East facing window plants

You may think a south facing window is a must to do well with houseplants.

In reality, there are many interesting and exciting houseplants that do well in either and east facing window or a west facing window.

The thing to remember about these locations is that both east and west facing windows get sunshine for only a short period of time each day.

When you understand the different type of sunlight available in these two locations, it’s easy to choose just the right plants to suit the setting.

In this article, we discuss the light exposure available in east and west windows and share some suggestions for the types of plants best suited for these locations.

Read on to learn more.

What To Do With An East-Facing Window

Think of an east facing windows being similar to a north facing window. The difference being that on the east side you get much better sunlight in the morning than you do on the north side.

This means plants placed in an east facing window will likely grow to be healthy and strong.

One challenge many face with east facing windows is they are often quite small.

Architects tend to put smaller windows on the east facing sides of homes and buildings. This may mean you’ll need to be a bit creative in choosing smaller plants to fit in some kind of tight settings.

If your east facing window is large, naturally you can choose larger plant specimens.

A good-sized east facing window provides the opportunity to amass a collection of plants that blends in nicely with the backdrop of landscape plants outdoors.

Hanging plants are always a good idea in windows, but remember, if you’re dealing with smaller windows a large hanging plant may completely obscure your view.

The ideal is to see both the plant and the world outdoors.

What Are Some Choices For East Facing Window Plants?

Keep in mind the temperature with an east facing window.

The temperature in the east is usually a bit lower than in the west side of a home. You’ll want to choose your plants accordingly.

Here are some of the top choices in shelf, tabletop or windowsill plants for this challenging location:

  • Aechmea fasciata (Silver Vase Bromeliad)
  • Syngonium (Arrowhead Plant)
  • Campanula (Bellflower)
  • Asplenium
  • Devils Ivy (Pothos)
  • Cyanotis Kewensis (Teddy Bear Vine)
  • Cyclamen plants
  • Aspidistra (cast-iron plant)
  • Monstera (swiss cheese plant)
  • Schefflera (dwarf umbrella)
  • Soleirolia
  • Zebrina
  • Aucuba
  • Hedera helix ivy
  • Cissus (grape ivy)
  • Ferns
  • Fatsia japonica (Japanese Aralia)

Some good hanging plants include:

  • Nephropelis
  • Platycerium (staghorn fern)
  • Davallia (rabbit’s foot)
  • Neoregelia (Bromeliad)
  • Peperomia Plants (potted and hanging varieties)
  • Pilea

Some good floor plants include:

  • Araucaria (Norfolk Island Pine)
  • Philodendron
  • Yucca Plants
  • Kentia Palms (Howea)
  • Dracaena (marginata, fragrans, etc)
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Ficus lyrata, Elastica | Benjamina trees | Ficus Burgundy Rubber Plant
  • Fatsia

Plants For West Facing Windows – What to Do

A west facing window is very similar to south-facing windows. West windows can get very intense direct bright light and high temperatures.

This lighting and heat situation can damage quite a few different sorts of plants.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to shade the plants in your west window against direct sunlight. This is especially true during the afternoon hours.

Without protection, leaves of more delicate plants are sure to scorch. In fact, even some succulents and cactus sitting in a window will suffer under the intensity of direct natural light through glass.

Luckily, it’s not very difficult to do this. Simply put up a sheer curtain you can pull across the window to protect your plants when the sun is at its hottest.

This may be all you’ll need to do to reduce the punishing rays of the sun and the high temperatures associated with them.

If you have a very large window, consider installing external blinds for more effective shading. Planting deciduous trees outside west-facing windows is also a good idea.

Small west windows are uncommon because architects usually try to design buildings in a way to take the most advantage of natural light.

If you have a large west window, it’s great for your passive solar needs and may provide an excellent view, but it can be pretty harsh on your indoor plants.

Choosing West Facing Window Plants

It may seem sort of difficult to create exterior shade for a west facing window, instead choose to stick with indoor plants that thrive in a very hot, very sunny environment.

Naturally, cactus come to mind. A collection of desert cactus on a windowsill can make a very exotic and interesting display, especially in very cold climates.

For this setting, choose plants that look beautiful in bright light and on bold display.

Choosing plants with good architectural structure provides exciting contrast and interest to your window.

Of course, many hanging plants will do well in a large west window, and this can make a beautiful view both indoors and out.

