When selecting vining houseplants, factoring in the lighting conditions they will grow in is critical. Vines have varying needs in terms of direct sun vs indirect sunlight. Matching the right vines to the light levels in your indoor space ensures healthy, vigorous growth and maximum appeal.
Some vines thrive in low indirect light found in hallways or far from windows, while others require direct sun to flower or climb. Do your homework to pick vines suited to the specific light situation they will grow in. Then leverage their trailing and climbing abilities through strategic placement as living greenery even in dim rooms.
- Select climbing and trailing vines suited to the specific light intensities in your indoor growing area.
- Review whether each vine needs low, medium, or bright light to determine appropriate placement.
- Supplement natural light for vines with adjustable grow lights as needed. But vines grow best in natural light.
- Match fast growing vines to frequently pruned spots and slow growers to more permanent locations.
- Avoid forcing vines unsuited to low light to grow in dark rooms. They will decline. Relocate or replace with low light varieties.
- Train climbing vines onto provided trellises, poles, netting and cords. Trailing vines work beautifully in hanging pots.
- Water, fertilize, prune, and train vines as needed to maintain their health in the chosen light environment.
- Address any issues like leggy growth or failure to thrive by adjusting conditions and care.
- Take advantage of vines’ vertical growth habits to green up walls and maximize space in tight indoor quarters.
How Lighting Affects Indoor Vines
Light powers photosynthesis and fuels vine growth. In low light, vines grow slower and more sparsely. Insufficient light causes weak, leggy stems and fewer leaves. Vines adapted to brighter conditions may decline or fail to thrive and climb without enough illumination.
Direct sun through south facing windows provides the brightest interior light. East and west facing windows offer consistent medium light. North facing windows give low, indirect light as sun never directly enters them. The farther from a window into a room’s dark interior, the less light vines receive.
Artificial lighting can supplement poor natural light. Full spectrum, high intensity LED or fluorescent grow lights positioned close to vines help meet their light needs. But most vines still grow more robustly in naturally lit spots. When choosing vines, first assess the true light levels in your specific indoor spaces.
Best Low Light Vines
These vines adapt well to low indoor light, whether in a dim corner or far from any window:
Iconic golden pothos and its white variegated cousin marble queen pothos can survive in remarkably low indoor light. Known for durability, golden pothos handles extended periods in low light better than almost any other trailing houseplant. Its lush heart-shaped leaves with yellow variegation will cascade freely even in northern facing windows where light is weakest. Pothos remains a steady, if slow, grower in the dimmest corners.
Classic vining philodendron varieties such as ‘Brasil,’ ‘Micans,’ and ‘Silver’ are able to tolerate low light environments although their growth rate slows significantly. The deep green and variegated leaves of these philodendrons remain healthy for periods in northern exposures and other low light situations. Occasional breaks in brighter southern windows can perk up their growth when light is too scarce.
3. Grape Ivy
This underappreciated but versatile trailing vine called Cissus rhombifolia or oakleaf ivy can thrive in low light beyond what most houseplants tolerate. It stays slim and tidy, weaving flattened mats and neatly draping trails even in dim indoor rooms. Grape ivy makes an ideal low light hanging basket spiller thanks to its petite curving stems and tolerance of dark conditions.
4. Devil’s Ivy
Also called pothos, neon and lime light devil’s ivy varieties adapt better than almost any other plant to nearly all low light conditions. Devil’s ivy survives and remains cheerful even in dark corners and under florescent office lighting. The lime green leaves will brighten the darkest indoor spaces when other plants decline.
5. Creeping Jenny
Trailing creeping jenny vine cultivars are able to handle very low illumination indoors due to their small leaves and lax growth. Creeping jenny’s round, overlapping leaves on thin stems create flowing groundcovers across surfaces even in minimal natural window light. An easy care trailing plant for beginners.
Best Medium Light Vines
These versatile vines thrive in bright indirect light from east or west facing windows or within 5 feet of southern windows:
1. Heartleaf Philodendron
The classic heartleaf philodendron with its deep green, gracefully arching leaves can thrive in low to medium diffuse light, but truly flourishes in bright indirect conditions. Newer cultivars like the chartreuse ‘Brasil’ philodendron really show off their vivid colors in medium light. Given enough filtered sun, heartleaf philodendrons will vigorously climb poles and trail from hangers. Medium light brings out their best.
While indestructible golden and marble queen pothos survive in remarkably low light, they will grow much more vigorously and develop fuller, lusher leaves in medium indirect sunlight. Increased filtered light allows pothos leaves to reach their full size with bolder yellow or white variegation. Pothos become showstoppers in medium light.
3. Arrowhead Vine
Also called syngonium, arrowhead vines such as ‘Neon Robusta’ can handle low light yet appreciate medium indirect sun to thrive. Under moderate light, the pink variegated arrowhead leaves achieve their most vivid colors and patterns as the plant energetically climbs. Give arrowhead vines a moss pole in an east facing window.
