Ideas for Window Ledge House Plants?

sugi_c(9a)February 25, 2013

Hi guys -

After having moved all of my seedlings outside, I now have a bunch of space on my window ledges inside. It faces due south and basically receives direct, full sun from morning until 3:30 PM or so. Come summer, the sun would be that much stronger.

Due to the ledge and the sofa back, there's only so much in terms of containers that I could do. Window planters and/or small pots is about the limit.

I've had my fill of seeds for the season and the last couple of weeks, whatever I planted, I've just done outside and it's basically "survival of the fittest" now for them.

So, what could I grow here permanently? What houseplants thrive on full, full sun -- and direct sun? Is there such a thing? The room itself is very bright, and all of my other houseplants thrive being away from this window but being in the room. I don't think any of them will survive being placed on this ledge.

And I'm not familiar with anything that would require this much sun but can remain indoors. I do not have the room outside on the balconies to be moving these indoor plants out there, so that's not an option for me right now.

Thanks for any guidance you can offer!

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smth that can bake?:) like jade. i see you are in 10a - that will get mighty hot in summer! you probably don't want any cacti grazing the back of the couch or snaging your hair...
snake plant can take lots of heat, lots of sun (grow in india like weeds), are narrow and tall - will look good in groups. and can go quite dry. but actually would love more water in the heat - probably will pup like crazy. there are some more unusual worth getting, but any common will create a nice screen for you - you'll need some shade, no?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:32PM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

I was thinking along those lines, too--non-spiny, columnar or small-leaved succulents (like sedums, kalanchoes, maybe monadenium). You could also train sun-loving tropical vines.trailing plants on flat trellises; there are a few Tradescantia that are succulent and need a lot of sun. Miniature Hippeastrum (like the Sonatini hybrids) would probably love that light and heat, but their leaves might arch out into your couch space. They're not spiny, though, at least. Scented geraniums might work, if you could train or trim them to keep them in bounds.

Here is another thread about windowsill gardening. Different light requirements, but might give you some ideas.

That looks like a very inviting spot to sit in and enjoy the sunlight, by the way.


Here is a link that might be useful: a different windowsill

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 8:29PM
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how about the various aloes? and, yes, there's a lot of varieties to choose from.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:35PM
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or how about an Adenium - desert rose?

they start small - and love sun.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:37PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

most succulents will ove those conditions. how about hatoria

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:45PM
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Don't forget to consider your indoor Air Conditioning plays a VERY critical roll for most succulent plants.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Petrushka, honestly - right? That sill is appropriate for baking cookies. I would love a snake plant and will eventually get one for other parts of the house, but come summer, I need to pull those shades down or *I* will bake along with whatever is there. The sun still blazes in through the lower windows shown in the photo and that should suffice. So, ideally, it will be a shorter plant than a snake plant -- if we're thinking of the same plant?

Amanda, monadenium looks AWESOME -- I want! I want! I did a quick Google search. :-) Any specific one that would be best for this full, direct sun location or all are suited? I have not seen these around, I think, or I'd have bought them! Thanks for the thread link. I have other spots in the house where those suggestions will be good -- away from the room in question.

Rosey - I am definitely going to bring the aloe I have outside in with a cutting if/when I cut one. But the desert rose is beautiful -- so per your recommendation, I just bought one on eBay. She's called "Miss Beauty" -- how stunning! :-)

Teengardener: yeah, I have so many, many succulents that I really wanted to do something different here but today, I did take some cuttings of a few varieties and brought them in. shown below. I'll start with these, but the problem with succs is that I'm left w/ fighting myself from watering them on a daily basis, haha. I let them dry at least 60-70% but it's a constant battle! Clearly, I am an OCD waterer....

Mr Like: critical how? In any case, unfortunately, the majority of the SF homes have no central A/C (or any other cooling method) and even if you do, you almost never need it. This home, though, I will miss it dreadfully come summer due to the sun issue.

Everything here is fresh air and ceiling fans -- or we sit and bake. Those are the two options!

THANK YOU for the great recommendations, all. I have a feeling I'm going to fill these sills really, really rapidly, haha.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:51PM
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sorry, if i sounded like i was rubbining it in - it never occured to me that you don't have a/c. i had south facing windows in NYC - it was 85F in the room when it was 32F outside. and i was thinking that you need some plants to shade the couch: hence tall snake plants standing like soldiers on parade shoulder to shoulder . there are of course very short very pretty snake plant varities too.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Why critical 1) Assuming you had AC and requesting plants for inside growing conditions ..... Most succulents don't perform very well if grown inside with AC in operation.

As you said you don't use your AC inside to often meaning you should have fewer concerns and "could" expand in the succulent choices area for the window sill and other bright light areas.

A second thought comes to mind. What are other people growing in the same sun exposure windows If your ALL your neighbors aren't growing something in those big bright dream come true windows there is a reason.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I've seen pots that were "window box" shape and would be perfect for setting along that ledge.

You might like some herbs. Rosemary, Basil, something to provide natural fragrance and that you'd like to use for cooking often, so it would stay small from being constantly trimmed. Lavender.

Just because it's inside, I wouldn't limit myself to house plants with that much sun there, coupled with zero available ground space. Little zinnias, Geraniums (Pelargoniums,) dwarf sunflowers. If you start putting a few seeds now, a few seeds later, something else in a couple weeks, you could get quite a little flower garden going there, with something always blooming, for just a few bucks' worth of seeds. Moss roses might be a nice thing to try there, can't imagine any amount of sun being too much for those, then of course the constant flowers would be really cool.

