20 House Plants That Like Direct Sunlight – Ultimate List

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Indoor gardening is quite fun because it allows you to transform any room or corner into your little tropical paradise. However, picking the types of plants to grow is difficult. There are a whole bunch of various house plants that enjoy full sun and if you were wondering which they were, this article is going to tell you everything you need to know about direct sunlight houseplants.

So, which are the sun-loving houseplants? Here is a list of the most popular species that grow pretty well in direct sunlight:

  • Snake plant
  • Jasmine
  • Areca palm
  • Papyrus
  • Money tree
  • Kalanchoe
  • Dwarf umbrella tree
  • Cactus
  • African milk bush
  • Sweet basil
  • Yucca
  • String of pearls
  • Geraniums
  • Jade plant
  • Aloe vera
  • Bird of paradise
  • Croton
  • Hibiscus
  • Ponytail palm
  • Sago palm

This guide for direct sunlight houseplants will give you all the information about the aforementioned plants, such as the proper lightning and watering requirements along with other things they need to thrive. When you are finished with reading, you will know just how to properly take care of your indoor plant. Without more ado, let’s start!

20 Houseplants for Bright Location and Direct Sunlight

Houseplants for Direct Sunlight

1. Snake Plant

One of the first plants on this list of houseplants that like direct sunlight is a Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, otherwise known as snake plant.

It belongs to the Asparagus family and its native habitat are tropical forests in Africa and Madagascar. Also, they can be found all over southern Asia.  

You can recognize the plant by its leaves which are vividly green and quite long. There are some varieties, but most members have strong, upright leaves.

When it comes to the proper care, this plant is super adaptable, which makes it the best plant for direct sunlight.

Speaking of sunlight, this is one of the houseplants that can tolerate direct sunlight, so you can place it on any sunny window or shelf. Also, it can thrive in the low light conditions – any spot in the room is a great spot for this plant.

The one thing you should pay attention to is the watering. This plant won’t tolerate super damp soil. Make sure that the growing mix has good drainage and do not water the plant until the soil becomes dry.

Also, avoid watering the leaves – they are super thick and do not prefer too much water or high humidity. An environment with a bit drier air is the one in which it will thrive.

If you want to propagate the plant, it is best to do it from cuttings or clumps.

Related: Complete Snake Plant Care Guide

2. Jasmine

You will notice that not many full sun houseplants on the list have large flowers (or any flowers at all). If you want a house plant that can develop flowers, Jasmine is a great choice.

Jasmine belongs to the Oleaceae family, and just like other species in this family, it grows big, white flowers that have a wonderful smell.

Sometimes the flowers can have orange stripes, but pure white petals are the more common type.

Since this flower grows in Eurasia and Oceania, it has adjusted to high temperatures and a lot of sunlight.

Still, cloudy days won’t affect its growth since it is an adaptable plant as well.

To thrive, you should expose it to direct light for a minimum of six hours each day. Eight hours of direct sunlight would be even better, but it might not be as easy to achieve.

Other things you should pay attention to are watering and air humidity.

By checking the soil, you can easily conclude whether it is time for watering – if it is dry, water the plant. Typically, the plant needs weekly watering,

When it comes to the humidity, it should be higher, so keep the plant either near a bathroom or kitchen. You can even use the humidifier or mist the plant if the air is too dry.

3. Areca Palm

You probably know this plant as a yellow palm or butterfly palm. Some even call it golden cane palm.

It has long, wide leaves and because of them it is one of the most popular full sun indoor plants – indoor gardeners love placing these in the hallway and living room, where everyone can see them. 

Areca palm is one of two palms on this list of indoor plants that like direct sunlight. Taking care of it is super easy which is probably why it is so favored.

As said, it has wide fronds, and typically these are green. However, if placed in a right spot with a large amount of direct sunlight, they turn yellow and hence its name golden cane.

The best place for this plant is any room on the west side of the house. Putting the pot nearer the window will just additionally boost the color of the leaves.

Another thing you should pay attention to is moisture – check the soil frequently so it never dries out entirely. In spring and summertime, the plant will need more water than in colder months.

4. Papyrus

Paper reed plant, or better known as Papyrus is an aquatic plant from the Cyperaceae family. This plant can blossom and its natural habitat is Africa. You can recognize the plant by the long stems and blades that resemble a palm.

Papyrus prefers shallow water and needs plenty of direct light. A sunny window or shelf is a great spot for this aquatic plant. If you notice yellow leaves, you should move it to a place with even more natural light.

Besides lighting, you will also have to meet temperature conditions. It doesn’t tolerate low temperatures, so space should be kept at above 60 Fahrenheit degrees. Yellow leaves can occur due to too low temperatures as well.

As said, the plant grows in water, so it doesn’t need frequent watering. The base of the pot should be covered entirely and you can replace the water once a week.

