How to grow plants in your home when you have *zero* natural light

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Photo: Instagram/@dabito

My first New York City apartment was no larger than a few hundred square feet and had one window facing a brick wall, which meant I got almost no sunlight. Although it would have been a great setting for a candlelit meditation nook, it kind of precluded me from growing any real flowers or greenery—or so I thought.

Turns out I was, um, in the dark about a pretty genius gardening hack. “If you don’t have a window [near where you want to keep a plant], you can totally use artificial lighting. It’s only finding the proper bulb that matters,” says Erin Marino, director of brand development at NYC-based nursery The Sill.

“If you don’t have a window, you can totally use artificial lighting. It’s only finding the proper bulb that matters.”

But know that it’s not quite as simple as picking up a soft-white bulb from the corner drugstore. Instead, you’ll need bulbs of specific colors and wattages, says Marino. “Most regular light bulbs aren’t good for plants because they’re designed for human eyes—they are actually incredibly dim and weak to plants,” she explains. Look for bulbs that mimic daylight with blue tones, with the highest possible lumens and wattage you can find. 

Once you’ve upgraded your lamp, you’ll want to seek out greenery that thrives in low light. Yes, it’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it when you consider all the health and aesthetic benefits that our leafy friends provide. “Plants naturally clean your air of toxins and chemicals, and consequently improve your overall wellbeing,” Marino points out. “So not only do they look good, but they make you feel good, too!”

Here, she suggests five different types of greenery that work well in dimmer spaces, not unlike my first apartment. (It’s fine—there weren’t as many cool planters back then anyway.)

Scroll down for 5 houseplants that don’t require much natural light.

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Looking for more plant love in your life? Check out these totally non-toxic, pet-friendly options or order one of these floral subscription boxes instead.

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