Find Houseplants that Like Direct, Indirect & Low-Light Conditions

Quickly find the most popular types of houseplants that like direct sunlight, indirect light, or low-light conditions. And get personalized tips. You should always consider general information about houseplants in the context of where you live. When living in the northern United States, we’ve found it’s usually best to err on the side of giving houseplants more light exposure than recommended.

All plants need light to survive, but some houseplants like direct light streaming through windows with lots of sun exposure, while other plants have evolved to like indirect light while competing for a spot with other taller plants. Some plants are also better than others at adapting different lighting conditions. Before you start placing and decorating your home with indoor plants, learn which plants are likely to thrive in different spots.

Types of Houseplants that Like Direct Light

Some houseplants are well-suited to use every last ray of sunlight for photosynthesis without getting sunburned. Many plants produce extra chemicals, called sinapate esters, to protect against the damage of the sun’s radiation. Many of these houseplants that like direct light are succulents that are well-adapted to dry climates with lots of sun and comparatively little shade. There are plenty of notable exceptions, however. Tropical hibiscus and jasmine houseplants, for example, like fairly regular watering and sunny, window spots.

In the northern hemisphere, the most direct sunlight comes from south- and west-facing windows. Many of these houseplants will do fine in other windows, especially if they are close to the glass, but they may not have as much foliage and flowers. If you do have windows with southern and western exposure, it’s important to stick to full sun plants or else install some type of frosted glass or window covering.

Best Houseplants for Full Sun

  • African Milk Tree
  • Aloe Vera
  • Croton
  • Jasmine
  • Jade Plant
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Living Stones
  • Plumeria
  • Dwarf Umbrella Tree
  • Geraniums
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sago Palm
  • Hibiscus
  • Umbrella Papyrus
  • Shrimp Plant

Types of Houseplants that Like Indirect Light

Tons of different houseplants like lots of filtered light that lets them produce the nutrients they need without getting hurt by the sun’s rays. These plants are often described as preferring lots of bright, indirect light or just medium-light houseplants. These are the most coveted kind of window spots because they can accommodate the widest possible range of houseplants. Likewise, the types of houseplants that like indirect light are among the most versatile, but they may also respond differently to various light conditions.

Many of these houseplants can survive but refuse to flower in low-light conditions or show brown leaves when receiving too much light. Climate and temperature also have a role to play. In colder climates and home environments, these plants may benefit from slightly sunnier spots. At the same time, if you have plenty of west- and south-facing windows, you might think about installing a window covering or filtered glass to accommodate more plants that can’t receive too much direct sunlight.

Best Houseplants for Filtered Light or Partial Shade

  • Caladium
  • Calla Lily
  • Elephant Ears
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Spider Plant
  • Begonia
  • Prayer Plant
  • Peperomia
  • Kentia Palm
  • Rubber Plant
  • Schefflera
  • Boston Fern
  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Anthurium
  • Rhapis Palm

Types of Houseplants that Like Low-Light Conditions

These houseplants are best for desks, tables, and shelves away from windows. The room must still have some windows or light exposure. Many houseplants that like low-light conditions have adapted to living in the shade of taller plants and trees. Even still, these plants will typically have more foliage and flowers with exposure to bright, filtered light. There are no good options for houseplants with bright flowers that consistently bloom in low-light conditions. However, if you’re looking for low-light houseplants that thrive on neglect, you can find succulents that grow in the shade.

If you’re truly committed to putting houseplants in a room with no windows, the solution is grow lights which can be calibrated to the lighting requirements of specific plants. Many residential lightbulbs do not provide the spectrum of light that houseplants need, but low-light houseplants can survive in office settings with plenty of fluorescent light. You can also buy artificial grow lights that are more effective and aesthetically pleasing than ever.

Best Houseplants for Full Shade or Fluorescent Lights

  • ZZ plant
  • Pothos
  • Cast Iron Plant (Monrovia)
  • Peace Lily
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Snake Plant
  • Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
  • Moth Orchids
  • Nerve Plant
  • English Ivy
  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Corn Plant
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Arrowhead Plant

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