Do you have a north-facing window in your home that you want to fill with plants? Well, this is the guide for you! I’m sharing my top picks for the best plants for north facing windows.
Not every plant can survive in the lower, indirect light provided by northern windows. But there are many that not only survive here. They thrive. You’ve probably heard of snake plant and peace lily – but there are so many more plants that perform well in northern windows.
Let’s take a look at the 25 best north facing window plants!
1. Snake Plant
Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, thrives in indirect light, and can even tolerate low light conditions. (However, in low light the variegated pattern on leaves may fade to green.)
A north-facing window provides the ideal home for this easy-to-grow houseplant. Just like many other plants on this list, it handles neglect well – but proper care of your snake plant makes for faster growth and more attractive foliage.
2. Cast Iron Plant
Another super easy houseplant, cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) can tolerate almost anything – neglect, low light, under-watering. It got its common name for a reason!
Cast iron plant is often grown as a ground cover for shady areas outdoors in warm climates. As an indoor plant, it does well in north-facing windows or other areas that receive low light.
3. Peace Lily
Peace lilies are rare indoor flowering plants that thrives in low light conditions. A north facing window is the best location during spring and fall, when the plant needs lower light.
In spring and summer, you can move your peace lily to an east facing window, if desired. It will grow more quickly and be more likely to bloom. Although it can live permanently in a north facing window, direct sunlight causes peace lily to turn brown, so keep this plant in indirect light.
4. Bird’s Nest Fern
In the wild, bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) grows in the crotches of trees. It prefers indirect sunlight or partial shade, which makes it a great north facing window plant.
Although many ferns make good low light plants, bird’s nest fern is my favorite because it’s easier to grow and less finnicky than some other types. It prefers shady cool environments, and will perform well in the natural light of a north facing window.
5. Spider Plant
Spider plant is an ideal beginner’s plant – it’s easy to grow and resilient. It’s also one of the best plants for north facing windows. It requires bright, indirect light, but cannot tolerate direct sunlight.
Both too much sun and too little light can cause leaves to turn yellow, but a north facing window provides the perfect home for spider plants. Display these hardy plants in hanging baskets and keep the soil moist.
6. Heart-Leaf Philodendron
Heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens oxycardium) does well in the bright, indirect light of a north facing window. In winter it especially tolerates low light conditions better than other philodendron varieties.
Leaves turn yellow if these indoor plants are exposed to direct sunlight, but too little light can also be a problem. If your heartleaf philodendron becomes leggy in a north facing window, you may need to supplement with fluorescent lights.
Another option is placing it outdoors in a shady spot during the summer months, and placing it back in the northern window in the fall and winter. Philodendrons are very responsive, and will let you know quickly if they’re struggling. But I find that they usually perform well in north facing windows.
7. Chinese Evergreen
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) plants thrive in low light conditions. They are my favorite low light plant and the number one choice I recommend when someone has a poorly lit area they want to brighten up with a houseplant. Plus, they are super easy to grow!
One of the best north facing window plants due to their preference for low light, Chinese evergreens can tolerate dry air and many things other plants could not. However, their weakness is cold temperatures. Make sure to keep them warm, or they might turn yellow. (See our Chinese Evergreen care guide for more information.)
8. Hacksaw Fern
Hacksaw fern (Doodia) is another great plant for a north facing window. It grows in partial shade or full shade outdoors. As an indoor houseplant, it still appreciates shady and cool environments with plenty of moisture.
This is not a common houseplant, but if you can find one it makes a great addition to your northern window garden. And once you get it established, it will rarely need to be moved as long as you maintain ideal growing conditions (humid, low light, moist).
9. Japanese Aralia
Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica) is a striking plant with large, glossy, dark green leaves. It copes well with low light conditions, such as those in a north facing window. Leaves turn yellow in direct light, so keep it out of bright sunlight as much as possible.
In addition, this hardy houseplant tolerates temperatures as low as 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) in winter. Although, I wouldn’t recommend you let it get that low if you can help it! It does make a great choice if you have a cold room with a northern window you want to spruce up. It prefers average temperatures of around 60 degrees F (16 degrees C).
