Succulents are known for their ability to retain water in barren soil conditions and climates. Known for their fleshy, engorged, and thickened parts, succulents are popular as ornamental plants and classified as either high light or low light.
Low light succulents grow well even with indirect morning or afternoon sunlight. They have darker green-colored foliage compared to high light succulents that have traces of reds, purples, and pinks. They’re more aloe-like rather than flower-like and possess beautiful shapes and textures. Compared to high light succulents, they only need three or four hours of sunlight daily and can still thrive even in areas with no natural light.
Here’s a list of the popular low light succulents that plant enthusiasts grow and collect:
Scientific name: Sanseveria trifasciata
Origin: West Africa and Asia
Common names: mother-in-law’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bowstring hemp, snake plant, devil’s tongue, snake’s tongue, Saint George’s sword
Snake plants usually have long and slightly windy green leaves that may range from six inches to eight feet tall depending on the variety. The mother-in-law’s tongue variety features a yellow border It’s a great starter plant because it tolerates neglect and prefers low to medium indirect light although bright and natural light brings out the true color of the leaves. While minimal light is okay for snake plants, they still need to be protected from intense sunlight to prevent damage. These plants purify the air by removing toxins from the air and don’t like to be over watered. You can also see our article on succulents that grow tall.
Scientific name: Kalanchoe tormentosa
Common names: panda plant, pussy ears, chocolate soldier, cocoon plant, velvetleaf kalanchoe, white lady, mother of thousands, mother of millions
Chocolate soldier plants have thick succulent leaves that come in various forms and shapes while some leaves are smooth and covered in fine fuzzy hair. These plants are highly adaptable and can survive even with minimal light but also prefer bright and indirect light as well as intense heat. It’s often used as potted plants and they produce clusters of flowers and blooms. It can grow up to 1.5 feet and they have thick stems and when pruned well they have a bush or tree look.
Scientific name: Crassula ovata
Origin: Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa and Mozambique
Common names: lucky plant, money plant, money tree
The jade plant is a large, multi-branched, and floriferous shrub that keeps its structure and texture intact even only in low sunlight. It has at least 1,400 types and though most types are common some are very expensive and rare. Its colors vary from green to red depending on the amount of sunlight that it’s exposed to. It’s usually regarded as a symbol of luck and you’ll often see this plant in offices and businesses. Even if it may die due to overhydration it can grow back even if the leaves have fallen off. While it requires minimal care, the plant’s soil should be changed at least every 2 to 3 years.
Scientific name: Haworthiopsis attenuata
Origin: Southern Africa
Common names: star window plant, zebra cactus, pearl plant, cushion aloe
Haworthia plants are so-called dwarf succulents, have zebra-like stripes, and often mistaken as aloe vera because of its close resemblance. These plants grow well in minimal light but look best in a bright environment. These slow-growing plants also need water but should never be allowed to sit in water for too long. These plants form rosettes of varying shapes depending on the species while some may form clusters. They mostly have thick roots and most species have tough and fleshy dark green leaves while some have softer and rounded leaves with glassy surfaces.
Scientific name: Rhipsalis cereuscula
Origin: Central America, Caribbean, South America
Common names: mistletoe cactus, currant cactus, old man’s beard, pencil cactus, spaghetti cactus
Rhipsalis plants are epiphytes by nature which means that they grow on the surface of other plants and get moisture and nutrients from the surroundings. It has more or less 39 epiphytic species. These plants which are suited indoors don’t thrive in direct sunlight and very dry soil and do well in places with minimal light. The morning sun and afternoon shade is enough for these plants but they’re not drought resistant and they need to be regularly watered.
Scientific name: Cotyledon tomentosa
Family name: Crassulaceae
Origin: South Africa
Common names: bear’s paw, kitten’s paw
These plants are perennial evergreen shrubs with leaves that resemble a bear’s paws, has a satiny feel and with reddish teeth at its edges. Cotyledons have 10 species and the flowers are shaped like bells. It can grow up to 70 cm tall, requires minimal attention, and thrives well in low light but it still needs water just like other succulents. In its natural habitat in South Africa, cotyledons grow in rocky quartz fields that have very porous soil. These plants are considered non-toxic although some claim that it can be mildly toxic.
Scientific name: Sedum morganianum
Family name: Crassulaceae
Origin: Southern Mexico and Honduras
Common names: donkey’s tail, horse’s tail, lamb’s tail
This flowering plant is a perennial succulent with stems that can reach up to 24 inches. It has fleshy blue-green leaves that are filled with water and with terminal pink to red flowers during summertime. It can grow its tail up to 4 feet tall. Burros tail is a drought-resistant plant that easily thrives even with minimal light. It should be kept in full sun for a few days upon planting and then placed in a well-drained pot to make sure that it has proper drainage.
Scientific name: Aloe vera
Origin: Arabian peninsula
Common names: Chinese aloe, first aid plant, burn aloe, Indian aloe, Barbados aloe
Aloe vera grows wild in tropical and arid climates in the world and has both dwarf and large tree-like species that can grow up to 30 feet. Dwarf species and hybrids thrive well in shady areas and as indoor plants placed in pots. These plants have bluish-grey-green leaves that are thick and fleshy while some varieties have white flecks in the stems. It’s a great starter plant and very easy to care for and cultivate. It’s also a popular ingredient among consumer products and its extract is clinically proven as an effective medicine.
