Today’s post is all about my favourite houseplants to grow in west facing rooms. This is an orientation that I love — it’s such an adaptable setting for houseplant growing + it can facilitate favourable conditions for a relatively wide range of plants. Whilst Southern exposures are lovely + bright their light intensity can be somewhat problematic, which is where western positioned rooms can be considered a great alternative. The warm glow of the sun setting in the Summer months through west facing windows is something I will always enjoy too!
After my post a few weeks ago about houseplants, lighting + room orientation, I want to now focus on each of the different light exposures — North, East, South + West to turn our attention back to the PLANTS! More specifically, which ones are going to be right at home in situ in each of these particular orientations. I get regular questions about this so thought it would be helpful to have all the information clearly laid out + in one place here on the website + saved under the ‘a HPH guide to…’ tab on the houseplanthouse homepage.
Over the last few years, I’ve lived in a few different spaces — from a second floor apartment with old single-glazed sash windows, surrounded by trees (which really impacted how the light came in during the Summer months) to a little cottage with latticed, draughty windows. I’m currently semi-camping in my renovation project which is an old Chapel that I’m converting into the new houseplanthouse headquarters as my live/work space. This variety of homes has not only given me experience of the full range of room-orientations, but has really taught me how to understand the spaces in which my houseplants grow best.
If you’ve not see the first blogpost for context, I’ll link it here: Let’s talk about light: a HPH guide to understanding houseplants, lighting + orientation — I had a lot of fun making those diagrams + thanks for the kind messages on them! In this preliminary post, it’s really important to remember the points 5 (obstructions + window treatments), 6 (seasons) + 7 (moving shock) in the wider context of the question of light, + also that I’m in the Northern hemisphere for reference!
West light attributes
Let’s start with a brief re-cap on the key points to note about Western exposures.
KEY ATTRIBUTES OF WEST LIGHT:
- Overall the most favourable light for most houseplants
- Plants might need a degree of protection in the Summer if in an exposed location
- This is your typical ‘bright indirect light’ setting, with a degree of direct sun later in the day which is less intense than you would find in a South-facing location
Western exposures are my absolute favourite + are perhaps the ideal lighting situation for most houseplants — it’s the typical, coveted ‘bright, indirect light’. I’ll admit that the prospect of good West-facing windows have always been quite a deciding factor when it has come to moving house... you know you are a plant lover in a big way if one of the first things you consider is the house orientation + window positions! Longer-time blog readers might remember that my old apartment had a West-facing living space which is where my big old Monstera truly thrived. In the morning, it’s quite a gentle indirect light but from the latter half of afternoon + into the evening, it really can have a warmth + brightness that feels quite like a dialled-down South light location. As the sun is setting, there will be a period of direct light in the late afternoon/evening during the Summer months, but (importantly) this will be weaker than the direct light in a Southern location that appears at midday — when the sun is high in the sky + the most intense. In the high summer, you might have to move windowsill plants back a bit if you are in a very bright location with little blocking the light outside.
Plants for West facing rooms
1. Saxifraga stolonifera
My Saxifraga stolonifera was one of the plants I featured in my blogpost Plant style: 5 houseplants I’ve grown to love (that I didn’t like last year), but over time, it’s fair to say that I’ve grown to appreciate their fuzzy leaves! I propagated this plant from the tiniest of cuttings and it currently sits on my west facing windowsill + is throwing out plantlets galore. Last year in the cottage, it was around 0.5m from my South-East facing window behind a net + casually threw out an inflorescence (flower spike) over Summer so this is another positioning option that I’ve tried and tested! It’s not a fast grower at all and it’s one of those classic houseplants you don’t see all that often these days, but I’d recommend this one if you do well with begonias. They look really pretty if they are hung near a window as the plantlets trail down in much the same way as a mature spider plant — that’s my plan for this little plant.
