The Best Types of Houseplants to Position Near Sunny, South-Facing Windows

Many homeowners love south-facing windows, as they let in ample sunlight and warmth all year long. What’s great is this space also creates an ideal environment for many types of plants to truly thrive. However, it’s essential to know which plants do best in this position before letting them bathe for hours in sunlight. Read on to learn the key tips and best plants to place near south-facing windows in your home.


Best Plants for South-Facing Windows – The Essentials

A south-facing window can produce anywhere from 500 to more than 1000 foot candles, a metric for light intensity. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, following a slightly southern arc in the northern hemisphere in winter, so many homes with south-facing windows enjoy more light. Some of the best plant types for this location include Pilea perperomiodes, Ponytail palms, Citrus trees, Jade plants, Lavender, Aloe vera, Kalanchoe, and Anthuriums.


The Role of Light in Plant Health and Development

The Role of Light in Plant Health and Development

Plants use sunlight to make the energy they need to grow and thrive through a process called photosynthesis. Some species require more sunlight than others to carry out this process, like the ponytail palm, lavender plants, and citrus trees. This is why plants like these do well when positioned near south-facing windows.

Some plants need more sun than others because they evolved and adapted to specific light conditions. If these light conditions aren’t met, the species will develop certain symptoms or fail to survive.

For example, if a plant receives too little sunlight, its leaves might grow thin or begin reaching for a light source. On the other hand, if a plant receives too much sunlight, its foliage may brown around the edges or wilt. These symptoms will depend on the species and its preferred light conditions.


Environmental Considerations for Growing Plants Near South-Facing Windows

Environmental Considerations for Growing Plants Near South-Facing Windows

Typically, light conditions near a south-facing window will be distributed as direct sunlight within two or three feet of the window, bright, indirect light up to around five feet from the window, and partial shade up to eight feet from the window. The temperature will be highest where the sunlight is more direct.

The prevailing light conditions for south-facing windows are typically bright, direct light and bright, indirect light. Let’s define these terms so you can understand the light conditions your new houseplants need.

  • Bright, direct light: You’ll find bright, direct light right next to, and typically within around three feet of, your south-facing window. Bright, direct light is sunlight that hits your plants without bouncing off another surface first. If this light comes from a south-facing window, it may be present for several hours throughout the day.
  • Bright, indirect light: You’ll notice bright, indirect light around five feet from your south-facing window, depending on the space. Bright, indirect light is light from the sun that bounces off of a wall or another surface before touching your plants. South-facing windows offer plenty of bright, indirect sunlight for hours throughout the day.

How to Protect Houseplants from Overexposure to Direct Light and Heat

How to Protect Houseplants from Overexposure to Direct Light and Heat

Remember, while all plants need some amount of sunlight, they can receive too much. If they’re overexposed to direct light and heat, their leaves can burn, their soil can dry out, and their roots can overheat.

Luckily, there are ways to protect your houseplants from overexposure to direct light and heat. You can diffuse light from a south-facing window with sheer curtains or blinds or move them further from the light source. You may want to experiment with these elements when working to improve light conditions for your houseplants.


15 Best Houseplants That Thrive Near South-Facing Windows

Now, let’s dive into our pick of the 15 best houseplants to place near south-facing windows. These plants will all do well with those sunny conditions that you enjoy throughout the year.

1) Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

The money plant is a popular houseplant known for its easy care requirements and round, flat foliage. The plant is native to parts of southern China and is often gifted as a lucky plant or a friendship plant and features in feng shui practices. 

Difficulty: Easy to grow, great for beginners
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect sunlight
Best Location: Near a south-facing window, on a shelf or surface that receives indirect light
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 60°F to 80°F and does well with misting or a humidifier if humidity is low in your home.
Growth: It can reach about 12 inches or more in height and width indoors and will take between five and ten years to grow toward its maximum size.

2) Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai)

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai)

The bird of paradise gets its name from its flowers, which resemble the bird species with the same name. This plant symbolizes freedom, joy, and of course, paradise, offering a tropical ornamental centerpiece to a sunny room.

Difficulty: Easy to grow with the proper care
Light Requirements: Needs at least six hours of sun per day, including a few hours of direct sunlight.
Best Location: A spot near your south-facing window that gets a few hours of full sun.
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures from 65°F to 70°F during the day. It will enjoy average home humidity and occasional misting.
Growth: Can reach nearly 5 feet in height. This plant can take 10 to 20 years to reach its ultimate height.