10. Maidenhair Fern
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum) is not an easy houseplant to grow – especially if you live in a very dry climate. But if you have warm spot near a north facing window and can keep humidity high, this plant makes a beautiful addition to indoor gardens.
It makes a good choice for bathrooms, since it needs warm and humid conditions, but only if it has plenty of filtered light. Maidenhair fern will die if placed in direct sunlight. (See my maidenhair care guide for more information and to see if this plant is right for you.)
11. Aluminum Plant
Aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei) produces beautiful leaves with silver splotches between green leaf veins. They appear to have been painted with silver paint, hence the common name aluminum plant.
Grown as outdoor ground cover in tropical areas, these leafy plants thrive in a north facing window. (Although they can also live in east or west facing windows.) They like warm and humid environments, such as those on the jungle floor. Keep soil moist at all times and keep out of direct light.
12. Rabbit’s Foot Fern
Rabbit’s Foot Ferns (Davallia fejeensis) are some of the best plants for north facing windows. They thrive in indirect light, like the light of their native tropical and subtropical forests. Cool temperatures and high humidity keep rabbit’s foot fern thriving.
When given enough moisture, the fern’s furry rhizomes creep over the top of the pot. They are more than just decoration, though. They take up nutrients and moisture for the plant. Display these ferns in hanging baskets for a beautiful touch to your north facing window garden.
13. ZZ Plant
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is a striking foliage plant that handles low light levels well. This makes it ideal for growing in a north facing window. It prefers bright, indirect light, but can grow in much lower light conditions if necessary.
This indoor plant also tolerates dry air and underwatering, making it a good choice for beginner gardeners or those of you with a “black thumb.” Just keep it out of direct sunlight, keep the soil moist, and don’t move it around much once you place it (this can shock the plant and cause leaf drop).
14. Boston Fern
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) are the common, large, light green ferns often sold in hanging baskets in the spring. They can be challenging to grow due to their high humidity needs, but they’re a great choice for experienced indoor gardeners looking for north facing window plants.
As indoor plants, boston ferns prefer filtered light, lots of moisture (misting, room humidifier, moist soil, etc.), and temperatures from 60 – 70 degrees F (15 – 26 degrees C). They can be very intolerant to temperature fluctuations and will turn brown on the edges if they don’t get enough moisture.
Peperomia is a tropical plant native to South American rain forests. It thrives in lower light conditions like those of a north facing window. It can also be grown successfully under fluorescent lights.
This plant is easy to grow, but it is sensitive to overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings for the best results. Unlike many other indoor plants on this list, Peperomia does not have high humidity requirements and generally does quite well in normal household conditions.
16. Holly Fern
Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum) is a small, shrub-like fern that prefers bright indirect light from a north or east facing window. It has excellent cold tolerance, which makes it a good choice to place in drafty entryways where other plants could not survive.
Keeping soil lightly moist at all times provides all the moisture and humidity this plant needs. It’s not hard to grow compared to some other ferns, and its quite hardy in cold areas with lower light. Place in a north facing window, keep the soil moist, and you shouldn’t have many problems.
One of my favorite houseplants, dieffenbachia (also known as dumb cane) prefers moderate filtered light, which makes it one of the best north facing window plants.
The plant is sensitive to fluctuations to temperature and light, which can cause the leaves to droop and turn yellow. But keep it in one spot where it gets indirect light and average room temperatures, and it will thrive for years. In my opinion, you can’t have indoor gardening without dieffenbachia.
Just remember this plant has toxic sap that causes severe pain and digestive distress when consumed. If you have pets, avoid dieffenbachia or keep it in a place you know they can’t reach it. (See my dieffenbachia care guide for more information).
18. Tree Fern
Tree ferns are great indoor trees for low light. They do very well in a north facing window provided all their other care requirements are met. Native to tropical areas, tree ferns need high humidity and lots of moisture, which can make them challenging to grow.
Tree ferns can grow quite large (usually reaching many feet tall). They make a good choice if you have a large northern window open, but I would not recommend them for beginners. Tree ferns are best left to experienced indoor gardeners.
19. Swiss Cheese Plant
Monstera deliciosa, commonly known as Swiss cheese plant, is easy to grow, tolerant of occasional neglect, and requires bright indirect light (no direct sun). It can get very tall, reaching heights of up to 8 feet (2.4 m). It’s good for a large north facing window, but much easier to grow than tree fern.
