Plants in pots bunched up near a window.

Where to Position Your Indoor Plants

Plants are generally remarkably tolerant, often surviving periods spent in less-than-ideal conditions without suffering too much damage. However, to get the very best from your plants, try to site them according to their needs.

Plants would not naturally choose to live indoors, where the air is dry, the growing area is severely restricted, and supplies of water are limited. Given these constrictions, it is amazing that plants man­age to survive indoors at all, yet they do, and this is a testimony both to the resilience of the plants and to the ability of the collector to provide as good a habitat for them as possible.

What to avoid

The worst places in the house, in plant terms, are in areas of direct heat, deep shade, or strong air currents. Not many plants will tolerate any length of time on a windowsill facing the sun during summer, when the intensity of the heat can bring the water within the leaf cells to boiling point and cause them to die.

While such plants as desert cacti have adaptations that allow them to cope with heat, most others begin to exhibit signs of scorching, such as brown patches on the upper parts of the leaves. Even the heat from a radiator, television set, or refrigerator will damage a plant if it comes into direct contact with it — the upper part of the plant may enjoy the warm environment, but the roots will suffer as the soil dries out far more quickly than it would do otherwise.

In deeply shaded areas of the home, light levels are not great enough to allow photosynthesis to take place, denying the plant the carbohydrates it needs to live; and in drafty positions, poor humidity causes the leaves of more delicate species to will and turn brown.

Seasonal change

In winter, plants will need to be repositioned within the house. Those needing a period of dormancy should be moved into a cooler room, such as a spare bedroom, so they can rest before the next growing season. Others, such as those on windowsills, should be brought into the main room overnight to escape the cold. Light intensity will also affect, where you position your plants. For example, a plant that thrives in the middle of the room in summer, when light levels are high, usually needs to be closer to the window in winter.



Where to Position Plants and Why

Try to make use of the different ways in which plants can be displayed: in floor-standing containers; on pedestrals; on furniture; or hanging from the ceiling or wall.

Entrance hall (shady, some drafts) Living room (warm, bright light) Kitchen (fluctuating temperatures, drafts, steam) Main bedroom (warm, bright light)
– tolerant foliage plants – most indoor plants, foliage and flowering – herbs – flowering indoor plants, including grouped arrangements of seasonal plants chosen to match the decor of the room
– flowering plants that need less light and will tolerate drafts – seasonal pot plants – plants with thin, papery leaves, such as Ficus pumila – foliage plants
– plants that have dark green leaves – cacti and succulents – tolerant plants such as geraniums
– plants with waxy leaves – bottle gardens
Stairs/landing (cool, indirect light) Dining room (warm, indirect light) Bathroom (fluctuating temperatures, steam) Spare bedroom (cool, indirect light)
– larger foliage plants – most indoor plants, foliage and flowering – plants that need high humidity, such as ferns – foliage plants
– cyclamen, azaleas, and other flowering plants that prefer cool conditions – seasonal pot plants – dramatic foliage plants – overwintering plants
– trailing foliage plants – small plants in grouped arrangements – trailing foliage plants – seeds and cuttings
– bottle gardens or terraria – tolerant houseplants, such as chlorophytum – flowering plants that are between seasons