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Suggestions for an indoor, low light plant that has some sort of use?  RSS feed

 
Eric Giordano
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I'm looking for a small to mid-sized woody plant that I can put indoors that will get relatively low light.

I also want it to have some usefulness to me, maybe it has edible parts, is a medicinal herb, or some other use I'm not aware of.

Any ideas?
 
William Bronson
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Nope! But I am also interested.
Most of the plants I know to thrive in low light are not only not edible,but actively poisonous.
I was looking for a plant to grow in a basement vermiculture water filter.
 
Su Ba
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Perhaps turmeric? It's not woody, though. And I've never tried growing it indoors. Mine grows best in low light.
 
Carl Trotz
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One thought - although it's not a woody plant - would be yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon).  It thrives in low light, and is edible, though the taste is somewhat bland in my experience.  I recently came across an article about someone growing it in a hanging pot, indoors:

http://davolls.blogspot.com/2016/02/lamaistrum-galeobdolon-as-hanging.html?m=1

Hope this helps.
 
Deb Rebel
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Not edible but pothos are good at low light and I've used them in filters for aquaculture and pond aquarium. Edibles, I'd love to hear about.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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What an interesting question.  If you don't end up with an edible or medicinal, keep in mind that plants make oxygen in exchange for CO2, kind of nice thing to have in doors.

I do have a couple of ideas. 

The vanilla bean grows on an orchid, and I think orchids all grow in shade, I think they are understory plants.

And, coffee trees grow in the shade, so maybe one would do well in your house.

Just how dim is the situation you are going to put your plant in?  Is it also cool?

Could you grow wheat grass?  It would prefer bright light, but would grow in lower light from the starch stored in the seed, and make some chlorophyll in hopes of encountering enough light to grow and thrive.

 
Thekla McDaniels
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I've been to https://www.strictlymedicinalseeds.com/ where I found a few ideas.

It's the web site for strictly medicinal herbs, formerly horizon herbs.

They list Aloe ferox (Cape Aloe), and sell the seeds.

They also list a couple of Arnica species, but not the one I know.  However, Arnica cordifolia, the one I know, grows in dense shade, under the evergreens where the mosquitos plague me when I go gathering it.

Angelica is also on their list, but it gets pretty big, and I have never had any luck growing it.

Tulsi "kapoor" (holy basil) is also on their list but when I looked at the "more information" it says if it does not get enough light it will flower quickly and go to seed.  Sounds like it would grow for awhile!  And this is a plant I love.  It has a wonderful fragrance.  I have had it indoors at my house over the winter, and it is not the lush happy plant that grows outdoors, but it lives.

I'm very curious to know what others suggest.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Su Ba also mentioned on her blog that New Zealand spinach grew well in the shade. If you can go with a hanging vine in stead of or along with a woody plant it can produce a lot of greens and as you cut it back it just grows more. In bright light it makes small leaves but on the north side of my green house where there are no windows and only indirect light it makes leaves the size of my hand. It makes a seed at the base of each leaf so once you get it started there is no shortage of seeds so you can plant it outside in the shade in the summer.
 
André Troylilas
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Not woody, but edible, what about Sweet Violet?
 
Liz Hoxie
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Edible ginger is a low light plant. They say it can grow to 4'. I'm going to try it; it may not get as tall if grown in a pot. If it grows as tall,it would make a good screen.
 
John Polk
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How about Stevia?
It is a tropical plant grown in the under story, so is used to lower light.

http://countrysidenetwork.com/daily/gardening/container-gardening/growing-stevia-indoors-produce-sweetener/

from Mother Earth News:
Overwintering Stevia

If you live in Zone 8 or warmer, stevia is often winter-hardy and grows as a short-lived perennial with a protective winter mulch. In colder climates, prepare two healthy parent plants for overwintering indoors. Choose 1-year-old plants grown from seeds or cuttings. Cut them back to about 6 inches, and prune roots as necessary to settle them into 6-inch containers with a light-textured potting mix. Move your stevia plants to a warm, sunny location indoors, or to a heated greenhouse. In spring, when new growth appears, cut most of the new stems and root them in moist seed-starting mix. 

