23 of the Best Medium-Light Houseplants

It seems like there are piles and piles of plants that do well in bright, direct light and tons that are ideal for low light conditions, but what about that perfect middle ground?

You know, that in-between exposure that fills so much of our homes? Where are the plants for those spots?

A vertical image of a room in a house with a variety of different houseplants with a blind over the window to reduce the amount of light. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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There are actually quite a few popular houseplants that often get shoved into darker spots, but they’re truly happiest in moderate light.

In this guide, we will go over 23 awesome options for your home or office. Here are the plants we’ll chat about:

So, what exactly is medium light?

Picture the quality of light when you’re sitting under a leafy tree.

There will be patches of sunlight that filter through the leaves as they shift in the wind and throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky.

But for the most part, you’re sitting in shade without much direct sunlight hitting you.

A plant located under a tree outdoors will receive direct light for brief periods, but they’re truly brief.

A few minutes here, a few minutes there, a bit of dappled light as the leaves rustle back and forth in the breeze. But they’ll rarely receive direct light for very long.

You can recreate this lighting condition indoors with a sheer curtain placed over a sunny window, or by placing your plant in a north-facing window.

If you have an east-, west-, or south-facing window without curtains, placement around six feet away from the window and outside of the area where direct light is cast will provide medium exposure when the sun is shining in the window. 

Basically, you want bright but not direct light.

Some of the plants on this list will do just fine in less or even more light, but all of these selections truly thrive in moderate lighting conditions.

This is the type of sunlight they’ve generally evolved to grow best in, and where they’re happiest both in the wild and inside your home.

If you are looking for low-light houseplants, we have a roundup of those, too!

1. African Violet

African violets (Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia) have a reputation for being a bit fussy when it comes to light.

Too much and they wilt like spinach in a hot pan, too little and they grow leggy and refuse to bloom.

A horizontal image of a purple African violet in full bloom, set on a windowsill surrounded by other plants.

But if you’re able to provide some decent, medium-quality light? Chef’s kiss!

As one of few types of houseplants that flower regularly, African violets are like a living bouquet, and they’ll adore areas with moderate lighting in your home.

African Violet Optimara

Grab a four-pack of live Optimara series plants in four-inch pots at Walmart.

Check out our growing guide to learn more about African violets.

2. Alocasia

There are several Alocasia species that are commonly grown as houseplants and pretty much all of them prefer medium light.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of an Alocasia plant pictured on a soft focus background.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

Whether you’re growing the seductive black velvet (A. reginula), the dramatic purple sword (A. lauterbachiana), or the ever-popular black shield (A. x amazonica ‘Polly’) give it lots of dappled, moderate sunshine.

A square image of the variegated foliage of a black shield Alocasia plant growing outdoors.

Black Shield Alocasia

You can find black shield plants in four-inch pots at Walmart.

Find tips on caring for alocasia plants here.

3. Aluminum Plant

Aluminum plant, or watermelon pilea (Pilea cadierei), likes lots of sun – just don’t make it direct.

A close up horizontal image of the silver and green foliage of an aluminum plant pictured on a dark background.

These tough little nettle relatives offer up color and texture without much maintenance.

They’re also pet friendly!

California Tropicals sells live plants in six-inch pots. You can find them at Amazon.

Find more information about growing aluminum plants here.

4. Anthurium

Anthurium andraeanum aka flamingo lily, is the most popular species, and these plants are very unique.

They have glossy leaves and colorful “flowers” (which are actually modified leaves called spathes) that last for months and months.

A close up horizontal image of an anthurium plant pictured on a soft focus background.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

Anthuriums are pretty forgiving and if you don’t give them the exact light exposure they prefer they’ll forgive you.

But if you want the best performance, you know what to do. Give ‘em the mid-range stuff!

A square image of an anthurium houseplant with bright red "flowers" set on a wooden surface.

Flamingo Lily

Nature Hills Nursery has live flamingo lily plants available in four-inch pots.

Learn all about growing anthuriums in our guide.

5. Asparagus Fern

While it’s not a true fern, the asparagus fern (Asparagus setaceus) sure is gorgeous. It has delicate, lacy leaves that look like a little green puff of smoke when seen from afar.

A close up horizontal image of an asparagus fern growing in a terra cotta pot in a dark spot indoors.

