Thriving in the Shadows: Get to Know 7 Gorgeous Low-Light Houseplants

In the realm of houseplants, not all species are created equal. Some plants flourish in bright light, some need direct sunlight, and others are perfectly content in the subtle embrace of low-light conditions. For those of us with spaces that lack abundant natural light, there’s still a world of green possibilities out there! Let’s explore seven remarkable low-light houseplants that not only survive but thrive in the shadows.

What does Low Light Mean?
It’s important to remember that low light doesn’t mean no light! Even plants that prefer to be out of direct sunlight will need some light to thrive and look their best. Low light can refer to positioning a plant in a bright room, but out of direct sunlight. It can also be created by diffusing direct light through a sheer curtain, or even by placing another plant in front to shield the low-light plant.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a true gem in the world of low-light plants. It will survive in light too dim for most other plants. Its glossy, dark green leaves are complemented by elegant white flowers, creating a beautiful accent in any indoor space. Beyond its visual appeal, the Peace Lily excels at improving indoor air quality. It’s known to filter out common pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms and living areas. TIPS: Keep out of direct sunlight. Leach soil monthly to remove salts which can cause brown tipping of leaves.

Rex Begonia
(Begonia rex)

If you’re looking to add a little color in a low-light location, Rex Begonia fits the bill nicely. This is a stunning foliage plant that adds an artistic touch to your indoor garden. Known for its mesmerizing, variegated leaves that come in a wide array of colors and patterns, this plant is a true visual delight. It thrives in low-light conditions, provides color throughout the year, and is surprisingly low-maintenance. TIPS: Avoid direct sunlight to prevent leaf scorch. Avoid getting water on the foliage.

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The ZZ Plant is the epitome of resilience in the plant kingdom. This member of the Cyad family features glossy, dark green fronds that add a touch of modern elegance to any space. One of the most low-maintenance houseplants available, the ZZ is exceptionally drought-tolerant and can survive extended periods without water. In addition to its adaptability, it’s also a superb air purifier, efficiently removing toxins from the indoor air. TIPS: Prefers to stay warm — a minimum of 55°F in winter. Do not overwater. Likes to be somewhat pot-bound.

Heartleaf Philodendron
(Philodendron hederaceum)

The Heartleaf Philodendron is a beloved classic in the world of indoor gardening. With its heart-shaped, trailing leaves, this easy-to-grow plant is beautiful as either a hanging plant or climbing a trellis. It’s exceptionally adaptable to low-light conditions and can thrive even in rooms with minimal natural light. This lovely plant makes a wonderful addition to any living space. TIPS: Avoid temperatures below 60°F. Prune to increase fullness.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

The Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue, is a stalwart in the realm of low-light houseplants. Its striking, upright leaves come in various shades of green, often with unique variegation. This plant is not only resilient in low-light conditions but also boasts impressive air-purifying abilities. It’s known to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms. TIPS: Does best when potbound. Fertilize only in the summer.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Look at any beginner-friendly houseplant list, and you will find Pothos near the top. With its cascading vines and shiny heart-shaped leaves, it’s a versatile and especially easy-to-grow houseplant. It is particularly well-suited for environments with limited light, and will also tolerate lower humidity levels and still remain happy. Pothos is resilient to most pests and diseases, and is an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned plant enthusiasts alike. TIP: water only when the soil turns dry to the touch.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

Chinese Evergreens are renowned for their striking, lance-shaped leaves that come in various shades of green, often adorned with silver, pink, or cream-colored patterns. This easy-care plant makes a significant visual impact with very little maintenance. They are exceptionally adaptable to low-light conditions, making them an excellent choice for offices and rooms with minimal natural light. TIP: Keep out of drafts and avoid placing them in cold rooms. Prefers frequent light feedings.

In the world of low-light houseplants, there’s a wealth of options to choose from, each offering its own unique charm and benefits. By incorporating these resilient and visually captivating plants into your indoor space, you not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also promote a healthier and more tranquil environment. Embrace the beauty of greenery, even in the shadows!

Early Spring Garden Tips

“I love spring anywhere,
but if I could choose,
I would always greet it
in a garden.”

