South facing windows provide lots of sun, and not every houseplant can tolerate the high light levels in this location. But you can grow more than just succulents and cacti in your sunny window sills. In this post, I’ll show you the top 25 best houseplants for south facing windows.
Personally, I tend to write more about low light plants that thrive in dark rooms because I live in a darker house with only a couple east facing windows. But many houseplant lovers find themselves in need of plants to fill those sunny south facing windows, too.
If you’re lucky enough to have a south facing window, you can grow some spectacular houseplants that thrive with a few hours of direct sun every day – like miniature oranges, Meyer lemons, several species of cacti, some indoor palms, and numerous beautiful flowering plants, too.
Blushing bromeliad (Neoregelia carolinae ‘Tricolor’) is one of the only bromeliads that prefers the bright light from a south facing window. It grows best with a half day of direct sun year-round. This plant also likes a sunny and humid place outdoors during summer.
Although it needs lots of sun, blushing bromeliad likes to think it’s growing in a jungle. It needs high humidity, which can be difficult to achieve in addition to bright light. It’s ideal location is a sunroom or room with a south facing window that can be kept humid all year.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) blushing bromeliad on Etsy!
Rat Tail Cactus
Rat tail cactus (Aporocactus flagelliformis) loves full, direct sun all day long. For this reason, it’s one of the best houseplants for south facing windows. High light improves growth and allows the plant to produce more of its beautiful flowers.
This cactus tolerates a half-day of sun from an east or west facing window, or even very bright filtered light. But it may not produce flowers in these conditions. In low light, it will not flower at all. If you want blooms, make sure it gets plenty of bright light or better yet – direct sun.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) rat tail cactus on Etsy!
Powder Puff Cactus
Powder puff cactus (Mammillaria species) is another fantastic choice for south facing windows. This cute little plant is named because it literally looks like a powder puff. It’s easy to grow and forgiving – as long as you give it enough bright sunlight.
For the best results, give powder puff cacti at least 4 hours of direct sun every day (which is how much it will receive in a south facing window). If you make it happy – which isn’t too hard – you’ll be rewarded with lovely little flowers that appear in an attractive, wreath-like pattern.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) powder puff cactus on Etsy!
Agave, also known as Century Plant or American Aloe, is commonly grown outdoors in warm climates. However, it also makes one of the best houseplants for south facing windows. It likes at least 5 hours a day of direct sunlight in spring through fall.
You may need to place it outside once temperatures are warm enough in late spring to make sure it gets enough sun. Bring it back indoors when temperatures cool off in fall. In winter, keep your agave plant in a south facing window where temperatures cool off at night.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) agave on Etsy!
Aloe vera, also known as Aloe barbadensis or Burn Plant, makes a great addition to your houseplant collection (and your first aid kit). Not only does it thrive in a south facing window, it also cures minor burns and skin irritations.
Aloe likes bright light year-round, which means you won’t have to move it around to keep it happy. However, keep in mind it will sunburn easily if moved from a low light area to the high light of south windows. If you’re moving it to a brighter location, do it slowly.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) aloe vera on Etsy!
Tiger Jaws (Faucaria tigrina) likes warm conditions and bright light. A south-facing window makes an ideal location for this small, attractive succulent. During the growing season, these plants thrive with a full day of direct sunlight. This amount of light helps them bloom in fall.
Although tiger jaws can grow with a half-day of light from an east or west facing window, it performs and flowers best with full sunlight. Mature plants that don’t receive at least 4 hours a day of direct sun during summer may not bloom in fall.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) tiger jaws on Etsy!
Prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) is a cactus named for its pear-shaped fruits that are covered with spines and fine, needle-like hairs that penetrate human skin. Although commonly grown outdoors, several species make great houseplants – if you have enough light.
Prickly pear demands all the light you can provide, making it ideal for growing in south facing windows. Full sun all day is required if you want the plant to flower – and trust me, you do! You can also place it outdoors in full sun every spring and summer to ensure blooming.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) prickly pear cactus on Etsy!
Continuing our list with cacti, the familiar barrel cactus is another of the best houseplants for south facing windows. Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is the most widely grown indoors, but a few other species are sometimes grown as houseplants too.
All barrel cacti require full sun to thrive. However, if you acquire one that hasn’t been grown in full sun, you’ll need to acclimate it slowly to your south facing window. If you move it from low light to full sun too quickly, you risk giving the plant sunburn.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) the many varieties of barrel cactus on Etsy!
String of Pearls
String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) makes a beautiful hanging plant for south facing windows. It’s unique succulent leaves grow into small, round “pearls” (hence the common name). It grows quickly, covering the surface of the container and then hangs over the side of the pot.
Give string of pearls 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight daily all year long. A south facing window makes an ideal location since it provides about 4 hours of sunlight. Grow in hanging baskets for an attractive display. When the plant is young, however, it grows fine in a regular planter.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) string of pearls on Etsy!
Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is one of the most forgiving of all houseplants. It’s easy to grow, tolerant of neglect, and best of all – thrives in the high light conditions of a south facing window. It’s a succulent, so it doesn’t need much water either.
Give panda plant full sun from a south window year round for the best results. If moving it to a high light area from a lower light area, be sure to acclimate to full sun slowly. With proper care, it reaches 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall and produces furry, silvery leaves.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) panda plant on Etsy!
Calamondin orange (Citrus x citrofortunella mitis) makes a fantastic houseplant if you have plenty of room in a sunny, south facing window. It can reach heights of up to 36 inches (90 cm) indoors if given proper care – producing flowers, fragrant leaves, and fruit.
This small fruit tree needs room to grow, but it will reward you with a bounty of beautiful (and tasty) citrus fruit in its second year. Calamondin orange needs direct sun at least 4 hours a day year-round. It’s easy to grow if its need for bright light is met.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) calamondin orange on Etsy!
All citrus trees need as much light as you can give them. Just like the miniature orange discussed above, Meyer Lemon grows well in the high light of a south facing window. If given adequate sunlight, it will fruit regularly indoors.
Although you can grow Meyer lemon in a half-day of light from an east or west facing window, it will produce fewer fruits with less light exposure. It performs best in sunny, south facing windows that provide maximum sunlight all year long.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) Meyer lemon tree on Etsy!
Although the fruit of Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) look appealing, they are toxic and should not be picked. Even though you can’t eat them, they still add a lovely burst of color to your south facing windows (since they need lots of bright light).
Give Jerusalem cherry bright light including up to 4 hours a day of direct sun. In fall, the plant produces a spray of white flowers, followed by round cherry-sized fruits that start out dark green and slowly turn yellow to red towards Christmas.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) Jerusalem cherry on Etsy!
Crown of Thorns
Crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) is another of the best houseplants for south facing windows. This blooming semi-succulent produces beautiful flowers all year long when given adequate light. The flowers persist for several weeks, adding interest and color to sunny windowsills.
This is probably my favorite “high light” plant. It’s gorgeous, easy to grow, and the thorny stems silhouetted in the light of a south facing window are unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Give crown of thorns 3 to 4 hours or direct sunlight daily and get ready to be amazed.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) crown of thorns on Etsy!
Persian violet (Exacum affine) is one of my personal favorites on this list because I can’t get enough of purple flowers. It’s beautiful blooms bring color and fragrance to any room with a south facing window. It thrives in the bright light provided by southern exposure.
Although it can be grown outdoors in a shady garden, Persian violet is more common as an houseplant. The only downside is it’s a short-lived annual often grown as a temporary color plant. Still, it’s worth growing if you have a south facing window that needs brightening up.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) Persian violet on Etsy!
Geraniums (Pelargoniums) are popular garden plants, but several types also make wonderful houseplants – including some that thrive in the bright light of south facing windows. Regal geranium, scented geranium, and zonal (or fancy-leafed) geraniums all need lots of light.
Some types, such as scented geranium, can be moved outdoors during summer and placed in a south facing window for the rest of the year. Regal geraniums love filtered light outdoors during fall, and fancy-leafed geraniums thrive all year in the light of a south window.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) the many varieties of geranium on Etsy!
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a winter-blooming houseplant that produces attractive foliage, making it worth keeping around all year. It thrives in the bright light of a south-facing window, but in order to flower it requires some special care.
To make flower buds, kalanchoe needs a light treatment, then a cold treatment, and finally a dark treatment consisting of 14-hour nights for a month.
Place kalanchoe outdoors during summer for exposure to long days (light treatment). Leave outdoors during fall for the lower temperatures (cold treatment). Bring indoors in winter for the dark treatment, and then place in a south-facing window for the rest of winter and spring.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) kalanchoe plants on Etsy!
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is the state flower of Hawaii and makes a wonderful houseplant if you have a sunny window with plenty of light. It can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall indoors – so make sure you have a lot of room!
Hibiscus needs abundant bright light to produce its large, tropical flowers that come in a wide variety of colors. They come in red, orange, hot pink, yellow, white, and even multi-color blends. Flowers last only a day or two, but you’ll get them all year in a south facing window.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) hibiscus plants on Etsy!
Although more popular as an outdoor shrub or garden plant, Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) can absolutely thrive indoors in a south facing window. But I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. It takes some work to keep it flowering!
Jasmine needs a cold treatment to produce flowers, so place it outdoors in the fall for six weeks before the first frost in your area. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees F (4 degrees C). It can’t be exposed to any artificial light after sundown during this time.
Bring it back inside before the first frost and place back in a south facing window. It will produce flowers in late winter. Jasmine needs direct sun throughout spring through fall to bloom and grow well. It can tolerate moderate to bright light in winter.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) jasmine plants on Etsy!