If you put these plants in a sunny west-facing window they’ll be crisper than a bag of chips in no time flat.

In a dark corner, they’ll become leggy. Go for that Goldilocks Zone as described above, and they’ll feel just right.

A square image of a hand from the bottom of the frame holding up a small potted asparagus fern.

Asparagus Fern

Grab a super cute live plant in a two-inch pot at Wayfair.

You can find full asparagus fern cultivation instructions in our guide.

6. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palms (Chamaedorea seifrizii) will make do if you stick them in a dark spot, but put them in the right conditions and you’ll have a taller, lusher palm to enjoy.

A close up of a bamboo palm growing in a pot isolated on a white background.

Bamboo Palm

Ready to add a topical vibe in your home? Grab a four-inch potted specimen at Walmart.

Learn more about caring for bamboo palms.

7. Begonia

Begonias (Begonia spp.) are such a diverse group of plants with all the beguiling foliage shapes, sizes, and colors you could ask for. My polka dot begonia never fails to draw comments.

A vertical image of a begonia growing in a white pot set on a pile of books near a window with a wooden bird figurine in the foreground.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

Regardless of the variety you’re growing, one thing they all have in common is that they love bright, indirect light in that moderate zone.

The perennial favorite known as ‘Joyful Jasper’ is a popular hybrid grown as a houseplant and outdoors, thanks to its striking purple foliage and white flowers.

A square image of a 'Crown Jewel' begonia growing in a silver pot set between two candlesticks on an indoor table.

‘Joyful Jasper’ Begonia

Snag one in a nine-inch pot from Home Depot.

8. Blue Star Fern

Some ferns are like the vampires of the plant world – they sizzle in the sunlight.

And ferns are also notorious for being greedy about water. But blue star ferns (Phlebodium aureum) defy these stereotypes.

They’re fine with less water and they soak up the mid-range exposure that would fry more finicky ferns.

A square image of a small blue star fern growing in a cream colored pot set up with some green candles as part of an interior display.

Blue Star Fern

If a blue star fern is calling your name, (and, honestly – same here), head over to Walmart to snag one in a four-inch pot.

9. Boston Fern

Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), aka sword ferns – not to be confused with Western sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) – have been a mainstay in homes for years.

A close up horizontal image of a Boston fern in a hanging pot growing under a pergola.

They’re tolerant of shade, but put them in moderate light and watch them explode with green goodness.

A square image of a Boston fern growing in a hanging pot.

Boston Fern

Nature Hills Nursery has an excellent range of plants available, including live six-inch Boston ferns.

Learn how to grow Boston ferns in our guide.

10. Bromeliad

If you want that characteristic bright yellow and red coloring (or pink, or green, as the case may be) and deep green, glossy bracts, then bromeliads (family Bromeliaceae) must be grown in the right light exposure.

And yup, you guessed it… medium it is!

A square image of a 'Scarlet Star' bromeliad growing in a pot set on a wooden surface.

‘Scarlet Star’ Bromeliad

Pick up ‘Scarlet Star’ at Nature Hills Nursery in a six-inch container and put it in bright, indirect light. This cultivar has stunning, bright red bracts that are hard to miss.

You can learn more about bromeliads in our growing guide.

11. Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreens can have some extremely striking leaves with heavy white, yellow, pink, or red variegation.

A close up horizontal image of the dark and light green variegated foliage of Aglenoma 'Silver Bay,' aka Chinese evergreen.

But that coloring fades if you place these houseplants in dim conditions.

Medium is the way to go if you want Aglaonema species to look their best.

A square image of a Chinese evergreen plant growing in a decorative pot indoors.

Chinese Evergreen

One Chinese evergreen is good, but two are twice as nice.

Home Depot has two-packs of plants in six-inch pots available, with elegant variegated elliptical leaves in shades of green, red, and silver.

You can learn all about how to grow Chinese evergreens in our guide.

12. Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactuses (Schlumbergera spp.) bring us color during the holidays via their attractive blooms and they don’t need anything much from us as gardeners besides a small amount of water and medium light.

A close up horizontal image of a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) in full bloom, growing in a black pot set on a windowsill.

Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas cactuses look similar and are most easily told apart by their leaves.

Easter and Christmas varieties have rounded leaves while Thanksgiving cactuses have points on the edges that kind of make them resemble a crab.

