20 Gorgeous House Plants That Can Take Full Shade

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Green thumb or not, there comes a time when we need to tackle a garden issue (like indoor house plants for shade) or channel inspiration. Since owning our home, I’ve had plenty of marginal experiences with landscaping so I now insist on doing my own research when it comes to plant selection.

I study sites like the HGTVGardens (brought to you by the experts at HGTV, the popular home and garden cable channel) where there’s an active community of expert and novice gardeners throughout the country as well as helpful, relevant articles pertaining to all things lawn and garden.

To me, the community is especially important because, for instance, the plant that says up to 3′ tall on the tag just might grow to 6′ tall in San Diego (true story in my own yard). Or, one person’s invasive plant is another person’s treasure.

Anyway, I have a (very) low-light spot in my guest bathroom that’s screaming for an indoor houseplant container garden. I’ve put off the project, but am tired of looking at the bare corner. Turns out that finding a perfect list of suitable plants can be done with just a few mouse clicks versus multiple, labor-intensive internet searches, which is what I used to do.

How To Easily Find Plants That Will Work For You

I seriously love the HGTVGardens Plant Finder. It’s going to come in so handy for personal use and as a reference for any gardening-related article that I write in the future.

After setting up my profile and location, it let me know that I’m in zone 10b and that they have over 900 recommendations for plants that can grow in my area. I narrowed my search by clicking houseplants that can handle full shade and moist conditions because I tend to water more frequently than I should. I also knew that selecting “wet” would be a total no-go. Ninety-five options popped up! This can easily be done via mobile phone while at the nursery since the site is fully-optimized for mobile.

HGTVGardens plant finder

Of the 95 full-shade, indoor plants I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’ve seen at least 20 at big retailers as well as smaller, local nurseries around town. Here they are for your consideration (and mine). I already own a few of them.

Shade-Loving House Plants With Flowers

HGTVGardens Shade House Plants With Flowers1. Phalaenopsis orchids (moth orchids): They come in a variety of colors and can thrive in a number of conditions. A common household error: HGTVGardens experts say that using ice cubes to water your orchids is harmful, because their natural environment isn’t cold, basically. See eight ways to kill your orchid for more advice.

2. Flame violet (episcia cupreata ‘silver skies’):  This perennial sprouts a pretty red flower in summer and fall amid silver-green leaves that grow 2-3″ long.

3. Peace lily (spathiphyllum): These common houseplants are easy to grow, but not true lilies. Therefore, they are non-toxic to have around kids and pets. They’ll tell you how they’re feeling. Drooping means they’re thirsty and yellow spots mean they’re getting too much sun. They can do well under just fluorescent lighting in lieu of any sunlight at all. Learn more peace lily care tips.

4. Thanksgiving cactus (schlumbergera truncata): Its name is appropriate because it typically blooms around Thanksgiving. It’s a true cactus with smooth, fleshy leaves and pink flowers and grows up to 1″ tall.

Shade-Loving Indoor Palm Trees

HGTVGardens Indoor Shade Palm Trees5. Burmese fishtail palm (caryota mitis): Named for uniquely-shaped leaves, this gorgeous tree is allegedly one of the easiest indoor palms to grow. It can grow up to 6′ tall indoors so make sure you have enough ceiling room.

6. Parlor palm, dwarf mountain palm, good luck palm, Neanthebella palm, table palm (chamaedorea elegans): This bushy, low-maintenance palm needs regular water, but let the soil dry out in between. It can grow up to 6′ tall but rarely reaches even 4′.

7. Lady palm (rhapis excelsa): I have 7 of these growing outside in both partial sun and shade. I will say that they do better in the shade and the leaves stay a more gorgeous, dark green color when they are houseplants.  They are also known as fan palms and easily pruned for a tall, lean appearance versus the bushy look they have in this photo.