Here are some of the best west facing window plants.

  • Sempervivum plants (Hens and Chicks)
  • Catharanthus
  • Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)
  • Pineapple
  • Passiflora
  • Ipomoea
  • Solanum
  • Hibiscus
  • Senecio
  • Cystisus
  • Rhipsalis plants (mistletoe cactus)
  • Lithops (Living Stones)
  • Myrtle
  • Cactus plants
  • Azalea
  • Agave plants
  • Aloe
  • Erica

In a west window use lots of smaller plants and arrange them artistically and attractively.

Alternately, choose one large hanging plant to be the focal point of your west-facing window.

In this video, we see many examples of great plants to keep in and around a west window, accompanied by advice on plant placement.

Because the presenter does speak in a precise and measured way, you may find it useful to speed up the video. This takes nothing away from understanding the valuable content.

When decorating west-facing windows, pay special attention to the attractiveness of your plants and your containers.

West facing windows bring in a great deal of sunlight and attract a lot of attention, so you’ll want everything to look its best.

Think not only of the plant but its effect on the entire room. For example, an attractive plant may also cast an interesting and attractive shadow into your room.

Create a Kitchen Window Garden!

If you kitchen has a large west window, you can grow quite a variety of herbs and even a few vegetables. The key is to pick plants that do well with lots of warmth and lots of light.

All sorts of herbs will do well, but rosemary, oregano, and thyme are some of the very best choices.

A kitchen window garden gives you the opportunity to supplement your table, and this is especially helpful in the winter months.

Other Considerations For East and West Facing Window Plant Selection and Care

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing plants for your east or west-facing windows.

Think About What Is Outside

Take into account the appearance of trees, buildings, bodies of water and so forth that you can see through your window. Be sure to choose plants that will enhance and not obscure your view.

Think About What You Have Inside The Window

If you have privacy concerns, you may already have heavy drapes or some other window treatment that might interfere with keeping plants.

Consider how much you are willing or unwilling to change regarding the current window treatments to accommodate your plants’ need for light.

How Clean Are Your Windows?

If your windows tend to not stay clean, you might not have good luck with houseplants.

When dirt builds up on windows, just as leaves get dirty, it naturally reduces the amount of light available for plants.

Are you willing to keep your windows clean for your plants?

If not, perhaps you should choose lower light plants even bathroon plants if you have a west facing window.

Pay Attention To Your Plants’ Surroundings

Look at the colors of the walls, the surfaces of tables and other objects in the room.

Very bright white walls or reflective surfaces can substantially increase the amount of light around your plants. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.

Take inventory of the furnishings and decorations of the room and make adjustments as needed to provide a healthy environment for your plants.

Know The Warning Signs Of Improper Lighting

Too much light can cause leaves to curl, wilt, fade or even scorch and turn brown.

When leaves get too much light, new leaves may be very small. On the other hand, if plants are getting too little light, the leaves become big and floppy, and leaf coloration may change.

The leaves may become oddly variegated, yellow or pale. When plants are hungry for light they may stretch or bend toward the window, become stunted, lose leaves and fail to flower.

These problems can take a while to develop, so be sure to pay close attention to your plants and take note of any changes or unusual circumstances.

Source: 1 | 2

Knowing the orientation of your windows is the best way to determine whether you get direct sun only in the morning or the afternoon- or whether you’re lucky enough to have bright direct sun all day. After considering the direction, is there anything blocking the outside of your window? Would your window get bright sun in the afternoon if it weren’t blocked by a large tree?

Assuming that, generally speaking, we’d rather have more light to work with than less, here are rough guidelines for the cardinal directions in a best to worst direction for house plants:

  • South facing windows are the best with bright sun all day, good for any plants with variegation or trees like citrus and banana. If a plant needs medium light, just locate it to the side (perfect for orchids) or a few feet away from the window.
  • West windows get a long period of direct sun, but usually miss the hottest most intense part of the day, which can damage some plants with medium light requirements. Stromanthe thrive in this environment.
  • East windows are perfect for most low to medium light requirements that smaller, table-top plants prefer. The sun is much less intense in this orientation.
  • North windows limit wise choices to a small selection of house plants. In general, flowering plants, like african violets or orchids struggle to survive in any north facing window. Also, most tall plants require higher light levels, but there are a couple of exceptions, such as Dracena ‘Janet Craig’ compacta.