Whichever you pick, all types thrive in medium light.

Red Christmas Cactus

You can find a lovely Christmas cactus with festive red blossoms in a six-inch pot available from Hirt’s Gardens via Amazon.

Learn more about growing Christmas cactus in our guide.

13. Fiddle-Leaf Fig

Despite the fact that they grow well outdoors in direct sunlight, fiddle-leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) need bright, indirect light indoors.

A close up vertical image of a fiddle-leaf fig growing indoors with a sage green wall in the background.

You can even get away with placing them in a spot with some direct sun in the morning, but leave them in the dark and they’ll drop their leaves and become all leggy and ugly.

‘Bambino’ is an adorable dwarf version of the full-sized plant that you might like to add to your houseplant collection if you’re looking for something that stays a bit smaller.

A square image of a tidy interior featuring a 'Bambino' fiddle-leaf fig plant growing in a blue pot.

‘Bambino’ Fiddle-Leaf Fig

If so, nab one of these in a six-inch or gallon-size pot, or pick up a two- to three- or three-to four-foot tree at Fast Growing Trees.

Learn how to grow fiddle-leaf figs in our guide.

14. Hoya

Hoyas (Hoya spp.) come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors it can be a surprise to learn that they’re all actually closely related to each other.

A close up of a hoya plant growing in a decorative pot on a windowsill.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

But it doesn’t matter how funky your particular species is – it still wants medium exposure.

‘Krimson Queen’ is a particularly attractive option, which you an grab in a four-inch pot at Home Depot.

A square image of a gardener holding a small potted 'Krimson Queen' hoya plant.

Hoya ‘Krimson Queen’

It has thick, oval-shaped, variegated leaves on long vines. Anecdotally, I’ve found mine to be the easiest hoya I’ve ever cared for.

Our guide to growing hoyas provides full details on how to care for these plants.

15. Money Tree

For something that can add some height and a tropical feel to the room, go with a money tree (Pachira aquatica).

Keep it out of direct sun and avoid placement in a dark corner. Something right in between is just right.

A square image of a money tree growing in a small black pot set on a wooden surface.

Money Tree

Nature Hills Nursery carries live plants in four-inch pots.

16. Monstera

We love those big, fenestrated leaves, right? The best way to get those is to grow Swiss cheese plants (Monstera deliciosa) in the right type of light.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of a Swiss cheese (Monstera) plant growing indoors pictured on a soft focus background.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

Direct sun will fry the leaves, but if they’re not given enough, the leaves will stay small and they won’t form those fun holes.

A square image of a small Swiss cheese plant growing in a pot pictured on a white background.

Swiss Cheese Plant

If you are dying to get your hands on a Swiss cheese plant, visit Nature Hills Nursery where you can grab one in a six-inch pot.

You can learn more about growing Swiss cheese plants in our guide.

17. Orchid

Orchids (family Orchidaceae) vary in their light requirements, but most want something right in the middle.

A close up vertical image of a white Phalaenopsis orchid growing in a white pot set on a windowsill with the blind closed.

The ever-popular Phalaenopsis or moth orchid, for example, wants to be in lots of light but it can’t tolerate direct sun.

Grab a moth orchid in a five-inch pot at Home Depot to add to your decor.

A close up of a moth orchid with foliage but no blooms growing in a clear plastic pot.

Moth Orchid

This is a grab-bag option, so the color will be a surprise – you may receive a specimen with white, gold, fuchsia, pink, purple, or orange flowers. And the blossoms might be solid, striped, or spotted.

Learn more about orchids here.

18. Philodendron

It seems like some plants go out of style and disappear from the world for a while, but philodendrons (Philodendron spp.) have maintained a steady following over the years.

A vertical image of a small philodendron growing in a black pot pictured on a soft focus background.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

At least in part, that has to be because they’re totally fuss-free, pretty, and they’ll adapt to any type of light you give them – except direct sun.

But if you want them to look their best, make it bright but not direct!

A square image of a large Philodendron 'Congo Rojo' growing in a terra cotta pot set on a side table near two windows.

‘Congo Rojo’ Philodendron

You can find philodendrons at most garden stores, but if you want something a little different from what you usually see, nab a ‘Congo Rojo’ from Planting Tree.

This beauty grows large and upright, with thick, glossy, dark green leaves on red stems. Young leaves are burgundy until they mature.