2. Crassula ovata
The Jade plant is perhaps most commonly known as a money tree or a lucky plant + is one that I love to grow! I have this undulata variety (below) which I’ve grown from a really small plant + a few ‘regular’ crassula ovata plants that I’ve propagated dotted around the place. I’ve found that I can grow mine well on a west-facing windowsill with ease, which is where the plant below right is currently positioned in the new place. A south-west, or south-east position are viable alternative locations too if that suits your home orientation. In the summer months, you might need to move them further away from the window to prevent them from getting a suntan.
3. Epipremnum: variegated varieties of pothos; neon, n’joy, manjula, marble queen…
Variegated pothos plants are an essential part of my plant gang — I’ve declared my love for Marble queen pothos on many occasions here on the blog + over on my instagram + it’s a brilliant choice for a west facing room. I grew a humungous pot of this in my old apartment which was south-west facing + in my new place, two of my plants are around a metre from a west-facing window and loving life. This light intensity really suits them + it keeps their growth consistent + variegation good. Also, a Neon pothos is another variety that is quite adaptable to a west-facing room, which will help to keep the zingy chartreuse colour nice + vibrant.
Other variegated options I would recommend are a pothos N’joy + a Manjula Pothos too. With their pronounced variegation, both of these prefer an indirect light position to keep the foliage splashed with a range of tones — from cream all the way through to green. These plants grow well in a western exposure if it’s protected by a net to soften the brighter afternoon light, or it can be moved further back from the light source to enjoy a bright, indirect light position. Close to an east-facing window is an alternative option to consider, but growth will likely be slower here. Currently, my plants are around 2 metres from a west-facing window that is slightly frosted + they’ve really been doing well. In a brighter position, crisping can occur on the tips of the Manjula + N’joy foliage, along with leaves that are washed-out in appearance, so that’s something to be mindful of in the Summer months. You might also find that the lightest cream parts of the leaves have more of a tendency to scorch if the light is too intense, which can look unsightly.
4. Monstera deliciosa
Of all the plants I grow here at House Plant House, my Monsteras are without doubt the ones I’m most attached to. They’ve all grown with me from small plants + of all their locations over the last few years, the optimal positioning for these plants has been around a metre from a west facing window in my old apartment. I grew both of my larger monsteras in this setting + they absolutely loved it — steady growth, larger leaves + a happy looking plant all round. If you have the space for it, I’d always recommend one of these beautiful plants that can grow with you for years to come. As a big Monstera fan, I’ve written a few posts, some of which I’ll link here if you fancy some further reading/ plant inspiration:
- How to train your monstera around a support
- Q + A : Monstera care + repotting
- The BIG Monstera re-pot: repotting my 3 Monstera plants
- Plant progress: 5 years with my Monstera
Tradescantia are a group of plants that are pretty adaptable but with decent light levels, like that of a west-facing room, you’ll be able to enjoy good growth + an array of pretty pink-toned leaves to admire. My two picks are the fluminensis tricolour + Tradescantia nanouk — both blush coloured varieties that are some of my favourite plants of all here at House Plant House.
Decent light helps to keep these plants suitably variegated, but I’ve got more on that topic here + new growth as the plant matures will have its best chance of being compact + full. I love these plants because they are easy to prune + keep into a shape that suits your space. I’m always propagating my fluminensis tricolour (the plant above) when things get a bit crispy!
I’ll link my two Nanouk blogposts here (the plant below) + a pink houseplant post that you might enjoy too:
- Tradescantia nanouk Care Guide
- Tradescantia nanouk: growth update, propagation + FAQ’s
- 10 of My Favourite Pink Houseplants
If you’re reading this after the South facing plants post, you might remember that I mentioned that whilst Euphorbia look pretty cactus-like, they are actually part of the succulent family + actually prefer a slightly less direct/intense light than the desert cacti I was recommending in that post. West facing rooms, close to the window are a stellar choice for Euphorbia (like my Trigona Rubra/Cathedral cactus below) because those few hours of afternoon sunshine help keep the growth balanced + full — these plants have a tendency to get spindly pretty quickly if they don’t receive enough hours of daylight, but I’ve not experienced any issues with this around 0.5 metres from my west facing window. In the high summer I’ll move it slightly further away, or use a net to filter the light a bit.
