and dark rooms

1. Platycerium bifurcatum (common staghorn fern)

Houseplants that like shade Close-up of Platycerium bifurcatum, elkhorn fern or common staghorn fern venation, blurred Platycerium bifurcatum background

Platycerium are evergreen, epiphytic ferns, growing on trees and not in soil. P. bifurcatum has a combination of shield-like sterile fronds and grey-green fertile fronds to 90cm in length, forked into strap-shaped segments, which resemble a stag’s antlers, hence the common name.

They originate from Asia, Polynesia and Australia and due to growing on trees prefer partial shade, making them a good houseplant. They like a moist environment, their natural habitat is rainforest, so a humid bathroom is a great spot for them.

The best way to display them is to mount on a piece of wood with sphagnum moss, nails and fishing line, then hang on the wall. A misting of water every day will keep them happy, she advises.

2. Monstera deliciosa ‘Variegata’ (variegated Swiss cheese plant)

Houseplants that like shade Swiss cheese plant

If you’ve got some space, this monster will explore it, growing to 3m or more.  A variegated form of this classic evergreen climbing shrub is harder to find than the block coloured varieties, with aerial roots and large perforated green leaves marbled and splashed with creamy-white.

The arum-like flowerheads have white spathes (bracts which enclose the flower cluster). Due to its natural habitat being warm tropical rainforests in central America, it prefers to be out of direct sunlight, although too dark a room will stop the leaf perforations forming.

Mist the leaves, particularly if the room is warm and dry, and give them a wash sometimes to keep them clean and dust-free. Grow over a bookcase or some shelving.

3. Clivia miniata (forest lily)

Houseplants that like shade Closeup of Kaffir LilyClivia make striking houseplants, with their bold strap-shaped, dark-green leaves and trumpet-shaped red, yellow, orange or cream flowers, borne in groups on stout stems from spring to summer.

Clivia are evergreen perennials growing to 45cm with swollen bulb-like bases and originate from low-altitude woodlands in South Africa. Being woodland plants, they prefer indirect light to prevent leaf damage from sun scorch. They are ideal for a cooler area of the house away from radiators, as they need a cool period from Nov-Feb to form flowers.

4. Howea forsteriana (sentry palm, Kentia palm)

Houseplants that like shade Open balcony with a kentia

An elegant, easy to care for evergreen palm, which grows to 2m in height as a houseplant but up to 12m in its natural habitat. The dark green fronds can be up to 1.5m in length and are pinnately divided into several narrow segments.

Originally from Lord Howe Island (hence the name), they tolerate low light levels, likely due to the high rainfall here. Although flowers are rarely produced when grown inside, the palms will add an air of the exotic into any room.

5. Tradescantia zebrina (silver inch plant)

Houseplants that like shade Tradescantia zebrina (also known as Zebrina pendula or the Inch Plant) in clay pot, isolated on a white background

This versatile trailing evergreen perennial can quickly reach up to 50cm, and will gracefully adorn the side of a mantelpiece, bookcase or bathroom cabinet. The lance-shaped, deep bronze-green leaves have two silvery bands on the upper side and a purple underneath.

Rosy-purple flowers appear sporadically throughout the year. Although from Mexico and able to grow in full sun, this versatile plant will tolerate a shady spot as well. It is easily propagated from stem cuttings to refresh when the plant becomes too big or tired.

The Giant Houseplant Takeover at RHS Garden Wisley runs from January 25 to March 1. For details, visit



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