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Are you looking for the best plants for south-facing windows? If you live in the Northern hemisphere, unobstructed south-facing windows provide the bright light that many plants need in order to really look their best and thrive in your indoor environment. Keep reading to learn all about the best houseplants for this type of window exposure.
Here are some of the best plants for south facing windows.
Table of Contents
UNDERSTANDING SOUTH-FACING WINDOWS
If you live in the northern hemisphere, an unobstructed south-facing window has the most direct sun of any window exposure in your home. In the southern hemisphere, it is the opposite, and a north-facing window would be the equivalent.
Regardless of where you live, east-facing windows provide morning sun and a west-facing window has afternoon sun.
Having a south-facing window is truly a blessing and allows you so many benefits:
- Many plants need as much sun as you can give them, and this exposure is ideal.
- Many flowering plants need maximum light levels in order to truly give their best show.
- Even if you have plants that don’t like full sun, you can always use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light or set your plants a little further back from the window
- If you live in an area with dark winter months, southern-facing windows are great to move your plants to since it will help them survive better until spring time.
BEST PLANTS FOR SOUTH FACING WINDOWS
Jade plants are a staple in any houseplant collection, and while they will grow in any window exposure, they will do best in full sun since you will get the most compact, sturdy growth.
Did you know that jade plants can even bloom? By having this African native in full sun, you’ll increase the chances of flowering.
Jade plant care is a cinch. Besides a nice sunny window, all they ask is that you don’t neglect them for too long. You can allow the potting mix to dry out completely, but then give it a nice thorough watering.
If you have a spindly jade plant, you can easily make your jade plant bushy again with some pruning, and you can use the trimmings to propagate your jade with stem cuttings and even from single jade leaves!
2. STRING OF PEARLS
The bane of many people’s existence, String of Pearls is one of the most popular houseplants to grow, but many people end up killing them. Why?
Most people are simply not providing the right conditions for these plants to really have a chance at thriving indoors.
String of Pearls care becomes much easier once you provide two things that they need the most: bright sunlight and a sharply draining potting mix.
In lower light conditions, it becomes more of a precarious balance. So make it easier on yourself and place that string of pearls right in front of a south facing window.
Allow at least the top half of the potting mix to dry out, and then water thoroughly and you should be good to go.
3. SNAKE PLANT
One of the most common indoor plants, you may be surprised to see snake plants on this list. But the fact is that many snake plants are abused and neglected and never reach their true beauty because of insufficient natural light.
For the fastest growth and sturdiest snake plant, a very sunny window indoors would be very beneficial.
Sansevieria trifasciata (now classified as Dracaena trifasciata) is the species that started the snake plant craze, sometimes known as mother-in-law’s tongue in certain parts of the world.
This is just one type, but there are many more beautiful snake plant varieties that you can grow indoors. There are also a few, super fun ways to propagate Sansevieria. And if you’re lucky, you can even get your snake plant to bloom.
4. ALOE VERA
No houseplant collection is complete without an Aloe plant. South-facing windowsills are the ideal location for Aloes since it will produce the sturdiest, healthiest plants.
If Aloe plants don’t get enough light, they will still grow, but growth will be weak and sometimes your plant will even tip over instead of being sturdy and upright.
Aloe vera plants are a delight to grow since Aloe propagates easily from pups and it’s fun to make new plants to share, or to increase your own collection.
Aloe plant care is similar to Jade plants. Give them a few hours of direct sun, and allow them to dry out completely before giving them a nice thorough watering.
5. ZZ PLANT
You probably didn’t expect this plant on this list either. ZZ plants are some of the best low light plants, so why is it on this list?
Although these aren’t sun-loving plants per se, you can easily place them a few feet away from an unobstructed southern window.
However, if you do have a southern exposure window that is obstructed by trees or a building, and you only get a couple hours of sun each day, this is an ideal growing location for your ZZ plant.
These plants can take a beating with neglect and low light, but with a little TLC, they will form impressive specimens.
6. PONYTAIL PALM
Although the Ponytail Palm can grow in a lower amount of light than a southern-facing window, it will be sturdiest and grow best with full sun indoors.
Beaucarnea recurvata, commonly called the Ponytail Palm (though not a palm at all), is a long-lived succulent plant that can stand quite a bit of neglect.
Don’t forget to water it though. They do like to dry out completely, but waiting too long to water will accelerate the lower leaves turning brown. If your plant has been in the same pot for years, it’s probably time to repot your ponytail palm.
