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Do plants need to be by the window? houseplant in a window with curtains

Do Houseplants Need to Be by the Window? (For Beginners!)

If you’re filling your home with houseplants, one of the things that you need to think about is the positioning – and this isn’t just about what looks great to you.

Your plants are dependent on getting the right amount of sunlight on a daily basis, and where you put them will make a big difference to how well they survive.

Here’s if Houseplants Need to Be by the Window:

Yes, as a rule of thumb, most houseplants like limited direct sunlight and will be happy closer to a window, rather than further away or next to it. However, plants need very varied amounts of light, so it’s important to look at how much light the particular plant you have prefers.

There are many rules about how plants should be placed compared to windows. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the answers you need:

Can A Plant Get Burned Through The Window?

Yes, a plant can get burned through the window, although this does depend on the kind of plant and how much sun it prefers. Some plants love to bask in sunlight all day long, whereas others like just a little direct sun, or none at all.

The glass of the window will not protect your plant from the sunlight, so if your plant doesn’t enjoy direct sun, don’t place it by the window.

Getting burned will stress a plant out, potentially making it sick.

It will also ruin the look of its foliage, leaving crispy, dark patches on the leaves.

If your plant has got burned, move it further away from the window and use sterile scissors to remove the burnt foliage; it will not recover.

Getting rid of it should encourage the plant to output fresh foliage.

How Close To A Window Do Plants Need To Be?

You should check how much light your plant needs when assessing how close to a window to put it. All plants have different preferences, and windows get different amounts of light, so this is very dependent on the situation.

As a rule of thumb, if the plant says “full sun” on its care instructions, then you should place it close to or on a windowsill and ensure that the light is able to fall directly on its leaves at times.

If the plant’s care instructions say “low light,” it needs to be placed further from the window, with little to no direct light on its leaves.

If your window is north-facing, you will need to position a plant closer to it than if the window is south-facing and gets plenty of sunlight.

You also need to take into account anything that blocks light from the window, such as a tree or other buildings, because this will affect how much light the plant gets overall.

How Much Sun Do Window Plants Need?

If a plant is classified as a “window plant,” this means that it needs a few hours of direct light every day. In general, most houseplants like to be getting four to six hours of bright light every day, and this means being placed on a windowsill with nothing blocking the light out.

However, you should note that the plant probably will not want four to six hours of direct sunlight.

A little direct sunlight is fine for many plants, but getting the full brunt throughout the daylight hours will likely damage the leaves.

In general, you should aim to place your plants somewhere with indirect light, but plenty of it.

If you can see the sun shining on your plant’s leaves for a large part of the day, it is probably getting too much sun, and this may cause it to burn.

Pull it back a little way or move it to another windowsill.

Do Plants Get Enough Light Through Windows?

Yes, plants will get enough light through windows, even sun-loving varieties like cacti, which appreciate plenty of direct sun. As long as the window is clean, the light should be strong enough to allow the plant to photosynthesize in most cases.

Indeed, a window may even protect your plant from some harmful UV rays that it would otherwise have to deal with in outdoor conditions.

As long as light is coming through the window and your plant is positioned close enough to absorb sufficient quantities of this light, it should grow just fine.

Do Plants Get Enough Light Through Window Blinds?

No, unless you have very thin blinds, your plant will not get enough light through them. Some blinds are designed to block out all natural light, and if you have these installed, your plant will certainly not get enough light to photosynthesize.

It will quickly turn pale and die if you don’t open the blinds or relocate the plant.

However, some blinds are thin and fairly transparent and will not cause as much of an issue. So in reality, it depends completely on the blinds that you have.

They will still block some of the light, which could be a problem for light-loving plants, but they may not kill the plant.

Indeed, thin blinds could help you grow plants that prefer a dark environment.

On the whole, blinds will be problematic for plants unless they are very thin, so you should try to open them or at least partially open them during the day.

This will let your plant get access to more light, helping it to photosynthesize effectively.

Do Plants Get Enough Light Through Curtains?

It is entirely dependent on what types of curtains you have if your plants will get enough light through them or not. Blackout curtains block all the sun from entering the room which prevents plants from getting enough light, while net curtains could let enough light pass through.

You shouldn’t place a plant near a window with blackout curtains that are closed during the day, because it will quickly die.

Even heavy curtains that filter out most of the light will be an issue.

Plants that don’t get enough light cannot keep growing, so you’ll need to either open or remove the curtains if you want the majority of houseplants to survive.

