clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Houseplants for Different Areas of the House

This Old House landscape expert Jenn Nawada takes us to a local greenhouse to discuss how to choose houseplants for any room.

Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada meets a plant expert at a local greenhouse to talk about different houseplants and tropical plants. The two discuss the importance of the direction windows face, as it determines how much sunlight the room will get. Matching this sunlight to the right type of plants will allow them to thrive.

How to Choose Houseplants for Your Home

1. Room and Window Layout Come First

Before deciding on which plants you’d like for a particular room, it’s important to consider the room and window layout. Different plant species thrive in different light conditions, and the direction the window faces determines the amount of light.

In the northern hemisphere, windows on the south side of a home will get full sunlight. Windows on the east or west are considered partial sunlight. Windows on the north side of the home are considered full shade.

Keep in mind that these are general rules. Structures like tall buildings, trees, and other obstructions can greatly reduce the amount of sunlight a window gets.

2. Shaded Windows

bamboo palm
Bamboo palm

Plants in shaded windows need to thrive in low light conditions. Floor plants like bamboo palms can fill up a shaded corner, while a Chinese evergreen will bring interest as a table plant. For hanging plants, look for different varieties of pothos.

3. Partial Light

bird’s nest fern
Bird’s Nest Fern

Windows on the east and west side of a home, or south-facing windows semi-obstructed by buildings or trees, will receive partial light. Floor plants that thrive in these conditions are Dracaena or dragon trees, as do tabletop plants like birds nest ferns. When it comes to hanging baskets or trailing plants, consider Swiss cheese vines.

4. Full Sun

string of pearls hanging plant
String of Pearls
Visions/GAP Photos

South-facing windows are the most likely to see a lot of sunlight, and the plants in these windows need to be capable of handling it. Crotons do well as floor plants in these windows, and snake plants are a great choice for tabletop interest (they’re incredibly hardy, as well). String succulents like String of Pearls, String of Bananas, String of Hearts, or String of Dolphins plants can also thrive in these bright, intense windows.


Jenn Nawada and Chris Bell, the houseplants and tropical plants expert at Weston Nurseries, gives insight on how to choose houseplants for different areas of a home.