The Best Types of Houseplants to Position Near Low-Light, North Facing Windows
If you work in a windowless office or have a home with only north-facing windows, you might think that you’re simply out of luck when it comes to growing houseplants. That, however, simply is not true! You can enjoy all the benefits and fun of growing houseplants. You just need houseplants that can thrive in low-light conditions. Here we’ll take you through 15 of the best plants for north-facing windows.
- Best Plants for North-Facing Windows – The Essentials
- The Role of Light in Plant Health and Development
- Environmental Considerations for Growing Plants Near North-Facing Windows
- 15 Best Houseplants That Thrive Near North-Facing Windows
- 1. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
- 2. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
- 3. Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
- 4. Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)
- 5. Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
- 6. Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
- 7. Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema)
- 8. Pothos Jade (Epipremnum aureum)
- 9. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
- 10. Dracaena Lisa Cane (Dracaena Lisa)
- 11. Benjamin Fig (Ficus benjamina)
- 12. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
- 13. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
- 14. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- 15. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Choosing a Plant for Your Low-Light Office or North-Facing Window
- North Facing Window Plants FAQ:
Best Plants for North-Facing Windows – The Essentials
North-facing windows receive no direct sunlight. This makes them the perfect location for plants that cannot tolerate any bright, sunny conditions instead preferring indirect sunlight, low light, and partial shade. Most low-light-loving plants tend to be foliage plants like rex begonias, ferns, and ivy.
The Role of Light in Plant Health and Development
Plants derive their energy for growth and reproduction through a process called photosynthesis. This process uses chlorophyll (the green cells in plants’ leaves) to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into glucose that plants use as energy.
The amount of light needed by a plant to produce enough energy to grow, stay healthy and reproduce depends on the environment to which the plant is adapted.
The leaves of shade and low-light plants tend to have more chlorophyll per ounce of leaf than plants adapted to grow in full sunlight. This additional chlorophyll enables them to produce the right amount of energy with much less light.
Environmental Considerations for Growing Plants Near North-Facing Windows
Plants that thrive in north-facing windows receive low light and indirect light. Low light refers to a shorter duration of time that the plant spends in the light compared to a plant that requires medium or high light. Indirect light means that the Sun’s rays never directly shine on the plant’s leaves.
When placing a plant in or near a window, you should always be mindful of the temperature and air movement. Windows — especially those that don’t receive much sunlight — tend to be chilly locations for plants.
Windows are also prone to drafts which can upset a plant that prefers warmer temperatures and moderate to high humidity.
Although every plant is a little different, low-light plants tend to grow more slowly than full-sun plants, and they require less water and fewer nutrients. As a result, low-light plants are prone to over-watering and over-feeding which can lead to root rot or a burnt root system.
15 Best Houseplants That Thrive Near North-Facing Windows
Now, let’s dive into our pick of the 15 best houseplants to place near north-facing windows. These plants will all do well in prevailing low-light conditions.
1. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ plant is native to Eastern Africa. With ovate leaves in an attractive and glossy shade of green, they’re primarily grown ornamentally. They purify the air and symbolize good fortune and steady growth, making them great for office feng shui.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow|
|Light Requirements:||ZZ plants prefer moderate to bright indirect sunlight but can also thrive in low-light conditions. They can also tolerate small amounts of direct sunlight, but too much will scorch their leaves.|
|Best Location:||Offices with fluorescent lights or on a warm, north-facing window sill|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 75°F and moderate to high humidity|
|Growth:||In ideal conditions, ZZ plants produce new shoots that can grow 6 to 12 inches every month. At full height, a ZZ plant can grow to about 5 feet.|
2. Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Bird’s nest ferns feature an attractive rosette of lance-shaped fronds. They are epiphytic plants, which means that they grow with their roots attached to the sides of trees rather than in the soil. These ferns are native to the rainforests of Asia, Australia, and Africa.