However, net curtains or very thin, gauzy curtains could be beneficial to your plant.

If it prefers low light conditions or cannot tolerate much direct sunlight, a thin curtain will help to soften the intensity of the sun, and protect the plant from burning.

If you are having problems with your plant being too close to a window, therefore, a thin curtain may help to solve the issue.

What Windows Are Best For Plants?

As a rule of thumb, assuming that you are in the Western Hemisphere, most plants will be comfortable in west-facing windows because they will have enough sunlight without getting burned. However, it will really depend on what type of plant you have.

You are probably already aware of how the light moves through your home and comes in with different intensities at different times of the day. You need to pay attention to this when choosing where to put your plants.

The direction that the window faces will make a big difference, so, here is everything you need to know:

North-facing windows (low-indirect sunlight plants)

Assuming that you are in the Western Hemisphere, a north-facing window will always get low, indirect light, and no direct sun throughout the entire day. This makes it suitable for plants that dislike strong sunlight and burn easily.

You can place them quite close to a north-facing window with little risk of them getting damaged by the sunlight.

East-facing windows (moderate-indirect sunlight plants)

East-facing windows tend to get bright sun in the morning, followed by indirect sunlight throughout the rest of the day. The morning sun is rarely very strong, so this can be a good place to put plants that prefer moderate indirect light.

They should not burn in the gentle morning sunlight, and by the time the intensity has increased, the sun will have moved to other windows.

West-facing windows (bright-indirect sunlight plants)

West-facing windows get direct sunlight in the latter part of the day. This is usually stronger, but does not last for very long, so many plants will tolerate it. However, be aware that they are more likely to scorch in these conditions than plants on east-facing windowsills, because the light is more intense.

In general, west-facing windows get around five hours of indirect sun per day, but you may need to move plants a short way back to avoid them burning.

South-facing windows (strong direct sunlight plants)

South-facing windows get the most sun of all, and are suitable for plants that love strong, direct light. Flowering plants generally prefer more sun, but you should look out for burnt leaves, especially in the summer.

If the plant shows signs of stress, move it back or place a thin curtain over the window to filter some of the light.

Can Artificial Light Replace Light Coming From A Window?

Yes, you can use artificial light to replace sunlight and help your plants grow. It’s a good idea to get a grow lamp if you want to do this, because these have been specifically designed to provide the light range that a plant needs.

This is a good way to deal with dark corners that might otherwise prove problematic for growing plants in.

However, you should remember to turn the grow light off at night, as few plants enjoy constant light, and this may cause stress.

15 Houseplants That Need To Be By The Window

Many houseplants will only grow if they are close to a source of light, but some of those that need to be by the window are:

  1. Aloe vera
  2. Orange trees
  3. Lemon trees
  4. Umbrella plants
  5. String of Pearls
  6. Orchids
  7. Jade plants
  8. Sago palms
  9. Geraniums
  10. Crotons
  11. Money trees
  12. Dragon trees
  13. Yucca plants
  14. Fiddle-leaf figs
  15. Gardenias

All of these plants will thrive when they are close to bright windows, although some will still scorch if they get too much light.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on how your plant is behaving. If it’s growing long, leggy tendrils and seems to be slow to put out new leaves, it isn’t getting enough light.

However, if there are dark spots appearing on the tops of its leaves, it may be getting too much. Try moving it further from the window or shading it during the heat of the day.

11 Houseplants That Don’t Need To Be Close To Windows

Some houseplants are more tolerant of shade than others, and a few even prefer to be grown several feet from the window. However, they do still need a reasonable amount of light, so be aware of this and don’t shove them in a dark corner, or they will quickly die.

Here are some houseplants that don’t necessarily need to be close to windows:

  1. Peace lilies
  2. Dracaena
  3. Maidenhair ferns
  4. Parlor palms
  5. Peperomias
  6. Pothos
  7. Philodendrons
  8. ZZ plants
  9. Peacock plants
  10. Spider plants
  11. Cast Iron plants

In general, these plants will still prefer to have a good amount of light, but they will not tolerate direct sun coming in through the windows.

Try to place them somewhere with plenty of light, but without any direct sun hitting the leaves.

Final Thoughts

Houseplants need light, certainly, but many houseplants do not need to be directly beside a window.

In fact, many will suffer if they are, because they cannot tolerate having direct sun hit their leaves. Read up on the specific kind of plant that you want to grow before deciding where to put it.

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