Consider these general tips in regards to houseplants and light levels:

  • Typically plants with variegation, or color in the leaves, require more direct sun than plants with plain green leaves.
  • Plants that require less light or are located in lower light, consume less water.
  • Plants in bright, direct light need to be watered more frequently and typically consume more per watering.
  • Generally speaking, plants that flower more prolifically typically require lots of bright, if not direct light. If you want to grow a plant that produces fruit, like a citrus tree, you’ll need a lot of direct sunlight.
  • Plants should be acclimated from one light situation to another gradually to avoid stress, damage, and/or disease.
  • If leaves are succulent and oversized or the plant is ‘stretching’, the plant probably needs more light. Whereas, if leaves are browning and falling off the plant may be getting too much light.

by Jason Ellis

Light Guide

Obviously if you’re using artificial light you can put the plant anywhere you choose, but if you are using natural light lets consider placement in more detail.

Firstly remember that few homes face exactly in the direction of the four points of a compass (North, East, South, West) so your aspect may have a combination, i.e. South East or North West etc. Keep this in mind when browsing the section below.

North Facing Windows

Windows which face North never get sunlight coming through them. If the window is facing North East, or North West you’ll get some in the mornings / evenings especially during Summer. However even then for most of the day you’ll have the typical North facing aspect.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with a North facing aspect providing your plant doesn’t demand partial or full sun as a lighting requirement.

Certain plants will absolutely thrive in this position, such as Aspidistra’s, English Ivy and many orchids. North facing windows also provide the most consistent levels of light throughout the day, so if you’re looking to grow begonias, or a foliage plant this could be the best spot for them.

The rooms that these windows belong to also tend to be the coldest. Without any sunlight this natural heat source is nonexistent. This goes hand in hand however, and the majority of plants that thrive in these locations also do so because it’s cooler.

East Facing Windows

It’s a good spot which a lot of plants will do well in, and others still, will adapt to

The Sun always rises in the East and therefore the East facing aspect gets the first weak rays of sunlight in the morning. Depending on the time of the year, direct sunlight has normally stopped shining through these windows by mid morning to midday.

East facing windows receive very good light levels and natural sources of heat without either being extreme.

Some plants which thrive in the North facing aspect may also do well here, but it’s likely they’ll need a little shielding, perhaps with the help of a partially closed blind.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with a East facing aspect, it’s a good spot which a lot of houseplants will do well in, and others still, will adapt to.

South Facing Windows

As the Earth rotates during it’s 24 hour cycle, from late morning to mid afternoon the planet becomes closest to the sun. Therefore the strongest rays from the sun flow through South facing windows during this part of the day.

Plants which demand full sun will thrive here, it provides optimum levels of light for photosynthesis, so growth can be pretty fast. Plants which prefer shady or a North facing aspect should only be put in this window during the Winter months when the sunlight is less intense.

With all this bright light comes heat and it’s very easy for the area to become incredibly warm, even hot.

You must take this into account when putting houseplants here, as very few can tolerate a very hot temperature with very strong light for any great length of time. It’s true that many from the cacti family will do wonderfully in this type of environment, but this is arguably a waste of a fantastic location. If you provide ventilation and some shielding a large number of other houseplants can also make use of this brilliant light space.

West Facing Windows

As the afternoon rolls on, the sun will eventually start shinning through the West facing windows right up until the sun sets and darkness falls.

Like the East facing aspect, the sunlight is weaker than it would be around midday, but because the ambient temperature by this point of the day is likely to already be quite warm, overheating in these places can be a problem. Making sure ventilation is good and that the light becomes indirect. For example by hanging translucent / net curtains or closing blinds will drastically reduce overheating issues.

Great houseplants to put here are those which again love sun. These tend to be those which flower with many blooms along with almost all cacti and succulents.

Other things to consider

It’s not always about which aspect you decide to pick for your plant. There are other things which may play a part in your final decision

What’s outside the window?

Yes a South facing aspect would provide the most light, but only if it isn’t shaded by things naturally outside. For example a tree, large shrub or even man made objects such as other buildings can obstruct light.

What’s hanging inside the window?

It’s not always convenient to have open and bare windows. A lot of people would rather not be overlooked by their neighbours, and you may be worried about security if anyone walking past can see what you have inside your home.

