Nothing makes a room look more inviting than natural light. However, while many of us love to let the sunshine in, too much sun can also (sadly) crisp your favorite houseplant. Most container plants prefer indirect sun or even partial shade but it's a shame to leave that window unadorned and empty. So, you wonder: are there houseplants that can take hours of sun every day? Yes there are, and we've pulled together a short list to get you started.
1. Ponytail Palm
With such an unusual name, this houseplant had better be unique! And the ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) truly has that one nailed. It is one of a kind houseplant with a swollen trunk and curly "ponytail" of long, thin foliage. Despite the name, this is not a true palm, but a succulent, closer to desert agaves and yuccas than palm trees. The ponytail palm is another plant that truly requires little attention. All you need to do is pot it up in coarse, sandy soil. Water the succulent every week or two and site it in a bright location. Your ponytail palm will grow slowly and live a long time.
Buy now: Bloomscape Ponytail Palm, $65
2. Mother-in-Law's Tongue
Don't let the name scare you. Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) is an elegant succulent with narrow, flat upright leaves often trimmed in borders of yellow. These plants, also known as snake plants, truly thrive on neglect, and many people use them in low-light areas. But remember that these plants are tolerance personified. Although they do fine in low light, they thrive in full sun too. But don't move your plant from the shadows to direct sun suddenly. If you've had it in a low-light atmosphere, acclimate it gradually to full sun. For example, put them on the south-facing windowsill in winter first, when the light is less intense. They'll be ready for hotter sun by summer.
Buy now: Bloomscape Sansevieria, $150
3. Jade Plant
The jade plant (Crassula argentea) is also called the money plant and rumored to bring wealth and good fortune. We won't make any guarantees that inviting a jade into your home will improve your finances, but this we can tell you — the plant is the queen of south-facing windows. Jade plants look like miniature trees with their sturdy, woody stems and oval green leaves, and they are extremely popular as full-sun houseplants. Jades are succulents, and store water in their fleshy foliage but they like a drink when the soil is dry. A happy indoor jade plant grow slowly but, over time, it can get to 36 inches high. These plants can live for decades.
Buy now: JM Bamboo Jade Plant, $26.99
4. Aloe Vera
Yes, this is the same aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) that produces a gel to soothe a sunburn. It's a cheerful plant with no stem to speak of, only narrow, puffy leaves like fat green fingers, rising up in a rosette from the soil. Each "finger" of aloe is a pretty shade of green, sometimes patterned with paler freckles and toothed on the edges. Aloe likes sun and does well, indoors or out, in the sunniest spot you can find. Don't overwater since aloes prefer the soil on the dry side and wet soil is a sure way to kill the plant. By the way, the gel is inside the aloe fingers, just waiting to serve as first aid for a cut or burn.
Buy now: Costa Farms Store, $20.84
5. Dwarf Meyer Lemon
The Meyer lemon tree (Citrus × meyeri) is a super-popular hybrid citrus fruit, a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid. Their fruit is sweeter than regular lemons and the peel is thinner. Even standard Meyers are not big trees, topping out at 6 to 10 feet, but dwarf trees will stay around three feet and grow happily in containers. They are known for their beautiful, glossy leaves, white fragrant flowers and juicy, egg-yolk-yellow fruit. Will the trees flower and fruit inside? They will if you give them enough direct sunlight, four hours or more a day. Be warned: the sweet scent of the flowers will fill the room.
Buy now: a2z Plants Meyer Lemon Tree, $69.99
When is a foliage plant more than a foliage plant? When it's a croton (Codiaeum variegatum), a stunning houseplant with leaves that blaze in gorgeous hues, and not just in autumn. Croton leaves blend emerald green with crimson and orange, yellow and purple, making the plant a focal point in any room. Crotons love sunlight and need it to produce those brilliant shades, so don't hesitate to give it a place on that south-facing windowsill. Provide water regularly since these beauties don't like dry soil.
Buy now: The Shop Succulents Store, $26.99
7. Tropical Hibiscus
Many popular houseplants are foliage plants and we are the first to admit that leaves can be as exciting as flowers. But bright blossoms are charmers too. The tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) not only offers flowers in eye-popping shades or red, yellow, and pink, but the blooms are extra-large and lovely. But it will only blossom indoors if the plant gets the sun exposure it craves: full direct sun, the more the better. That makes it a top candidate for the sunny windowsill. Tending your hibiscus means providing even moisture and regular fertilizer and also pinching the branches back to keep the plants compact.
Buy now: 1-800-Flowers Tropical Pink Hibiscus, $44.99
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.