These underutilized succulent vining plants bloom readily and often when given indoor medium light conditions. Hindu rope hoya develops full dangling chains of foliage when allowed to trail in front of an east or west window. The enormous, waxy leaves of Hoya curtsii shine under moderately bright filtered sun.
5. Creeping Fig
With its tiny, deep green leaves, creeping fig covers walls and surfaces best in medium light where growth is more rapid. This aptly named wall creeper clings tenaciously but needs adequate indirect sun to spread across its support structure vigorously. Place it along moderately bright, gently illuminated windows.
Best Bright Light Vines
These vines thrive only near south facing windows or under grow lights providing direct sun for several hours per day:
The incredibly exotic and ornate blooms of unique passionflower vines will only unfold if the plants are situated in very bright, direct sunlight indoors. Grow these trailing beauties along sunny southern windows on sturdy trellises to allow their tendrils to climb into the light. Passionflowers need intense sun exposure to stimulate lush vegetative growth and coax the intricate, elaborate flowers to keep blossoming.
Referred to as Dipladenia when grown as houseplants, mandevilla vines need copious amounts of bright light from unobstructed south facing windows to perform their best indoors. Very high light levels energize mandevilla to cover itself in abundant clusters of trumpet-shaped blooms in vibrant shades of red, pink, or white for months on end. Mandevilla flowers and flourishes in full sun.
3. Cypress Vine
A vigorous fast growing annual vine, cypress vine truly excels and becomes smothered in hundreds of delicate small pink or red star-shaped blooms when given extremely bright direct sun exposure indoors. For optimal flowering, site this delicate looking vine right against a sunny window and provide sturdy trellis supports for its exuberant upward growth when given sufficient sunlight.
4. Chilean Jasmine
Imported from South America, vigorous Chilean jasmine needs intense sunlight exposure to blanket itself in veils of abundant tubular white or pink blooms that will perfume the air indoors. situate Chilean jasmine vines in hot, sunny southern window locations to encourage flowering and draping trails of colorful blossoms.
While very challenging to bloom as houseplants, bougainvillea vines will reward diligent indoor gardeners with vibrant bursts of papery blossoms in shades of magenta, purple, red or orange if given copious direct sun next to large south-facing windows and supplemental grow lights. Their growth and flowering excels outdoors in greenhouses and sunrooms. Bougainvilleas are sun worshippers.
With the right vine variety matched to available light, even northern window sills and dim basements can support decorative green trails. Conduct a light audit before acquiring vines to ensure you pick plants suited for your specific indoor gardening situation.
Other Factors When Choosing Indoor Vines
In addition to light intensity, factor in these variables when selecting indoor vines:
1. Container size
When choosing a planter or pot for a vining plant, it is important to consider the eventual mature size, length, and overall girth that particular vine variety is capable of reaching at its full growth potential. Pick wide, sturdy containers that will comfortably accommodate and support the plant once it is fully grown, without restricting its growth. For climbing vines that attach to vertical structures, ensure you have provided suitable supports like trellises or poles for stems to ascend higher as they lengthen over time. Undersized containers will restrict vines.
2. Growth rate
Note whether an indoor vine variety you are considering is exceptionally fast growing and will require frequent pruning and guidance to keep its exuberant growth under control, or if it is a slower growing vine that expands at a more restrained pace. Combining fast-growing vines like pothos, philodendron or honeysuckle with slower growing vines like hoya or jasmine in the same plant display creates appealing visual contrast. Match the vine’s innate growth rate to your own gardening abilities.
3. Leaf size
The typical size of a vine’s individual leaves is a factor that determines how well suited the plant is for smaller indoor spaces. Vining houseplants like creeping fig or oak leaf ivy that have very tiny leaves can generously cover limited wall and surface areas without appearing overgrown or encroaching. Larger-leaved vines need amply room to avoid crowding a space. For small rooms, it is better to stick to petite-leaved foliage. In more open floorplans, you can include a mix of leaf sizes for diversity.
4. Trailing vs climbing
Identify whether you want a particular vine variety to actively climb upwards onto provided trellises, poles, or other vertical supports indoors, or to trail gracefully downwards from suspended hanging planters and positions above floor level. Note each individual vine’s natural growth habit tendencies and select plants that match the display location and structure you have in mind, whether mounted, hanging, or freestanding.
Some popular indoor vining plants can produce showy flowers as houseplants if given sufficient bright natural or supplemental light. When selecting vines, research their specific flowering habits and requirements to intentionally choose varieties more likely to bloom under the indoor growing conditions, light exposure, and seasonal durations that your space provides. Target vines like passionflowers, mandevillas, and cypress vines if abundant indoor flowers are desired.
