In this article, we will discuss natural light for plants, window lighting for plants, and specifically window orientation when it comes to sunlight for plants. I first go over the factors we should consider when thinking about the best window for our plants (according to window orientation). If you have a south-facing window, or north-facing window, east-facing window, or west-facing window, we will also go over the best plants for south-facing windows, as well as plants for west-facing windows, plants for east-facing windows, and of course plants for north-facing windows.
I hope this article is super useful when deciding where to place your plants at home and do let me know if you have any questions about this in the comments!
In order to know which window lighting is best for our plants, we need to consider the following very important factors.
3 Important factors to consider to find the best window lighting for plants
1. Where are you located on this planet?
This is very important because your experience with light and window orientation will be very different depending on whether you are located in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere.
If you are located in the northern hemisphere such as myself, south-facing windows will be receiving the most amount of sunlight. And this, if you think about it makes sense, because we are towards the north of the equator and the sun is heating directly closer to the equator. So this will be relative to our south.
On the contrary, if you are located in the southern hemisphere, the north-facing windows will be receiving the most amount of sunlight.
2. What’s the season?
Another thing to consider for the best window lighting for your plant is which season are you in. This is very important because the intensity of the sunlight will actually diminish or increase depending on what season you are in.
And this is especially true if you live farther away from the equator. For example, in Berlin in the summer we actually get very long days, so we can have sunlight from five in the morning to ten or 10:30 at night.
And the intensity of the sunlight can be very strong. So my south-facing windows will be getting lots of sunlight and this is something that I have to consider when it comes to my plants and the tolerance they have to direct light.
Some of them may be very happy with 10 hours of direct light, whereas others may only tolerate one to two hours. So in the summer, I have to remember this in order to see where I am going to place my plants and how close to place them from the window.
In the winter in Berlin, we get very little sunlight, in terms of intensity and also how many hours of sunlight we get. This is because the majority of days are very cloudy and they are very short.
In this case, south-facing windows may not receive as intense sunlight as in the summer. So then I can place more of my plants closer to the window to get the best window lighting.
3. Consider light obstructions
These may be trees right outside of your window, tall buildings where the sun may be hiding behind, or even sheer curtains. Understanding all of these factors will help you have a better idea of how much lighting your plants can receive through the window depending on orientation.
North Facing Window Plants
Now, let’s get to the plants that I have in front of my windows. So in Berlin, north-facing windows will get the least amount of light. But still, you can use these windows for plants that will tolerate the least amount of light, so these can be for example the ZZ plant, some Calatheas, and other plants that are not happy with lots of intense sunlight.
However, north-facing windows are my least favorite window to place plants in front of because I know that they won’t get so much light, and therefore they won’t grow as much or thrive as much.
South Facing Window plants
Now, let’s get to south-facing windows. As I said, in the northern hemisphere south-facing windows will get the most light. This is true in terms of intensity as well as longevity.
So the majority of our plants are actually in a room with a south-facing window. Now depending on how many hours of intense direct sunlight your plant is going to get, you may choose to place them closer to the window or a little bit farther from the window so they get some indirect sunlight but not direct intense sunlight.
So during the summer, right in front of my south-facing window, I tend to put plants like cacti or succulents like the bunny ears cactus.
For some part of the year, I also place my African milk tree right in front of the window. So this is for example during the fall, winter, and spring.
Maybe in the summer, I am going to put it a little bit farther away from the window because leaves may get a little bit burned with the direct sunlight but the rest of the year I like to put it right in front of the window and she seems to be happy there.
If you don’t get too intense light you can also place some asparagus ferns there all of your succulents of course so echeverias, the melon cactus all of them really like direct intense sunlight so they are very happy right in front of the window.
As we get farther away from the window, you can also place some other plants that like bright sunlight but not direct intense sunlight for long periods of time. So making sure that they don’t get intense direct sunlight for long periods of time.
