16 Indoor Plants That Thrive In Direct Sunlight

living room with white couch and bird of paradise plant in background

Black & Blooms

Finding the perfect spot in your home for your houseplants is part of the fun of being a plant parent. That often means looking for species that grow best in low-light spaces, but you can brighten your home with these plants that flourish in the sunniest spots.

If you've got a bright, light-filled window that shines with full sun, these plants will thrive in your space. The sill of a south-facing window will bring your indoor garden the most light throughout the day—but windows on the west side of your home, which get strong afternoon light, are another great option. Save the other sills for those that prefer indirect light, and watch your light-loving houseplants grow lush in the sun.

Read on for 16 of our favorite houseplants that thrive in direct light to soak up the sun in your home.

Meet the Expert

Alexandra Jones is a certified Master Gardener in Philadelphia. As an indoor and outdoor gardener, Jones is an author in topics covering gardening, climate, urban farming, and sustainability.

01 of 16

Aloe Vera

GETTY IMAGES/TONYA PATON

TONYA PATON/ GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Aloe barbadensis Miller
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 7.0 to 8.5

Give your space a fresh desert vibe with these spiny, rosette-shaped succulents that love dry, sunny conditions. If they’re happy, they’ll grow pups, or offsets—new baby plants that can be removed and propagated on their own. While there are many variants of aloe vera, this species is known for the cooling, skin-soothing abilities of its sap.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Hedgehog Aloe $35
Shop
02 of 16

Jade Plant

GETTY IMAGES/FIRDAUSIAH MAMAT

FIRDAUSIAH MAMA / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Crassula ovata
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

These easy, low-maintenance succulents come in several different variants. In addition to the classic species with green, paddle-shaped leaves, there are varieties with smaller leaves, variegated colors, and even star-shaped pink flowers. With sufficiently sunny conditions, many jade varieties will develop a red border on their leaves.

03 of 16

Echeveria

GETTY IMAGES/ROBERTO MACHADO NOA

ROBERTO MACHADO NOA / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Echeveria
  • Sun Exposure: Direct or bright, indirect sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

To grow this trendy, flower-shaped succulent properly—with its rosette flat against the soil, and leaves tinged with intriguing color—it needs lots of bright sunlight. Echeveria will still grow with less light, but the plants can become leggy and etiolated trying to reach for the sun. Since these plants can be sensitive to harsh afternoon sun, move your echeveria a bit further from the window if you notice signs of sunburn on the leaves. Choose from shades of green, blue, gray, and purple, as well as variegated types of this species.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Purple Passion Collection $65
Shop
04 of 16

Snake Plant

GETTY IMAGES/JLWNYC

JLWNYC / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena trifasciata
  • Sun Exposure: Direct or bright, indirect sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 8.5

Need a houseplant that you can forget about for weeks on end? Snake plant is perfect for you. Also known as mother-in-law's tongue or sansevieria, this succulent is resilient and easy to grow. You'll find attractive, lance-shaped leaves with different patterns in snake plant variants, and if you forget to water this plant for a while, it can still grow lush and healthy. This hardy plant grows best in lots of bright, indirect sunlight, and enjoys a bit of full sun as well—so a west-facing window is a great place to make its home. Snake plants are also very tolerant of low-light locations.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Sansevieria $150
Shop
05 of 16

Geranium

GETTY IMAGES/JENNY DETTRICK

JENNY DETTRICK / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Pelargonium
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

The same geraniums you might plant in an outdoor garden can thrive (and bloom) indoors, as long as they receive enough light. Geraniums come in shades from vibrant red to pink, white, orange, and purple. Take your plant outside during the summer months to soak up the extra sun, and bring it back indoors when temperatures start to drop below 50 degrees.

06 of 16

Sweet Basil

GETTY IMAGES/RUMENA

RUMENA / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5

As long as you’ve got enough light, you can treat yourself to an aromatic indoor herb garden in spring, summer, and fall. Tender herbs like basil (along with parsley, chives, and cilantro) thrive in direct sun. Plant basil in a well-draining potting soil in the spring, place it in a bright, south-facing window, and snip off a sprig any time you need one for a recipe. Bringing your herbs outdoors in the height of summer will help them grow bushier and stronger, and you can extend the season by bringing them back indoors in the fall. 

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Savory Herbs Collection $65
Shop
07 of 16

Money Tree

GETTY IMAGES/MATTHEW LLOYD

MATTHEW LLOYD / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Pachira aquatica
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.5

This easy-growing, low-maintenance houseplant is frequently sold as a bonsai tree, with several braided-together stems ending in a plume of lush, palm-shaped green leaves. Money trees are also a favorite in feng shui, in which these plants are said to bring financial fortune—hence the name—when placed in the southeast part of the home, making them perfect for the corner of a south-facing window. This species can be prone to sunburn with the strong light of midsummer, so keep an eye on its leaves during the growing season (and move it a bit further away when needed).

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Money Tree $150
Shop
08 of 16

Croton

GETTY IMAGES/SOCHA

SOCHA / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Codiaeum variegatum
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 6.5

If you want to add some colorful plants to your collection without waiting for flowers to bloom, look no further than croton. This sun-loving houseplant comes in a wide array of color combinations—mixtures of red, yellow, green, orange, purple, brown, and black—and patterns that will pop against the greenery of your other indoor species.