 
Alison Sargent
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I just read recently that the sweet potato vine is edible.  I haven't tried eating it yet, but it grows well indoors.  And it is lovely.
 
Polly Oz
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Hans Quistorff wrote:Su Ba also mentioned on her blog that New Zealand spinach grew well in the shade. If you can go with a hanging vine in stead of or along with a woody plant it can produce a lot of greens and as you cut it back it just grows more. In bright light it makes small leaves but on the north side of my green house where there are no windows and only indirect light it makes leaves the size of my hand. It makes a seed at the base of each leaf so once you get it started there is no shortage of seeds so you can plant it outside in the shade in the summer.


NZ spinach should grow well. The problem with the low light tropicals is their need for warmth and humidity. Without high temperatures they usually do better with higher light levels.

You could build a nice woody frame for the NZ spinach to clamber up, but it needs a bit of assistance, hand twining the stems will give you a denser, more filled in look. As pretty as ivy, but edible.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I've eaten the leaves of sweet potato.  But I am not sure how little light it could make do with.  I think it might be like the wheat grass suggestion above. Without plenty of light, when the sustenance provided by the tuber is used up, then it might not be able to continue on low light, might be very leggy, as it searches for light.

I am still wondering about just how much light you have in mind.  Indoors on a sunny/south facing window is not what I call "low light".   In that situation, there are many plants that do well, sweet potato vine is one.   Also rose geranium, or other scented geranium (they get "woody" if never exposed to freezing conditions, but not truly wood).

Low light as in African violets is another level entirely.  They grow in almost no light, like in a bathroom with a high window, no sunlight or bright light ever, but you can tell it is day time.

How warm, how humid is the situation you are trying to fill?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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How low is the light there? If it's a basement, is there any daylight, or not at all? Could you add some light from lamps (daylight grow lights)? In that case there are plenty of plants you can grow there.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Eric, are you there?  How do these plant ideas sound to you?  How much light is there in the situation where you want the plant to grow?  I went to one specific supplier, but there are thousands.  I don't know where you are, but if it is the state of Washington, USA, there is a great nursery called "Raintree".  They have  lots of unusual plants for sale, non mainstream type herbs and edibles, things that mainstream don't know are food, and if you just contacted them and asked the what they recommend, they might be helpful.

There is another odd ball nursery, just indoor plants on the East Coast USA (Connecticut I think) and likewise if you contacted them they would know what among their offerings would grow in low light.
 
Joy Oasis
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Alison Sargent wrote:I just read recently that the sweet potato vine is edible.  I haven't tried eating it yet, but it grows well indoors.  And it is lovely.

It is edible,  but I did not like the texture and my guinea pigs didn't either. It took a while to eradicate them too, because they grow very well.
 
Joy Oasis
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Carl Trotz wrote:One thought - although it's not a woody plant - would be yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon).  It thrives in low light, and is edible, though the taste is somewhat bland in my experience.  I recently came across an article about someone growing it in a hanging pot, indoors:

http://davolls.blogspot.com/2016/02/lamaistrum-galeobdolon-as-hanging.html?m=1

Hope this helps.

Interestingly plant he mentions Lamiastrum galeobdolon is a totally different plant, than the one he has in the photo. Lamiastrum galeobdolon is mint family plant, that doesn't vine, but grows in clumps like all mints do.
 
Sharon Carson
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for woody medicinals- I would suggest rosemary or lemon verbeana or a grafted citrus tree . I also sell cardoman plants which I use for teas or making creme brulee or ice creams . It thrives in low light as long as it gets plenty of water and a nourished soil.  Sharon     Sharonsnaturalgardens
 
Anne Miller
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Last winter I overwintered purslane indoors.  It was in my shower for a month while I was on vacation.  Of course it did not bloom.  It is said to be edible but I have not tried it.

