Many houseplants 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 south-facing windowsills, as they thrive in direct sun. These conditions can be too much for leafy plants, however, which may suffer leaf scorch from too much sun. East- and west-facing windowsills are more appropriate for these plants.
The low light levels of a north-facing windowsill are perfect for shade-loving houseplants, such as streptocarpus.
More advice on growing houseplants:
We recommend eight of the best houseplants to grow on a windowsill, below.
Houseplants for windowsills – Pilea peperomiodes
Sometimes called the missionary plant, Pilea perperomiodes is a low-growing 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.
Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’
Houseplants 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 windowsill in a bright, steamy bathroom is ideal.
Houseplants 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.
Houseplants 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. Find out how to repot your cacti if you’ve bought them in plastic pots.
Houseplants 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.
Houseplants 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, east- or west-facing windowsill is ideal.
Venus fly trap
Houseplants 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.
Houseplants 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 houseplants, often continuing to flower through well into autumn. Choose a bright windowsill in full sun to keep them happy.