Find more information about growing philodendrons in our guide.

19. Pitcher Plant

Pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) offer us something unique.

These carnivorous plants don’t look like your typical houseplants, and they have unusual nutritional requirements, but they want the same light conditions as the rest of the species on this list.

Looking for a conversation-prompting addition to your interior design?

A close up of a pitcher plant (Sarracenia) growing in a black pot isolated on a white background.

Purple Pitcher Plant

Home Depot has lovely purple pitcher plants (S. purpurea subsp. venosa) available.

This eastern North American native has attention-grabbing green leaves with purple veins and purple edges. Young leaves are primarily purple.

Read more about these carnivorous beauties in our growing guide.

20. Rhapis Palm

Some palms are, um, challenging to grow. They want conditions to be just perfect or they’re not going to perform well, and that’s that. But these ladies are a bit more adaptable.

A close up vertical image of the foliage of a lady palm aka Rhapis excelsa growing indoors in light filtered sunshine.

Rhapis aka lady palms (Rhapis excelsa) will do just fine in a dark hallway.

But if you want them to shine their brightest, give them that sweet, sweet bright, indirect stuff.

A square image of a lady palm tree growing in a decorative pot in an alcove of a room.

Rhapis Palm

If you’re ready to welcome a tropical vibe into your home, choose a three-gallon pot, or a one- to two-foot plant in a standard or decorative pot, from Fast Growing Trees.

For cultivation tips, check out our guide.

21. Satin Pothos

In the same botanical family, Araceae, as the more common pothos, satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus) is one of my favorite plants.

It’s so rewarding for indoor gardeners to cultivate, with its abundant growth and silver and green foliage.

A close up vertical image of a satin pothos houseplant growing in a large white pot.
Photo by Kristine Lofgren.

And when I say silver, that’s no joke. The color on the leaves actually shimmers like silver foil, and it’s also known as silver vine.

But what really won my heart with this species is that it’s so darn easy to grow.

It will grow in low light but it will be leggy, and in direct light, the leaves might burn. But in medium light, it gives you bushy, strong growth and requires basically nothing in return.

A close up square image of the variegated foliage of a satin pothos plant.

Satin Pothos

Nature Hills Nursery has plants available in six-inch containers.

22. Schefflera

Umbrella plants (Schefflera spp.) are the bee’s knees.

Who isn’t jazzed about a plant that essentially can’t be killed and tolerates all kinds of suboptimal environmental conditions that would annihilate other species? 

A close up horizontal image of a potted umbrella plant set on a wooden countertop next to a window.

Now, you can stick these in a dark corner and ignore them. But if you give them just a little love and the moderate light they do best in, you’ll be glad you did.

They’ll make you feel like a genius green thumb when they reward you with robust growth.

A close up of a 'Gold Capella' umbrella plant growing in a black pot isolated on a white background.

‘Gold Capella’ Umbrella Plant

‘Gold Capella,’ an S. arboricola cultivar, is a particularly pretty plant with its variegated yellow and green foliage. Want to make one yours? Pay a visit to Nature Hills Nursery.

23. Weeping Fig

I have a sweet spot for weeping figs (Ficus benjamina). They have a deserved reputation for defoliating at the drop of a hat, but they aren’t weak and difficult!

They just react to environmental shifts by changing their outfit.

Honest, girl. Same! A good change of outfit can fix a multitude of problems.

Anyway, if you can find the perfect spot for yours right off the bat, you’ll never have to worry about dropping leaves. A big part of that is putting them in the right light.

A square image of a small weeping fig growing in a black pot set on a wooden surface.

Weeping Fig

What kind of light is that? Yep, you guessed it! Medium exposure.

Go get one of your own now from Nature Hills Nursery.

Find more information about growing weeping figs in our guide.

Medium Light Makes for Some Marvelous Plants

It seems like there are a jillion houseplants that thrive in low light or bright light, but that in-between situation? It gets neglected.

And that’s a shame because there are so many excellent options that want that bright, indirect light that most houses are filled with.

A horizontal image of a gardener holding up a trailing philodendron with other houseplants around her.

Which species on this list is calling your name? Which do you already own? Did you know that they prefer moderate exposure? Fill us in on the details in the comments below!

If you’re looking for more help on your houseplant journey, we have a few guides that you should definitely check out next:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.

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