5. Money Tree

Just so you don’t confuse this species with another that has a similar name, let me explain that Pachira Aquatica is a name given by scientist to the plant known as the Money tree.

This plant is a member of the Mallows family and it is a great choice for beginners – you will easily learn the basics since it isn’t so demanding.

Money tree grows in South America and loves the swampy habitats.

When we are talking about lighting preferences, it will need both light and shade. When the growing season starts, make sure that the plant has a few hours of direct light and spends the rest of the day in the shade.

If you aren’t sure whether it is getting too much exposure, just look at the leaves – yellow leaves are caused by too much sunlight.

As said, the plant loves a swampy environment, but don’t overwater it. Typically, two (sometimes three) waterings each month are enough.

6. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the most favored succulent houseplant. Also, it is another type with colorful flowers on this list of high light plants.

The flowers are usually pink, yellow, red, but can be orange and white as well.

Caring for this succulent houseplant is super easy, especially if you pay attention to a few things.

Firstly, it needs plenty of direct sunlight – the more sun it gets, the better the flowers will look. The best spot for a Kalanchoe is a window on an east or west side of the house. Direct sunlight will promote the color of the petals, so they look even more vivid.

Low light conditions won’t damage the plant, but it won’t develop as rapidly and the petals won’t be as colorful.

Secondly, it does require regular watering, but you should make sure that the soil is well-drained. Because you have to wait for the water to pass through the soil, you might water the plant only twice a month.

Also, make sure that you aren’t watering the flowers.

It even doesn’t require misting – if the temperature is too high, you can hose it off once during the growing season.

7. Dwarf Umbrella Tree

This specie is often mistaken with another: Schefflera actinophylla. The second specie is a larger type and that is why Schefflera arboricola is called a dwarf umbrella tree. You might also know this plant as an octopus tree (and sometimes as an umbrella plant), but the first name is the more common.

This is one of the houseplants that tolerate direct sunlight but letting it sit in it for the entire day isn’t recommended. The best hours for exposing the plant to direct light are when the sunlight isn’t so intense. At noon, it might be best to move the plant to a more shaded spot and let it rest.

Moreover, it prefers warm temperatures (about 24 Celsius degrees) and frequent watering. However, since sitting in wet soil can damage the plant, make sure that it is dry before the next watering.

Also, the soil should have good drainage material, so the plant isn’t sitting in water. Soil with peat moss is the best choice!

8. Cactus

Cacti are the most popular bright light indoor plants. Many indoor gardeners learned the basics by taking care of small cactus. It is probably one of the most favorable direct sunlight houseplants because it is super low-maintenance.

As you already know, cacti come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can even grow flowers, but only if all criteria are met.

If the flowers develop, you should immediately move the plant to the brightest room. Even if it doesn’t have any flowers, it will need plenty of direct sunlight to grow, so a sunny window is the best spot for this specie.

Cacti are succulent, and they don’t need too much water to thrive. Watering the plant once a week is more than enough. Also, the soggy soil won’t damage the plant, so you can cover it entirely.

These are the only criteria that have to be met, which makes Cactus the least demanding plant on this list.

9. African Milk Bush

This is probably the oldest plant on the list. African milk bush was first described in 1875 and it grows in forests in Africa. The scientific name of the plant is Euphorbia grantii, not Synadenium grantii as many think.

Since it has adapted to tropical conditions, this plant can unlimited amount of sunlight. Direct sunlight won’t harm the plant, so you can just leave it on a sunny window for the entire day.

Keeping in a shaded spot won’t harm the plant either, just maybe slow its growth.

Moreover, the plant loves water, but you won’t need to water it so frequently.

Determining the right time for the watering can be tricky – the easiest solution is to just check the moisture of the soil’s top layer. When this layer is dry, it is time to water the plant.

Damp soil can harm the plant, so make sure that it has some sort of drainage material.

10. Sweet Basil

Like aloe vera, Sweet basil isn’t only pretty, but quite useful! If you are into cooking, you can grow Sweet basil and later use it as a spice in a variety of dishes. Since you made it, the meals will taste even better.

Another benefit of growing sweet basil is a smell – the house will feel much homier.

For the plant to develop that beautiful smell and even better flavor, it will need six hours of full sun. Windows placed on the west and east sides are the best spots for growing and harvesting this plant.

Also, placing it on a south-placed window is great, because the sun rays enter the room in an angle that naturally filters them.

Furthermore, sweet basil can tolerate shade, but not for longer periods, so track the exposure it gets.

Watering requirements aren’t difficult to meet – the soil should be a bit damper on the bottom than on the top.

11. Yucca

This is another great choice if you need a low-maintenance houseplant. Out of different high light houseplants, Yucca is one of the least demanding.

You can recognize it by long and thin leaves. The color of leaves varies – the green ones are the most common, but they can be yellow or white.