3) String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii)

String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii)

The string of hearts is a popular houseplant grown for its charming vines that resemble a chain of hearts. In fact, this South African native was recently rewarded for its appearance, earning the Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2017.

Difficulty: Easy to grow
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect light throughout the day
Best Location: This plant will do well when places a few feet away from a south-facing window, on a surface, or in a hanging basket.
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in hotter temperatures, around 80°F to 85°F, but it can tolerate temperatures as low as 60°F. It enjoys lower humidity, so your home’s humidity level will likely be suitable.
Growth: This plant’s vines can trail up to three feet in length indoors. It can take two to five years to reach its maximum size.

4) Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

The ponytail palm is native to parts of Mexico but is now cultivated around the world as an ornamental species. This plant has also gained the Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Despite its name and appearance, the ponytail palm isn’t actually a true palm. Instead, it belongs to the Asparagaceae family.

Difficulty: An easy to grow, low-maintenance plant
Light Requirements: Does well with plenty of bright, indirect light
Best Location: Place this plant near your south-facing window, but not in direct sunlight.
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 60°F to 80°F and enjoys the occasional misting.
Growth: This species can reach up to six feet in height when grown indoors.

5) Citrus Trees

Citrus Trees

Citrus trees have become a popular plant to grow at home in recent years. After all, who wouldn’t want fresh oranges or lemons picked from their own indoor tree? Common citrus species to grow indoors include dwarf varieties of Meyer lemon, lime, calamondin orange, and kumquat trees. 

Difficulty: Medium
Light Requirements: Needs at least eight to 12 hours of sunlight per day and does best in direct sunlight.
Best Location: Next to a south-facing window in direct sunlight
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 65°F to 75°F, with around 50 percent humidity. You can mist the plant once a day to meet its moisture needs.
Growth: These trees can grow up to six feet indoors depending on the species.

6) Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

The jade plant is a hardy, sun-loving succulent native to South Africa and Mozambique. The plant has smooth, glossy leaves that develop red edges with high amounts of sunlight. It’s thought to bring prosperity and good fortune to businesses as well according to seasoned feng shui practitioners. 

Difficulty: Easy to grow and great for beginners
Light Requirements: Needs at least four hours of bright, direct sunlight every day.
Best Location: In the windowsill of your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 65°F to 75°F and low humidity, though it can tolerate average humidity levels in your home.
Growth: This species can reach up to six feet tall and three feet wide and may take five to ten years to reach its maximum height. The plant will grow around two inches a year.

7) Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

The areca palm is native to Madagascar but has been naturalized around the world. Commonly known as the butterfly palm or golden cane palm, this species is known for its curved fronds and impressive golden stems. This plant was a part of NASA’s Clean Air Study, where it proved to remove chemicals like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air.

Difficulty: Medium
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect light.
Best Location: A few feet away from a south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in high humidity and temperatures between 65°F to 75°F.
Growth: Can reach six to ten feet in height. The plant may grow six to ten inches per year until it reaches maturity.

8) Lavender Plant (Lavandula)

Lavender Plant (Lavandula)

The lavender plant is a commonly known flowering plant that gives off a distinct, calming aroma. This pastel purple species is native to parts of Europe and is commonly grown to make essential oils, cosmetic products, or food items. It also makes an excellent indoor plant as it is easy to care for and brings symbolism of serenity, grace, and calm into the home.

Difficulty: Easy to grow, great for beginners
Light Requirements: Needs bright, direct light
Best Location: On the windowsill of your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 60°F to 65°F and in low humidity environments.
Growth: This species can grow several inches per year until it reaches its mature height of up to two feet tall.

9) Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent species native to the Arabian Peninsula, but today it thrives in tropical, semi-tropical, and deserts climates across the globe. This plant is known for its medicinal properties. The gel-like substance found in its fleshy leaves is said to help soothe skin irritation and burns.

Difficulty: Easy to grow, great for beginners
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect sunlight with some hours of direct light. Avoid too much sun, or your aloe plant may begin to burn.
Best Location: Two to three feet from your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 55°F to 80°F and average to low humidity levels.
Growth: Aloe vera plants can reach two to three feet in height and may take around four years to reach their ultimate size.

10) Kalanchoe 

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe is a succulent flowering plant native to Madagascar and tropical parts of Africa, though it has since traveled impressive distances from its natural habitat. Funny enough, this species was among the first plants to go to space. It was sent on a resupply mission in 1979 to the Soviet Salyut space station. These beauties don’t take up too much space either which makes them popular plants for small apartments and living spaces. 

