Do I have a window that will support plants?
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean that you can’t do a bit of light gardening. As long as you have a windowsill, you’re in business. Not every window will be the perfect habitat for every variety of plant, however. Depending on the direction that the window faces and the amount of sunlight it soaks up as a result, different plants will thrive on different windowsills. So break out your compass (your smartphone has one!) and start mapping out your indoor garden according to this guide.
For north-facing windows…
Since the sun never directly hits a north-facing window, its windowsill will typically be shrouded in semi-shade. It also tends to be a bit colder than other areas of your apartment. So only certain house plants will thrive here, and mostly during the warmer summer months when sunshine is plentiful. Try growing orchids, English ivy, or begonias on the windowsills of north-facing windows.
For east-facing windows…
Since the sun rises in the east, east-facing windows do soak up some of those early-morning rays. However, since it’s before the day really heats up, this sunshine is weaker than the light that comes later in the day. So when you have east-facing windows, they’re the perfect spot for a plant that enjoys a moderate amount of light, but won’t thrive with too much of it. For example, you might try a snake plant, a fern, or pothos.
For south-facing windows…
Any plant that’s thirsty for more sunlight will find it on the sill of a south-facing window. That’s simply due to the daily trajectory of the sun. As the earth rotates throughout the day, the intensity of the sunshine grows. It peaks in the afternoon hours when the sun is positioned in the southern part of the sky. So any greenery that you place in a south-facing window will get hit with lots of natural light and heat.
This means that, particularly during the warmer months, only tough plants can really thrive in these southern windows. For instance, cacti will greedily soak up the sunlight and actually flourish because of it. They don’t mind the heat, either. Other houseplants that can hack the sunlight, but not the heat, might work on a south-facing windowsill during the winter months when the sunlight isn’t quite as intense.
For west-facing windows…
Windows that face west get hit with the sun a little later in the day than south-facing windows. So although they still get their fair share of natural light, it tends to be less intense as the sun begins to set and eventually dips below the horizon. This means that sun-obsessed plants will also work fairly well in west-facing windows, but again, beware the heat. Stick to succulents and cacti plants that can handle the heat. Also consider adding gauzy curtains to filter out some of the sunlight.
Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to start filling your apartment with fresh flowers and greenery. With the proper positioning, they’ll thrive all through spring and summer.
Light Guide [Our House Plants]
Understanding Natural Light for Houseplants [The Spruce]