7. AFRICAN VIOLETS
African violets need sufficient light in order to stay compact and give us flowers.
Although they don’t really want to be in full sun all day, you can gently filter your unobstructed southern facing window with a sheer curtain or blinds.
This will give your plant sufficient light for strong growth and plentiful flowering.
Be careful of your African Violet drying out. They do not like to dry out completely. With more light, they will use more water, so keep an eye on your plant. Water as soon as the surface feels dry.
They also do exceedingly well in a good self-watering pot setup.
8. SPIDER PLANT
Have you ever grown a spider plant and they have weak, floppy leaves that tend to fold in the middle? This is due to not enough light.
So place your spider plant in front of that south facing window. They can take plenty of sun indoors, or strong filtered light as well.
It’s good to also be aware of the causes of spider plant brown tips. There are many causes such as poor water quality, inappropriate soil moisture, and others.
9. BIRD OF PARADISE
If you want your bird of paradise to flower, there is only one way…give it enough sun. The foliage is beautiful too, but without enough sun, your bird of paradise will simply not flower indoors.
You can still enjoy the foliage, but unless you provide enough sun and warmth, they will not flower.
10. CITRUS TREES
Any type of citrus tree, whether it is a Meyer lemon, key lime, orange, etc., absolutely requires a very sunny window in order to have sturdy growth, flowering and fruiting.
Citrus are not the easiest plants at all to grow indoors. They have very exacting light requirements, as well as specific soil conditions and fertilization regiments that are necessary.
They can be prone to spider mites, chlorosis and root rot, so special attention to proper care is necessary. Citrus are not beginner plants.
Many stunning cultivars have arisen from the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis species. I grow these every year in my outdoor gardens in warm weather.
Many people typically buy hibiscus plants in the summertime, but you can also bring your plant indoors and overwinter hibiscus.
Indoors they need as much sun as you can give them. With proper care, they can flower year round.
In order to get hibiscus to bloom, they need tons of direct sun, plenty of the right kind of fertilizer, warm temperatures, and a good watering routine.
12. GOLDEN POTHOS
This is another plant you may not have expected to be on this list, but honestly, Pothos can grow practically anywhere. I’ve seen it growing outdoors in full sun, and as a result, this means that it can easily grow in your southern facing window indoors.
Note that some plants will take on a yellow-ish green color on all of their foliage if they’re receiving too much sun. If this is the case, move your Pothos back from your window and it should turn a greener color again.
There are many Pothos varieties available so there is no shortage of plants for the Pothos enthusiast.
13. AFRICAN MILK TREE
Eurphorbia trigona, commonly known as the African Milk Tree is a beautiful, tall growing succulent that will even get a few feet tall indoors under good conditions.
This is an easy grower. Give it full sun, a well-drained potting mix, and water thoroughly when completely dry.
It gets the name African Milk Tree because when the plant is cut or broken, it oozes out a white sap which can cause irritation on your skin.
Few, if any, indoor plants put on a flower display as well as Amaryllis. The bulbs are typically purchased in the fall or winter time in order to bloom around the holidays.
What many people don’t know is that you can keep your amaryllis for many years. It will grow into an impressive clump with several flower stalks in each pot.
Knowing what to do with amaryllis after blooming is key. You’ll want to keep the foliage growing before inducing a dormancy period.
Plenty of direct sun is necessary for the foliage to ripen and help provide enough strength for your bulb to bloom the following year.
Crotons are simply stunning with their electric foliage colors, but if you don’t provide enough sun, the colors will be washed out.
Crotons are also prone to spider mites, so keep an eye on them and treat for spider mites accordingly.
There are many types of jasmine, but the true jasmine, Jasminium officinale, is a vine that produces deliciously sweet-smelling, pure white flowers.
It needs plenty of sun and water, but you will be rewarded with a profusion of flowers and a sweet-smelling home.
17. SAGO PALM
One of the easiest houseplants that you can grow, the Sago palm (not a palm at all, but rather, a cycad), doesn’t require much in terms of care.
Give it plenty of sun indoors, but keep in mind that it is one of the most toxic houseplants. So if you have pets and small children, you may want to avoid having this in your home.
18. MONEY TREE
I’ve seen too many sad looking money trees (Pachira aquatica), and it’s mostly a result of placing them in dark conditions and keeping them too dry.
Don’t hesitate to give your money tree the direct sun it deserves, and it’s not called Pachira aquatica for nothing!
Money trees hate to dry out completely, so only allow the top inch or so of the potting mix to dry out before watering again.
