Open, light-filled spaces with corners of dappled shade and angular shadows sliding along the walls from morning to dusk sounds like a dream scenario if you love living with nature indoors. Light-rich rooms can harbor many types of houseplants, from majestic figs to the sweeping fronds of ferns, but some plants excel with rooms that are flooded with sunlight while others need a little more protection from the harsh rays of the sun. Let's discover indoor plants that worship sunlight and can withstand receiving direct sun for a portion of the day!
Fun in the Sun with Ficus
This genus of trees loves to bask in the light, and you might know this if you have ever driven throughout the southern U.S, Asia, or Australia. They achieve great heights and develop an impressive canopy when living their best lives in natural settings. Species like the Ficus lyrata, Ficus benjamina (and their wide varieties!), and Ficus elastica are perfect for spaces with abundant sun. These indoor trees are typically grown in a greenhouse under shade cloth. Because of this, you must acclimate your plants (slowly expose them to direct light gradually over time) before exposing them to direct sunlight. Once their foliage has hardened off (their cuticles thicken to help reduce moisture loss), you can place them in the direct rays of the sun (indoors or out!)
There are types of ficus with delicate leaves like the Ficus umbellata, or variegated leaves like Ficus benjamina starlight and Ficus triangularis, that require protection from the harsh afternoon rays of the sun. Let the morning light brush their leaves, but only for the magical morning hours!
Bird of Paradise -- Fly towards the light!
Strelitzia nicolai, better known as a White Bird of Paradise, is a large-leafed vase-shaped houseplant that can grow quite large when placed in a spot with a generous amount of sun. These fast-growing indoor plants are not trees but grasses, which might explain why they need heaps of sunlight to grow as mighty as they do! The same acclimating rules apply to Strelitzia Nicolai as to the ficus (this goes for any greenhouse-grown plant that you are going to expose to direct sun or outdoor conditions).
Sun-loving plants will use moisture faster than indoor plants receiving less light exposure, so be sure to monitor the soil regularly and water the root ball when it is dry to about ½ way down the pot! Visit our Bird of Paradise Plant Care Guide for more care information and tips!
Brighten it up for Bonsai
If you are either an expert or novice bonsai artist, one of the first things you would learn, besides patience, is that most ideal plants for creating and maintaining a bonsai require loads of light! Sun-hungry plants like junipers, elms, jade, ficus, taramind, cypress, carmona, and laurel need constant exposure to bright indirect light or full sun, depending on how they were initially grown. Keep a close eye on your bonsai; if you notice a lack of new growth or a decline in health, you should relocate it to a brighter location. (there could be other issues, including too much or too little water!)
For the Love of Cacti
The concept of shade, part sun, or dappled light means nothing to cacti! They have evolved since the Cenozoic Era to adapt to adverse environmental conditions, poor soils, and extreme heat. Your light-filled living room is a walk in the park for these highly adaptable succulents. Wide varieties of cacti have emerged throughout time, with a higher tolerance to low light levels. Cacti like opuntia, echinopsis, echinocactus, cephalocereus, and cerus are true cacti and require the highest light levels you can provide for them. Place these statuesque drought-tolerant plants directly near south and west-facing windows for optimal growth and health. There is another tier of plants called cactus, but in fact, they are not. Plants like euphorbia, epiphyllum, pachypodium, and rhipsalis are succulents, but not cacti, but they all require exposure to generous amounts of indirect sunlight daily. Cacti are extremely forgiving indoor plants that are perfect for brightly lit spaces. Visit our in-depth Cactus Care Guide to learn about their specific needs!
Sun Showers for Flowering Plants
Shower indoor flowering plants with light and watch them explode with colorful blossoms. Citrus trees, hibiscus, jasmine, bougainvillea, ixora, and mandevilla will not bloom without receiving 8+ hours of full sun or very intense indirect light each day. Flowering plants should have no problem blooming during the summer when the days are long and the sunlight is more intense, but the winter can be a challenge even in spaces flooded with light. Trim back flowering plants at the end of the summer and move them closer to south and west-facing windows to give them a rest. They may still produce blooms, but this period of semi-dormancy will help them store energy and flower bud production for the next season.
Switch it on for Palm Palms
Palm trees and sunshine are a marriage of necessity. Most varieties of palms require consistently high light levels to live their best life. If you have an abundance of brightness lighting up your rooms, indoor palms will feel right at home. Pygmy Date Palm, Chinese Fan Palm, and Spindle Palms thrive in these conditions. They can be placed in direct light after a few weeks of acclimating! Palms like parlor, rhaphis, and bamboo should not be placed where the foliage is exposed to the sun's harsh rays in the afternoon, but they will stay vibrant and grow fuller when receiving over 6 hours of bright indirect light every day. The more light indoor palms receive, the more water they will require. They should also be fertilized every few weeks during the summer to encourage new growth
Flower Power for Hoyas
When the light is right, your hoyas will give you a gift – flowers! This indoor flowering vine excels when placed correctly in a sunny room. The varieties are extensive! Each one shares the same love of brightly lit spaces. Hoya Hindu Rope has leaves that fold like fortune cookies, Hoya linearis has tender needle-like leaves that hang from the stems like charms, and Hoya weyetii 'Variegata' beams with vibrant pinks and white markings throughout its strap-shaped leaves. They will all appreciate your light-filled accommodations no matter which hoya you love! Keep these wax vines out of the direct rays of the sun as their leaves will begin to burn.
Many houseplants beyond this list will benefit from living with light all day long: sansevieria, senecio, peperomia, jade, zz plants, pilea, and pachira, to name a few, but it is not critical for these plants to grow and prosper. High-light-loving plants will love you even more if you provide them with what they need – as much light as possible!