Direct sun houseplants you like

deanna_in_nh(5a/4b)December 4, 2013

I live in Maine, but I have large southern windows that get some great winter sun combined with significant sun reflected off water. I get quite a good bit of winter sun! I'm new to this house, but I'd really love to see how some real sun lovers perform. I'm going to try keeping useful things like thyme indoors in winter (next year) and see how they do. During summer I can put the plants outdoors in part sun/shade to get some good fresh air and more light during their growing season.

What houseplants have you tried that like direct sun? Most of the tropical houseplants are shaded tropicals, but I know there are some out there (other than traditional cactus) that can handle direct rays. So far I've got some jade, which I think can handle it. Some other "bright" light plants I'm trying are bromeliads, sempervivum, asparagus fern (asparagus densiflorus), flapjack kalanchoe, blue chalk sticks. These all aren't typically "sun lovers," but they all are supposed to do well in bright light, so I'm giving it a try and watching for signs of stress/burning. They've all been in front of the windows less than one week.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Here in AL, I might make more distinctions among the plants you mentioned, but over winter in ME, all of those should appreciate tons of sun. Plants inside for winter are sometimes counter-intuitive to where they would like to be outside during summer. So some of these suggestions would be shade plants at that time, as you probably know.

Here's what gets the front-row seats here:
wax, cane, angel wing, dragon wing, rhizomatous Begonias
Ledebouria socialis
TONS of Kalanchoes & cousins, Crassulas (which includes jade)
Holiday cacti, Schlumbergeras
many Plectranthus
various Tradescantias
China doll (Radermachera sinica)
Grapto-s, Graptosedem, Graptoveria
Senecios galore
Portulacaria afra
various Peperomias
Portulaca (moss roses, easy & available from seeds)
Schefflera arbicola

Too lazy to get up, that's what comes to mind. The last 3 I don't have in pots as they are hardy here but many do keep them in captivity up north.

You might have a great spot to start some herb/veggie seeds early, if that's the kind of thing you find fun.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Fantastic list! It will keep me busy for a long time as I check out all those names. I had hoped to try to get a bougainvillea to bloom inside. I'll have to wait until summer to snag one. I had a friend in a shady house with one. I thought it looked bv-ish, but it never bloomed and I assumed she wouldn't have one in her dark house. One day I asked her about it and she began to describe these weird blooms she got several years ago when she had it outside, Sure enough, it's a bv. It's over 4' tall, so if she can get it outside to bloom I'm sure it would be stunning.

I actually grew up in Alabama, north of where you are, if your GW name tells your city. I moved up here 5 years ago and I must admit I do not miss the blistering sun. I was not a gardener down South, but it does make me chuckle when I see our shade plants in full sun up here. We had some blistering days this summer and those plants were not happy.

Our filtered shade in summer is great for houseplants. Until we moved in this house last month my husband always put our ficus trees outside in the summer shade so they could recover from our dark winters. With all the sun we're getting in this house it will be fun to see if it's enough to get some of the above plants to do well. He'll put the ficus trees out regardless, though.

Thanks again for the great list!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 1:45PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Croton does well for me in full sun at this latitude.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 4:03PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Deanna,

Purple did give you a great list, lots & lots to choose from!

Between just Aloes & Hoyas, they'd do great! Both those plants get window sill real estate at my home. Also each of these plants has numerous varieties to grow & collect!

I spent two summers as a teenager up in Art School in Hinckley, Maine (near Waterville & Colby College), great memories & of course the Lobsters ($5 each when I was 16/17 yrs. old, some 40 yrs. ago!)

Nice Croton Tsuga, great color (& pot). Agreed, Crotons would do great in all that light.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Don't forget 'Citrus' of any kind...They are all over the place for Christmas now...

Great job Purple!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

:+) Y'all know I just want to enable, enable, glad to share info!

