House plants that can handle a hot, south-facing garden window?

blabberbocaSeptember 21, 2013

Hi there!

Disclaimer: I'm VERY new to caring for house plants, and I'm still not all that good at it, so forgive me if I sound ignorant!

I have a south-facing garden window in my kitchen that gets a lot of direct sunlight and also gets VERY hot during the summer. I've had some plants do wonderfully there over the winter, but during the summer, barely anything can survive.

I already have some crassula capitella 'campfire,' alworthia 'black gem,' jades, and portulacaria afra 'variegata' in there, and they do OK (though not great, because I never know when to water the darn things -- succulents in hot sun?! what's the trick?! I know they like to be dry, but HOW dry?!). But I'd love to throw something a little taller and leafier into the mix for variety. I'm not much of a cactus fan.

Are there any house plants that can handle direct sunlight and heat year-round? Maybe sansevieria?

(Note: The photo is from winter time on a cloudy day, as you can probably tell. Just wanted to give an idea of size/spacing/etc.)

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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Howdy Blabberboca,

How hot does it get in summer and winter?

Most people long for southern exposures. Grass is always greener. lol.

Succulents love direct sun, but I'm not sure they'll adapt to super hot temps.

Do you not like cactus because of thorns? Ever seen Agaves? There's some beautiful, variegated varieties.

Sansevieria is a succulent. Direct summer sun might be too bright, fade leaf colors.

What is the windows depth?

Are you looking for a tropical to set in your window? Is that what you meant by leafy plant?

Many folks enjoy growing herbs in sunny, kitchen windows. I don't do herbs, so can't advise ...hopefully someone here will chime in.

By chance, do you have a ceiling fan in the kitchen?
If not, there are fans of all sizes that help with temps. From mini 5"ers and larger.
Never aim fam direction on plant. Same with heat.

Another option is shade clothes. Shade clothes are usually placed on green houses that get too much sun.

Do you keep a thermometer/hygrometer in the window?

BTW, I love your garden window.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Hi, hopefulauthor! Thanks so much for the response!

I'm definitely grateful for my southern exposure -- especially in the winter! I just don't want to have to empty the window out in the summer time. :)

I don't have a thermometer in the window, but it really cooks in there. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets up to 90 degrees, but I might be exaggerating.

I'm not opposed to more succulents (or agaves) -- I just wanted something that wasn't ground cover, you know what I mean? All my succulents are pretty low and spread out. I'd love something a little taller for variety.

I do like herbs! My basil didn't survive the summer, though. It might have made it if I'd watered it more often (like every other day), but diligence isn't my strong suit.

The agave is a good suggestion, as are the fan and the shade cloth! I really appreciate it! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Hi BB,

I forgot too ask. Is there a neighboring building, tree blocking your south garden window?

A friend has a south garden window, but the next door neighbors; house is 30-40-feet away..So, her garden doesn't get exact direct sun.

She summers a variety of plants in her window..including Orchids.

I'm not an herb person, but my kitchen windows face north..not enough sun for herbs.
Many people who grow herbs use for cooking. Herbs have a terrific scent.

Maybe you should invest in an inexpensive thermometer.
I bought two thermometers/hygrometer, 'measures air moisture,' for 7.00, each, at Ace Hardware. Well-worth it.

Prarie, I used Agaves as an example..there's so many other succulent varieties. Some green, others with bi/muli-colored leaves. Flower, too.

Euphorbias, 'Crown of Thorns,' is a beautiful succulent that blooms..some, year round.

Kalanchoes..When you have time, Google photos. Toni

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 3:06PM
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If you are not opposed to a bit of spikiness, I too endorse the year-round blooming Crown of Thorns. I'd also suggest Rosemary which likes it on the hot side, and with pruning for the cooking pot can really form up into a lovely little tree-like house plant. I'll try to come up with a photo of my Rosemary...

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 3:24PM
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Dogg, you're right about Rosemary's tree look.
Every Christmas, our local store sells Rosemary. Sometimes, they add mini ornaments so it looks like a Christmas Tree..