By weighing all aspects of an indoor vine’s growth needs and characteristics along with light levels, you can create stunning living installations even in troublesome low light locations.
Using Artificial Light for Indoor Vines
In cases where natural sunlight is truly lacking in a space, artificial grow lights can enable growing vines that need extra brightness:
1. Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights
Modern full spectrum LED grow light panels are designed to output a balanced blend of light wavelengths that closely mimics natural sunlight. For indoor vines, mount LED panels fitted with adjustable chains just a few inches above the top of the plants to provide bright supplemental light. Use timers and monitor leaf temperatures to avoid overheating leaves under the intense LEDs. Full spectrum LEDs give vines vibrant growth.
2. Fluorescent Grow Tubes
High output fluorescent grow tubes like T5HO are an affordable option for supplying additional light to vines. The long tubular lamps should be positioned within 6 inches of the top leaves for best results. For full spectrum light, combine both warm white and cool white fluorescent grow bulbs in the fixtures. Fluorescent grow lights work well for basements and interior rooms lacking window light.
3. High Intensity Discharge Lights
Metal halide and high pressure sodium systems give off extremely intense, powerful light optimal for large indoor vine plantings. Use proper fixtures, wiring, hanging heights, and run times to leverage these heavy-duty grow lights safely. The bright light enables prolific growth but precautions are needed to avoid overheating the vines. HID lights require specific know-how but give big yields.
4. Reflectors and Light Movers
Adding reflective panels or light mover systems that rotate the lights allows growers to maximize distribution of artificial light over broader vine growing areas. Reflectors and movers help prevent intense hot spots under lights. Carefully calibrate the setups to ensure vines receive bright, uniform light exposure without risk of leaf burn. Efficiency is increased.
Supplemental lighting helps vines thrive, but cannot fully replace quality natural sunlight. Consider installing wire shelving units with mounted grow lights to provide “grow walls” for vines in dark rooms. With careful vine selection and supplemented light, indoor spaces both bright and dim can house happy vines.
Training and Supporting Indoor Vines
To maximize indoor vines’ climbing potential requires giving their grasping tendrils, twining stems, and clinging aerial roots proper support:
1. Container size
Consider the eventual mature size, length, and girth a particular vine variety can reach when choosing an appropriate planter size. Pick wide, sturdy pots that will still accommodate the plant once fully grown to maturity. For climbing vines, ensure you have suitable vertical structures provided for stems to ascend. Undersized containers will restrict vines.
2. Growth rate
Note whether a vining plant is exceptionally fast growing and will need frequent pruning and guidance, or is slower growing and less exuberant. Combining fast growing vines like pothos with slower growers like hoya in the same display creates visual contrast. Match growth rate to your care abilities.
3. Leaf size
The leaf size of a vine variety determines how well it suits smaller spaces. Vines with very small leaves like creeping fig cover limited surfaces without appearing overgrown. Larger leaf vines need ample room to avoid encroaching. For small rooms, stick to petite foliage. Mix leaf sizes in open floorplans.
4. Trailing vs climbing
Decide whether you want a vine to climb upward onto provided trellises or other supports, or to trail gracefully downwards from suspended pots and hanging planters. Note each vine’s growth habit and match it to the display location you have in mind.
Some popular indoor vines produce flowers if given sufficient bright light. When selecting plants, research their flowering habits and requirements to choose varieties that bloom under your indoor conditions. Add passionflowers and mandevilla for abundant flowers.
Provide climbing-adapted vines proper supports to maximize their vertical range. Then artfully place vining plants to designate, define, and decorate indoor spaces.
Tips for Growing Healthy Indoor Vines
Follow these guidelines to keep indoor vines thriving in optimal conditions:
- Water thoroughly after the top few inches of potting mix become dry to the touch. Increase watering frequency during hot, dry weather when vines use up moisture more rapidly. Allow soils to partially dry out between waterings rather than keeping them perpetually soggy. Vines in smaller containers may need daily watering. Check soil moisture with your finger.
- Mist vines occasionally to boost humidity around their leaves and provide added moisture. Grouping multiple vine plants together raises the local humidity. However, most indoor vines tolerate average indoor humidity. Just supplement with occasional misting, particularly during hot or dry periods when leaves lose more moisture.
- Fertilize monthly during the active growing season using a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Reduce fertilizer levels during winter dormancy for some vines. Excess salts from over-fertilizing can burn roots and leaves. Follow label dilutions carefully and flush soils regularly to prevent salt buildup. Fertilizer fuels plant processes when used properly.
- Ensure lighting suits each vine variety’s needs. Rotate vines or gently adjust sheer curtains as needed to evenly distribute light exposure across all sides of the plant, preventing lopsided growth from persistent directional lighting. Monitor light levels over time as conditions change.
