Best plants for indoor windowsills: The direction in which your window faces will determine how much sunlight it receives. If you’re not sure, use a compass (there should be one on your smart phone). South facing windows receive the most light, second is west-facing, then east, and finally north which receives the least. If there are huge trees outside your window (or anything else that shades the window) then this obviously this affects the amount of sunlight getting in.
Windows with direct sun can be too strong for most plants, even cacti, as the glass can magnify the heat and scorch your poor plants. If that’s the case, you would need a net or voile curtain between the plant and the window. If the window doesn’t receive full sun (i.e. north or east facing), then you have lots of choice as most plants enjoy bright, indirect sun. Just be careful at night though, some windows can get draughty, which most plants won’t thank you for.
Here are my recommended plants for a shady windowsill and a sunny windowsill…
Best plants for shady windowsills:
North facing windows are great for shade loving plants. Plants that come from the rainforest floor will thrive in lower levels of light (they are used to the rainforest canopy blocking out bright sun).
A prayer plant (Maranta) or a dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) would do well in a shady window. Both need humidity though, so mist daily or place in a pebble-filled tray of water.
A prayer plant (Maranta) – has lovely oval-shaped leaves splashed with bright green or pink lines and can be grown on a shady windowsill (no direct sun at all though!). They like temperatures of around 18 to 24 degrees (C). Just be careful in winter, as windowsills can dip below that, which can cause your Prayer Plant’s leaves to shrivel and turn brown. It likes to be kept moist at all times, so don’t let it dry out. In the evening and on cloudy days, prayer plants fold their leaves together like hands held in prayer, fascinating! These really are gorgeous plants, one of my personal faves!
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) – this leafy plant does best in a filtered light position, where bright to moderate light shines through a sheer curtain or blind. Filtered light is particularly important in the spring and summer, when it is producing new, tender leaves. Leaves may burn if the light is too bright or shines directly on the plant. Like Prayer Plant, it likes to be kept moist but not soggy.
Best plants for sunny windowsills:
South facing windows can get very hot in the summer so you may need to provide shade from the midday sun, but this can be a great spot for sun-loving plants.
Succulents and desert cacti enjoy full sun so a bright windowsill is often perfect. Always acclimatize plants to full sun gradually so they don’t burn.
Hens and chicks (Echeveria) – perfect for a windowsill as they love lots of bright light and even some direct sunlight. There are lots of varieties of this succulent. They produce long stems with little tiny flowers at the end; very pretty. Growing hens and chicks is pretty easy, they don’t need much fertilizer and should rarely be watered. As succulents, hens and chicks plants are accustomed to very little water. They like temperatures between 18-24 (C.).
A cactus plant would do well in a sunny windowsill, they love full sun, though be careful of midday sun as it can get so hot that it magnifies the heat and can scorch your poor plants. Cacti don’t usually mind the cold temperatures of a windowsill at night (the desert is blazing hot during the day, but the temperature actually drops very low at night-time). Water and light requirements are fairly similar for most cacti species, including a cooler period in the winter. Watering should be done carefully, allowing the plant to almost dry out between waterings. Never let a cactus sit in moist soil, ensure it drains fully.
There are many more plants that would be happy on a windowsill, always remember to find out about your plants specific needs before placing them in your chosen spot. And remember that light levels vary greatly between seasons, a shady windowsill in winter may be very bright during summer. If you are just starting out with plants, check out my other plant posts such as Best houseplants for beginners or Best houseplants for low light rooms. With a little research it is easy to find the perfect plants for your home.
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Disclaimer: None of the information shared should be used as a replacement for seeking medical attention.