If you do a quick search for ‘high light houseplants’ or ‘full sun houseplants’ you get a lot of plants that… well, cannot handle full sun. Strange! To solve this problem I’ve compiled a list of 6 houseplants that can actually thrive in that South-facing window or sunny greenhouse.
Keep reading to find out which plants can handle the Sun’s scorching rays!
Most succulents, including the beautiful Echeveria (pictured above) with its many varieties, need a lot of sun to thrive. In fact, if it doesn’t receive enough sunlight, your Echeveria will stretch and lose its attractive rosette shape. So these plants don’t just handle the Sun, they love and need it! This makes them the perfect choice for those very sunny spots in your home.
Echeveria care isn’t difficult at all. These plants naturally grow in dry habitats and have adapted to store water in their fleshy leaves. As with all succulents, a well-draining soil mix is required to prevent risking root rot. Water only when the soil has gone completely dry; in full sun, this will probably be around once a week during Summer and once every two to three weeks during Winter.
You can learn more about general succulent care here.
Bunny ear cactus (Opuntia microdasys)
Cacti are probably one of the best options if you’re looking for plants that don’t mind being exposed to a lot of direct sun. Bunny ear cacti are one example of a plant species perfectly adapted to surviving in arid, sunny habitats. They stay a lot smaller than most of their other Opuntia (prickly pear) cousins, which makes them great for growing indoors.
As with most cacti, bunny ear cactus care is not too much of a challenge – you just have to be patient. Provide as much sun as possible, water thoroughly once the soil has dried out and be sure to use a super well-draining soil mixture consisting of at least 50-60% gritty material such as perlite or coarse sand. Warning: these cacti look soft and furry and don’t have large spines, but don’t be fooled by their innocent looks. That ‘fur’ actually consists of thousands of tiny spines (‘glochids’) that can cause massive skin irritation. Just brushing past one of the pads can already be quite painful.
You can find a full bunny ear cactus caresheet here.
Venus flytrap (Dionea muscipula)
Venus flytraps are popular as houseplants, but unfortunately most of them don’t live a long life. Their perfect adaptation to nutrient-poor bog environments means they need different care than most other houseplants, but luckily it’s definitely not too difficult if you know what you’re doing. A nice added bonus is that these plants are used to growing in very bright conditions, which means they love plenty of direct sunlight when kept indoors.
There are three important care aspects to keep in mind if you want to succesfully grow Venus flytraps: soil, water and dormancy. Normal potting soil contains way too many nutrients, so go for something soil-less like a mixture of perlite and spaghnum moss. Normal tap water is not appreciated either, as it contains too many minerals. Instead, use distilled/demineralized water or collect rain water – lots of it. The soil should always be moist. Lastly, these plants need a dormancy period during the Winter months. During this period they will die back and abandon their traps, but don’t worry! Once Spring rolls around and you move your flytrap back to its normal spot new growth should start appearing in no time.
You can find a full Venus flytrap caresheet here.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is a yummy herb that works well in all kinds of dishes and salads. Like many other herbs it’s considered a little difficult to keep alive indoors; light plays a large role in this. What many basil lovers don’t realize is that this plant needs a lot of sun, ideally at least 6 hours. This means it belongs on the sunniest windowsill you can offer or under a strong grow light. It also appreciates plenty of water and can quickly start looking droopy if you forget.
So, if you want to keep your basil happy and healthy be sure to place it in a sunny spot and water as soon as the soil starts feeling dry (which can be as often as once a day in the middle of Summer). To prevent root rot, use a well-draining soil mixture with a little added perlite and keep the plant in a container with drainage holes. Keep in mind that basil bought at the local supermarket may have been underwatered and in the dark for a little too long, which can damage it to the point of dying. Buying seeds and growing it yourself is a fun option that should hopefully lead to healthier, long-lived plants.
You can find a full Basil plant care guide here.
As strange as it might sound, Sansevierias (snake plants) such as Sansevieria cylindrica are also on the list of low light houseplants. They are one of the most adaptable houseplants and can survive high- and low light environments, although the former is definitely preferable. Your Sansevieria will survive just fine in low-light conditions but it won’t thrive unless provided with plenty of light. Direct sun is no problem and actually appreciated!
Like all Sansevierias, Sansevieria cylindrica is a succulent that doesn’t respond well to overwatering at all. Too little water is always better than too much, as the roots are prone to rotting. Wait until the soil has fully dried out before watering and be sure to always use a very well-draining, gritty mixture and a pot with a drainage hole. An unglazed clay pot works well.
You can find a full Sansevieria cylindrica caresheet here.
Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Ponytail palms aren’t actually palms but a type of succulent that grows ponytail-like leaves from the top. It naturally occurs in arid parts of Mexico and stores water in its fat trunk. If you’re looking for a super hardy plant that loves plenty of direct sun, this is definitely a good contender. These “palms” can handle lots of sun, don’t need a lot of water (the soil should fully dry out between waterings) and can even withstand low temperatures pretty well.
As with all succulents, grow your ponytail palm in a well-draining soil type and planter. Keep in mind that this is a very slow-growing plant: if you love the look of mature ponytail palms, consider investing the money to buy a large one or you might be in for a very long wait.
You can find a full ponytail palm caresheet here.
If you have any more questions about the plants on this list or want to suggest another plant, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!