"get a bougainvillea to bloom inside" Deanna, from what I've read over the years about keeping these in a pot, winter is just 'stayin' alive' time, I really wouldn't set the bar this high for yourself. If you search Bougainvillea here on the house plant forum, I think you'll find a couple good discussions. The last juicy one I remember may have been in 'tropicals' though. The search allows you to search within the forum you're in, or all of GW. (Irritatingly, if you want to search in tropical forum only, you have to click on it first.) There are a few people doing great with them in pots, I'd concentrate on what they have to say instead of any generic stuff out on the web.

Yes, I'm in Opp (and about everywhere in AL is north of here, as you know.) I used to live in OH, so know the difference between climates well. Yeah, nobody likes August here, but I've got the windows open now. We slept with the windows open last night but it's supposed to too cool for that tonight. So, it's a trade. Generally though, I like the weather here for about 10 months, but I only really liked April - Sept in OH. "Back home" they're having a snow day from school, according to Al Roker.

So you've got some trees? You can hang plants from them, as well as put them under. A few nails or screws in a trunk aren't harmful, as long as you leave them there (and don't make a ring of them.) Of course you can also use the branches if you can reach them. Hanging pots are my fav kind. Since I discovered rolls of plastic coated wire, I've made new, longer arms for some which I like to look at more.

TJ, your plant looks awesome! And your pic makes me want to browse the thrift store for some canister crocks (which I think that is?) What a great cache pot, heavy enough to keep plants on the porch in a strong wind. Yours is quite attractive too. (Just so nobody gets in trouble later, cache pots outside should only be used when a plant is under a cover, so the cache pot can't fill with rain water. When watering, lift it out so water coming out of the drain hole doesn't fill the pot also.)

Plants are mostly inside now, this pic is from a few months ago.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 9:39AM
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You might be able to get away with some of the vining gesneriads like:

Columnea (dancing dolphin/guppy plant)
Nematanthus (goldfish plant)
Aeschynanthus (lipstick vine)

I keep mine in an unshaded east window in S. California, but I did grow up in ME and I think those 3 plants would do fine for you. Other plants like Alsobia, Episcia (very intolerant to cold) and Sinningia would do well too.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 11:30AM
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I think that you should winnow down the list of plants based on how warm or cool you keep your house, and especially how cool it is near the windows there. I have a lot of cacti and succulents there because it is quite cool in my house in the winter. I decided I liked the red backed leaves of begonias, so I got a few more this summer and they are not so happy in the same position. but it could be other things, I am just suspecting temps. Was dracaena mentioned? So far my dracaena that I got this summer is happy in the south window. Mine seems to do okay in the cold, as a lot of the "spikes" in people's containers outside were still alive before this bitter cold set in. I'm sure different species are all different in this respect.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Aseed, I find that Begonias rot easily in cooler temps in the house. I think if you let 'em dry to what you might consider a shocking degree, like I do mine, they'll like it. I think they are all succulents.

Good point about cooler temps though. With the exception of holiday cacti whose flowers/buds can be damaged by actually drying 'all the way,' this is how I treat all plants inside for winter, even Coleus. Our house can get very chilly some mornings if it's cold outside (like 54 a few mornings recently during a cold spell.) If you can recognize 'about to wilt' in your plants, that's what I'd aim for if you're having trouble while inside for winter, especially in a cooler house or by a window that might have a draft.

If you put a pic on the Begonia forum, the much more knowledgeable folks over there would probably have some helpful advice too. Shop lights seem to work well for many people with winter Begonias.

With the exception of the rhizomatous and wax ones, the Begonias I keep alive over winter are doing just that unless they are getting a ton of light - in which case they look great, often blooming. Not all of the great ones fit where they can be great over winter, I've tried to make sure there's one version of each kind with good light. If I don't rot them, they POP when they go back outside even if they are kind of sad looking inside, a couple weak leaves at the top of a stem in a lot of instances.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:02PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Orchids -- in addition to those plants others have mentioned. (Cattleya, Cymbidiums, Vanda/Ascocentrum .....)

