When it comes to caring for houseplants, we all know the staple rules: appropriate amount of sunlight, temperature, water, and soil mixture. But if you’ve followed those recommendations and still lack a green thumb, no need to fret! It is oftentimes not your fault that you cannot keep your houseplants alive! It’s more likely that you just do not have your plant in the right spot in your home. Proper lighting is often the hardest factor for plant parents to master.
The lighting for a plant is SO important and while it may seem as simple as placing your plant in a window, some plants will thrive better with different directional light. So your fix may be as simple as moving your leafy friend to a different window or location in your home in order to benefit from the perfect amount of light.
In this post, I will help you understand what the main types of light houseplants require and what directional light can satisfy this requirement. I’ve also listed specific houseplants that will do well for that specific type of directional light to help you decide which houseplants will work well within your home. If you are a wannabe crazy houseplant lady, you are in the right spot! This post is for houseplant beginners wanting to learn how to keep their houseplants healthy and happy!
Understanding the Types of Natural Light for Houseplants for Beginners
- Direct Sunlight: The term “direct sunlight” almost always refers to unfiltered outdoor sunlight. Full sun can usually be given to plants from a south-facing window.
- Bright Indirect Sunlight: Indirect light is when the sun’s rays do not move straight from the sun to your plant, they bounce off or are diffused first. You can achieve this if you move your plant a few feet away from the direct sunlight coming in through your windows, a window shade, or the leaves of another plant. Most indoor settings only provide indirect light. Indirect sunlight ranges from the bright indirect light of east-facing windows to the softer indirect light of north-facing windows.
- Low-Light: The term “low light” refers to your plant wanting to receive no direct sunlight. You can achieve this by pulling your plant a few feet away from a strong light source or place it in a dimly lit space.
The Best Houseplants for the Light You Have in Your Home
Before finding a place in your home for the next plant you just couldn’t pass up at the nursery, consider the following directional rules to make sure the plant will thrive in your chosen location.
Houseplants for North-facing Windows
Typically, plants in north-facing windows don’t get as much sunlight as they would on a side of the home where the sun rises or sets. Plants that thrive in indirect sunlight are good for these windows.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
If you want a delicate plant to soften a room, a peace lily is a good choice. They prefer partial shade and often won’t bloom unless in a room with low saturation. I have mine in my home office which has one large north-facing window. My Peace Lily blooms all year round and is constantly thirsty. You can buy yours HERE on Etsy like I did.
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
The Golden Pothos or Hunter’s Robe prefers filtered light, making it a perfect fit for north-facing windows. When they are in low-light the plants often grow trailing vines, making them a great hanging plant. Golden Pothos are easily found online or at your local nursery.
Although they’re a family of plants, bromeliads are exotic plants that like bright light. However, they don’t like harsh sunlight. It’s best to place them in a north-facing window with indirect sunlight. They come in a lot of colors and variations. The one I have is called a Silver King.
Houseplants for South-facing Windows
South-facing windows tend to supply constant direct, bright sunlight, which is best for desert plants and hardy flora.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
One of the most popular plants because of its easy care regimen, the Aloe Vera prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight, making them perfect for south-facing light. Plus, the fragrance and medicinal uses are an added benefit.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
As succulents rose in popularity, so did the jade plant. It’s great to keep the Jade in the southern portion of your home. Just remember to keep it out of the window sill or the leaves may scorch.
Dwarf Citrus Trees
If you want a nice fragrance in your home, consider adding a dwarf citrus. These small trees require a minimum of eight hours of full sun to produce their fruit. Because they love sunlight so much, you could even consider putting your citrus trees outdoors during the summer.
Houseplants for East-facing Windows
Plants in eastern-facing windows typically experience a half-day of direct sunlight, with a majority of it in the morning, which means the sun is less intense.
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Often referred to as the “Swiss cheese plant,” the Monstera Deliciosa is popular for its vining and glossy leaves. They grow robust leaves in the right light. I bought my Monstera on Etsy and now I propagate them and gift them to friends and family.
Red Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
The prayer plant grows a beautiful coloration in the right light but will bleach in too much sun. At night, the leaves will fold on themselves to “pray.”
The Anthurium, or flamingo flower, features bright red, waxy blossoms to add a pop of color to your home. The leaves burn easily in direct sunlight and won’t grow quickly in low light, but in the perfect light, they are a striking addition to your home. I think the Rainbow Champion Anthurium is gorgeous!
Houseplants for West-facing Windows
Plants in need of medium-light will feel at home in west-facing windows. They receive intense direct sunlight for half the day in the afternoon.
Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
A corn plant is a great option for a beginner because it’s very forgiving. It will do well in a variety of light conditions, but if you want to reach its full potential, a west-facing window is best. Corn Plants are hardy and will live for many years when provided with good growing conditions.
Hawaiian Red Sister Ti Plant (Cordyline terminalis)
This plant sometimes referred to as the Ti plant, is a great way to add color to your home. Color variations include green, red, orange, or pink, but the color is only vibrant with bright light. You can find these at your local nursery or on Etsy.
Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)
The zebra plant does not tolerate direct sunlight, but it does need bright light. It’s best to keep this plant in a west-facing window with a curtain as a small blocker. You can find Zebra plants at some nurseries or HERE on Etsy.
Common Houseplant Problems from Too Much or Too Little Light
If a plant is not receiving enough light or too much direct sunlight they will tell you! Here are the common problems and visuals for you to look for if your plant has incorrect lighting.
Not Enough Light
- Flowers not blooming
- Weak, slow, and spindly growth
- Yellowing droopy leaves that eventually fall
- New leaves remaining smaller than usual
Too Much Light
- Leaves shriveling up and drying out and looking burnt
- Flowers/blooms shrivel up and die quickly
- Leaves fade in color
- Drooping leaves
More Posts You May Enjoy That I’ve Written
- 10 Houseplants That Would Love to Go Outside During the Summer
- Do you want the same houseplants as me? I have been adding my plants to the Shop – with direct links to my favorite online nurseries and plant sellers.
- How to Propagate a Heartleaf Philodendron in Water: this is how you can have hundreds of plant babies to share with friends and family
- How to Grow Lemons Indoors: yep! it is possible to grow citrus fruit indoors!
- How to Use Leftover Coffee for Houseplant Fertilizer: this is one of the most popular posts on my blog – for good reason!!
- How to Use Artificial Plant Lights: sometimes if there is a specific plant I want in a specific room, I will use artificial light to keep it happy