The easiest way to pick out the right houseplant for you is to first determine what kind of lighting you have in your home.

This ensures that the plant you choose will be able to thrive in the lighting conditions you are able to provide!

How do you know what type of lighting you have? 

One of the best ways to know what kind of lighting you have is to know what cardinal direction your windows are facing.

Not sure which direction your windows are facing? Use a compass app!

If you aren’t sure which direction your windows are facing when trying to determine your lighting conditions, use or download a free compass app on your cell phone!!

Many smartphones already have a compass app available at the time of purchase, so check out your pre-installed apps to see if you have one available!

South-facing windows

  • receive the most intense amounts of light for the longest amount of time throughout the day
  • visual indicator: the sun is in this window the most throughout the day
  • great for high light, sun-loving plants
  • great for bright indirect plants IF they are pulled back a couple feet from the window

West-facing windows

  • receives the next-most intense amount of light after South-facing windows
  • visual indicator: the sun sets in this window so it will be shining through this window in the afternoon
  • the sun is more intense in the afternoon than in the morning, so the plants in a west-facing must be capable of enduring this intensity (or a sheer curtain or blinds can be used to diffuse sunlight)
  • great for high light, sun-loving plants
  • great for plants that need bright indirect light if a sheer curtain or blinds are used or if the plants are pulled back slightly

East-facing windows

  • offer direct sunlight in the morning and bright, indirect light in the afternoon
  • visual indicator: the sun rises in this window so the sun will be shining through this window in the morning
  • great for plants that need bright indirect light
  • great for low light tolerant plants
  • great for medium light plants

North-facing windows

  • the sun never shines directly through this window so it has the weakest lighting
  • it does offer the most consistent lighting throughout the day
  • this window can support plants, but these plants should not require a lot of light
  • low light tolerant or low light thriving plants are best in North-facing windows

Important Notes About Plant Placement:

You can put many plants directly in front of windows, but care must be taken. You may want to use blinds or a sheer curtain to ensure that the plant will not be damaged by the sun.

Plants that appreciate bright, indirect lighting conditions often thrive in dappled sunlight but may burn in long periods of direct sunlight.

What if you only have North-facing windows or low-lighting conditions in your home but want to purchase a high-light plant? 

No problem!! You could purchase a grow or sun lamp that would allow you to house a higher light plant! 

These lights would need to be on for considerable amounts of time each day.

Why so long? The length of time needs to replicate the daylight the plant would be receiving from the sun.

Many people recommend about 12 hours or the approximate time from sunrise to sunset. Lots of plants do well with artificial lighting, so this is a great option for those who do not have a sufficient amount of natural light.

What does too much or too little light look like?

Too much light might look like:

Leaves curling or wilting; leaves turning brown or wilting

Too little light might look like:

Leaves turning yellow; plants no longer growing; variegated plants reverting to unvariegated; plants reaching (becoming leggy) toward the light; flowering plants refusing to flower

Make sure to assess plant problems carefully as the symptoms of one problem can be similar or identical to another.

For example, leaves turning brown can be a symptom of too much light, too much water, too much fertilizer, etcetera. Other factors often need to be considered when trying to diagnose the problem.

Hoya Carnosa Variegata in West-facing Window

High light plants often do well in southern and western windows

  • Examples: hoyas, succulents, and cacti

Plants often do well in eastern windows

  • Examples: pothos, hoyas, philodendrons, monsteras, aglaonemas (Chinese evergreens), sansevierias, and zz plants

Lower light tolerant plants that do well in northern windows

  • Examples: aglaeonemas, oxalis, sansevierias, marantas, and calatheas

A Natural Curiosity
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