Many herbs are grown in the kitchen, some need a south facing light like a windowsill.  Parsley likes full sun—but will grow slowly in an east- or west-facing window. Chervil grows well in low light but needs temperatures between 65 degrees and 70 degrees to thrive.

Growing up, we always had a avocado seed suspended from tooth picks in water.  I wonder if the leaves are edible?

Also I tried growing several plants from kitchen scraps.  You can put the top off carrots in a little water then watch the leaves turn green and grown.  I had it where it didn't get a lot of light.  Then you use the greens in salad.  You can do the same with the part of the root you cut off onions.  The will grow and make greens that you can use. Same with Celery.
 
Carl Trotz
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Interestingly plant he mentions Lamiastrum galeobdolon is a totally different plant, than the one he has in the photo. Lamiastrum galeobdolon is mint family plant, that doesn't vine, but grows in clumps like all mints do.


Actually that is a 'Lamiastrum galeobdolon' in the photo, so far as I can tell.  It looks to me like the variety 'variegeta', which also grows abundantly on my property.  Though it is not a vine, it does spread by runners (even becoming invasive in some places); when the runners find empty space they cascade downward looking for a place to root.  There is a variety called 'Herman's Pride', which I believe is a clump-former. 

Some in the mint family are clump-formers (like lemon balm) while others, say spearmint or swamp woundwort, are vigorous spreaders. 
 
Anne Miller
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Sprouts and microgreens are another way to have edibles that you can do inside.

This articles also mentions tomatoes, peppers and even citrus.

"Broccoli, which germinates early and reliably, is another wonderful option for growing edible houseplants. Some varieties of strawberries, bananas, and ‘Tophat’ blueberries are also suitable for growing edible houseplants."

growing-edible-houseplants
 
Joy Oasis
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Carl Trotz wrote:
Interestingly plant he mentions Lamiastrum galeobdolon is a totally different plant, than the one he has in the photo. Lamiastrum galeobdolon is mint family plant, that doesn't vine, but grows in clumps like all mints do.


Actually that is a 'Lamiastrum galeobdolon' in the photo, so far as I can tell.  It looks to me like the variety 'variegeta', which also grows abundantly on my property.  Though it is not a vine, it does spread by runners (even becoming invasive in some places); when the runners find empty space they cascade downward looking for a place to root.  There is a variety called 'Herman's Pride', which I believe is a clump-former. 

Some in the mint family are clump-formers (like lemon balm) while others, say spearmint or swamp woundwort, are vigorous spreaders. 

But the picture clearly shows long vine...
 
Joy Oasis
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Anne Miller wrote:Sprouts and microgreens are another way to have edibles that you can do inside.

This articles also mentions tomatoes, peppers and even citrus.

"Broccoli, which germinates early and reliably, is another wonderful option for growing edible houseplants. Some varieties of strawberries, bananas, and ‘Tophat’ blueberries are also suitable for growing edible houseplants."

growing-edible-houseplants


   I totally agree. We always grow sunflower microgreens inside (climate here is fine the whole year, but mice and birds love young sweet greens, so I still grow them inside), and now I am growing also adzuki bean and French lentil shoots first time, because I read in the book Year Around Salad Gardening, that they taste good as well. Most beans have bitter shoots, those two are exceptions. And of course, pea shoots taste very nicely too. However they won't be pereneial, we would have to plant and harvest often. They are easier to grow in potting soil (or seedling mixture with some compost and kelp added), because they do not have to be washed 3 times a day like sprouts grown in water have to. But they use potting soil as the one with roots has to be composted to be used again.
 
Kevin Feinstein
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Have you thought about Gynura procumbens (Longevity spinach.) Nice looking foliage and tasty and nutritious. It grows great for me!


 
Eric Giordano
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Wow! Thanks for all the replies everyone!