Blinds will change the dynamic of the light levels

If the window is heavily shielded, then the light dynamic will drastically change. The South facing window may become darker and cooler, meaning the location opens up to a greater variety of plants. On the other hand, heavy shielding in a East facing window may become unsuitable for plants which need some direct sunlight.

What’s on the window glass?

We all love clean shining windows and so do plants. Believe it or not, really grubby windows can act like a filter and reduce the amount of light that comes through by up to 10%. Be sure to keep them clean!

How far from the window are your plants?

If we pretend plants pushed right up against a window get 100% of the light that is coming through, then placing the plant on a table by the window might reduce this to 75%. The deeper into the room and further away from the window the plant is, the less light it will receive.

What’s around your plant

Reflective surfaces such as mirrors, or white objects near by, will bounce and reflect light around the plant more than if they weren’t there. This is a great way to maximise the amount of light in a room, especially if it’s low to start with.

Warning Signs

If the light levels aren’t right, over time your plants will tell you:

Too much light

  • Leaves curling.
  • Leaves wilting, especially when the light is shinning on them.
  • Leaves fading, becoming less green.
  • Leaves becoming scorched or turning brown.
  • New leaves are much smaller than the existing ones.

Too little light

  • Leaves turning yellow or pale.
  • Variegated leaves losing the variegation.
  • Plant becomes spindly, bending towards the window.
  • No flowers.
  • No growth in the growing seasons.
  • Plant dropping older leaves and new ones are less and smaller.

Unfortunately a lot of the warning signs above are common with several other problems. So if you spot any of the above symptoms by all means consider if the light needs are right, but also bear in mind another cause may be to blame.

Light problems often take a while to develop, for example if you’re not providing enough light, the leaf variegation won’t be lost overnight, it would gradually fade over several weeks or even months. So if the problem’s come on quickly it could again be caused by something else.

Credit for the first picture of the light bulb Valeriya
Credit for the plants in the north facing window – Daria Shevtsova
Credit for the houseplants being grown in a box next to a window – Valeriya
Credit for the photo of potted plants in a window to Walter J. Pilsak

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

If the light inside your home streams in from an east-facing window, you’re in luck. When it comes to keeping your houseplants happy, the usually indirect but still bright light of an east-facing window is the ideal location. Even if an eastern exposure means the sun does shine directly on the plants, it’s far less intense and for a far shorter period of time — and therefore less prone to burn them — than a southern or even western exposure.

Whether you’re a novice at tending to houseplants or you’ve been keeping them alive for years, here are seven good choices for this prime location, as well as many others you may want to try. However, don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment with other plants as well. Chances are they’ll also thrive.

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Quality of light. Ideally, east-facing windows get either bright indirect light all day or direct sun in the morning hours, when it’s less intense, and indirect sun for the rest of the day. Every location is different, however, and if the morning light you get is very bright or hot, it might result in scorched or wilting leaves or simply a failure to thrive. If that’s the case, either move the plant further away from the window or install a sheer curtain to filter the sunlight.

On the other hand, trees and tall buildings may filter the light so it’s no longer bright, or may even block the light during a good portion of the day. if a plant is leaning toward the light, getting leggy or struggling to grow, try moving it closer to the window. If it still struggles, you may need to look for plants that do well in low light, such as those that thrive with a northern exposure.

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Basic houseplant care. Houseplants, not surprisingly, tend to thrive in the same conditions that we do. They prefer house temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) in the day and 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 13 degrees Celsius) at night, plus normal home humidity levels.

Taking care of houseplants is also fairly straightforward. Water them thoroughly, draining off any excess so they don’t stand in water. Don’t overwater; many do best if you let them dry out slightly before watering again.

RELATED: How to maintain an indoor herb garden

It’s also easy to over-fertilize, so most experts recommend fertilizing lightly but regularly. You can do this by applying about a quarter of the recommended dose weekly when the plant is growing, then cutting back to the same amount about once a month the rest of the year, generally late fall and winter. Check leaf color to monitor fertilizer levels: If the leaves are small but dark, you are probably overfertilizing; if they are light, you are probably under-fertilizing.

Finally, keep houseplants out of drafts and extremely hot or cold spots.