Right now it is winter so it’s better for them to be really close to the window as we don’t get so much sunlight.
I also have all of my pothos here, so I have the Scindapsus here and the Epipremnum, but they are not right in front of the window because I’ve noticed that they don’t like it so much direct sunlight for long periods of time.
However, I have them in a room with a south-facing window so they get bright indirect sunlight and they seem to be really happy here, they are growing really well so yeah, I think that this is a good room for them.
I also have a ZZ plant right in front of the window. As I said before right now it’s winter here so we don’t get so much intense direct sunlight. But maybe I’m going to observe her in the summer because direct sunlight may be too much for her.
So always observe your plant and if you see that your ZZ plant, for example, you have her right in front of a south-facing window and the leaves are starting to burn, then all you have to do is move her a little bit farther away from the window and she will still receive the sunlight but it’s not going to be as strong as if she was right in front of the window.
So again, seasons really do make a difference and it is always about observing your plants.
East Facing Window plant
East facing windows are really nice because your plant is going to get that nice morning sunlight, as you know the sun actually comes up in the morning from the east and it’s not going to be very intense direct sunlight.
So east-facing windows tend to be really nice for plants that like bright sunlight, but cannot tolerate a lot of intense direct sunlight. So you can put some Calatheas here, or tradescantias, you can put some dieffenbachias, of course.
Dieffenbachias really like sunlight but you want to make sure that they don’t get so much direct sunlight because they can burn.
You can also have some strelitzias there but of course, strelitzia is also great for south-facing windows, as they really like direct sunlight, they can actually tolerate it.
So this can also be a good plant for south-facing windows or east-facing windows, Philodendrons are very good there, also alocasias.
Alocasias are really great because they really like the sunlight but they are not going to get burnt with very intense sunlight there.
So yes, many plants will be very happy in front of an east-facing window because you are providing that very nice light and it’s not too intense for your plants.
West facing window plants
West-facing windows on the other side will have that afternoon sunlight. And this tends to be a little bit more intense than in the morning.
So in front of these windows, you also want to put plants that are going to be happy with intense direct light, for example, strelitzias, succulents like aloes or the bunny ears cactus, of course, you can also have euphorbias there, they are going to appreciate the sunlight a lot because they really like direct, intense light, so these plants will also be very happy in front of a west-facing window. Tradescantias of course, and also the string of hearts.
So west-facing windows are very great for plants that really like intense really bright sunlight.
How do I get more sunlight for indoor plants?
The finest light for sun-loving indoor plants comes from a south-facing window. If you don’t have a south-facing window, a western-facing window is the next best thing. Place your plant on the windowsill or as close to the window as possible if it can handle direct light.
What is considered bright light for plants?
A sunny southern or western-facing window that receives direct light all day is considered bright light.
How do you know if a plant needs more light?
The most typical indicators that your plant isn’t getting enough light are fading and losing leaves, limited leaf development, extended stems, and a dull-green tint. Your plant’s leaves will have singed tips, scorched regions, or even fall off if it receives too much light (yikes!).
Now, just as a summary, south-facing windows will get the most amount of light; very bright, very intense for a longer period of time. West-facing windows will also get lots of light in the afternoon more intense so this is also good for plants that are happy in the south-facing windows, they will also be happy in west-facing windows.
East-facing windows will get more of the morning light, so it’s going to be a very nice morning light, bright light but not too intense as in the south-facing windows or in the west-facing windows.
And then north-facing windows get the least amount of light, but in general, I tend to avoid north-facing windows, I rather use a window that is a little bit more bright, if you only have a north-facing window, not to worry, you can still put some plants that are adaptable such as the ZZ plant.
I would love to know where do you have your plants at home and how much window lighting do they get so please make sure to comment below, I can assure you the whole community will appreciate it, and also your experience may be different to mine So maybe you may have other factors to consider when looking at your windows and where to place your plants, and then we can help each other out. So please comment below and I will love to read all of your comments.