09 of 16

String of Pearls

GETTY IMAGES/SILVIA COZZI

SILVIA COZZI / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Senecio rowleyanus
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.6 to 7.5

Long, trailing stems dotted with orb-shaped leaves give this charming succulent its name. Different variants of string of pearls have various shapes, like string of bananas and string of dolphins. This plant makes an excellent candidate for a hanging basket or a high shelf in a bright, sunny window. Since this species thrives in bright, indirect light, a west-facing window will provide enough nutrients without causing sunburn.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape String of Succulents Collection $65
Shop
10 of 16

Hen and Chicks

GETTY IMAGES/ELIZABETH FERNANDEZ

ELIZABETH FERNANDEZ / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Echeveria elegans
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.6 to 7.5

These low-growing, rosette-shaped succulents are some of the hardiest plants around. Hen and chicks thrives in dry, rocky areas in its natural desert habitat. The plant gets its name from its handy habit of propagating itself in good conditions. To make another plant from your hen and chicks mother, simply pull away one of the “chicks” and plant in a fresh pot of succulent soil.

11 of 16

Dragon Tree

GETTY IMAGES/STUDIO LIGHT AND SHADE

STUDIO LIGHT AND SHADE / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Dracaena draco
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining mix of loam and standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5

If you're looking for a statement plant that can grow tall and lush by your south-facing windows, dragon tree is a great candidate for your home. This species typically grows between six and eight feet high indoors, and will grow faster with more light. Dragon trees are relatively easy to grow—needing water only when the soil starts to feel dry, and fertilizer about every six months. Propagation is simple, so this plant can provide several offsets of new plants once it grows to maturity.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Dracaena Marginata Open Weave $195
Shop
12 of 16

Yucca Plant

GETTY IMAGES/GRUMPY COW STUDIOS

GRUMPY COW STUDIOS / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Yucca gigantea
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5

Another low-maintenance choice is the yucca plant. Like dragon trees, this plant can reach tall heights when grown outdoors (up to ten feet), but yucca usually reaches maturity at about three feet indoors. This desert species can tolerate conditions with varying temperatures—but it grows best with plenty of sunlight. Choose a west-or south-facing window to see your yucca thrive, and plan to water it about every two weeks during the growing season.

13 of 16

Bird of Paradise

GETTY IMAGES/CARIN KRASNER

CARIN KRASNER / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Strelitzia 
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5

This unique plant has some of the most beautiful flowers to grow in sunny areas. Like its name, bird of paradise flowers resemble the heads of tropical birds with bright, feathery-shaped petals emerging from green blooms. Choose your sunniest window for this one: Bird of paradise flourishes in full, direct light. This species is also a great candidate for propagating, so once your plant has reached maturity, you'll be able to grow offsets as new plants. While your bird of paradise can survive in lower-light conditions, it's not as likely to bloom its signature flowers without plenty of sun—so if you're looking for a statement plant for that south-facing window, this tropical species is for you.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Bird of Paradise $150
Shop
14 of 16

Fiddle-Leaf Fig

GETTY IMAGES/JOINTSTAR

JOINTSTAR / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Ficus lyrata
  • Sun Exposure: Direct or bright, indirect sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0

Fiddle-leaf figs, like other interior designer favorites, are a beautiful addition to bring greenery to any sunny room. This tall-growing tree usually reaches about six feet indoors, but can see heights of 30-50 feet in its natural environment. This species requires a bit more care than other common houseplants—but under the right conditions, a few simple care steps are plenty to see your fig thrive in bright areas of your home. Sun exposure and consistently moist soil are essential for this plant to grow its best. With the right potting mix, regular waterings, and a south-facing window, your fiddle-leaf fig can become a lush focal point in your space.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Fiddle Leaf Fig $195
Shop
15 of 16

Ponytail Palm

GETTY IMAGES/PHOTO ALTO/MILENA BONIEK

PHOTO ALTO / MILENA BONIEK / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Beaucarnea recurvata
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Well-draining succulent or cacti soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5

This succulent doesn't require much attention from its owner: Plenty of sunlight and occasional waterings are all the ponytail palm needs to bring a tropical vibe to your home. Like its name, the ponytail palm grows with a long, thin trunk and a closely-gathered bunch of leaves that resemble the classic hairstyle. This species can grow outdoors in the summer or by your south-facing windows year-round. Since you'll want to let the soil dry out completely between waterings, your ponytail palm will only need your attention every few weeks to flourish. This species is also non-toxic to pets as well as humans, so it's a great indoor option to keep your furry friends safe.

Bloomscape
Bloomscape Ponytail Palm $65
Shop
16 of 16

Gardenia

GETTY IMAGES/ANNA OLEINIK

ANNA OLEINIK / GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Gardenia jasminoides
  • Sun Exposure: Direct sunlight
  • Soil Type: Standard potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 to 6.5

This longtime favorite of outdoor gardeners is also a great candidate to bring greenery and blooming flowers to your space. Gardenia, which is native to subtropical climates, can bring beautifully floral scents to your space during the spring and summer. Since this species requires plenty of sunlight to thrive, it will grow best in your west- and south-facing windows. Gardenia needs regular waterings—without allowing water to collect at the bottom of the plant's pot—through the growing season. In the winter, this plant just needs medium water and a warm, bright place in your home to stay healthy.

Article Sources
MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. What Should I Know About Growing Aloe at Home? University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. January 4, 2019

  2. Safe Plants (By Scientific Name). University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  3. Pony Tail. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Related Stories