|Difficulty:||Delicate but fairly easy to grow in the right conditions. Thrives in loose, fast-draining, and slightly acidic soil and water sufficiently to maintain moisture.|
|Light Requirements:||This plan prefers filtered sunlight to full shade and will not tolerate any direct sunlight.|
|Best Location:||A draft-free, north-facing window near the steamy shower or tub in your bathroom|
|Temperature & Humidity:||60°F to 80°F and moderate to high humidity|
|Growth:||This plant grows slowly. Fully grown, indoor bird’s nest fern fronds will reach up to about 2 feet in length. Horticultural oil can help to keep pests at bay.|
3. Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
Schefflera is a genus of flowering, tropical plants. With its bright-green, glossy leaves that fan out in the shape of an umbrella, the Schefflera actinophylla or umbrella tree is one of the most popular houseplants to grow.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow. Use a rich, slightly acidic soil mix.|
|Light Requirements:||Umbrella trees should never be exposed to full sunlight. However, they do like to receive plenty of bright, indirect light.|
|Best Location:||Place your umbrella tree directly in front of a north-facing window (but away from cold drafts and heat vents) to ensure it receives plenty of indirect sunlight.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 85°F and moderate to high humidity|
|Growth:||Umbrella trees grow quickly in the right conditions. Outdoors, they can reach up to 50 feet tall. Grown indoors, they can grow to be about 4 to 15 feet tall depending on the environment, container, and pruning.|
4. Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)
You’re probably familiar with the showy flowers associated with begonias. The rex begonia, however, is beloved for its stunning foliage, rather than its blossoms. Rex begonia leaves usually grow in various shades of green, deep red, or purple and feature intricate, silvery markings.
|Difficulty:||It’s moderately difficult to bring out a rex begonia foliage’s full beauty.|
|Light Requirements:||Rex begonias thrive with bright, indirect light year-round and will even do well under fluorescent lights.|
|Best Location:||Directly in front of a north-facing window, away from HVAC vents and other drafts.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||Prefers daytime temperatures of 70°F, nighttime temperatures around 60°F, and even 50% humidity.|
|Growth:||Rex begonias grow fairly slowly and can reach between 12 and 24 inches in width and height.|
5. Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
The baby rubber plant is a succulent-like species of the Peperomia genus that’s native to South America’s rainforests. It has glossy, coin-shaped leaves that turn wrinkly during a drought and become plump when well-watered. In feng shui, this plant is said to bring wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. Place one in your office or on your desk at home.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow in a variety of conditions. Prefers slightly acidic soil bases.|
|Light Requirements:||Prefers medium to bright indirect light but can tolerate low-light conditions. Direct light will scorch the plant.|
|Best Location:||Grow in front of a northwest or northeast-facing window where the plant won’t receive any direct sunlight.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 75°F and low to high humidity is fine|
|Growth:||The baby rubber plant starts compact and grows slowly to reach about 1 foot in height.|
6. Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
A member of the asparagus plant family, the Dracaena trifasciata has many common names. In addition to snake plant, it’s also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue, St. George’s sword, golden bird’s nest, and viper’s bowstring hemp. Snake plants are popular houseplants due to their versatility, resilience, and air-purifying properties.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow and great for beginners|
|Light Requirements:||Snake plants thrive in bright sunlight, but they can also thrive in low-light conditions.|
|Best Location:||As long as you don’t put yours inside a completely dark closet, it’s hard to find a bad place for a snake plant.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||Snake plants thrive in low to high humidity and can tolerate temperatures down to 50°F.|
|Growth:||In low light, snake plants grow more slowly than in bright light conditions. Fully grown, indoor snake plants will reach about 2 to 3 feet tall.|
7. Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema)
Aglaonema is a genus of evergreen plants native to Asia and New Guinea where they’re prized for their symbolic value of good fortune. These leafy plants are loved for their attractive, pinnate foliage that often features intricate patterns of silvery green, pink, purple, or red.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow, great for beginners, and perfect for busy plant owners|
|Light Requirements:||Aglaonema plants prefer low to medium light conditions. Though, variegated versions prefer more sunlight than their solidly leaved counterparts.|
|Best Location:||Place in front of a warm, north, northeast, or northwest-facing window. East-facing windows behind partially drawn will also suffice.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||Prefers temperatures between 70°F and 85°F and tolerates a range of humidity levels. The potting soil should be lightweight and well-draining.|
|Growth:||Aglaonemas are slow to moderate growers, growing more quickly with more light. Compact varieties grow to be about 10 inches in diameter while larger varieties reach about 2 feet.|
8. Pothos Jade (Epipremnum aureum)
The pothos jade is a trailing, flowering plant that rarely flowers without stimulation from artificial hormones. It has many common names including golden pothos, money plant, Ceylon creeper, ivy arum, and hunter’s robe. It’s also often referred to as devil’s ivy or devil’s vine because it’s almost impossible to kill. It will even stay green when kept in complete darkness.