What about some hanging pots too?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 3:17PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

good luck with that baking window. succulents are my favorite easy plants

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:44PM
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I am going to second what purple is saying. I also think outdoor plants would do well there. Geraniums, Coleus, portulaca would be good plants. Even some decorative grasses might be the wildest thing yet. There are some cacti and sempervivum that do very well in the heat and bright sun. Get the ones that have the most hair on them.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:53AM
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Purple, you know -- in all of these years, I've never had a hanging pot. I have no idea why - I just don't do hanging pots, haha. But you're right - - I should bring in some of the pelargonium and consider some outside plants. I have lavender sprouting right now outside, so perhaps I will plant one of them in here when I transplant. :-) Hmm....maybe I will attempt perilla and arugula in here, too? I do have tons of those seedlings right now. I have no idea why I have so many -- my friends are about to get some shiso and arugula whether they like it or not, haha.

I did have a couple window boxes there originally (with sprouting seeds) but have since moved them in its entirety outside.

Larry - know of any decorative grasses that have the same needs as, say, echeveria or sempervivum? I know most of the grasses do quite well with different kinds of soil, but not sure about letting it dry out completely as I do with the succulents?

Yes, definitely should start looking into real cacti. Never did much like those....but when you have a baking windowsill.....

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:16PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Just a couple of questions...

Do you not put the shades down during the full blistering heat of summer? Where will you start seeds next year?


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:36PM
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Gosh I really wasn't thinking about not watering very often. I guess the only one I can think of at the moment is an ornamental fescue.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 12:26AM
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TJ - I bring the shades down over the windows on top. The bottom, I don't mind leaving uncovered. That was also why I told Petrushka that I was trying to steer clear of taller plants and would prefer short ones.

But other than my terrariums, that frame at the bottom seems to block the sun from the leaves and it hits just the pots with most plants I've tried placing there in the last few days.

Maybe I should just make a moss garden LOL.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 9:05PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

i like the idea of using it for outdoor garden. how about a citrus tree

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Look into Euphorbias a bit of patients while looking for the smaller lower growing ones and some might be pricey depending on the persons budget but if they're from Madagascar they could be the better for your needs .

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 11:33PM
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I have one Euphorbia outside -- I love it. I had no idea it could be grown indoors. Thanks, Mr. Like!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:43AM
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AsarumGreenPanda(z6 MA)

Sugi_C, I didn't mean to ignore your question about monadenium. (Things got a little crazy at work, is all.) I don't know if I can make helpful suggestions because my growing conditions are so different from yours. I wonder if the folks at Arid Lands nursery might be able to help you? I haven't tried asking them questions, I don't know them, and I'm not affiliated with them in any way. They grow in much more intense sunlight than I do, though.

I love the idea of growing outdoor plants on that window ledge.

Please keep us updated on what you decide to do with your window. The new succulent additions look so cute.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:05PM
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I may be a bit off ( Skeptical) by the NO inside AC to be used still, as you stated no AC usage. Ill add that Euphorbias make home inside for the north east winters here.

If to be any type of succulents then yes both Arid lands or Mesa gardens would be helpful in plant selecting. Only to close with I firmly agree that any succulent would be healthier and better with outdoor time too.

Best of growing to you.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:58PM
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Hey! Firstly, I would like to say it's totally cool with me if you want to trade living space. OMG! Secondly, sansevieria does come in all kinds of heights. my golden hahniii is only 4" tall or so. Euphorbias are a great idea-- so many choices. Crassulas too. I would be tempted to get something that blooms well though, just because I like blooming indoors. You could have some of the sun and heat loving orchids. You could also stick with succulents and have hatiora/rhipsalis/epiphylum....

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:23AM
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How about jasmine? or gardenias? ... both very full sun type breeds. :)

Large ledges, big windows and full sun? - I too am envious.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 12:58PM
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Thanks, guys, for the suggestions! Somehow, I stopped receiving notifications re: this thread. I came back to research some of the plants that had been recommended.

Mr. Like -- to be clear, it's not that I don't use AC; it's that the majority of SF apartments do not HAVE air conditioning. Trust me -- if I did, I am one of those people that keep my home at 68*! Thankfully, we really have a handful of days that are unbearable and the other days in the heat of summer will be 78 degrees. Temperate, but the sun is blasting where I live (right outside the city).

Roses, I have both! Jasmine is one of my favorites and Gardenias....well, let's just say I keep gardenia nurseries in business. Long story. Lol

Update on the ledge - that sill really receives very little sun overall now, and probably more so when the sun goes to full summer position.. Maybe 1-2 hours of direct and then it's basically shade because of that casing between the tall and lower windows. If anything, the pots get blasted and leaves are I'm shade. Now determined to put plants there -- I just bought three "over the sink" shelves which would raise if about 9". Combined with the height of my pots, I think this will put most plants in full, direct sun. Potentially a lot more than my outdoor balcony!
Indoor herbs, lavender and sansevieria -- here I come.

Fingers crossed!
If that works, Imma go nuts with some more plants!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 7:31AM
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Ledge shelves are here and my windowsill is finally true "indoor full sun"!

Of course now it feels like the home of an 80 year old lady's but hey, decor is overrated.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Hi sugi,

That looks great! I don't think it looks like an 80 year old's house. I'm only 57 and I would love to have a shelf like that.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Haha! it doesn't look 80. I did a similar thing when I was 24, and then kept doing it until I moved here. I used glass shelves and pelican clamps. So I guess I have been a fan of this for 10 years! Then again, as a fellow lover of window shelves, maybe I am just biased. My first experiment with them was lovely though-- I lived in this rental house which came right up to a public sidewalk. So I bought that window film frosting stuff from the store, applied it (it's like a sheet that you "glue" up with soapy water) and then put my glass shelves across the window. So i could have my blinds up 24/7 and no one saw anything while my plants got light. LOVED IT.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:29AM
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