Your temps and humidity will have an impact on what plants will do well for you there.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I live in Anchorage and I was able to bring bougainvillea into bloom in my very chilly office in the winter and the blooms lasted for months. The office was chilly (68) and the plant was about four feet from the ceiling lights but had a southern exposure so it got 5-6 hours of sun in the dead of winter but it bloomed like there was no tomorrow. I don't know what kind of plant it was because I just snipped a start off a plant growing outside in Florida

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:57PM
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What great ideas. That croton is fantastic, tsugajunkie, Such fullness and health in the center. Most houseplants seems to lose leaves in the center. That one clearly loves whatever you're doing with it!

I think I'll get two or three bougainvilleas and try them out in different spots both in and out to see what they like. I would love to get some kind of bloom on them beyond their first greenhouse blooms. If it can happen in Alaska (VERY impressive, Lindain) then surely it can happen here...eventually!

Your tree planter idea is super. I have PLENTY of trees where that would work. It will be a great solution for keeping plants from cluttering the deck or draping themselves along the ground. Perfect idea!

My house coolness varies, so I would do well with plants that like variation in temps. I thought cyclamen liked cooler nights, and I think I have some ideal spots for them. If the sun's out then it gets in the upper 60's in the house because of the normal and reflected light coming in the windows. Then nighttime cools down. We've had rain rain rain all week so it's been whatever the thermostat is, and I generally like it at 60-ish in winter. So, this home temp will have a good deal of variation depending on how much the sun's out. Plants that like it cooler I'm trying to keep in more westerly windows.

One thing I'm more worried about is air flow. Houses are very tightly insulated up here. Winter will be a time of still air unless I introduce some artificial wind on the leaves. Don't know how much that matters, but it's something I think about.

Even though I couldn't do my own gardening in the south, I do remember learning the hard way that houseplants need infrequent watering because of the humidity. Root rot found a home with me. When I moved to NH a few years ago my plants dried up and died. What a difference the dry winter air made! Now I'm used to plants needing more frequent water up here. In addition, almost all of the heating up here is oil-fueled furnace with radiant baseboard. This house has blown dry air (propane gas), which makes it even drier than most other houses here. These past rainy days have kept all the soils inside very wet, which I don't like. Our normal weather should return soon, along with some good dry days. during normal times of dry air I am misting them, especially the ivy.

Well, I have some fantastic things to shoot for. Now it seems that I need to make my next priority finding more pots! Hello, HomeGoods and TJ May. I suppose I can wait.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 7:44AM
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eaksqueak(PA 6a)

I am very fond of my ponytail palm. It's a rediculously undemanding plant, much like a cactus... it's the crazy longhaired punk rocker of the houseplant world. :)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 8:03PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

I found I need to avoid growing ivy -- it's proven to be a MAJOR spider mite magnet for me any time I've given it a go. I know my extremely dry winter air is at least part of the problem. Fortunately there are any number of other plants out there that don't present me with such issue when grown indoors.

Considering the temps you've mentioned, I wonder if Gardenia would do well for you?

Do you know what your typical winter humidity levels are?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Paul, that's a fantastic suggestion, and so Jasminum nitidum comes to mind, blooming now & growing near Gardenia in my yard.

Linda, you are the Boug whisperer!

Deanna, a ceiling fan on low is great for gentle air flow. There's only a few rooms in here so I leave one running all the time in the most-central room especially since we don't use the central system for heat. If that's an option, I recommend it (the ceiling fan, not turning off your furnace - LOL!) Either way, more house plants = more fresh air, even if a drop in the bucket.

Callisia fragrans likes a sunny window for winter, though is happy to take a backseat into much less light for summer. Having the fragrant blooms in the house during winter rocks. Barely visible in this pic, these tiny blooms smell so good! The taller wild whip things are also bloom stalks, this is an unruly plant but worth it to sniff the flowers to me.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 1:03PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Deanna- my Croton sits in a south facing window all winter and brought out to the south side of a screen porch in summer. The pot its in (pot in pot, actually) is an 1880s stoneware crock I bought for cheap due to blemishes. In winter its watered about every 10 days or so.

I second, make that third, Paul's suggestion of gardenia. They love it coolish in winter, especially at night and would love the light.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 7:06PM
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