People leave their plants on the windowsill during winter but they forget to take into account how cold it can get.
Most plants will not enjoy being kept on a cold windowsill, so it’s important to choose the varieties carefully so you don’t accidentally kill a plant you love.
Here are the very best houseplants for cold windowsills:
1. Geranium (Pelargonium)
If you have a reasonably large windowsill, a geranium will look lovely standing there.
These plants have gorgeous foliage and a rich smell, and they are fairly tolerant of temperature fluctuations, making them good for windowsill growth.
As long as it’s not causing a lot of draft, Geraniums handle well even cold opened windows.
In the day, they prefer to be above 65 degrees F, but they will tolerate slightly cooler temperatures too.
Temperature: around or above 65 degrees F (18°C) most of the time
Water: allow to dry between watering
Light: plenty of bright but indirect sunlight
Soil: loose soil with peat or perlite
2. Snake Plant (Dracaena Trifasciata)
Any plant that you want to grow on a windowsill has to be able to survive temperature fluctuations, and the snake plant does extremely well.
It won’t handle real freezing cold, but it will cope with chilly days, and won’t mind if temperatures drop to around 60 degrees F.
It will also be happy regardless of the amount of light it gets, meaning it can cope with direct sun or shade, so the location of the window doesn’t matter.
Temperature: 60 to 75 degrees F (15-24°C)
Water: lightly moist soil throughout the year, but leaning toward dry in winter
Light: any light conditions besides direct summer sun for hours
Soil: well-draining succulent soil
3. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)
If you have a reasonably shady windowsill, the maidenhair fern will cope beautifully with the cooler temperatures, although again, it doesn’t like real cold.
If you think there is an extreme chill coming, consider moving it to a warmer part of the room.
This fern likes to be kept damp and prefers indirect light, so shade it if the sun coming through the window is bright.
Temperature: above 60 degrees F (15°C)
Water: keep moist constantly
Light: bright indirect light
Soil: loamy, rich soil
4. Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)
These plants don’t like cold temperatures when they are in bloom, but they are reasonably hardy the rest of the time.
If they are kept much below 65 degrees F, they may start to suffer, but above this, they will without problems, making Moth orchids great for cold windowsills.
However, they don’t like temperatures that fluctuate, so if you are expecting major temperature variations day by day, consider moving them to a more stable environment.
This also means it’s best if you move this plant while opening the window in winter.
Temperature: above 61 degrees F (16°C) at all times
Water: the plant should neither be dry, nor sitting in water at any time
Light: bright but not direct sun
Soil: orchid bark, coconut coir, and other well-draining materials, not regular potting soil
5. Aloe Vera
If you’ve got a chilly windowsill, an aloe vera will usually thrive there, as it can tolerate temperatures as low as 55 degrees F.
Although they can’t deal with being frozen or staying outside for winter, aloes are more than tough enough to handle cold windowsills.
Also, if they are exposed to too much sun, their leaves will turn yellow, so consider putting up a thin shade in the height of summer if you get too much direct sunlight.
Temperature: between 55 and 80 degrees F (13 to 26°C)
Water: fairly frequently but don’t leave the plant sitting in water
Light: bright light but not too strong
Soil: well-draining soil with bark or perlite
6. Flamingo Lily (Anthurium Andraeanum)
As long as the windowsill stays at around 60 degrees F, a flamingo lily will survive and look very flashy, although it does prefer slightly warmer environments.
It will also tolerate temperatures of up to 90 degrees F, so it should be fine in the summer too.
However, if the windowsill gets a lot of strong summer sun, consider relocating your plant for the hottest part of the season.
A flamingo lily has waxy, glossy leaves and bright red, white, or pink “flowers” (which are actually spathes), and a long flowering season.
Temperature: between 65 and 80 degrees F (but will tolerate as low as 60) (15°C)
Water: about once per week
Light: bright, indirect light
Soil: light, loose medium with perlite, bark, and orchid mix
7. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
Spider plants are very popular and can handle temperatures as low as 55 degrees F, easily coping with cold windowsills.
As a bonus, they also look great trailing down from a windowsill.
Try hanging them from the top of the window so that their bright foliage can fountain down in front of it, catching the light and photosynthesizing.
You may need to put up a shield between the plant and the window if there is a lot of sun, because it doesn’t like strong light on its leaves.