~ Ruth Stout ~

We all look forward to the spring season with delight each year. The promise of warmer weather, more daylight, and all of those beautiful spring flowers is a welcome reward after a long winter of grey days, icy air, and shoveling snow. Soon trees and shrubs will be budding, bulbs and perennials will begin emerging from the ground, and our gardens will slowly come back to life once again. Though it’s still too early to plant, there’s plenty to do in the garden. Grab your garden tools, and let’s get started!

CARE OF GARDEN TOOLS — Speaking of garden tools, early spring is a good time to make sure they’re ready for the upcoming season. Check your gardening supplies so that you’ll have what you need in the spring. Gives your garden gloves a good wash and dry, or replace worn ones. Take time to clean all tools thoroughly, removing any residual soil, then inspect for damage or rust. If you do find rust, give those areas a good scrub with steel wool. It will be a long season of work for your garden tools, so it’s a good idea to have them sharpened at the beginning of the season. Echter’s can do that for you! Simply bring in your tools (and lawn mower blades), and for a nominal fee, we’ll sharpen them. If you need to replace or add to your garden tool arsenal, stop by. We’re well stocked with all kinds of garden implements — especially at the beginning of the year.

EARLY SPRING CLEANUP — Winter can be hard on your garden! Take a walk around your garden to assess any winter damage. Remove debris leftover from winter storms, and tidy up the garden beds and boxes. Clean up any dead annual or vegetable plants that remained over the winter. Trim back the tattered foliage or old bloom stalks of perennials to encourage new growth to come in. Cut back ornamental grasses as low as possible, so the old foliage won’t detract from the new growth. Don’t be in too big a hurry to remove mulches though. There are plenty of beneficial pollinators overwinter in gardens by hibernating in dried leaf piles and last-season’s perennial plants, and March can still be one of our snowiest months!

PREPARE YOUR SOIL — Now is a good time to add organic amendments like compost and peat moss. Rototill or spade into your garden soil to a depth of 6 inches.

PLAN YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN — A great vegetable garden starts with a great plan! Make a list of what you’d like to grow, how much area you have, and how many of each plant you’d like to grow. Check seed packets for plants’ mature sizes, sunlight and watering needs, and the yield of the veggies when planning. Then have fun mapping out and designing your planting areas!

IT’S TIME TO PRUNE — If you didn’t get to it in February, you can still do pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs in March. Some exceptions would be birch, maple, walnut, and elm. These should be pruned in mid-summer. In early spring, you can still easily see the branching structure of trees and shrubs before the leaves start coming in. Begin by removing the three Ds: anything dead, damaged, or diseased. Then move on to any crossed branches (branches that rub against another), water sprouts (branches that grow straight up from the branch), and suckers (branches that spring up from the base of the tree or shrub). Generally speaking, remove young branches that are growing inwards towards the center of the tree as opposed to outwards. Use a pole pruner to reach branches up to about 15 ft. off the ground. Pruning paints and wound dressings are not recommended on the pruning cuts. If you missed it, here’s a deeper dive into late-winter pruning.

GET STARTED ON SOME EARLY LAWN CARE — As in other areas of the garden, begin by checking for any problems that may have developed. Once the snow has melted off your lawn, check the turf in shaded areas for snow mold, a fungus that is white to pink in color and grows on the surface of the grass blades. If you see evidence of snow mold, lightly rake the affected areas and dispose of the debris. Any remaining mold should dissipate on its own after that.

LAWNS SHOULD BE CORE AERATED once or twice each year. That’s done by poking holes in the ground and pulling out plugs. This reduces soil compaction and helps control thatch in lawns while also helping water and fertilizer move into the root zone. Schedule your lawn for an aeration in March, and prepare by marking your sprinkler heads to avoid having them damaged. Water the lawn the day before aerating, so it will be softer and easier to pull plugs. Then water again after aeration to help the lawn recover. Leaving the plugs on the surface will help break down the thatch that has accumulated.

