Winter is always long, and by time March rolls it’s nice to have something to remind you that the dead, frozen landscape won’t last forever. My preferred tactic is to buy a mini rainforest at the local greenhouse and then accidentally kill all of the plants because they weren’t meant to thrive in my dark apartment. So this year I did a little research and here’s what I found.


A lot of apartments don’t exactly get light pouring in from every direction. If you’re in a basement apartment or enclosed in a place in the middle of a big city, your options will be even more limited.

Philodendron plants are a good choice since they actually hate direct sunlight. Pot a philodendron plant in regular soil, keep it in a mild climate, then water it when the soil dries and you should have a massive plant in no time. One word of warning: they will grow really fast. You can trim them to keep it under control, or just set the pot up high somewhere and let it cascade down for infinity.

Snake plants are another perfect choice for places with low-light. These plants grow straight up and have large, striped leaves. Many people say this plant thrives on neglect; which makes it the ideal houseplant in my book. Plant it and then water it just enough so that the roots don’t rot. Fun fact: Another name for this plant is Mother-in-law’s Tongue (heh).

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Some people don’t mix plants and pets because pets can be jerks who only want to play with potted plants. Some plants are also extremely toxic to pets. You’ll want to stay far away from aloe vera, lilies, and certain cacti…but those plants don’t exactly fare well in low-light anyway. Instead, pick up a bamboo plant or button fern. Both can grow with moderate care in different lighting conditions and have been classified as safe by the ASPCA. The bamboo plant is a little more sensitive and requires that you don’t plant it with too much soil above the roots and you will have to gently mist it with a spray bottle daily…but the upside is that it won’t kill your pet!

One thing to watch out for: many people like to keep pothos (a sister plant of the philodendron we recommended earlier) because it thrives in dim lighting. If you have a cat, though, you should probably steer clear of it.

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spider plant copy

Dracaena or “Janet Craig” is the perfect apartment plant. It purifies the air without requiring much maintenance at all. It looks kind of like a palm tree, with a long thin trunk and a spray of wide leaves at the top, so you’ll want a large pot for this one. It doesn’t dig soggy water, so you’ll have to keep an eye on that when you water it. Then there’s the MVP of houseplants, the spider plant. It cleans the air, is non-toxic to animals, and thrives in any lighting condition.

This is a pretty basic guide, but should be enough to get you started. If anyone out there with a green thumb has more suggestions, please let us know!

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Amanda Mears
Amanda has worked as a journalist, an SEO copywriter, and a social media specialist. Her aim as a Four Walls contributor is to provide something worth reading and create a community for people who lease and love it. She’s also a real person, not just a mysterious internet writer, who loves silversmithing, podcast-binging, and trying to figure out how to fix her rented apartment’s bad linoleum floor (see, just like you!)