7. Dracaena fragrans
I think Dracaena are one of those underrated plant groups that are so easy going to grow + can add a tropical, palm-type look to a space with relatively minimal care. My Dracaena fragrans lindenii (also often called a corn palm) has grown well for me in an east-facing location, but in the cottage it really did flourish in a west-facing location, around two metres from the window. Moving my plant to be out of direct light in this room helped to stop any crisping that can sometimes occur if these leaves are in a light that is too intense. These are a great choice for a west facing office or living space + have the added advantage of not needing to take up a prime position close to the windows in these spaces. Mine added height + a sculptural dimension to an old metal filing cabinet in the corner of my room here:
8. Pilea peperomioides
Next up is a perpetually popular houseplant that will enjoy a west-facing location, the Pilea peperomioides. The light aspect of Pilea care can really have quite an impact on the shape + growth of these unique looking plants. Over the last few years, I’ve experimented with dotting a few plants around my apartment + have been testing out growth habits in different conditions + overall, the best position for me has been around 1 metre from my west facing window. I rotate my plant weekly to keep growth balanced which is a must if you want to maintain that globe like form — I let some of the smaller plants go a little wild, but I do try to keep the mother plant looking quite sculptural as it has centre stage on my dining table!
I’ll link some more Pilea posts here if you fancying seeing more of my collection:
- Pilea peperomioides Care Guide
- How to propagate pilea babies
- My current Pilea collection (+ growing experiments)
9. Hoya linearis
Out of my Hoya gang, my linearis is one that has grown especially well for me around 1 metre from a west facing window — here it receives good amounts of light throughout the day most of the year, but in the Summer if it’s very hot I tend to move it a bit further back if I can, or I’ll put up a net to diffuse the light. The other good position for this particular Hoya has been in the cottage pretty much next to my South-east windows behind a net too — I don’t have curtains so my plants can get maximum light early in the morning as the sun rises in this spot (I thought I’d mention this in case you have a room that is in this location as an alternative option to consider). In both of these positions, growth has been lovely + dense + my Hoya has become a statement trailing plant in the space.
10. Aloe vera
Whilst you might envisage Aloes in very bright, sun-filled locations, a West facing windowsill is actually a brilliant option that your plant can settle into — in a South-facing spot, this succulent can get a little crispy at the tips + even blush with a suntan too. It’s worth noting here that succulents such as Aloes can be acclimatised to brighter locations over time — a few hours a day over a few weeks can help transition your plant to a new position, just be sure to pay attention to a change in watering frequency if the plant is somewhere brighter than before. Over the years, I’ve found a west-facing orientation to be a great alternative where I haven’t found the need to move my plant in the Summer months as used to be necessary in my South-facing space.
If you are a regular reader of the blog or insta, you’ll know about my love for a Ficus! I’ve got quite a few plants because I just love their upright growth habit + beautiful foliage, particularly the variegated rubber plant — aka. the elastica tineke. Having a number of plants means I’ve tried out a number of locations in my three different homes over the last few years. Some favourable positions I’ve found for these plants are 1 metre from a west window, 0.5 metres from a north-west window, plus in my old dual-aspect bedroom, around around 2.5 metres from south + west facing windows. What we can conclude from this is that a westerly aspect works really well for these plants as the leaves get a few hours of afternoon sunshine + decent light levels throughout the day overall. The variegated types require a bit more light than the non variegated ones but aside from the elastica types, I’ve also happily grown my bambino Ficus lyrata/fiddle leaf fig pretty much next to my west facing window which worked wonders with the plant regularly producing lovely large leaves.