Difficulty: Easy to grow, great for beginners
Light Requirements: Thrives with bright, direct light
Best Location: On the windowsill of your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in temperatures between 65°F to 85°F and average to low humidity levels.
Growth: This species can reach between 12 to 18 inches in height and four to 20 inches in spread. It usually takes between two and five years to reach its ultimate size.

11) Dracaena fragrans 

Dracaena fragrans

Dracaena fragrans is a flowering plant native to regions across the African continent. It has several cultivars, including some with variegated leaves that have become the most popular varieties among houseplant owners. Also called the corn plant, Dracaena fragrant was also a part of NASA’s Clean Air Study. The study proves this species can remove harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air.

Difficulty: Easy to grow with the right care
Light Requirements: Does best in filtered sunlight
Best Location: Near a south-facing window with filtered sunlight
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in average home humidity and temperatures between 60°F to 75°F.
Growth: This species grows slowly and can reach up to six feet in height or taller indoors.

12) Anthurium 

Anthurium

Anthurium is a striking flowering plant native to the Americas. It grows bright red, pink, and white blooms called spathes that feature vibrant green spikes, offering a bold statement to your home’s decor. This plant symbolizes hospitality, making it a great addition to rooms where you gather with friends.

Difficulty: Low maintenance, great for beginners
Light Requirements: This plant needs medium to bright indirect light throughout the day.
Best Location: Several feet away from a south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in higher humidity environments and temperatures between 70°F to 90°F.
Growth: This species grows slowly and can reach 12 to 18 inches in height and nine to 12 inches in width.

13) Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Many houseplant owners adore the fiddle leaf fig despite its infamously fickle maintenance requirements. This tree is native to western Africa and tends to be picky about temperature, sunlight, and moisture conditions. When it thrives, this plant’s deep green, glossy leaves add texture and drama to any living space and will look spectacular near a south-facing window in the home or office.

Difficulty: High maintenance
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect light, and some direct sunlight
Best Location: Next to your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in humidity between 40 and 60 percent. It enjoys temperatures between 60°F to 75°F.
Growth: This species can reach up to 10 feet in height indoors and grow one or two feet per year until it reaches maturity.

14) Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis)

Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis)

The Ficus Audrey, or the Indian Banyan, is another fig tree commonly grown as a houseplant. This species is the national tree of India and is considered one of the largest trees on Earth in terms of canopy coverage. Indoors, the Ficus Audrey is slightly easier to care for than its cousin, the fiddle leaf fig. Despite its size in the wild, you can easily prune this tree to maintain your preferred size.

Difficulty: Medium
Light Requirements: Needs bright, indirect light, and some direct sunlight
Best Location: A few feet away from your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in average to high humidity levels and enjoys temperatures between 70°F to 80°F.
Growth: This plant can reach up to 10 feet in height indoors.

15) Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)

The pencil cactus is a succulent plant that is native to parts of Africa. It has thin, green branches that have a pink tint when they first develop. Grow this plant with care, as it produces a poisonous substance that can cause temporary blindness if its branches are damaged or broken. As long as you keep the plant away from pets or children and handle it with care, it will be a low-maintenance addition to your houseplant collection.

Difficulty: Easy to grow
Light Requirements: Needs plenty of bright indirect or direct light
Best Location: On the windowsill of your south-facing window
Temperature and Humidity: This plant grows best in average to low humidity and temperatures between 65°F to 75°F.
Growth: This plant grows slowly but it can reach more than six feet tall indoors.

Wrap Up

A south-facing window presents an excellent opportunity to add a few sun-loving plants to your home. The key is knowing which species will appreciate this aspect and ensuring they have the conditions they need to thrive. Select one or a few of these houseplants to make the most of your home’s positioning and enjoy the life that thrives when bathed in light.


South Facing Window Plants FAQ: 

South-facing simply means the orientation is primarily due south at all times. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, south-facing aspects receive exposure to the longest extended period of sunlight.

Plants positioned near a south-facing window receive the full spectrum of light from the sun throughout the course of the day. This promotes plant growth and health better than other aspects and locations in the home or office.

South-facing windows typically receive bright, direct and bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Shades, blinds, and adjacent buildings may all have an influence on the prevailing light conditions.

Some of the best plant types for this location include Pilea peperomioides, Ponytail palms, Citrus trees, Jade plants, Lavender, Aloe vera, Kalanchoe, and Anthuriums.

Some plants really won’t enjoy the bright light throughout the day, these include delicate orchids, peace lily plants, bromeliads, heart-leaf philodendrons, Boston ferns, spider plants, and calatheas.


Author

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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