Allowing your plant to go too dry will quickly cause the lower leaves to turn yellow and fall off.
If you’re struggling, check out my blog post on how to save your dying money tree.
No sunny window is complete without a cactus or two. Enough said!
20. STRING OF HEARTS
Ceropegia woodii, commonly known as String of Hearts, is a delightful, trailing houseplant. It will grow amazingly well in a sunny window.
21. ARECA PALM
A very popular palm to grow indoors, the Areca palm lends a tropical vibe to your interior space.
Give your Areca palm the bright light it needs in your southern facing window.
All palms require excellent drainage and don’t like to sit in water, however, don’t let your soil dry out completely, otherwise leaf tip burn will occur and the tips of the fronds will turn brown.
Geraniums make for amazing houseplants, but you’ll need to provide them with enough sun, especially if you want to enjoy their blooms.
Geraniums are very freely blooming, so if you have the space, consider a geranium on your windowsill to spread some joy to your space.
You can grow them year-round in your southern-facing window. But many people like to grow them outdoors and then will let them go dormant and overwinter their geraniums until the next growing season when they can be placed outdoors once again.
Plentiful in garden centers and grocery stores, especially around the holidays at the end of the year, these are cultivars derived from the Madagascar species, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.
Keep in mind that the Kalanchoe genus is pretty vast, and there are about 166 accepted species of Kalanchoe.
Commonly known as the Flaming Katy, Florist Kalanchoe, Christmas Kalanchoe and Window’s Thrill, its bright flowers will stick around for several weeks and they come in a variety of colors: white, pink, red, yellow, orange, and more.
Being succulents, they can tolerate drying out, but don’t let it dry out to the point where it wilts. I recommend allowing about the top quarter of the soil to dry out before watering again.
Keep your plant in a sunny, southern facing window for best flowering.
24. RUBBER PLANT
Many people don’t realize that rubber plants are big trees in nature and they thrive in full sun, despite the reputation that they have as “low light” indoor plants!
Rubber plants grown in low light will be weak and floppy, and the leaves will be spaced out further. Give them plenty of sun indoors for best results. It will result in a fuller, stronger plant.
There are also plenty of beautiful rubber plant varieties that you can grow.
25. FIDDLE LEAF FIG
The ubiquitous Fiddle Leaf Fig! These are notorious for being very poorly cared for. The care is basically the same as a rubber plant (they’re both in the Ficus genus).
Most people simply don’t give them enough light, and these relish direct sun indoors, so place them in your sunniest window.
As far as watering, always water thoroughly, and allow the top couple inches of soil to dry out before watering again.
26. FICUS AUDREY
If you’re tired of rubber plants and fiddle leaf figs, you may want to try another alternative, Ficus Audrey.
Ficus benghalensis also has the common names Banyan Tree and Strangler Fig. In nature, these actually start life as an epiphyte growing on other trees. Slowly, it will completely envelop the host tree and smother it.
Indoors, they love plenty of sun, and the same type of care as any Ficus tree. Check out my blog post on Ficus Audrey care for more information.
27. PENCIL CACTUS
Euphorbia tirucalli, commonly called Pencil Cactus, is not technically a cactus, but it is a succulent. It also has the common name Milk Bush due to the white sap that oozes out when the plant is broken or injured.
It does grow tiny leaves, but it mainly photosynthesizes through its green stems. Give it plenty of direct sun indoors for best results.
The soil can easily dry out completely but don’t wait terribly long before watering thoroughly.
28. PANDA PLANT
Kalanchoe tomentosa, commonly known as the Panda Plant or Pussy Ears, is a beautiful succulent with fuzzy, gray-green foliage.
It is fairly slow growing and can be neglected without worrying too much. Allow the potting mix to dry out almost completely before watering and give your plant the sunniest window you have.
29. BURRO’S TAIL
Sedum morganianum, commonly known as Burro’s Tail or Donkey’s Tail, has very plump blue-green leaves on trailing stems.
For those of you that have grown this plant, you’ll know that the leaves are very fragile and can easily drop off the plant with the slightest touch.
Give your plant plenty of sun, allow it dry out completely before watering, and you should be good to go. If you do knock off a few leaves, they will propagate easily from single leaves.
Simply drop them in a small pot of soil and they will take root and grow new plants.
30. HAWAIIAN TI PLANT
Cordyline fruticosa (a synonym for the accepted species name, Dracaena angustifolia) is a stunning foliage plant with many brightly colored cultivars.
Several hours of direct sun indoors are best. They are prone to spider mites, so keep an eye out for those and treat accordingly if you see them.
