Many house plants will thrive on a windowsill, but there are a few important points to consider before making your choice.
Cacti and succulents are the obvious choice for east- and south-facing windowsills, as most need several hours of direct sun to thrive. These conditions can be too much for leafy plants, however, which may suffer from leaf scorch – west-facing windowsills are more appropriate for these plants. The low light levels of a north-facing windowsill are perfect for shade-loving house plants, such as streptocarpus.
It’s also worth thinking about the size of your windowsill and what size and shape of indoor plant pots will fit on it. Again, this may determine the type of house plant you grow. Some have very shallow roots and are therefore perfect for slender and shallow trays or planters, while deeper-rooted plants will need deeper pots.
Bear in mind that day and night temperatures on your windowsill can vary dramatically and can drop significantly in winter. Some house plants that are happy in summer may need moving to a warmer spot in autumn, even if it gets less light.
How to grow house plants on a windowsill
Work out which direction your window faces and how much, or little sun it gets, and choose your house plants based on their light requirements. Measure the windowsill and choose your pots or planters based on what will fit. Plant your house plants in a suitable peat-free compost – house plant compost is suitable for most house plants but a free-draining mix is better for cacti and succulents. Water thoroughly, allowing the water to drain from the pot before placing on your window sill. Check the plants regularly for the first couple of weeks for signs of stress, cold or leaf scorch, and water according to the care instructions for each plant.
More on growing house plants:
We recommend eight of the best house plants to grow on a windowsill, below.
House plants for windowsills – Pilea peperomiodes
Sometimes called the missionary plant, Pilea perperomiodes is a low-growing house plant with attractive, fleshy leaves, that’s perfect for a windowsill. Choose a bright spot out of direct sunlight for the best results. It can also tolerate lower light levels, although its leaves may become darker.
Height x Spread: 30cm x 30cm
Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’
House plants for windowsills – Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’
‘Polly’ is a compact aroid cultivar with glossy, veined leaves with attractive margins. It thrives in bright, warm conditions, with high levels of humidity. A large windowsill in a bright, steamy bathroom is ideal.
H x S: 45cm x 45cm
House plants for windowsills – Haworthia truncata
Low-growing and tolerant of a range of light levels, many succulents, such as aloes, agaves, echeverias and crassulas, are perfect for growing on windowsills. Most thrive in full sun and need very little watering. However Haworthia truncata, pictured, prefers dappled shade.
H x S: 30cm x 30cm
House plants for windowsills – Cacti mix
Cacti are slow-growing and perfect for growing on sunny windowsills. Plant your cacti in porous terracotta containers in a gritty compost, to provide them with adequate drainage and reduce the chances of them rotting.
H x S: 30cm x 30cm
House plants for windowsills – Pilea peperomioides with Monstera obliqua and Peperomia ‘Jayde’
Monstera deliciosa will eventually grow too large for most windowsills, but its smaller relative, Monstera obliqua, has the same fenestrate (holey) leaves held on a smaller plant, which will spill over the edge of the container. Grow it in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. It does best in a humid environment so consider growing it on your bathroom windowsill.
H x S: 70cm x 40cm
House plants for windowsills – streptocarpus
Streptocarpus are native to South African woodland, and therefore thrive in low light levels, including dappled shade. For best results give them bright light but not too much sun – a north- or west-facing windowsill is ideal.
H x S: 30cm x 45cm
Venus fly trap
House plants for windowsills – Venus fly trap
Grow Venus fly trap, Dionaea muscipula, on a sunny windowsill, ideally in a bathroom, as the humid conditions will mimic its native subtropical habitat. Grow in peat-free ericaceous compost and water with rainwater only.
H x S: 10cm x 10cm
House plants for windowsills – pelargoniums
While pelargoniums are usually grown outside in summer, they’re not hardy and benefit from being moved indoors for winter. They make perfect house plants, often continuing to flower well into autumn. Choose a bright windowsill in full sun to keep them happy.
H x S: 50cm x 40cm