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Heartleaf Philodendron

(Philodendron scandens)

Easy-to-grow favorite. It’s hard to go wrong if you start with a philodendron. They’re the workhorses of the indoor plant world, growing in almost any indoor location.

Heartleaf philodendron is the best-known of the easy-care philodendron family. It’s a vigorous climber, though it will need support; it also shines when grown in a hanging basket or on a shelf where the long stems can be appreciated. For a bushier plant, cut or pinch back the stems at a node.

Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize throughout the year, more heavily in summer. Don’t worry about a few leaves dropping unless it becomes excessive. Wash or wipe off the leaves monthly to keep them dust-free.

More: Other plants that are easy to grow indoors include split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa), pothos (Epipremnum aureum), dumb cane (Dieffenbachia maculata) and baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia). Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and many of the plants known as spiderworts are ideal candidates for hanging baskets.

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Umbrella Tree

(Schefflera actinophylla and Schefflera arboricola)

Another familiar choice. The umbrella tree (S. actinophylla) and the dwarf umbrella tree (S. arboricola) are old favorites that are being rediscovered. The first has leaves that can reach 1 foot across, while the latter’s leaves are much smaller. It’s still not a true dwarf, however, as it can reach 6 feet tall.

Let the plants dry out slightly, then water thoroughly and drain off any excess. Fertilize while they are growing, generally spring through fall, and pick off any yellow leaves. Pinch off branches to shape.

More: Other good options include the miniature grape ivy (Cissus striata) and the Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica).

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Boston Fern

(Nephrolepis exaltata)

Classic fern. Boston fern, the standard Victorian parlor plant and a midcentury favorite, is also at home in a contemporary setting. Show off its drooping fronds in a hanging basket or on an elevated plant stand.

Boston ferns prefer indirect light but will get spindly if light levels are too low. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize lightly (about a quarter of the recommended dose weekly) throughout the year.

More: Other favorite ferns include the delicate delta maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum) and the tough staghorn fern (Platycerium spp.), which doesn’t even need soil to thrive. Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus), while technically not a true fern, is a good choice if you’re new to growing houseplants.

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Moth Orchid

(Phalaenopsis spp.)

Flowering plant. Bright or even direct sunlight is often a prerequisite for growing flowering plants indoors, but one of the most popular orchids, the moth orchid, prefers east-facing windows. It will also give you weeks of blossoms and is equally at home in both traditional and contemporary settings.

Moth orchids prefer slightly higher temperatures during the day, generally from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), but can handle both higher and lower indoor temperatures. They like slightly higher-than-average humidity levels, so consider growing them on a pebble tray. Give them good air circulation.

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Water with room-temperature water when the roots are silver and the potting mix is slightly damp, then drain thoroughly. Feed with quarter-strength fertilizer weekly, cutting back when the plant is in bloom. Give them good air circulation.

More: Other flowering plants that love an eastern exposure are African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) and their fellow Gesneriads, which include the cape primroses (Episcia and Sinningia genera). You might also want to try growing the winter-blooming cyclamen, the colorful pocketbook plant (Calceolaria spp.) or the striking zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa).

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Fiddleleaf Fig

(Ficus lyrata)

Tree-like plant. An indoor tree is a statement plant in any space. If that’s what you’re looking for, one of the best choices is the versatile fiddleleaf fig, named for its violin-shaped leaves. It can reach 10 feet tall, though it is usually shorter. If the light levels are too low, it will start to lose leaves.

The fiddleleaf fig does best when it receives three to four hours of filtered sunlight a day. Let the soil dry out slightly between watering, then water thoroughly and drain off any excess. Fertilize year-round, slightly increasing the amount of water in summer. The leaves may drop if it is moved to a spot with less light.

More: Other figs to consider include the longtime-popular weeping fig (F. benjamina) and the easygoing Indian rubber plant (F. elastica). Two popular dracaenas that can reach tree-like heights are the corn plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’) and the dragon tree, or red-margined dracaena (D. marginata). Other plants to consider are the slow-growing Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) and umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla).

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Butterfly palm

(Dypsislutescens)

Indoor palm. The butterfly, or areca, palm is a popular choice if you want to create a tropical paradise in your home, or if you simply enjoy the graceful fronds of a palm. Despite its exotic look, it’s fairly easy to grow.