Speaking of lighting conditions, this is one of the houseplants that needs direct sunlight to grow, but not as much as some other types. Just like Areca palm, it thrives in the afternoon and morning light, and during the day it can stay in a shaded place.

Direct sunlight is the cause of vivid green leaf color, while indirect sunlight causes yellow leaves (these aren’t the sign of an illness or any other problem).

This plant is great because it tolerates both infrequent watering and low humidity.

The water requirements aren’t difficult to meet – you should water the plant only when the soil is dry.

Also, the quality of the soil doesn’t have to be great – even soil of poorer qualities can be used, as long as it can stand the weight of the plant.

12. String of Pearls

String of pearls (or you might know it as Chain of pearls) got its name for its looks. The Senecio rowleyanus has long vines (similar to a necklace) and small growths all over the vines (these look like pearls). These growths are green, and even though the plant doesn’t have any flowers, it is still stunning due to its unique appearance.

This is another succulent plant, to be precise it is a succulent vine. Like other succulent types that are house plants that like direct sunlight, a string of pearls is no exception to the rule.

String of pearls prefers direct sunlight, but you don’t have to keep it in the sun as much as Jasmine, or Croton.

The afternoon and morning sun are the most suitable light for this plant, so you can keep it near a sunny window at dawn and for a few hours before dusk. During noon, when the sunlight is intense, it can sit in a shaded area.

Furthermore, this plant prefers hanging baskets for growing. Because vines can be quite long, the hanging pots aren’t limiting their growth and they have enough room to spread. Also, those dangling vines with beads look stunning hanging from a ceiling.

Overwatering can create some problems, so you don’t have to water the plant as much – once a week (or even less) is more than enough.

The soil quality is more important than watering. It should be sandy, and the cactus mix works well for this plant. Other soils with good drainage material can be used as well.

Keep in mind that this is a toxic plant, so keep it away from pets.

13. Geraniums

Geraniums are also known as perennials and belong to the Geraniaceae family. This plant is another with stunning flowers which color varies – you can find members with pink, red, or purple flowers.

Indoor gardeners go for this specie because of their blossoms, however, many are disappointed when they don’t develop. This problem occurs when the plant doesn’t get enough direct light.

Typically, it will need a few hours on direct light and a few in a shaded area to thrive. With proper lighting conditions, the flowers will slowly start to develop.

You should also pay attention to the fertilizer and soil – both of these are just as important as sunlight.

Too much fertilizer can inhibit the plant’s growth and flower development. Before placing the pot on a sunny window, make sure that you have established how much fertilizer the plant needs.

Furthermore, the soil should have good drainage. Only when it is dry, the plant should be watered.

14. Jade Plant

This plant is often called a money plant and people always mistake it for a money tree. It is another quite popular indoor plant since many believe it is a lucky one.

We aren’t sure about these superstitions, but it will certainly beautify your house.

The optimal number of hours in full sun is four. If your home is well-lit, you can allow it to sit in the sun for longer periods.

Before choosing the perfect spot for your new plant, check which type you have. Some types don’t tolerate more than four hours of sun and thrive in indirect light.

As a succulent, it won’t need much water. Indoor gardeners often wait up to two weeks to water their jade plant again. Sometimes, the period between waterings can be even longer – just check the soil and when it is dry, water the plant.

Related: Jade Plant Care Guide – From A to Z!

15. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is more than just a stunning plant – it has a medical purpose. If you have a bad sunburn or any form of skin irritation, Aloe vera could easily heal you.

You can recognize the plant by oddly shaped leaves – they are oval and grow upright.

It is a succulent plant, so it doesn’t require too much attention.

Lighting criteria will be the hardest to meet. This plant needs plenty of sunlight and shouldn’t be kept in a shade. Six hours of full sun is the minimum for this plant to thrive, so find a sunny window on which it can sit during the day.

As a succulent, it won’t need too much water. In summer and autumn, you can water it more frequently. When the winter starts, start with irregular watering.

Also, the soil should be evenly moist, but not oversaturated. The soil that suits aloe vera the best is sand-based.

Related: How To Care For Aloe Vera Plant

16. Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia reginae, or more commonly called Bird of paradise is definitely one of the most beautiful tropical plants.

It grows in southern Africa and it is loved among indoor gardeners because of its looks. This plant will turn any room into a small tropical forest.

Taking care of Bird of paradise is quite easy since the plant isn’t demanding.

The lighting requirement is the most important one. Because of its origin, it thrives in medium light. This means that it should sit in light for a few hours each day.

The bright light will boost the development of yellow and orange flowers, so it is important for the plant to get as much light as possible.

When it comes to other requirements, you should pay attention to both temperature and air humidity. The optimal temperature is around 25 Celsius degrees, while the humidity level should be around 50-60%.

