Plants That Grow in the Dark

Are there plants that grow in complete darkness that I can plant indoor?

You remember photosynthesis from school, right?  Plants need photosynthesis to survive and they require carbon dioxide, water and light to do so.  However, some plants have evolved to grow on the forest floor and even in caves.  Read on to find out about plants that will grow in shady spots of the home.

Plants that grow in the dark

1. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

A compact plant with pale green variegated leaves, it is a low growing plant.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) Plant
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonem)

Tip: Do not expose to direct sunlight.

2. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

Aspidistra Elatior (Cast Iron Plant)

A slow growing plant with dark green or green and white long thin leaves that are born individually on multiple thin stems.

They don’t like direct sunlight, but benefit from moderate light, will grow with very little light.

3. Kangaroo Vine (Cissus antarctica)

Cissus have glossy green leaves, sometimes slightly variegated. 

Do not expose to direct sunlight.

4. Kaffir Lily (Clivia Miniata)

Bush Lily which is also known as Kaffir Lily can grow in dark areas. They do need good light if you want them to flower, but they will survive in shaded but drought-free locations.  The leaves are dark green and tongue-shaped.

Bush Lily or Kaffir Lily

5. Goldfish Plant (Columnea gloriosa)

This is a hanging plant with small soft green leaves and produces bright orange colored mouth like flowers when the conditions are right.  They require some shaded sunlight and dry soil conditions with minimal watering to flower.  Columnea will tolerate shade, but must have a draught free position that is not too cool.

6. Umbrella Grass or Umbrella Plant

Cyperus alternifolius

Umbrella grass (Cyperus Alternifolius, Cyperus Papyrus) is another house plant that is tolerant of all light conditions. However, this is naturally a water plant, so must not be allowed to totally dry out.  The tall stems give clutches of narrow palm like leaves.

7. Dumbcane Dieffenbachia

Dumbcane Dieffenbachia

A very popular houseplant, having large variegated leaves and they are a heat-loving plant.  They must be shaded from direct sun and tolerate shade and partial shade well.

8. Devil’s Ivy and Umbrella Tree

Money plant and Umbrella Tree

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum Aureum) and umbrella tree (Schefflera Arboricola) are two very similar plants that robust and tolerant of most conditions other than the bright sun. Devil’s Ivy can grow in water even without soil.

9. Ferns

Ferns growing in dark

Ferns are a classic example of forest floor dwelling plants and they would naturally enjoy cooler temperatures and dappled shade.  They are tolerant of warmth, but not draughts. There are a wide variety of fern species.

10. Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)

Ficus elastica plant grows in dark

Rubber fig or rubber plant is a single-stemmed plant with large glossy green leaves.  They are happiest in a cool location with shady conditions and limited direct sun when not hot. Ficus is one of the fastest growing plants that you can grow at home or outdoors. They are tolerant of full shade but not too much heat and will not tolerate over 29oC (85oF).

11. Prayer Plant/Rabbit Tracks

Maranta leuconeura in the dark

The prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is another indoor plant that you can easily grow with minimal sunlight. They must have a shady position and cannot survive for long in full or even partial sun.  They do however, require warmth.

12. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

These plants are also known as Mexican Breadfruit or Hurricane Plant Large dark green glossy leaves on a single stem, they can grow as tall as twenty feet/six meters and are a stunning foliage plant for the corner of a shady room.  They cannot have direct light but are happy with all other light conditions.


A flowering variety of shade tolerant plant, they do need light, but must be kept out of direct sunlight and hot temperatures.  They tolerate shade well for short periods as long as they are watered well, but not left standing in water.


Grape Ivy

A climbing plant featuring glossy dark green small tri-lobed leaves.  They do well almost anywhere they are not subject to bright sun or draughts.


Peace Lily

Dark green foliage formed as a single leaf on each stem, they occasionally produce delicate white flowers.  They are happy with a sunny position out of direct sun, but also tolerate shade and partial shade well.


Arrowhead Plant

An easy care, tropical climbing plant that can reach six feet if allowed to climb, although can be trimmed to a bushy plant. They don’t like bright direct sunlight, preferring low to medium and indirect light, they will tolerate full shade in short bursts.

Edible Plants that grow in darkness


Probably the most famous plant that grows in darkness is the mushroom.  They are a fungi and the mushrooms are actually the fruit of Mycelium that is growing underground.  Button mushrooms are the easiest for us to grow; kits are readily available.


Chicory grown in the dark gives less bitter chicory to light grown and is a way of ensuring tasty, fresh salad in the winter.

Chinese Beansprouts

They only take a week to grow and require regular changes of water, but by removing light the sprouts are tender and ready to eat within a week.

Grass/Wheat Grass

Grass is the ultimate growing vegetable that just needs temperatures of over 6oC to grow and some light and moisture.  Therefore, grass continues to grow overnight in the dark as long as the temperatures are sufficient.  However, human beings don’t tend to eat grass.  But wheat grass that is popular will happily grow in darkness and is ready for harvest in six to ten days.  What grass is frequently grown in indoor dark hydroponic systems.