Keep the soil evenly moist it is growing in the spring and summer, then cut back in late fall and winter. Feed monthly while it’s growing. Butterfly palms can get large, but it will take them some time.

More: Other good palm choices for indoors include Chinese fan palm (Livistona chinensis), fishtail palm (Caryota spp.), lady palm (Rhapis excelsa), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) and pygmy date palm (Phoenixroebelenii). You can also try growing a bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.) or a coffee tree (Coffea arabica), although neither is likely to produce either flowers or coffee berries.

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Youth on Age

(Tolmiea menziesii)

Humidity lover. Providing slightly higher humidity can be a big help to plants that like the atmosphere a bit damper. Simply misting may not provide enough of a boost in ambient humidity levels, as its effects will quickly fade, but you can try growing them on pebble trays — low trays filled with pebbles and water that sit beneath the pot — placing them in a kitchen or bath, or grouping them near a humidifier.

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Fast-growing youth on age, also called piggyback plant, is a popular houseplant that does best in a cool location out of direct sun. It gets its name from the plantlets that form on top of the existing leaves. Grow it where you can admire the leaves as they hang over the edges of the pot or down the side of a shelf.

Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy, and fertilize lightly (about a quarter of the recommended amount) weekly from spring through fall. Cut back in winter. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight, intense heat and dry air. Pinch back to keep it bushy.

More: Other humidity lovers include the silver-leaved aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei), the popular arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) and the awkwardly named fatshedera (x Fatshedera lizei), or tree ivy. Both peacock plant (Calathea makoyana) and prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) are humidity lovers known for their unusual leaves.

Light Tips for Gardening

A garden with some sun exposure is a good thing; but you can’t stop there. Read on to learn more about sunny garden conditions and how to get the right amount of light to your plants.


Gardens with an eastern exposure
are shaded in the afternoon.

  • Consider differences in sun intensity when planting on the east and west side of shade-casting trees or buildings. Even if east- and west-facing sites receive the same number of hours of sun, they will not produce identical results.
    • Gardens with an eastern exposure are illuminated with cool morning sun, then shaded in the afternoon. They are ideal locations for minimizing heat stress in southern climates or for plants such as rhododendrons that can burn in hot sun.
    • Gardens with western exposure are shaded in the morning and drenched in hot sun in the afternoon. Sunburn, bleaching, and sometimes death of delicate leaves can result, especially in warm climates and when growing sensitive young or shade-loving plants. Afternoon sun can also cause brightly colored flowers to fade. However, the west side of a building is the ideal place for sun-loving plants.
  • Try exposing flowering shade plants to a half day of morning sun to encourage better blooming. Extra light can also keep the plants more compact, tidy, and self-supporting.
  • Providing 6 to 8 hours of direct sun a day is sufficient for most plants that need full sun. The term “full sun” doesn’t actually mean plants must be in bright light every moment of the day, only most of the day. The 6 to 8 hour minimum must be met, however, even during the shorter days of spring and fall for perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Whether sunny or shady, all gardens need some light to help them grow. Use the tips in this article to help you find the right balance.

Want more gardening tips? Try:

  • Gardening Tips: Learn great helpful hints for all of your gardening needs.
  • Annuals: Plant these beauties in your garden.
  • Perennials: Choose great plants that will return year after year.
  • Gardening: Discover how to garden.

East Window Plants: Growing Houseplants In East Facing Windows

Your window exposure is very important when choosing which houseplants can grow there. Fortunately, there are many east window plants that you can grow. Eastern windows will typically get the gentler morning sun, but then have bright indirect light throughout the rest of the day. This is ideal for a wide variety of plants!

It is important to note that not all windows are created equal. The size and type of window you have, in addition to any obstructions such has trees or other buildings, can have a great impact on the quality and amount of light that comes through. If your plant growth is weak or spindly, move it to a brighter location.

Indoor Plants for East Window Light

There are many indoor plants for east-facing windows. Great choices for flowering houseplants in an east-facing window include:

  • Phalaenopsis – Moth orchids are among the best indoor orchids and can be kept in bloom for many months of the year. These are epiphytes and are typically grown in a bark mix or sphagnum moss.
  • Bromeliads – Various bromeliads (Aechmea fasciata and Neoregelia) are great choices and have beautiful form and striking flower bracts.
  • Cyclamen – Cyclamen is often sold as a seasonal plant but can grow well in eastern windows.
  • Streptocarpus – Also known as cape primrose, Streptocarpus freely blooms in eastern windows and come in pink, white and lavender colored flowers.
  • Gesneriads – Any Gesneriad will thrive in east-facing windows and produce a multitude of blooms. These include African violets, Episcia, and Sinningia.

