Last week I wrote about indoor plants I have in my south window that need bright light. This article is about indoor plants that like low light. There are a number of plants that grow under trees or on the north side of tall plants that will enjoy a north window. Agloanea species is one of these.  You will find them in restaurants and in store corners where they may remain low and very slow growing.  Under more light they can get as tall as 3 feet.  They are also known as Chinese evergreens that prefer to have their roots crowded but not exposed to drafts or very cold places.  They like damp, never entirely dry soil, in which they may stay for several years with fertilizer only during summer months, unless under artificial light.  Thus, they will fit into windowless areas. There are any number of leaf patterns to liven up a dark area. Blooms appear occasionally that resemble those of a Peace Lily. They cannot tolerate cold air below 50 degrees F.

PEACE LILY (Spathiphylum) probably is one of the easiest plants to grow inside. It may get over 2 feet tall as it widens its clump. During the summer I have it on the east side of the house where it grows fairly fast and does most of its blooming.  Blooms are creamy white hoods which are sharp 3 inch pointed bracts around a hood shaped flower spike. The plant is also called WHITE FLAG or WHITE SAILS. They will grow best in a slightly acid soil I use sulphur granules. A water soluble acid fertilizer like Miracid also works well.  The leaves are fairly large so collect dust easily so I put the whole plant in the bath tub under the shower spray or on a warm winter day (over 50 degrees F.) I may put them outside under the hose.  It will grow in relation to the size of the pot it is in. 

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistara sp), also known as BARROOM PLANT, is like its name-CAST IRON. It will live for many years of neglect, with 24 inch long by 4 inch wide leaves.  A few can be found with speckled or striped leaves.  It does produce small, hidden brownish blooms without being   repotted for 2-3 years. Both spider mites and scale like this plant.  If you fertilize too much, the leaves will split.  Dryish soil during the winter is preferred.

          BOSTON FERN and SWORD FERN (Nephiolepsis exalta) can be very big hanging plants.  I have grown them in various windows and for me a north window has worked best.  It happens to be a wide window with no curtains.  I usually have a number of other plants growing lower which probably keeps the humidity high as some authors recommend daily misting. New plants grow from the outside of the clump so more plants can be started. As they get too large and develop some brown leaves, I either start new ones or cut everything off even with the top of the pot and it soon regrows better than ever. They do not like to be dried out and can be fertilized year round but not at full strength.  

          Several years ago I found a tiny (6 inch) bird nest fern (Asplenium nidus “Bird Nest”) and let it grow up in my north window and grow it did! I finally had to let it freeze. If you look down into the center of the leaves all coming out directly from the crown, there is a hairy space that looks like a bird’s nest.  It likes to be kept moist at all times as most ferns do.  New fronds come from the center and since it grows winter and summer, some of them were 2 feet long thus making a 4 feet across plant. The older leaves on the outside, which are smaller, will turn brown after a year or so. Cut them off with scissors.  Books say to repot when the roots come out the holes in the pot.  It reproduces by spores so you won’t get any blooms.  The leaves are gorgeous green and if it is happy you can almost see it grow! In the wild it grows in crotches of trees so its root system is not large.

          PONY TAIL PALM (Beaucarnea recurvata) is not a palm and is also called BOTTLE PALM, or ELEPHANT FOOT. It may take a number of years before it reaches 8 feet. By that time it and the pot are very heavy so I drag it into the garage very slowly before it freezes. The leaves may be 3 feet long with out a stem, coming directly from the trunk.  The ELEPHANT FOOT part comes from the base which looks like a large bulb above ground which conserves water.  The leaves all come up into a pony tail and then bend over.  When in doubt do not water! Sometimes young plants will appear on the bulb or you can cut off its head and a ponytail and new plants will slowly appear below the cut. Spider mites enjoy it for lunch but you can take a soft cloth and soapy water and wipe those 3 foot long leaves.  Then spray it off.

          A vining plant that does its best in moderate light, or under fluorescent light, and will also do well in a north window, is a plant most people know as POTHOS (Pothos aureus). It is also known as DEVIL’S IVY but now its official name is Epipdremnum aureus whose stems may reach 8 feet.  It goes well in a hanging container or if you like to curl it around and around on a table, that is ok. I have also seen it encouraged to grow upward on a stake near a window where it will go up one side, across the top, and begin down the other side.  I have used stretchy green tape to fasten it in place. There is also a Velcro green tape in a roll you can cut to fit.  POTHOS is usually called the easiest plant to grow.  Several tips can be trimmed off to start a new plant or it can be cut back even with the top of its pot and it will immediately start over.  It does not like wet feet.  There are several variegated forms and it is on a list of plants that removes contaminants from the air.  I have never seen one in bloom.

Copyright 2012