|Difficulty:||Perfect for black thumbs. Nearly impossible to kill.|
|Light Requirements:||Prefers natural indirect light, but can thrive in extremely low-light environments and artificial light.|
|Best Location:||Will grow well just about anywhere – even in dark closets – but will thrive in a humid bathroom that receives filtered light.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 85°F and moderate to high humidity.|
|Growth:||The more sunlight and nutrients, the faster the growth. Indoor jade pothos can grow to be about 30 feet long but will be healthiest between 6 and 10 feet.|
9. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
This vining philodendron features heart-shaped leaves that have earned it the names heartleaf philodendron and sweetheart plant. In its native Brazil, the heartleaf philodendron usually grows climbing on trees or rocky outcroppings. It is highly toxic and not recommended for households with small children or pets.
|Difficulty:||Fairly easy to grow|
|Light Requirements:||Grows well in moderate to bright indirect sunlight. This philodendron will not tolerate direct sun.|
|Best Location:||This humidity-loving plant will thrive in a bathroom with a north-facing window or filtered source of sunlight.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 80°F and high humidity|
|Growth:||These plants will grow more quickly with more sunlight and prefer a slightly acidic soil mix.|
10. Dracaena Lisa Cane (Dracaena Lisa)
The Dracaena Lisa cane, also sometimes referred to simply as a corn plant, is an easy-to-grow tree that features a tall silhouette with pom-poms of glossy, green leaves that burst from the top of the plant’s skinny, tubular trunks. They’re perfect for warming up a stark and empty corner of your home or office.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow, low-maintenance, and great for beginners|
|Light Requirements:||They thrive in medium, filtered light but can tolerate low light conditions.|
|Best Location:||Place in front of a north-facing window or in a corner of your home that does not receive direct sunlight.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 75°F and moderate humidity|
|Growth:||Mature plants reach between 5 and 8 feet tall.|
11. Benjamin Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Commonly referred to as the Benjamin fig, weeping fig, or ficus tree, the Ficus Benjamina is native to Asia and Australia and is the official tree of Bangkok. In their native environment, they can grow to be almost 100 feet tall and produce orangish-red fig fruit. Indoors, they’re prized for their attractive, fluttering foliage, slender trunks, and top-rated air-purifying abilities.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow|
|Light Requirements:||Prefers bright to medium filtered sunlight and can tolerate a little direct sun in the mornings. Place directly in front of a north-facing window or near a northwest or northeast window.|
|Best Location:||Find a good location for your ficus tree and leave it there. These plants do not like to be moved around.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 70°F at night, 75°F to 85°F during the day, and high humidity.|
|Growth:||Mature indoor plants reach between 3 to 6 feet tall.|
12. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
Plants of the Monstera genus have recently become some of the most popular houseplants thanks to their leaves that feature funky, unexpected shapes. The leaves of mature Monstera deliciosa plants develop holes called fenestrations that are responsible for the plant’s common name, the swiss cheese plant.