If you see any signs of the leaves burning, adding a net curtain may help.
Temperature: no lower than 55 degrees F (12°C), and not much higher than 65 degrees F (18°C)
Water: water when slightly dry
Light: partial shade
Soil: well-drained, slightly acidic soil
8. String Of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus)
String of pearls will look fantastic on a reasonably warm windowsill, and it can survive in temperatures that are as low as 50 degrees F for a short while.
Although it thrives in slightly warmer environments, the string of pearls will handle cold windowsills brilliantly.
Keep in mind you need enough direct sunlight for it to grow in, as these plants need a few hours of bright light per day.
Like the spider plant, you can hang it up so that its beautiful foliage trails down and spills through the air, or simply stand it on the sill and let the “pearls” spread around the pot.
Temperature: between 50 and 70 degrees F (10 to 21°C)
Water: water so that the soil is kept lightly moist most of the time
Light: at least 6 hours of bright light per day
Soil: sandy, well-drained soil
9. Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
A Christmas cactus is a great cold windowsill plant, and can tolerate brief periods in which temperatures drop below 50 degrees F.
However, it won’t be happy on a very cold windowsill for long, so if the temperature is particularly low, consider moving it into a warmer part of the room.
These plants like plenty of light, but not too much direct sun, as their leaves may burn.
Shield them in the middle of summer to protect their foliage.
Temperature: prefers temperatures of above 60 degrees F (15°C)
Water: when the soil is dry, give the plant a drink
Light: plenty of bright but indirect light
Soil: well-draining soil mixed with bark
10. Nerve Plant (Fittonia Albivenis)
The nerve plant, also known as the mosaic plant, prefers a temperature that is around 70 degrees F, but it will cope with temperatures that fall as low as around 60 degrees F.
These plants have beautiful leaves and are highly attractive which resemble nerves going through the leaves, hence the name.
Nerve plants can be quite temperamental, as they need lots of humidity, but they are a great choice if you want something more unusual for your cold windowsills.
A bathroom windowsill, be it in winter, should prove perfect for one of these plants.
Temperature: not lower than 60 degrees F or higher than 80 degrees F (15°C or above)
Water: don’t let this plant dry out, as it will “faint” and collapse
Light: no direct sunlight, so choose a north-facing windowsill
Soil: well-draining with a peat-moss base to retain water
Another plant that will thrive on a fairly shady windowsill, cyclamens are beautiful and come in a variety of colors.
These plants prefer cool temperatures and will often die if they are kept too warm.
Because of that, Cyclamen are a great choice for cold windowsills and they are often the safe choice when it comes to cold-loving plants.
Make sure the temperatures are as low as 40 or 50 degrees F (4°C) at night, and around 60 to 68 degrees during the day.
Temperature: between 40 and 70 degrees F (4 to 21°C)
Water: water moderately and allow to dry a little between drinks
Light: this plant needs full light in the winter but should be kept out of summer sun, or it will burn
Soil: standard potting medium good drainage to avoid over-watering
Below, you’ll find the answers to a few common questions about keeping plants on your windowsills.
Can Your Windowsill Plants Touch The Cold Glass?
It’s not a good idea to let the leaves of any plants touch your window’s cold glass. Glass is a good conductor and is likely to be cold, which could damage the foliage. Keep plants approximately an inch or so away from the glass to avoid the plant getting chilled.
Can You Open A Window In Winter With Your Plants On The Windowsill?
Avoid keeping plants on the windowsill while opening the window in winter. Even cold-tolerant plants will not enjoy being exposed to sudden temperature fluctuations, and may suffer. If you wish to open the window, move the plant elsewhere and don’t put it back until you have shut the window again.
How Do You Keep Windowsill Plants Warm?
If you are worried about your plant getting chilled during the winter, consider putting a layer of bubble wrap between the plant and the glass. This will help to insulate it from the cold. You can also turn on heaters in the room, but don’t place your plant too close to one; it may die.
And remember, never put your plants on the radiator.
It’s important to assess your windowsills before choosing which plants to grow on them, as the light levels and the temperature will make a big difference to what will grow well.
Remember to take into account changing seasons, whether your window is double-glazed, and how much direct sun will fall on the plant’s leaves.
As you can see, there are many great options for even the coldest windowsills.