The plant gets its name from the holes in its leaves that resemble Swiss cheese. Mature plants develop these holes, which help the plant withstand strong winds in the wild.
20. Brake Fern
Brake fern (Pteris sp.) is one of the best ferns for beginners. It does well in the moderate indirect light of a north facing window during spring through fall. But it may need supplementation with fluorescent lights in winter (or move it to an east facing window).
It needs slightly less water than other types of ferns, but still prefers slightly moist soil at all times. Average temperatures are fine, but it will need to be misted daily in winter when indoor humidity is low. Otherwise, brake ferns tolerate neglect better than most other ferns.
21. Radiator Plant
Radiator plants prefer indirect sunlight and make great north facing window plants. These tropical plants (Peperomia metallica) are native to rain forest floors, so they prefer indirect sunlight. Filtered bright light from an east-facing window or the flourescent lights of office buildings are also ideal.
Average room temperature and average moisture are perfect for radiator plant. It’s easy to grow as long as it doesn’t receive too much sun. It’s one of the best plants for northern exposure because of its tolerance of lower light conditions.
22. Dragon Tree
Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) is another good indoor tree for low light. It prefers bright light, and the moderate light provided by a north window is usually plenty for this showy houseplant. Hot, direct sunlight will burn the leaves, especially of variegated cultivars.
However, variegated cultivars may also lose their variegation in low light. In my experience, most types of dragon tree can perform well in northern windows (especially Tricolor). But you may need to supplement with artificial light if you notice the leaves are losing their color.
(See my dragon tree care guide for more information.)
23. Prayer Plant
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) gets its name from the remarkable ability to fold up its leaves (in prayer-like fashion) in response to darkness. When light returns, the leaves resume their normal shape and posture. It likes moderate light, which makes it one of the best plants for north windows.
Like many other plants on this list, it also does well under fluorescent light. It needs high humidity levels, so mist it regularly, keep a good houseplant humidifier in the room, and place near other plants with high humidity requirements to prevent the air from becoming too dry.
24. Umbrella Tree
Umbrella tree, also known as dwarf schefflera, is one of my favorite indoor plants. It prefers indirect sunlight, which makes it ideal for a north facing window. Place it in a room with light-colored walls and bright light from a northern window or fluorescent lights, and it will thrive.
It’s easy to grow, requiring only moderate humidity for most of the year. But it will benefit from daily misting and being placed near a humidifier during the winter months. (See my post on how to care for a schefflera amate for more information.)
25. Parlor Palm
Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) adapts very well to low light. Like the other indoor plants on this list, it thrives in indirect sunlight and makes a lovely addition to any north facing window garden. It also makes a great office plant.
Parlor palms are easy to grow. They like slightly moist soil at all times, but they will tolerate drying out occasionally. (This makes them a good choice for indoor gardeners who sometimes forget to water their plants on time.) Fully mature plants reach up to 4 feet tall (1.2 meters).
The Best Plants for North Facing Windows
My favorite north facing window plants include snake plants, peace lilies, umbrella trees, spider plants, cast iron plants, and dieffenbachia. These are all plants I’ve had personal experience growing in a north facing window, and they have all thrived. I can vouch for them!
However, all 25 of the plants on this list should do very well for you in your northern windows. If you find they aren’t performing as you hoped, supplement with a few artificial plant lights to give them an extra boost.
Choosing Plants for North Facing Windows
As a general rule of thumb, choose plants that tolerate low light. They are much more likely to perform well in a north facing window. Tropical plants native to rain forests and jungles are usually good picks. Think ferns and foliage plants.
Avoid flowering plants (except peace lilies), cacti and most succulents (except snake plants), plants grown from bulbs, and anything else that requires high light. Always check general care requirements and make sure the plant is right for your skill level. Avoid challenging plants and try more forgiving varieties, especially if you’ve never grown anything in a north facing window before.
Even if all you have available is a north facing window in your home, you can still have a beautiful indoor garden. It just takes a little work to find the right plants that can tolerate lower light. And don’t forget about supplemental lighting. Don’t be afraid to use it if you need it!