Houseplants for basement apartments?
April 11, 2005 9:32 AM   Subscribe

The only window in my basement apartment faces north and is fairly obscured as well. I would really like a plant or two to liven the place up.

Suggestions? Are there plants that will survive on the few hours of lights-on when I am home and not at work/sleeping?
posted by CaptApollo to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Bamboo is pretty cheap and survives just fine on only a little light. I've kept mine in my sunlight-free kitchen and it seems pretty happy.
posted by Alison at 9:54 AM on April 11, 2005

Most plants need the full spectrum of wavelengths that sunlight provides, and will not thrive under regular incandescent lights. I'd suggest you pick up something like this which will provide your plants will good growing light. It's pretty cheap, requires no special installation (just plug it in) and a single fixture will work for four or five good-sized plants. That way you aren't limited in your choice of plants.
posted by nprigoda at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2005

Draecenas work well for low light situations.
posted by deborah at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2005

Also, here is a list of plants that will survive on indoor light. Scroll down half-way to the list of low-light plants. They should be fine with a northern facing window.
posted by Alison at 9:59 AM on April 11, 2005

Try though I might, I just can't seem to kill my Philadendron. No water for weeks on end? Check. Lack of direct sunlight? Check. Ice-cold window-sill? Check. Verdant? You betcha.
posted by kahboom at 10:14 AM on April 11, 2005

There are a bunch of plants that like low light or will tolerate it. Here is a list from one of the plant books I have: Aglaonema, Aspidistra, Asplenium, Fittonia, Helxine, Philodendron scandens, Sansevieria, Scindapsus.

These are some from the semi shade group may survive as well: Dracena fragrans, Dracaena marinata, Fatshedera, Fatsia, Ferns, Ficus pumila (NOT the Ficus benjamina that you see everywhere that needs a LOT of light), Fittonia, Hedera helix, Howea, Maranta, Neathe, Tolmiea.

I'm guessing that you would have the plants near or on the window sill otherwise I would get a grow light for them and once you get a grow light the kinds of plants you can get increases. You could also get flowering plants, toss them when they die and replace with new ones throughout the year ... (actually, thinking about it) ditto on the houseplants, usually grocery stores have small house plants for a dollar or two and you could get whatever you want and replace it with something else once it dies.
posted by squeak at 10:37 AM on April 11, 2005

My jade plant has actually survived better than my bamboo plants. Both of mine are in sunnier window areas (jade in the kitchen window, bamboo near the bathroom window). The jade plant started out in one of my old apartment bedrooms where I had to keep the shades drawn regularly to maintain some privacy. It has definitely been the hardiest of the plants I've owned.
posted by stefnet at 11:23 AM on April 11, 2005

Whatever plant you get, try to let it adapt to the darkness. Try to keep it outside in the shade (which is still much better than indoor shade) for a few weeks. Also, keep a plate filled with gravel under the plant when you do move it inside. Overflow water from the pot will gather in the plate and the gravel will keep the plant's feet from staying wet. The extra humidity will soothe this tortured plant.

I grew many plants in virtually no natural light with a florescent shop light in all of the murky apartments I had. Just regular florescent bulbs work well, avoid the overpriced "grow" lights. I also had an inexpensive timer to turn the light on and off. About six hours a day and your plants will thrive.

Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens) , as noted above, are the most shade tolerant plants I've ever seen.
posted by recurve at 1:05 PM on April 11, 2005

Any dracena will do fine.

Chinese evergreen is also a great low-light choice.
posted by KRS at 1:58 PM on April 11, 2005

Snake plants are great for this. I have heard of some surviving a fire after living in a basement for years. I have one here at work in a south facing window, and one at home in a room with almost no natural light.
posted by kc0dxh at 2:29 PM on April 11, 2005

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