I was long stymied by indoor plant selection. It seemed like no matter what I did, no matter what plant I tried – death was inevitable. Thankfully, my lovely mother intervened. ”Well, what kind of light do you have? Which way do your windows face – north, east?” Turns out, I had the all the wrong plants, in all the wrong place.
If you’ve killed a plant or five and can’t figure out why, the question of light might be the answer. (Others things to consider may be over-watering or lack of fertilization, but we’ll leave that for another day). Here is a simple breakdown to help you determine what kind if plant to bring into your home based on which way your windows are facing:
- Facing South or West: Look for plants that like “bright light,” which means a plant craves direct light all day long. Specifically for West facers: the light coming through your window is less harsh than the South, so really – you have a world of options, since many plants can’t take the direct heat from a South facing window. Try the following: cacti, any variety of succulents such as jade or aloe vera. You also have options like the statuesque Fiddle Fig (a type of ficus), pretty begonias and indoor boxwoods.
- Facing East or interior locations: You’ll want to look for that are labeled with “indirect light.” These plants crave ambient or dappled light. Amazon Elephant Ears and the Chamaedorea Palm are two of my favorites for these locations. Also, the very pretty Crown of Thorns can bring flowers into these oddly lit corners.
- Facing North: If you’ve got windows facing this direction, you aren’t alone. Many rooms, especially in cities, are “low light”. Take special note: if it’s winter – a room can go from indirect light to low light in the course of the season. Try the very friendly Aglaonema ’Emerald Star’ or the hanging plant, Grape Ivy. Both do incredibly well in low lit situations. Philodendrons are also great for novice growers.
Most plants have a range of light that is acceptable to them, so if your plant isn’t doing well in “indirect light” try moving it to “bright light” and see what happens. And don’t be hard on yourself! Growing is kinda like cooking. You’re a gonna burn a few dishes before you get it right.
Photo source: Samantha Casolari for the Fall 2012 issue of Wilder Quarterly