To answer some of your questions: I have a north facing window in New York City, but the building across from the window are bright white and bounce quite a bit of light into my apartment. I have a ficus tree and a few other plants that seem to do very well.

I'm excited to try Turmeric and Ginger as I use those often and it would be super cool to grow them in my apartment. I'll also look into a lot of these other suggestions. Thanks!
 
Chrissy Star
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banopsterri caapi
 
Roy Hinkley
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I have a Bay Leaf bush that has to come indoors during the winter. That might fit the bill.
 
Gary Grata
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I sprouted a Kaffir Lime from seed in later Winter 2015, moved it outside into a raised bed that Spring, back inside last Winter, back outside this Spring, and it's back inside for this winter. It sits on my kitchen table under probably a 26 watt CFL  during the day and seems to do well enough overwintering inside.
File_000-(1).jpeg
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John McDoodle
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Eric
i hate giving away all my best info but i think someone above already mentioned a form of this. 

  Aloe Vera, the egyptian plant of immortality.   you can eat it, it has medicinal uses, aloe drinks are amazingly good, and it has theraputic possibilities.  my ex Gf's mother grew it everywhere in thier basement, and she could easily clone them to multiply, and the basement was not a bright place.   even in a cold dark basement these plants would thrive, and they are SOOOOOOOOOO good for you in many different ways!
 
Dave Miller
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I have an aloe vera plant in my dim office, it seems quite happy here.

John McDoodle wrote:Eric
i hate giving away all my best info but i think someone above already mentioned a form of this. 

  Aloe Vera, the egyptian plant of immortality.   you can eat it, it has medicinal uses, aloe drinks are amazingly good, and it has theraputic possibilities.  my ex Gf's mother grew it everywhere in thier basement, and she could easily clone them to multiply, and the basement was not a bright place.   even in a cold dark basement these plants would thrive, and they are SOOOOOOOOOO good for you in many different ways!
 
Mary Leonard
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I've got two avocados that I sprouted in my kitchen window now growing in large pots in my very dim living room. They get some fairly bright southern exposure for about 30 minutes a day at most but the rest of the day it's so dim in the room that I really do need a light on to read. They've handled the transplanting from only water to soil fine and I see new growth on both of them. Now I just look forward to some avocados.
 
Andrea Mondine
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Aloe Vera will fit the bill for you…it has a million healthy and medicinal uses and you can even take a stalk, slice it open and put the goo in a delicious smoothie. These grow rapidly and your ‘mother plant’ will need to be thinned out. You can sell the ‘babies’ on Craigslist or RIpeNearMe or farmers markets or whatnot. They always seem to be in demand.

Someone mentioned Sweet potato vine. It’s a beautiful houseplant and free to acquire when you have a sprout tuber in your potato bin. Here’s a pic of mine…This is two tubers that have been growing for more than a year in a low light hallway in my house. To be fair, there’s also an asparagus fern in there for some visual interest.

How about Pineapple? YES, it blooms and you get some tiny, grapefruit sized pineapples in the hottest month (usually late July here). They are sweet and there is some sense of satisfaction from coaxing a pineapple out of a plant. Here’s a picture of mine. It’s in an extremely low light corner and I really just ignore it. In the Spring I drag the pot out to the porch and continue to ignore it…..except for some water now and then. This is about 2 year’s growth from a 4 inch starter pot I bought at a local greenhouse for about $4.
Pineapple.jpg
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Andrea Mondine
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Sorry..I only attached the one picture to my reply. Here's the picture of the Sweet Potato Vine and Asparagus Fern.
Sweet-Potato-Vine-and-Asparagus-Fern.jpg
[Thumbnail for Sweet-Potato-Vine-and-Asparagus-Fern.jpg]
 
Henry Jabel
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Lots of the conventional indoor plants plant (e.g peace lillies, areca palm, etc) are obviously used to low light conditions and a lot of them will increase your indoor air quality.

Check out the nasa clean air study:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study
 
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