8. Sentry palm, Kentia palm, paradise palm (howea forsteriana): I see these called Kentia Palms around San Diego. They can grow up to 60′ tall outdoors, but in containers, they grow very slowly to about 10′ tall.

See secrets to palm tree care for more information regarding how to grow palms indoors.

Shade-Loving House Plants With Gorgeous Leaves

HGTVGardens Indoor Shade House Plants Variegated Leaves

9. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum)There are actually quite a few species of Chinese evergreen, each with different patterns on their elongated leaves. This species is a popular, shade-loving house plant that grows up to 1′ tall. It does sprout a green flower in the summer.

10. Coleus (solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Wizard Mix’): Most coleus plants like shade and would work well in an indoor application. However, I like the Wizard Mix because buying a 6-pack container is like getting to sample a variety of plants. One plant might have lime green leaves, the other pink, etc. Typically, if you buy Wizard Mix seeds, it’s a combination of 12 gorgeous coleus plants.

11. Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue (sansevieria trifasciata ‘golden hahnii’): This succulent has striking, sword-shaped leaves and is known for being the type of plant to help improve indoor air quality. It grows from 2-4′ tall and does not like excessive moisture, trust me. I’m dying to know how it became known as mother-in-law’s tongue.

12. Prayer plant (maranta leuconeura ‘erythroneura’):  My prayer plant has thrived under severe neglect. I adore the leaf color. The plants grow from 12-18″ tall with the leaves about 5″ long. At night, the plant neatly rolls up its leaves, like hands coming together in prayer. Mine is a late riser, taking until mid-morning to unroll, at times.

13. Dumbcane, tuftroot (dieffenbachia amoena): This extremely-popular house plant can grow up to 5-6′ tall. It is toxic if eaten (though not fatal as internet hoaxes might suggest), so make sure to keep members of the family and pets from gnawing on it.

14. Fancy leaved caladium (caladium bicolor ‘rosebud’): It’s a type of elephant’s ear plant with a showy, big red and green leaves that can grow from 12-36″ tall.

15. Wandering Jew, silvery inch plant, zebra plant (tradescantia zebrina):  The silver, green, purple leaves make this a gorgeous addition to an indoor container garden. It is also popular on its own in a hanging basket, because the leaves will flow over the sides.  Wandering Jew grows from 12-36″.

16. Peacock plant, cathedral window (calathea makoyana): I stopped at Home Depot for some light bulbs and also came out with a peacock plant. Mine has stayed relatively small but they can grow up to 4′ tall and sprout white flowers, at times.

17. Philodendron (philodendron ‘xanadu’):  Grows extremely well in containers both indoors and outdoors up to about 4′ tall, but usually much shorter, in my experience.  In fact, I have it in a small container garden and it’s stayed about 1′ tall for the last 2 years. It’s used as a groundcover in tropical gardens.

Shade-Loving Indoor Ferns And Ivy

HGTVGardens Indoor Shade House Plants Ferns Ivy

18. Asparagus fern, foxtail asparagus, emerald feather (asparagus densiflorus ‘myers’): This is a cool looking plant that grows to about 2′ tall and 3′ wide.  It’s really related to the asparagus and not a real fern, but it also grows extremely well outdoors in gardens all over San Diego.

19. Common maidenhair fern, southern maidenhair fern, Venus maidenhair fern, Venus’s hair fern (adiantum capillus-veneris): These ferns stay compact at about 12-18″ tall and look stunning in an orchid garden.

20. English ivy, Baltic ivy (hedera helix): It’s an indoor houseplant, a groundcover and a vine. This versatile plant is easy to grow and prune, though it’s another plant keep kids and dogs from eating.

Remember, there are 95 houseplants that can tolerate full shade and moist soil in zone 10b (San Diego area). These are just some that I’ve seen commonly sold around town.