GET A HEAD START ON WEEDS — You can begin to get ahead of weeds by choosing a lawn fertilizer with a pre-emergent as your first feeding of the year. This will prevent annual weed seeds from germinating, and give your lawn a chance to thicken up and discourage weeds on its own. It’s best to apply these after aerating the lawn. This is important because aerating after a pre-emergent will greatly reduce its effectiveness!

OVERSEEDING — As the weather begins to reliably warm up in March, you can begin overseeding thin areas of lawn. Rake areas to be seeded to expose and loosen the soil, then apply a thin layer of Nature’s Yield Compost . Use a high-quality seed blended for your conditions. Echter’s has many different blends to choose from. A hand spreader will help to apply the seed evenly. After seeding, be sure to keep the surface area moist until the seed is well germinated.

PLANT COLD-HARDY CROPS — While it’s too early to plant tender, warm-season plants, it is time to plant some early cold-hardy crops. Things like onion sets, bare-root strawberries, asparagus roots and seed potatoes can be sowed directly into the vegetable garden in March. Be sure to keep a frost blanket handy for any late-season frosts, just to be on the safe side.

START SEEDS INDOORS — Now is the time to start broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, alyssum, lobelia, pansy, and geranium seeds inside for planting out later in the spring. Start tomatoes and peppers inside now, then they’ll be ready to transfer to the garden beds in late May.

PREPARE BIRDHOUSES FOR THE BUSY SPRING SEASON — Returning birds will be looking for real estate soon! In preparation for the new arrivals, clean out and sterilize last year’s birdhouses, or put up new ones. Make sure any older birdhouses are still firmly mounted as well. It’s a good time to perform bird feeder maintenance too. Clean out all feeders and fill with fresh seed. You may also want to consider creating a pile of nesting materials to make your yard extra inviting for this year’s visitors.

Valentine’s Day

For some, Valentine’s Day is a day is greeted with enthusiasm. For others, angst might be a better description. For the latter, take a deep breath. We’ve been helping people choose that perfect gift for 55 years. In that time, we’ve picked up a few tips that may help rid the day of anxiety and replace it with anticipation.

Valentine’s day is an opportunity to tell our sweethearts and loved ones just how much they are loved. Gifts and cards are merely tokens of our affection for one another. Chances are, your sweetie would be thrilled just to have your undivided attention for awhile. After all, the best part about Valentine’s Day is the also the simplest, sharing your love.

First things, first. The easiest way to enjoy the day is to plan ahead. Most of the anxiety occurs when we procrastinate. Make a list of those you wish to celebrate on Valentine’s Day. My list includes parents, sisters, brother, children and some family members I don’t often get to visit, and my sweetheart, too.

Second, decide how you are going to honor these people on this special day. For my siblings, parents and out of town family members, I like to make a point of calling and actually talking with them. No texts. No e-mails. No tweets or online messages. A real conversation, about what’s happening in their lives is as much a gift to me as it is thoughtful to them.

Gifts for your sweetheart should be thoughtful, with care to what you know they will enjoy. For instance, giving flowers and plants is traditional. A little thought about favorite flowers or colors makes it extra special. My mother, for instance, prefers plants over cut flowers because she can enjoy them for a long period of time. Her favorite color is blue, so a blue pot or blue bow tailors the gift to her tastes. Have fun with your gift giving. Perhaps a cactus planter with a note that says “I’m stuck on you” would make your sweetheart smile.  With that in mind, here are a few ideas.

front: cyclamen, fragrant fairy primrose, kalanchoe, purple shamrock, narcissus, shamrock              rear: campanula, cineraria, tulips, Stargazer lily

Assorted succulents

Boxed mugs, insert a Starbuck’s gift card and/ or a gift card for her favorite shoe store.

Light up the night for the light of your life. (yes, I know it’s corny) These glass butterfly night lights come in several colors.

Floral cuff bracelets, each flower represents a birthday month and is engraved on the back.

Encourage a little relaxation with specially designed, aromatherapy bath salts. Add a few candles and a note that you’ll take care of the kids.





What’s in Store for Spring 2015?