These plants love high humidity, and they are wonderful candidates to spend warm weather outdoors. If your indoor Hawaiian Ti plant looks sad, move it outdoors during warm weather. It will thank you!
When you move it outdoors, make sure you acclimate it properly so that it doesn’t burn.
31. BRASSAVOLA NODOSA
Brassavola nodosa, commonly known as the Lady of the Night Orchid, is an easy to grow orchid, but they need a few hours of direct sun in order to be happy and a southern-facing window is perfect.
The flowers are beautifully fragrant. The leaves are quite succulent and will tolerate drought, but try not to let it get so dry to the point where the roots and leaves are shriveling.
With good light and watering, your plant should reward you with blooms yearly, and sometimes more than once.
These plants are epiphytes and typically grow in an orchid bark mix.
If you tend to go heavy with the watering can and constantly “overwatering” houseplants, you may want to strongly consider growing a Papyrus plant.
Papyrus was commonly used to make paper and they grow in soggy soil with standing water. Indoors, give it as much sun as you can, and keep the saucer full of standing water. This is one plant that actually likes this treatment!
Don’t expect your basil to look like it does outdoors, but your best chance at growing basil indoors is either is a nice, unobstructed, sunny, southern-facing window, or under strong grow lights.
Too little light will cause your basil to get too weak and spindly. If you don’t have enough sun, you’re better off getting your basil at the grocery store.
34. DRAGON TREE
Dracaena marginata, commonly known as Dragon Tree, is a wonderful houseplant that originates from Madagascar.
Although it will grow in less light, it will be nice and full if you give it plenty of sunshine.
Echeveria plants make for wonderful houseplants, if you can give them enough light. These succulents are tough and beautiful, but if you don’t give them enough light, they will etiolate, or stretch out.
This causes them to lose their beautiful form, and you’d have to propagate and start over from scratch, or buy a new one.
This is a common issue with succulents. They absolutely at a bare minimum need to be placed immediately in front of a window, preferably one that gets full sun.
36. HENS AND CHICKS
Sempervivum plants, commonly known as Hens and Chicks, are very fun and satisfying succulents to grow. Many of us grow them outdoors (and they are actually hardy down to zone 3) but you can also grow them indoors in a sunny window.
Keep in mind that if they flower, that rosette will die, however it will produce numerous pups and spread to form a beautiful clump.
37. TREE AEONIUM
Aeoniums are stunning succulents with whimsical rosettes of leaves. Many of them are shrublike and can grow a few feet tall, with bare stems and rosettes of leaves on top.
The foliage color varies depending on the species and the amount of sun exposure that they receive. They do need very bright light, so your southern-facing window is the most appropriate place.
If you don’t have enough sun, it is probably best that you avoid this plant.
38. ZEBRA HAWORTHIA
If you have limited room on that sunny, southern-facing window sill, the Zebra Haworthia is a great choice.
Reaching only 5-8 inches in height, it is easy to see why it is called Zebra Haworthia.
A sunny window is a must. Allow your soil to dry out completely and then soak thoroughly to water. Excellent drainage is also critical.
Yucca elephantipes, commonly called the Spineless Yucca, certainly make a strong architectural statement in front of your sunny window.
Full sun and a well-drained potting mix is a must. It is drought tolerant as well, but I’d recommend watering when the top 2-3 inches of the soil is dry.
40. NORFOLK ISLAND PINE
Araucaria heterophylla, commonly known as the Norfolk Island Pine, can grow over 100 feet tall in the appropriate climate.
These plants make for great, living Christmas trees, and well-grown specimens make for spectacular houseplants at any time of year.
They demand excellent drainage. These are not drought-tolerant at all. Allowing the potting mix to dry out completely will cause the lower limbs to turn brown and fall off.
Pineapple plants are definitely the tastiest member of the bromeliad plant family. Did you know that you can grow a pineapple from a grocery store pineapple top?
In order to fruit, they need plenty of sun, and you’ll need plenty of space. I’ve grown pineapple plants that have gotten about 3 feet wide or so.
And beware of the foliage. It is stiff and sharp so watch where you walk! There are few things as satisfying as growing your own pineapple.
Having an unobtructed southern-facing window is truly a blessing. It affords you the light to grow a wide variety of plants.
And if you want to grow plants that don’t love quite as much sun, you can easily diffuse the light with a sheer curtain or blinds.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on the best plants for south facing windows. Do you have a nice southern window? You can also check out my posts on best plants for north facing windows and best plants for east facing windows.