Scientific name: Beaucarnea recurvata
Origin: Belize, Guatemala, Mexico
Common names: bottle palm, elephant’s foot tree
Ponytail palms are not true palms but often mistakenly called as such because of their single trunk and with leaves on top. It can grow up to 30 feet tall if planted on the ground but they’re shorter if planted in pots or containers. These plants have bulbous trunks that are used to store water and they have long and hair-like leaves that form like a ponytail hence their name. It’s easy to cultivate and doesn’t need to be watered always and can tolerate medium to low light for most months of the year. However, they need fast-draining soil and not available to sit in water for so long.
Scientific name: Gasteria
Origin: South Africa
Common names: ox tongue, cow’s tongue, lawyer’s tongue
Gasteria plants grow well in lightly shaded places with lots of rainfall and they produce flowers that resemble the shape of a stomach which is “gaster” in Latin, hence its name. These plants have long, thick and grooved leaves and tolerate minimal light conditions. They prefer to grow in bright and hot places especially in spots with indirect light and require little water and fertilizer. If planted in the soil, these plants prefer sandy and well-drained areas but they also thrive well in pots and popular as indoor plants or houseplants.
Scientific name: Chlorophylum comosum
Origin: Southern Africa
Common names: airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, spider lily, ribbon plant, hen and chickens
Spider plants are common houseplants because they’re good air purifiers and can grow up to three feet tall. These plants have tuberous roots and its long narrow leaves can reach up to 18 inches in length and 1 inch in width. These grass-like plants have white flowers at the tips that bloom during springtime. Spider plants have more or less 65 species and need very little sunlight and thrive well even with minimal care. The most common variety has streaked leaves with leaves that are light yellow in the middle.
Scientific name: Euophorbia milii
Common names: Christ plant, Christ thorn, Corona de Cristo, crown of thorns
Euphorbia milii plants are succulent shrubs that grow up to about 6 feet tall and have densely spiny stems. Its leaves can grow up to 1.4 inches in length and .59 inches in width and the entire plant can grow up to 3 feet tall These plants have small red color flowers and the sap is moderately poisonous as it irritates upon contact with skin or eyes. If ingested, these plants can cause stomach pain and vomiting. The plant is commonly called Christ plant because the crown that Christ supposedly wore during the crucifixion is made of this plant.
Scientific name: Platycerium
Origin: Southeast Asia, Polynesia, subtropical Australia
Common names: staghorn fern, elkhorn fern
Playtcerium plants have leafy fronds and grow well in airy environments. They only require minimal light and shouldn’t be placed in areas with direct sunlight. These epiphytic plants only need to be watered at least once a week. They have tufted roots that grow from a short rhizome bearing two types of fronds called basal and fertile fronds. These plants grow on trees and doen’t need soil contact as they absorb nutrients and moisture from the air and water or leaves. There are about 18 species of this plant and most species shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scientific name: Hoya carnosa
Origin: Eastern Asia, Southern India and Australia
Common names: wax plant, porcelain flower, wax vine, wax flower, Hindu rope
Hoya plants are common house plants that are known for their sweetly scented flowers and waxy foliage. They grow well in hanging baskets and pots and have thick and almost heart-shaped leaves. While most species are succulents, some are not. These plants grow well even with minimal light or partial shade and don’t need direct sunlight but they need protection from frost and intense heat. The hoya plant genus has more or less 200 to 300 species.
Scientific name: Rebutia minuscula
Origin: Bolivia and Argentina
Common names: white-haired crown, fire crown cactus, little mouse, orange snowball, violet crown cactus
Rebutia plants are small and colorful cacti that are globular with flowers that are large compared to its body. These plants can form into large clusters, have regularly arranged small tubercles, and produce large quantities of seeds that germinate freely. Rebutias have funnel-shaped flowers with floral tubes that extend and curve upwards with scales that may have hairs but not spines. These are popular and can be easily grown from almost anywhere in the world. There are more or less 5,000 different species of rebutia plants.
Scientific name: Echeveria elegans
Origin: Central America, Mexico, and Northwestern South America
Common names: Mexican snowball, Mexican, white Mexican rose
Echeverias have gorgeous rosettes that vary in shapes and sizes and some are either short or long-stemmed. These plants may grow up to 8 inches in width and its leaves come in different shades and colors and while some are smooth and furry other leaves may be thin or thick. These plants are grown in pots and containers and can grow well even in partial shade or minimal light. Make sure not to overwater these plants as they may rot and it shouldn’t be exposed to intense sunlight and frost.
Scientific name: Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
Origin: Eastern Africa, Southern Kenya, and Northeastern South Africa
Common names: Zanzibar gem, ZZ plant, Zuzu plant, aroid palm, eternity plant, emerald palm
These ornamental plants have attractive glossy foliage and easy to care and maintain. They’re drought resistant and have green waxy leaves and should be kept away from direct sunlight. ZZ plants are herbaceous and normally evergreen but tend to fall off during droughts but it can survive in places with low light levels and without water for as long as four months. These plants are poisonous and may endanger pets and humans if ingested, however, these are popular indoor plants and usually seen in offices and homes.
Low light succulents are popular indoor plants because they can live with minimal light and are very easy to care and maintain. Most of these plants require little water and feature attractive foliage that makes them good for decoration.