Miniature rose (Rosa chinensis) is an incredibly hearty garden plant and also makes a lovely houseplant. If you love roses, but don’t have the space for them in the ground, consider growing the miniature variety in pots.
To produce flowers, miniature rose needs as much bright direct sunlight as possible. To really thrive, they need about six hours daily. This means you’ll need to move them outside to a sunny patio or balcony at the earliest possible time after the last frost passes. Grow indoors in a south facing window during fall and winter, bringing inside before the first frost.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) miniature rose plants on Etsy!
Ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa) is also known as Hawaiian ti, cabbage palm, and good luck tree. It’s a graceful houseplant beloved for its evergreen foliage available in a variety of colors. It’s a good choice for south facing windows since it thrives in a half-day of full sunlight.
This plant loves bright light all year long, and prefers up to four hours of direct sun each day. Place in a south facing window and it will reach heights of up to 5 feet (1.5 meters). In low light, Ti plant loses its color and variegation patterns become less pronounced.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) ti plant on Etsy!
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of the best houseplants for south facing windows. Many different culinary herbs can be grown outdoors in pots and brought inside during winter. But Rosemary is the best herb to grow as a full-time houseplant.
In spring through summer, rosemary needs lots of bright light including up to four hours of direct sunlight a day. A south facing window is the ideal location. In fall and winter, it can adapt to less light, but you can easily leave it in the southern window year-round.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) rosemary plants on Etsy!
Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) has been a beloved parlor plant for more than 100 years. It needs abundant light, making it ideal for south facing windows. But it can be difficult to grow in a dry room unless you’re willing to mist it regularly to keep humidity high.
Give Norfolk Island pine high light from a southern window, where it receives at least 1 to 2 hours or direct sunlight every day. Turn the plant regularly – once a week or so – to encourage even growth. When grown indoors, it can reach 6 feet (1.8 meters) in height.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) Norfolk island pine on Etsy!
Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) is an elegant true palm that grows fast when given enough light. It’s a popular houseplant because it’s inexpensive and pretty. But it isn’t the easiest plant to grow in your home due to its high light needs and sensitivity to overwatering.
If you have plenty of room in a south facing window, you’ll have more success with Areca palm. It needs lots of light, and full sun from a southern window is ideal. Although it tolerates very bright indirect light, this palm tree performs best in direct sun.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) Areca palm trees on Etsy!
Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is an easy-to-grow indoor plant that can live 30 years or more as a houseplant. It thrives in bright light and takes two decades to reach its full height of 8 feet (2.4 meters). Although it’s called ponytail palm, it’s actually a semi-succulent.
Give ponytail palm bright light from a south facing window for the best results. It can adapt to lower light levels in winter, but only if it receives plenty of bright light from spring through fall. For the best results, place it in southern window and leave it there all year.
Click here to purchase (or view listings for) ponytail palm trees on Etsy!
Best Houseplants for South Facing Windows
The best houseplants for south facing windows are those that thrive in bright light and can tolerate at 4 hours of direct sun daily. Plants that need moderate, filtered light will likely burn in the hot afternoon sun of a south facing window.
Many foliage plants and tropical plants cannot tolerate the sunlight in south facing windows, as it may burn their delicate leaves. However, many (but not all) cacti, succulents, indoor palm trees, and flowering plants will grow well with higher light.
Although you can grow ANY of the plants on this list in south facing windows, the best ones for this location (in my opinion) include:
- Rat Tail Cactus – Loves the full sun from a south facing window all year long, which allows it to produce more beautiful flowers.
- Powder Puff Cactus – More than 250 species available, all of which love full sunlight year-round. They also produce lovely little flowers, even as young plants.
- Aloe Vera – Loves bright light all year. Plus, the gel from its leaves cures minor burns and skin irritations. It’s an attractive and useful plant for sunny windows.
- Barrel Cactus – Super easy to grow and loves to live in full sun all year. Golden barrel cactus is the easiest to grow and most common.
- String of Pearls – A beautiful hanging plant for south facing windows, this unique and attractive succulent grows best with 4 hours of direct sun daily.
- Calamondin Orange – This miniature orange tree grows very well indoors if given at least 4 hours of direct sun each day, and it produces edible fruit!
- Meyer Lemon – The second citrus fruit tree on our list, Meyer lemon thrives and fruits regularly in the maximum sunlight of south facing windows year-round.
- Crown of Thorns – An incredibly attractive flowering plant, this semi-succulent blooms nearly all year round when given enough bright light.
- Panda Plant – This incredibly easy-to-grow succulent should be at the top of your list if you have a south facing window. It’s tolerant of neglect and loves lots of sun.
- Ti Plant – Lovely foliage plant that need lots of bright light – including up to four hours of direct sun daily – to maintain its beautiful color and variegated pattern.
Some houseplants like Boston Fern and Polka Dot Plant will grow in south facing windows, but they may need the light to be filtered. You can accomplish this by hanging sheer, gauzy curtains in the window to protect them.