Also, the plant prefers moist soil, so you will need to establish a watering schedule.

Related: Bird Of Paradise Plant Care – Watering, Lighting, Pests, And More

17. Croton

Among direct light houseplants, this one is the most stunning! The garden croton has leaves of many colors – yellow, orange, green, and sometimes, even purple. These colorful leaves create a cozy, autumn vibe, something that not every plant can do.

Keep in mind that some Crotons are not high light indoor plants, but if it has as colorful leaves as described above, it is the type that prefers a lot of light.

It is best to place the pot on the east or west positioned windows because these windows get the most direct sunlight throughout the day. If the croton is exposed to at least six hours of direct light each day, the colors will be even brighter.

Green leaves are mostly developed in low light, so if they start outnumbering the red and yellow leaves, change its spot.

Since it prefers so much light, it also needs frequent waterings – about once every two days. You can also see whether the soil is moist – dry soil means that it needs more water.

If you can’t determine how much water it needs, use a moisture meter. This tool is best for determining the amount of water suitable for the plant.

Sometimes these measure pH as well, so you can create the optimum growing conditions easily.

18. Hibiscus

Among all houseplants that like direct sunlight, Hibiscus has the biggest flowers. Because of large, pretty flowers, it is one of the most popular indoor and outdoor plants.

This is a tropical plant that prefers warm temperatures. It is from a Malvaceae family and is often called rosemallow.

Keep in mind that taking care of Hibiscus isn’t so easy.

Since they are from tropical regions, they will need a lot of direct sunlight. However, too much of it can cause sunburns and other problems.

It is best to expose them to the direct sunlight for, at least, a couple of hours every day. For the rest of the day, the plant should stay in a partially shaded area. If it is near a sunny window, you can place white curtains to reduce the light’s intensity.

Only in these conditions, it can grow those stunning flowers.

Regular watering will also boost the plant’s growth. When the temperatures are higher, it might even need daily watering. During colder months, water the plant weekly.

Before you water the plant determine the soil’s moisture because overwatering can lead to the plant’s death.

Related: Hibiscus Care Guide – Watering, Fertilizing, Lighting, and More

19. Ponytail Palm

Don’t be confused by the name – this isn’t the real palm tree. Ponytail palm belongs to the Asparagaceae family and has wavy leaves that attract indoor gardeners.

If you already owned a succulent, you already know what Ponytail palm needs. Also, even though it isn’t a real palm, it does have similar requirements.

Firstly, Ponytail palm is a plant that likes to be on direct sunlight. When it gets enough sun rays, they grow quite fast.

If your house isn’t on a sunny side and full sun exposure can’t be achieved, do not worry! Staying in shade won’t harm this plant – it will still grow, just at a bit slower pace.

Just like succulents, this specie doesn’t need a strict watering schedule. Watering the plant once a week is more than enough.

Also, what you can do is allow the soil to completely become dry before you water it. In the wintertime, you can even reduce the watering to, perhaps, one time per every couple of weeks.

If you were wondering which soil is the best, use the type that can retain water.

20. Sago Palm

Sago palm is the second and last palm on this list of high light houseplants. The scientific name of this palm is Cycas revoluta and it is a member of the Cycadaceae family.

It is grown in Japan and used for making a special kind of starch.

In its natural habitat, Sago palm is a quite voluminous plant. However, growing it to the same extent indoors isn’t possible.

Also, the plant is growing in the sun’s direction, so the side that faces the window will be a bit larger. Keep in mind that it will need a few hours of indirect light since direct sun rays are exhausting for the tree.

Also, the foliage is extremely sensitive, so the full sun can damage it.

During the growing period, the plant will need weekly watering. When this period ends, you can cut down on watering.

Direct Sunlight Houseplants FAQ


1. What is the difference between indirect and direct sunlight for houseplants?

When people say “direct sunlight” they always refer to sunrays with a straight path. Even if sun rays pass through a window, they are still direct sunlight.
Windows that get the biggest amount of direct sunlight are faced west and east.
On the other hand, indirect sunlight is sun rays that are passing through curtains, and create shade.
Windows placed on the north side of the house are the ones that create this type of sunlight.

2. What can substitute direct sunlight for houseplants?

If you do not live in a house that has many west or east-facing windows, you can use artificial lights in your indoor garden.
There are plenty of different types, such as fluorescent, LED, halogen, incandescent and horticultural grow lights.
When choosing, make sure that the lamp offers different wavelengths (red, blue, and green).

3. How many hours should I put my houseplants on direct sunlight?

As said plenty of times, certain types require full sun, which is eight hours of direct sun rays. However, some indoor plants require a few hours less, and six is more than enough.

4. How can I determine whether my houseplants are getting enough direct sunlight?

Different plants respond differently to bad conditions. In most cases, the leaves start to change their color, so you can just check for yellow or brown spots.

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