A south-facing window is an excellent place to keep indoor plants, as long as you keep the right types of indoor house plants and take steps to protect them from extreme sun.
The bright natural light of southern exposure provides plenty of energy for hungry plants. But, you must remember that the glass of the window may magnify the heat to dangerous levels.
In this article, we share the merits of a south facing windows for indoor gardening.
Related Reading: Growing Plants With Artifical Light
We also provide tips for reducing the potentially damaging rays of direct sun on plants and for choosing the best sun-loving plants. Read on to learn more.
Know Your Space Lighting and Temperature
Before you add plants, get to know your southern window. Watch the movement of light in your house for several days to see how it illuminates the space.
It’s smart to actually document the flow of light by using your phone to take pictures that you can refer to when making your plant selections.
Monitor the room temperature at various times of day as well. This knowledge will help you make good plant selections.
It will also help you design a setup that makes the best use of your space.
Protect Your Indoor Plants From Excessive Heat And Light
When plants have to use up a lot of energy to protect themselves against extremes in light and temperature, they cannot thrive.
For this reason, you should take care to set up ways of shading your plants, especially during the summer months.
Provide them with good ventilation during the times of day when the heat and light are too much for even the toughest members of your collection.
Plants’ leaves and the roots can become overheated and die from too much sun exposure.
In fact, the interior temperature of a pot of soil in the direct sunlight can reach as high as 137 degrees Fahrenheit. [source]
That’s why it is so important to provide shade for both your plants and their pots. Here are five good ideas you can implement.
#1 – Protect plant roots by double-potting. Keep your plant in its own container set inside of a decorative container. This helps your indoor garden look nice, catches drips and insulates plant roots against temperature extremes.
#2 – Equip your window with blinds so that you can open and close them and make minute adjustments throughout the day to shelter your plants just the right amount.
#3 – Use a lightweight curtain or fabric screen to allow some light in and reduce the temperature slightly. You can set up your screen or draw your curtain during the hottest part of the day and then remove it when the heat of the day passes and the sun is not so punishing.
#4 – Shade your south window with a sheer curtain at all times to provide bright, indirect sunlight and gentle warmth. This will allow you to keep more delicate warmth and light-loving specimens, such as African violets or the deceptively dainty, clover-like Oxalis (Shamrocks).
#5 – Use a half curtain to allow light in the top of the window but shade the bottom portion.
This will allow you to grow more sensitive plants in the lower portion of the window and more sun-loving plants in the upper portion.
South Facing Window Plants – What Kinds Do Best?
To choose good plants for your southern window, it’s important to understand how plants work.
Plants’ leaves allow them to take in light. They also allow water to evaporate from the plant.
The more light and heat around a plant, the more water it will lose. Too much water loss adds up to burned leaves and dead plants.
For this reason, plants with big, soft leaves are not typically good choices for a southern window.
Cactus and succulents are excellent candidates to thrive in this setting because they are naturally adapted to do well in a desert setting. (see pencil and prickly pear cactus)
This is especially true of barrel-type cactus that does not actually have leaves. 0
The skin of the cactus provides a minimum of surface area for water to evaporate.
Thorns also help protect cactus from excess sun. When a cactus has lots of thorns, very closely spaced, they provide the plant with shade.
A cactus with lots of thick, hairy thorns, such as “Old Man Cactus” (Cephalocereus senilis) can do very well in a high light setting. [source]
Succulents, such as:
- Sedum Burro’s Tail
- Aloe Vera plant
- Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)
- Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
- All types of Echeveria
- Rat Tail Cactus
… and many others enjoy life in a southern window.
You don‘t have to stick entirely to cacti and succulents, though.
Many herbs can thrive in a south-facing window, and if you want to try your hand at indoor veggie gardening you couldn’t pick a better spot for some indoor, winter-time veggie gardening.
Try your hand at growing hardy, attractive winter greens (kale, chard, rapini) or almost any kind of lettuce.
Herbs such as chives, thyme, chervil, mint, rosemary plants, and parsley all do very well when grown indoors in a bright, sunny window.
Grow beets and carrots just for the greens.
When you grow them in containers indoors, the roots don’t develop, but the greens can be trimmed and used just like spinach all winter long.
Many dwarf fruit trees, lemon tree plants for example also do very well placed near a large window with southern exposure.
Think about growing your own miniature oranges, lemons or other citrus fruit.
If you prefer to stick with ornamental plants, you can create a lovely south window garden with a varied collection of plants ranging from Oleander bushes to the many and varied types of Geranium plants and Pelargoniums.
Some very hardy, sun-loving choices include all sorts of:
- Varieties of Dracaenas
- Everblooming Gardenias
- Different Types of Colorful Croton Varieties
- Bright Cordyline plants (Hawaiian Ti)
- Palm trees – Kentias, Rhapis & Chamaedorea (Bamboo palm) and many more
Related Reading: Top Houseplants For Low, Medium and High Light Indoor Conditions
Good Choices And Good Plant Care Add Up To Happy Plants
You can use your south-facing window to create a paradise of plant life to enjoy all year round.
Take the time to research the plants you have in mind to be sure you can provide the care they need.
Decide how you will protect them against the excessive sun when you need to.
Get everything set up before you purchase any plants. Refer to the tips presented here to set up and enjoy your southern window garden.