- Prune back wayward or damaged stems using clean bypass hand shears to shape vines and encourage bushy regrowth. Take care not to over-prune newly established or stressed vines. Make cuts just above nodes where new shoots can emerge. Remove tattered, diseased foliage promptly. Be strategic with pruning cuts.
- Check new vines closely for pests like aphids, mealybugs or spider mites. Isolate and treat any infestations promptly by spraying with horticultural soaps and oils. Dispose of severely infested vines to prevent further spreading. Act before pests proliferate and damage vines. Prevention is key.
With basic care matched to the vine’s requirements, even challenging low light environments can support an abundance of vines tailor-made for the conditions at hand.
Troubleshooting Issues With Indoor Vines
Some common indoor vine problems and their solutions:
1. Sparse leaves
Increase light exposure for the vine, either by moving it closer to a window or adding a grow light. Also check that it has adequate support structure to climb upwards and display leaves well. Add a trellis or moss pole to allow better foliage distribution. Vines need light to generate ample healthy leaves.
2. Leggy weak stems
Prune back overgrown, gangly stems to just above a node to encourage bushier regrowth. Also provide more direct or filtered sunlight if possible or use supplemental grow lights to strengthen growth. Vines get leggy and floppy without sufficient light intensity.
3. Leaf drop
Sudden leaf drop can indicate heat or watering stress. Reduce heat sources and sunlight exposure to prevent leaves from scorching and drying. Also adjust your watering frequency – soaked soils can cause root rot and leaf drop but completely dried roots will worsen it. Find the right moisture balance.
If vines are wilting, check that the soil is not staying too wet, leading to root rot. But also watch for complete soil dryness which desiccates roots and causes wilts. Aim for moist but not soggy soil at all times. Do not let vining plants completely dry out.
5. Failure to climb
If the vine’s stems are growing aimlessly without clinging or climbing, add vertical support structures like trellises and evaluate if light levels are adequate. Vines need bright enough light and secure anchors to ascend vertically.
6. Slow growth
Use a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly to provide nutrition if growth stalls. Also move the vine closer to a sunny window or provide supplemental lighting to energize it. Vines grow slowly without ample light and nutrients.
Adjust care and conditions until vines perk up. Sometimes vines decline if grown in unsuitable light levels. Don’t force vines to grow under inadequate light. Relocate or replace them with better adapted varieties.
Maximizing Vertical Space With Vines
Take advantage of vining plants’ natural ability to climb, creep, and trail to decorate bare walls, conceal eyesores, and maximize vertical indoor space, especially in tight quarters.
- Cover blank walls in greenery by training pothos stems up lattice or cord grids. Place wall hooks in artistic patterns for vines to climb between.
- Suspend macrame woven hangers filled with trailing spider plants and string of pearls to add layers of cascading textures overhead.
- Conceal ugly pipes and vents with secured cords for rapid climbers like cypress vine to completely smother industrial lines and fixtures in greenery.
- Frame windows with vines like creeping fig clinging to trimwork to accentuate architectural details with naturally shaped green outlines.
With inventive placement, vines let you take advantage of vertical space to create living art installations even where horizontal room is lacking. Their lush foliage helps green up indoor environments.
FAQs About Choosing Vines Based on Light Levels
What are some good vines for low light indoor spaces?
Pothos, philodendrons, grape ivy, devil’s ivy, creeping jenny, and English ivy adapt well to low light from northern facing windows or indirect rooms. They grow slower but survive.
Do indoor vines need direct sunlight?
Some vines require direct sun to flourish. Varieties like passionflower, cypress vine, and Chilean jasmine need bright southern light exposure. Other vines only need medium or low, indirect light.
Can grow lights help vines grow in low light?
Full spectrum LED or fluorescent grow lights positioned very close to the vines can supplement poor natural light. But vines generally grow more robustly in healthy natural light if possible.
What causes vines to get leggy and sparse indoors?
Insufficient light results in weak, stretched out vine stems and sparse leaves. Increase natural light exposure or supplement with grow lights. Prune back leggy vines to encourage full, compact regrowth.
How can I provide support for vining plants indoors?
Indoor vines need support like moss poles, trellises, lattice, netting, macrame hangers, and cords or wire lines strung across walls. Give climbing vines proper structures to adhere to.
Why are some vines not growing well indoors?
Vines decline if given unsuitable lighting. A bright light vine will languish and fade in low light. Move vines closer to a light source or choose easier varieties for dark rooms. Inadequate light causes many vine issues.
Choosing climbing or trailing vines adapted to the specific light available in your indoor growing space is key to success. Seek out low light vines for dim rooms, or bright light sun lovers for southern exposures. Match support structures and care to the vine’s needs. Then artfully position vines to ornament vertical spaces as living décor even in cramped quarters lacking horizontal room. With the right vine variety and strategic placement, abundant green growth can flourish across indoor walls and suspended displays.