If you’ve ever visited the garden center this time of year, you know you can find plenty of personal assistance. We feel a bit like the Maytag repairman at times. While the surface looks vastly more calm than it does in May, the undercurrent is moving swiftly to meet deadlines for planning and ordering seeds, cuttings, tubers, bulbs and corms for 2015.  We attend trade shows and visit several trial gardens during this time of year.  They are a vital part of the process of providing you with the best plants and gardening products available.

One of the great joys of late summer is the opportunity to visit the   annual trial gardens. Growers and plant propagators send countless rooted cuttings and seed samples to the College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU. Dr. Klett, with his team of students and Master Gardeners go to work growing these samples so we can see how they perform in our Colorado climate. Universities and many businesses across the country participate in such trials, providing the industry with an overall performance review of each of these new introductions. They are often planted, side by side, with plants considered to be the current top performers.  This provides a direct comparison between varieties.  Last week, many representatives from our industry made the annual pilgrimage to the trial gardens at CSU, to evaluate the plants that propagators hope we will add to our plant production for spring of 2015.


CSU Trial Garden

What do we look for in a plant? I suppose it’s something like judging a dog show.  We look for the best examples of what that type of plant should be in the garden.  We look for qualities that indicate it will be a good performer in our high plains climate and those that suggest they will do well at higher elevations, too.  It’s not easy to be quite that selective, sometimes.  There are so many pretty plants, it takes a bit of self discipline to avoid distraction from our purpose.

Two new petunia introductions for spring of 2015, Berry Velour and Red Velour
Two new petunia introductions for spring of 2015, Berry Velour and Red Velour

Next year may very well be the “Year of the Petunia”.  Some years we see a concentration of new introductions of one particular plant or another.  2015 promises to provide us with some incredible new petunias.   There are more new petunias than I could count.  Below is just one of the more promising varieties.

Petunia Sanguna Radiant Rose
Petunia Sanguna Radiant Rose

Geranium Glitterati Ice Queen is one of the best new plants for 2015.  It’s stunningly bright white and green foliage is a standout on its own.  The bright red blooms are the icing on the cake, or geranium, in this case.  Variegated geraniums of old weren’t the most prolific bloomers but Ice Queen is the polar opposite, producing scads of bold blooms.   It’s spreading habit makes it an excellent choice for container gardens, larger hanging baskets and wherever you may need substantial coverage in border plantings.

Geranium Glitterati Ice Queen
Geranium Glitterati Ice Queen

Coleus are a favorite, here at Echter’s.  We’re always on the hunt for new, beautiful foliage to dress up the garden.  We look for sturdy stems, the ability to adapt from shade to partial sun, firm foliage that doesn’t flop in the first breeze, colors that don’t fade and resistance to disease.  Coleosaurus is one of the more exciting introductions for 2015.

Coleus Coleosaurus
Coleus Coleosaurus

If you’ve been a longtime fan of impatiens, you probably already know about the disease that has been a bit of a challenge to them in recent years.  Impatiens Downy Mildew (IDM) can defoliate a group of Busy Lizzys within a week.  IDM affects only the traditional Impatiens walleriana.  It does not affect New Guinea Impatiens.  There are treatments that can be used if you want to stick to the traditional impatiens, but it may be worth giving some of the New Guinea types a try.  Since the risk of IDM became apparent, plant breeders have been racing to provide us with alternatives.  Bounce and Big Bounce impatiens are the result of such efforts.  They provide the flower count of traditional wallerianas while being resistant to IDM.


Interspecific Impatiens Big Bounce Lavender

Look for some stunning new verbenas next season, too.  Newer introductions have amazingly vivid colors and large bloom clusters.  We look for vivid colors that don’t fade, sturdy stems that don’t break easily in the wind, habits that make them good companions in hanging baskets and planters, and disease resistance.

Verbena Wicked Great Grape
Verbena Wicked Great Grape

We can’t give away all the surprises for 2015.  When spring arrives, look for more information about new plant introductions for annuals and perennials.  If you have some plants on your wishlist, we’d love to hear from you.  Leave us a comment or share your list with us on Facebook.

The trial gardens at CSU are open to the public and we encourage you to visit there sometime.  They can be found at 1401 Remington Street in Fort Collins.