Here's the (Lighting) Situation


It’s no doubt that making sure plants are receiving adequate lighting can be a balancing act. Too much, and they get scorch marks, the plant equivalent of a sunburn. Too little, and they don’t perform well or use up their water quick enough, leading to root rot. In this post, we’ll tackle the four window directions from lowest to highest light, hopefully leaving your mind at ease about where is best to place your new friends. 



North windows will give your plants the least amount of light. Windows facing north sadly never get direct sunlight, and because of this aren’t good candidates for plants like succulents and cacti. With that being said, don’t worry. Just because north windows don’t get a whole lot of light doesn’t mean there aren’t plants that will do well near one. Any of the plants from our previous post will do just fine. Place these near the window, or up to a few feet away, and they’ll be happy and healthy for years to come with proper care. 



“The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” Sound familiar? East-facing windows get tons of bright morning light and slowly get less over the course of the day, making these windows perfect for a lot of tropical plants that thrive on bright, indirect light from the shaded canopies of their natural environment. Rubber trees, ever-popular fiddle-leaf figs, hoyas, philodendrons, dracaenas, and plenty others will thrive in areas with east windows. They’re also ideal for air plants; they provide a happy medium between too little and too much light, keeping your soaking and misting routine to a minimum.





West windows are basically the opposite of east windows, meaning that they get the most amount of light during the afternoon instead of the morning. Naturally, while they provide plenty of direct light, this means they also emit a lot of heat. Much like south windows, these make great homes for cacti and succulents. Other plants can exist here too - just make sure to distance them away from directly next to the window where they might burn up a little.



South windows get lots of direct sun from mid-morning to late afternoon. Because of this, cacti and succulents will do well here, as they originate from desert areas and love the sun. That’s not all that can be placed here, though; south-facing windows are great for a lot of other kinds of plants too, provided they are placed a few feet away from the window where they won’t receive the full amount of heat and light these windows normally bring during spring and summer.


Other factors

We know all of that might seem like a lot to consider, especially if you’re already thinking about some potential rearranging, but there are a few other things to keep in mind.

Think about what’s outside your window. If there’s a neighboring building or a large tree in direct sight of your window, you might want to think about moving your plants closer to the window or, depending how large that tree or building is, choosing another location for some of your plants.

Think about how far from the window your plants are. Even if it’s a south-facing window, that cute little succulent isn’t going to have such a great time fifteen feet away like a snake plant or a type of philodendron might, for instance.


Hopefully with all of this in mind, you’re well on your way to understanding the needs of some of your plants a little bit more.

Written by: Egan Thorne
Photos & Illustrations by: Emily Kellett