Try This Experiment

Users of HGTVGardens, like me, are able to upload their own garden and plant photos. I walked around my yard, camera in hand, and experienced a fairly major light bulb moment. While I thought the majority of my yard looked nice, I only felt comfortable sharing a handful of small spots online. Translation: I have major work to do in preparation for summer entertaining. However, I did upload a few photos to my profile. I look forward to adding more, as things spruce up around here, as well as taking inspiration from other nearby members and helpful articles.

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HGTVGardens Indoor Shade House Plants Container Gardening

*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of HGTVGardens.com
**Photo credits: HGTVGardens

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  1. Andy Smith
    April 11, 2016 at 7:20 am — Reply

    Peace lily is toxic to both cats and dogs, so is in fact not safe to have around pets. You should probably edit that.

  2. Pamela Westin
    February 4, 2016 at 7:16 am — Reply

    #18 the asparagus fern does not look like it should. Mine actually looks like the leaves of an asparagus plant, only more full. I had it inside the house for years, but hated the fact that they shed. I planted it outside on a dare and to this day (12 years later) it still comes up each spring. In the summer it gets tiny white flowers on it. I found that to be fascinating. It quit shedding as well. We live just a hop and a skip from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  3. Sandy Sshwoebel I Indiana
    January 1, 2016 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Found information to be contrary to what I knew. I thought most plants shown required sun! I will try moving to the shade!

  4. maggie
    July 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    Mother in law plant will make you lose your voice if eaten or brewed into a tea. That’s how it got its name. Lol

    • July 9, 2016 at 5:13 am — Reply

      The plant got it’s name because it is undestroyable.

  5. Cathy Mac
    January 31, 2015 at 9:26 am — Reply

    Thank you for sharing this! You’ve reignited a dwindling passion!
    Question: are all these palms toxic to cats?

    • Andy Smith
      April 11, 2016 at 7:24 am — Reply

      Lady palm is cat safe and it filters ammonia from the air, so perfect for near the litter box 🙂

      • Cathy mac
        April 24, 2016 at 6:22 am — Reply

        Awesome!! So needed! Thank you!

  6. January 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm — Reply

    Very nice article. I have plenty of shade plants…never a space unplanted, LOL!

  7. September 22, 2014 at 7:05 am — Reply

    This is a great post …. I’m a fan of the plant finder after stumbling upon it a few months ago. I’m totally looking up houseplants after reading your post.

  8. Andreas Bauer
    April 16, 2014 at 7:56 am — Reply

    I’m dying to know how it became known as mother-in-law’s tongue.
    It’s called “mother in-laws tongue” because it looks like a tongue with a pointy tip and it’s hard to kill.

  9. Matt
    January 24, 2014 at 7:02 am — Reply

    I dont agree about phalaepnosis it does need to be sittting by the Window so it gest à³sme level of light best by the kitchen sink, i Put my by the toalet in Shade And it doopped all flowering in few days, moved it by kitchen Window it flowering again 🙂

  10. Karen
    July 26, 2013 at 1:34 am — Reply

    You said under #11, “I’m dying to know how it became known as mother-in-law’s tongue.” Perhaps your mother-in-law has only the kindest, softest things to say to you, but the stereotypical mother-in-law has a very sharp tongue, right? Now touch the end of one of those stout leaves. Mystery solved!

  11. […] It’s an all-purpose fertilizer that can be used on both outdoor and indoor house plants. […]

  12. May 5, 2013 at 12:20 am — Reply

    I love plants… and this article has been very helpful.. many thanks for sharing!!! Love Shade-Loving House Plants With Flowers, especially the photo #1 😀

  13. March 16, 2013 at 7:10 am — Reply

    Wow- I never knew a “plant finder” existed. How awesome is that? I want to add some indoor plants to the house this spring and this is definitely going to help me figure out what is best; I don’t have the greenest thumb. 😉

    • March 16, 2013 at 7:12 am — Reply

      I’m with you on that. I’m off to the nursery this week to put together my container garden and hope that I don’t kill it with too much water!

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