Some great foliage selections for east window plants include:

  • Cast iron plant – The cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a great foliage houseplant that can tolerate quite a bit of neglect.
  • Dieffenbachia – Dieffenbachia, or dumbcane, is an easy-to-grow foliage houseplant with stunning variegated leaves and comes in various sizes.
  • Peacock plant – Like many Calathea species, peacock plant (Calathea makoyana) has beautifully patterned leaves. Be sure to keep this plant on the moister end for best results.
  • Philodendron – Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens) is a robust climber, but is very popular as a hanging plant.
  • Monstera – The Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) can make a dramatic statement if you have the room. Beware because these plants can quickly take over your space!
  • Pothos – Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is an easy-to-grow and propagate climber which is commonly grown as a hanging plant.
  • Spider plant – Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) offers easy growth, beautifully arching variegated leaves, and pups which are easily propagated.
  • Fiddle leaf fig – Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a more finicky plant to grow indoors, but a well-grown specimen makes quite a dramatic statement.
  • Boston fern – Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) is a great choice but keep the soil evenly moist for best results! This is the key for ferns.

These are just some of the houseplants that you can easily grow in eastern facing windows. There are many more, so experiment and see what works best for you!

A Gardener’s Guide to Sun Exposure

Knowing how much light a plant needs to thrive seems like a relatively simple issue, but the numerous descriptions for sun exposure found on plant labels can sometimes be perplexing. Luckily, industry standards are bringing consistency to plant labeling, so understanding a few key terms will assist in selecting the right plant for your landscape conditions. Let’s take a closer look.

Terminology

All plants require sunlight to grow, but differ in the amount and intensity of light needed to prosper. Plant labels identify the amount of sun a plant requires as full sun, part sun, part shade or full shade as defined:

  • Full sun – Plants need at least 6 hours of direct sun daily
  • Part sun – Plants thrive with between 3 and 6 hours of direct sun per day
  • Part shade – Plants require between 3 and 6 hours of sun per day, but need protection from intense mid-day sun
  • Full shade – Plants require less than 3 hours of direct sun per day

Full Sun

This describes the type of light we find in bright, sunny open areas. Many full sun plants thrive under sunny skies from dawn to dusk, but others may need a bit of a break. If a plant is labeled heat or drought tolerant and full sun, it is a good bet it will tolerate even the most intense summer sun day in and day out. The same is true for plants with silver or gray foliage.

But some plants simply cannot take the heat. So what is a gardener to do? Think local: full sun in the Appalachian Mountains and full sun on the Gulf Coast are very different. It is important to use label recommendations as a guide and tailor these to your local conditions.

Experience will help you gain a better perspective on what sun exposure means in your backyard. If you are unsure, consult your County Extension Educator to gain the best understanding of how plants respond to your local conditions.

Part Sun and Part Shade

By definition part sun and part shade are very similar, but there are subtle differences necessitating the use of these two terms rather than just one. Most plants requiring either part sun or part shade do well in filtered light for most of the day, or direct sun during the morning or afternoon. Keep in mind that several hours of afternoon sun are more intense and create more heat than morning sun.

Plants labeled part shade are going to be more sensitive to getting too much sun, particularly in the afternoon, and will need shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Plants labeled as part sun can typically tolerate more light and need a minimum amount of direct sun to thrive. These plants may bloom poorly if given too little sun.

For either group, providing direct morning sun is a good choice.

Full Shade

Shade plants may require anything from the indirect light found on the north side of the house to the deep shade found under evergreens. True shade plants, such as many ferns, can perish in too much sun. Filtered light, such as that found beneath a tree canopy, is a good setting for full shade plants. This type of light is referred to as dappled shade and offers many gardening opportunities.

Most full shade plants can tolerate some direct sun in the morning or evening hours, but not mid-day. Watch the landscape carefully to make sure areas you consider shady do not receive shafts of light for extended periods during the day. Get familiar with sun exposure in your landscape by checking on light conditions throughout the day and over the course of a full growing season.

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