Window direction vs. distance: sunlight for indoor plants

michael_amesSeptember 27, 2013

I'm trying to provide my houseplants with as much natural light as possible inside my non-ideal, 2nd floor apartment.

I basically have 2 options:

1. A north-facing bay window where I can place the plants right at the window

2. An east-facing window that gets more direct sun, but the plants would need to be farther away from the window (3-6ft)

Obviously a host of factors come into play here (objects outside window, wall color, type of plant, season) but in general I'm wondering which location will offer more/better light to my plants.

So far I've kept the plants in the north-facing bay window, and did have growth and health in the summer months. Now that winter is coming I'm considering moving them to the east-facing window to get more sun, but worried that the greater distance from the window required will mean there's no real benefit.

Anyone have anecdotal evidence? Or knowledge of physics and plant biology? All advice appreciated!

(the plants in question, should this be relevant, are 2 crotons, a ficus lyrata, 2 arabian jasmines, and 2 small boxwood (buxus micro) shrubs.)



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You can put a very light curtain in the east window, one that you can see through just enough to filter the light and protect them from direct sun but not greatly decreasing the amount of light. The crotons might enjoy a little direct sun though. Good luck:-)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 1:19AM
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Hi Michael,

I cant tell you where to put which plant since don't know how much light your individual plants need, but there are light meter apps for smart phones that you can get. Not super accurate but good enough for benchmarking. Or, you can do the hand test. The sharper your shadow is on a particular location, the stronger the light.

I hope this helps.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 6:16AM
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Morning All,


The problem is, 6' from an east window is low light..Probably lower than your north bay.
I surely wouldn't' hang a curtain...sheer or not.
Sorry Pupkineater. :)

How close/far are outside obstructions from your windows?

Being on the second floor is advantageous.
My second floor plants get a lot more sun than those on the main floor.

Of course, 2nd floor is closer to the sun... :) j/k.

What color are your walls?
I paint with white, semi-gloss. The brighter the better. Semi-gloss washes off easily, too.
Plus, brighter walls dissuade insects.
I'm not saying painting your walls white will prevent bugs, but most insects dislike light colors...brightness certainly helps.

Ficus need bright light. Lyrata's are slow-growers to begin with, less light, it'd probably grow even slower.
And 'possibly spindly.'

Don't know anything about Boxwood. If Boxwoods are garden plants, used as hedges outdoors, I'd imagine they'd need full sun.
I'll have to research Boxwoods, though.

Have you considered artificial lights? There's many types to choose from...inexpensive to expensive.

Heck, I even use, cool white, white warm, fluorescents in back where many plants go. Including succulents.

But, plants are near windows, too..not that it matters, IL is usually cloudy during winter, so artificial lights does help.

I also use Gro-Lights..bulbs are about 20.00 each.

There's all sorts of light tricks. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 10:22AM
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This is what I meant about the curtain. You can put some plants right up next to the window.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:19PM
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all the plants you mentioned will benefit greatly from eastern morning sun.
why ...'the plants would need to be farther away from the window (3-6ft) ' ?? is it's a matter of furniture placement? they would be be much better off next to the window. sheer or no sheer. better without.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Pumpkin....WOW!!! What a bedroom! It's amazing. I'd love to have a room that size.

Where's the plants??? :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 10:31AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The sun comes straight in an east window at first, then moves to the south part of the room near the floor as it progresses. So - a few feet away in which direction? A lot of our furniture gets rearranged while plants are inside. The plants you mentioned, I would try to provide every bit of possible light.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Hopefulauthor, Its just an image from google. I was trying to give an idea of what I was talking about.There's no way I could afford a bedroom like that! LOL. :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:24AM
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double post >:(

This post was edited by pumpkineater2 on Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 11:28

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:26AM
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LOL...Toni, I thought your home was that big with all the big you own..llololl

It is a nice bedroom..It looks liek mine minus all the

I am assuming you can't put them any closer to your East facing window, right Mike?
So you are wondering what lighting is better and what plants would like it?

I do you you would get more direct light no matter wha,t even if they were set back further because especially in the fall through the spring, the sun is at a much lower angle allowing more sunlight into your East facing window..

Remember to to take into account the lack of light on very cloudy days like my North facing windows..On cloudy snowy or rainy days, the room with North facing wondows is much darker than the one with East facing windows.

In my experience, any plant I put in North facing windows does either well or just ok...Flowering plants seem to thrive better in an East window because they flower..
In a North window, they just stay alive.

All my plants grow much slower and stay much greener in a North window whereas all my plants in an East window, even set back do much better...


    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:39PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

What is the impediment to placing them close/next to the East window?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 1:18PM
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