Window Location + Growing Plants: What You Need to Know
Window location: Which direction do the windows in your home face? Is that even something you’ve ever thought about before???
If you’d love your plants to thrive, it’s one of the most important things you can do. Or, if you’re picking out window treatments–but that’s another blog for another day–see this piece I recently wrote for Skyline Window Coverings. (Shameless plug: I am the *shady* gal after all.)
Let’s do this.
Once upon a time, we lived in a condo in downtown KC, where the entire length of the condo was glass. Facing West. I became acutely aware of how important window location is in the home. We had gorgeous sunsets to look forward to each and every evening. We also had to pass out sunglasses to dinner guests, and we cranked the AC from about 2pm until bedtime.
If you don’t know which direction your windows face in your home, I’ve got you covered! Get a piece of paper. Draw a large circle. Think of a clock, but add the directions–North is at the top where you would normally see the 12, East is 3, South is 6, West is 9.
Choose one of the directions you know–where the sun rises or where it sets. Lay the piece of paper down in your home, with the direction adjusted based on your home’s specific location. Then, take a look at the ways window location can affect growing plants in your home…
Get to Know the Light
To begin with, you have to understand how your home is affected by the sunlight it receives–and where it’s coming from. Frankly, you may have some “Aha!” moments during this evaluation.
I live in the USA…Chicago specifically. Why does this matter? Because the sun travels across the sky, shining down on us in a pattern that is different depending on where you are on the globe.
- East-facing windows will wake you up at the crack of dawn, at least 6 months out of the year. The light starts soft, with less heat. By about 11am, you’re no longer receiving direct light.
- West-facing windows can be brutal. The direct rays enter at about 2pm, and your room heats up FAST. Especially in summertime, that intense sunlight may not go away until just before sunset.
- North-facing windows get lots of indirect glare, bright enough near the windows. But, as you get farther from the windows, you may experience “dark spots.”
- South-facing windows get access to light all day long. As the sun moves across the sky, so does the direct light.
Know Your Plants
It’s important to identify what type of light your plants need. Believe them when they tell you what they need. It’s a good idea to check the label, or google plant care when you consider adding to your collection of plants.
- High light: best in South & West windows.
- Bright, indirect light: South and West will work as long as the plants aren’t right in the window–consider placing a short distance away. Or, use window coverings that diffuse the entering light.
- Medium to high light: South, West & East windows–away from direct light.
- Medium: North windows–right at the window; East windows–not in direct light; South windows–set more than 6 feet away.
- Medium to Low: North windows, or in shadow spaces around your home. (My south-facing rooms have darker corners on the walls with windows)
- Low Light: Shadowy spots, or north-facing window rooms, placed away from the windows.
In considering your home’s unique features, you also have to consider what’s going on outside. Features outside your home can affect the way the light enters, which can be positive or negative, depending on which type of plants you’re trying to grow.
- Do you have trees that block the entering light?
- Is there a pergola or covered porch that keeps light from coming in?
- Does the overhang of your roof line prevent second story light from entering, but not first floor?
- What time of the year is it? The length of day, or amount of light entering, changes drastically from summer to winter.
The bottom line is–observe, observe, observe. That’s the best way to identify the type of light you have access to and which plants might thrive.
A List of Plants with Window Location
I have to give you a disclaimer…these lists are not an “end all, be all” for where to put your plants. I did a lot of “list scouring” to see what the folks of the internet believe.
And, I took some of my own knowledge into consideration. I DO NOT have East facing windows in my home. I only have one West facing, and it’s a bathroom, soooo…meh.
Plus, no matter how hard I try, some plants just haven’t faired well with me (I’m looking at you, Button Fern), so I had to take the internet’s word for it.
Windows Facing North
*All Day Indirect Light
- Peace Lily
- Cast Iron Plant
- Scindapsus (Silver Pothos)
- Snake Plants
- The Aglaonema Family (Chinese Evergreen, Philippine Evergreen)
- ZZ Plants
- English Ivy
- Lucky Bamboo
- Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
- Nerve Plant (Fittonia)
- Spider Plants
- The Fern Family
Windows Facing South
*Hot, Sunny Windows ALL Day Long
- String of Pearls
- The Cactus Family (varieties)
- Thanksgiving & Christmas Cacti
- Dwarf Fruit Trees
- Dracaena (varieties)
- Ponytail Palm
Windows Facing East
*Half of the Day: Soft, Sunny Windows
- Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans)
- Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata)
- Rubber Tree (Ficus Elastica)
- Angel Wing Begonia
- Aluminum Plant (Pilea Cadierei)
- Parlor & European Fan Palms
- Umbrella Tree (Schefflera)
- Peacock Plant (Calathea)
- Prayer Plant (Maranta)
- Flamingo (Anthurium)
Windows Facing West
*Half of the Day: Hot, Sunny Windows
- The Begonia Family
- Bird of Paradise
- The Cactus Family
- Butterfly, Jaggery & Sago Palms
- Christmas & Thanksgiving Cacti
Where Are My Plants?
I get asked this a lot, and the answer is…South facing windows! But, it’s actually a little more detailed than that. I’m lucky to have both my “plant room” and my master bedroom on the Southwest side of the house. Why?
Southwest light is even more intense than Southeast light. Meaning, I have medium to high light plants 10 feet back from the window, and they thrive. Right against the windows, I have those sun-loving favorites. And, for indirect light in these rooms, it’s easy to tuck them under the windowsill or in the corner. What about those Southeast windows? They get sun earlier, but it’s “cooler,” and I can even have low to medium light set back away from the windows.
Honestly, it’s really trial and error for your home’s specific layout, but it’s very helpful to start with knowledge about how window location affects growing your plants.
*The following list of plants is appropriate if the plant is receiving light as close to the specific window as possible…if you move it six or ten feet away from the window location listed, it’s another ballgame.
**Check your plants before purchasing for toxicity if you have pets or children that may mess with them, like when Koko destroyed my Dracaena.
Where are the plants in your home? Do you agree with these lists? Which plants do you own that I’ve left off the lists? I’d love to know! Drop me a line in the comments!