Did you know there's a thornless, Crown of Thorns? I was sent a freebie, 'about 3" tall,' with an order. I didn't water enough so it died.
It was potted in a 1", plastic, growing container.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 4:28PM
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These all sound great! I love the idea of something that blooms. So far, my only blooming plant is a gasteria (though I'm crossing my fingers for a new aloe I just picked up, and hey, maybe the jades this year).
Thanks so much, everyone!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:23AM
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Oh, and hopefulauthor, nope - nothing blocking the window at all! I do need to put a thermometer in there. :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Yep, please get a thermometer. It'll help.

Body temps differ. For instance, my sister, Gloria is ALWAYS warm/hot, I'm the opposite, freezing. :)

During winter, on holidays such as Christmas & New Year's, she runs the a/c.
While cooking, she wears shorts, I'm in my coat. lol And I help prepare dinner/s. Plus bake desserts.

I'm sure your garden window area gets hot, but leave the exact temp to a thermometer. Heck, they're even sold at Dollar Stores.

Gasteria blooms are pretty but don't last long..Well, at least mine don't. Depends on Gasteria type.

Did you know Jades bloom?

Also, what is the second plant on the lower tier?

Add some flowering and fragrant plants, and variegated for color.

A lot can be done in your garden window. Toni

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 1:01PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

"I don't have a thermometer in the window, but it really cooks in there. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets up to 90 degrees"

"90"? That's it? There's a LOT of cacti/succulents that wouldn't bat an eye at those temps. For that matter, there are a number of orchids (Cattleya, and Encyclia just to name a couple) that would likely be very happy there.

If you do find that the light is too intense there for whatever plants you finally settle on, something as simply as a sheer might be enough protection.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 2:49PM
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hopefulauthor, the second plant on the first tier is just a basil in a coffee mug. :) It's long dead now, unfortunately, but it had a good run. I did know that jades bloom, but I haven't been lucky enough to have that happen yet! I'm going to give it another shot this winter and actually follow the "what to do to get your jade to bloom" instructions. Fingers crossed!

Paul, I could be totally off on the temp guess -- gotta get a thermometer to find out for sure! An orchid would be a lovely change of pace ... I'll look into it!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 10:56AM
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As promised, a pic of my Rosemary plant:

I really like its tree-like appearance.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 11:48AM
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And here's my crazy kitchen succulent (not sure on its exact id) that sits in our south-facing window:

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Howdy All,

BB. I've only had Jade blooms twice. Ironically, I think 4-6-weeks of cool temps promote blooms, but I could be wrong.

Wow, your Rosemary is adorable!!
Do you keep Rose outside during summer and bring inside during winter?
It is nicely shaped.. very much so.

I think your succulen is some type of Crassula.
There's a Jade called Crassula ovata 'Pointed.'

Then again, it might be Sedum. lol.

Come spring, you should cut trunk back, then root leaves/stems.
For the time being, a stake should help. :)

Paul, I agree. many plants live at temps in the 90's, as long as nights are cooler.
Even succulents prefer cooler nights.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Yes, I put the Rosemary out on our south facing deck for the entire summer. By constantly harvesting its leaves for cooking, I have been able to shape it into a tree-like form I find most pleasing to the eye. It will come in and sit in a west window for the winter.

I'm just going to let the crazy succulent have free reign on that window sill. Should be fun to continue to watch....

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 4:37PM
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Hi Dogg..

Gasterias bloom, too, so one day you might see a spike with bud growing from the center.

Hopefully, your succulent will grow side stems with leaves.

The only reason I mentioned staking..The plant will stand upright.. a few of my plants that grow 'crazy,' end up knocking down neighboring plants. lol.

Good luck, Toni

PS. Did you buy a thermometer, yet? lol.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 10:53AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Always surprised by folks who can overwinter a rosemary indoors. Never succeeded myself (and understand it is actually quite difficult for most folks to do).

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 1:42PM
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