For more, see our essential guide to Monstera plant light requirements.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow|
|Light Requirements:||The swiss cheese plant prefers medium to bright indirect sunlight.|
|Best Location:||If placing in a north-facing window, make sure your monstera is directly in front of the window to maximize indirect light.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 85°F and moderate to high humidity|
|Growth:||With the right container and support provided, indoor monstera plants can grow to be 10 to 15 feet tall and up to 8 feet across.|
13. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
The rubber plant has large, ovate leaves and is a beautiful plant to grow indoors. Despite its common name, rubber plant, the Ficus elastica is not at all related to the plants responsible for producing rubber today. Although, the plants do contain a white latex chemical compound. This substance is responsible for making the plant toxic to both people and pets.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow|
|Light Requirements:||Rubber plants prefer medium to bright indirect sunlight and will tolerate some direct sunlight.|
|Best Location:||Choose a growing spot with ample sunlight and enough room to grow.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||65°F to 85°F and average indoor humidity|
|Growth:||In its natural habitat, the rubber plant can reach up to 200 feet tall. Indoors, your plant could achieve heights of up to 10 feet given the right conditions.|
14. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
The English ivy or common ivy is the type of ivy that most people picture when they think of ivy plants. It’s a clinging, evergreen vine that does well growing in hanging planters, in regular containers with a trellis, or a pot with room to trail. It makes a lovely houseplant and will help remove harmful toxins from the air.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow in the right conditions|
|Light Requirements:||Bright, filtered light to partial shade. Can tolerate some direct sunlight in the winter.|
|Best Location:||Place in a north-facing window for even lighting all day in the summer. Move to a slightly sunnier location in the winter months.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||English ivy prefers moderate conditions all around. Moderate indoor temperatures and moderate humidity. Spritz with water during dry summer months and protect it from temperature extremes.|
|Growth:||Fast-growing and can reach up to 100 feet in length|
15. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are another popular houseplant that can thrive in a north-facing window. They produce attractive tufts of long, slender leaves that are usually light-green and can sometimes feature white or yellow stripes. They’re also exceptionally easy to cultivate, as spider plants produce plantlets that grow their own roots that can be broken off from the main plant and potted.
|Difficulty:||Easy to grow.|
|Light Requirements:||Prefers medium-filtered sunlight but can tolerate full shade.|
|Best Location:||Spider plants don’t tolerate dry air or cold drafts, so avoid placing them near HVAC vents and draft windows or doors.|
|Temperature & Humidity:||Prefer warm indoor temperatures and moderate to high humidity.|
|Growth:||Mature spider plants grow to be about 1 to 2 feet tall and wide.|
Choosing a Plant for Your Low-Light Office or North-Facing Window
Remember when selecting a plant for your office or window, that light preference is not the only aspect of the environment you need to consider. For the healthiest houseplants, remember to choose ones that will also thrive in the temperature and humidity inside your home or office.
North Facing Window Plants FAQ:
What does north-facing mean?
North-facing simply means the orientation is primarily due south at all times. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, north-facing aspects typically receive minimal exposure to natural light throughout the majority of the day.
Can plants survive in a north-facing room?
Many plant types actually prefer minimal exposure to direct light so a north-facing room in some ways replicates the natural environment of a shaded canopy found in a tropical forest.
Does a north-facing window receive any sun?
North-facing windows still receive and pass light throughout the majority of the day but they won’t have direct or bright light at any point. The light received is far more consistent compared to a south-facing window and will provide ideal conditions for numerous plant types. Shades, blinds, and adjacent buildings may all have an influence on the prevailing light conditions though.
What are the best plants for north-facing windows?
What are the worst plants for a north-facing window?
Many plants also need bright, sunny conditions to truly thrive and won’t enjoy being located near a north-facing window. These include Pilea peperomioides, Ponytail palms, Citrus trees, Jade plants, Lavender, Aloe vera, Kalanchoe pinnata, and Anthuriums.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.