12. Philodendron brasil
One of the older plants in my collection, my Philodendron brasil started off as a little pot that was barely trailing at all. Fast forward a few years + it’s around 2.5 metres long + has been chopped, propagated + keeps consistently growing…even if I do neglect it sometimes! It loves a western exposure + my plant currently lives one metre directly opposite a west facing window + is putting out lots of new growth, particularly at the top of the planter, which helps to keep the plant looking nice + voluminous. In a lower-light location, the long tendrils can start to look straggly, but a west-facing spot is a solid option for these types of trailing Philodendron.
13. String of hearts
Ceropegia woodii is a beautiful hanging succulent plant that is also known as a rosary vine or chain of hearts, often seen tumbling off the bookshelves of Instagram. My String of Hearts plants really are a key part of my plant collection here at House Plant House + I grow two ‘regular’ SOH + a variegated plant too. In a brighter location the variegated String of Hearts is a great choice + if the light intensity is strong enough will develop a pretty pink hue. I currently grow my three plants adjacent to a west facing window which suits them well + in my previous place, I grew them one metre away from a South-East facing window behind a net. This was an ideal spot, but I’ve also grown them in my south-west bedroom which also worked similarly —the plants enjoyed a few hours of afternoon sunshine, but not so much so that it scorched the leaves. I’ve put together a Growing String of Hearts blogpost here.
14. Fishbone cactus
Whether you call this plant a fishbone cactus, ric-rac cactus, Epiphyllum or Disocactus anguliger, this houseplant will really enjoy life in a west-facing room. Over the years, I’ve grown this plant in a number of locations + I love it’s adaptability — it’ll appreciate the afternoon sunshine that a room of this orientation can provide. But it’s worth saying that I’ve also had success growing it in a southern exposure, around 2 metres from a bay window + in also a metre or so away from a South-east facing window too. East facing windows work well for jungle cacti in general, but for the Fishbone cactus, I always try to give it more light if I can as growth is quicker in a brighter location if you can provide it. Be aware of particularly thin + stretched stems which indicates the plant is reaching out for brighter conditions.
15. Sedum morganianum: Donkey’s tail/Sedum‘burrito‘: Burro’s tail
The Sedum morganianum/Sedum burrito are some of my favourite trailing succulents + they are a lovely, easy going plant that will thrive in a west facing window. The morganianum has longer leaves (photo below right) + the burrito leaves are shorter + more rounded in shape. I’m planning on hanging both of mine in the window from a hanger + as the plant matures, the stems will trail down + they can look really interesting! Any fallen leaves can be popped back in the top of the pot to propagate + new growth will develop from these to fill up the pot. It goes without saying that as a succulent, it’s a slow grower, but I always like to think that it’s an opportunity to practice patience! These pots below, I’ve propagated, but you can pick up a more established pot if you have the budget of course.
16. Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
If you like a leafy plant but don’t have room for something like a Monstera deliciosa, the extremely popular Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is worth thinking about for that west facing space. These plants enjoy a position that receives fairly bright but importantly, indirect light. I’ve previously grown mine around 1 metre away from my south-eastern bedroom window behind a net, but now it grows 1 metre away from my west facing window + is doing well. It also can enjoy a south-western spot if you can provide it, but during Summer be sure to protect the foliage from harsh sunlight. Compared to a Monstera deliciosa it has thinner, less waxy leaves which means it’s a little less robust + more sensitive to prolonged, strong sunlight. In a position that is too bright, the leaves have a tendency to yellow, so if your plant is looking a little washed out with crispy tips, this is the likely cause. This plant is a notoriously fast grower when it’s happy though + is adaptable + a cheerful addition to a houseplant collection!
I hope you enjoyed a closer look at some plant inspiration for west-facing spaces — these are adaptable rooms + can really come to life with the addition of plants! As the final instalment in this little series ‘Let’s talk about light’, I just wanted to say thanks for your support + I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed it!
I’ll link the rest of the series here if there was a post that you might have missed:
- Let’s talk about light: a HPH guide to understanding houseplants, lighting + orientation
- Let’s talk about light Part 2: Plants for… North facing rooms
- Let’s talk about light Part 2: Plants for… East facing rooms
- Let’s talk about light Part 2: Plants for… South facing rooms
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