Every window gets some light, but not all get the same light. That's why you have to be careful about which houseplants get placed by which windows.
North-facing windows get only indirect light, since, as the sun moves from rising in the east to setting in the west, its rays never hit the north facing window. Fortunately, some exceptional houseplants thrive in this kind of low light situation and would settle in perfectly happily on a north-facing windowsill. Here are seven of our favorite north-facing window plants.
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1. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos is an ideal first houseplant since it is so very easy to grow. Tolerant and forgiving, pothos grows happily in hanging baskets in low light areas like a north-facing windowsill. Golden pothos is a very appealing plant, a trailing vine with forest green leaves splashed and marbled in shades of yellow, cream, or white. It grows fast and requires little maintenance.
Pothos won't kick up a fuss if you forget a watering or two, but it prefers moist soil, not to be confused with saturated soil. Don't water your pothos until the top few inches of soil are dry.
Buy Now: West Elm Golden Pothos, $22
2. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens)
Known as the sweetheart plant, the heartleaf philodendron has bright green, heart-shaped leaves on long, cascading vines. The vines on this tropical perennial can grow to 4 feet and know how to climb. In their native tropical habitat, the philodendron vines climb up trees. In your home, you can train your heartleaf philodendron vines to climb a trellis or column by using soft plant ties. It also looks wonderful just trailing from a container.
Philodendrons prefer low light sites and direct sun will scorch their leaves. A north-facing site will give it enough indirect light to keep it happy. Water only when the soil is dry.
Buy Now: Bloomscape Philodendron Heartleaf, $39
3. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
Are all low-light plants low-maintenance? It sure looks that way. The wildly popular ZZ plant has a stylish, minimalist look, with dark green, glossy oval leaves. But despite it's sophisticated look, it's so easy to keep the ZZ alive that you shouldn't hesitate to gift to to a houseplant beginner.
The ZZ plant grows from bulb-like roots called rhizomes. Since they store water, you don't have to worry about occasionally missing a watering. The large leaves are naturally shiny, but keep them looking their best by wiping off dust from time to time. It's preference for indirect light means it will be happy in your north-facing window.
Buy Now: The Sill ZZ Plant, $52
4. Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
With stiff, upright leaves the size and shape of swords, the snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata, formerly Sansevieria trifasciata) is another easy-care plant that happens to thrive in low light. These houseplants are both popular and attractive, as well as nearly indestructible. Overwatering is about the only thing that can kill them so go easy on the irrigation.
Snake plants are ideal candidates for a north-facing windowsill. The all-day indirect light will allow the plant to continue to grow without any risk of scorching or bleaching out the lovely leaf coloration.
Buy Now: Leon & George Snake Plant Laurentii, $129
5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
Many of the low-light-loving houseplants are foliage plants without flowers. But that is not universally true. The peace lily is known for its striking ivory flowers, yet it doesn't need any direct sunlight. Unrelated to true lilies, the peace lily gets its common name from its tall white spaths that resemble lilies.
Peace lilies are tolerant and accepting of any conditions other than direct light. In a north-facing window, they will grow happily and have enough indirect light to produce blossoms.
6. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Spice up your home with a Chinese evergreen. Their wide, decorative leaves are splashed with brilliant colors, creating dappled patterns across their surface, from constellations of tiny speckles to large, dramatic blotches. Although it is a tropical plant, the Chinese evergreen doesn't do well with direct sunlight. Even in the wild it grows inside tropical and subtropical forests, known for their filtered light. The north-facing window will give it a similar light exposure.
When it comes to plant care, Chinese evergreen like moist soil and a reasonable level of humidity. Consider setting it on a saucer with pebbles and water.
Buy Now: Costa Farms Chinese Evergreen, $50.68
7) Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
With a common name like "cast iron plants," these Aspidistra are not likely to be prima donnas. In fact, they are some of the most durable houseplants available, at the garden store. The lance-shaped leaves grow upright, sometimes reaching 20 inches tall. They're a rich, glossy green and they arch outward gracefully.
Aspidistras love indirect light and shade. The all-day low light from a shady north-facing window will be perfect for the needs of the cast iron plant. More than enough. Pot them up in rich, fertile soil and watch them grow.
Buy Now: Leon & George Cast Iron Plant, $329