Indoor plants in a white room.

How to Choose the Right Position for Your Indoor Plants

The positioning of indoor plants is critical to their survival, and this section of the book is devoted to choosing the right plant for the place, offering a situation-by-situation analysis of the home and listing the plants best suited to those positions.

From plants that will thrive on a sunny windowsill in direct sunlight, such as summer-flowering gerani­ums to those that prefer indirect sunlight, such as gerberas, and those that enjoy the cool light of an unheated spare bedroom or east- or north-facing kitchen, like azaleas, just about every plant and situa­tion is covered. There is a special feature on plants for conservatories and sunrooms, plus advice on a wide range of topics, such as how color schemes and cur­taining can affect a plant’s health.

Most of us buy plants on impulse without really considering where we are going to put them. However, choosing the right plant for t ne right situation is a key element in suc­cessful indoor gardening.

In general, indoor plants are frequently posi­tioned where they can be seen and admired by everyone, such as in the living room or hallway, but these areas do not necessarily provide the best growing conditions. The living room, for example, is usually the warmest, driest room in the house, and therefore not an ideal environment for many of the spring-flowering plants that require cool, humid, growing conditions. The kitchen win­dowsill, on the other hand, is often cooler and offers good humidity, making it a better place for cyclamen, azaleas, and primulas. In addition to the temperature of the. room, you must consider how much light is available in the room.

Many people leave their plants in a permanent position all year round and wonder why they do not flourish. In general, flowering plants require more light than foliage plants, but remember that light intensity varies throughout the year. For example, a plant that thrives in the back of a north-facing room in summer, when the sun is strong and the days are long, may need to be placed much closer to the window in winter when the days are short.

The color of the walls and the amount of curtaining provided can both affect the light intensity. Pale-colored walls reflect light, making a room appear much brighter, while dark walls absorb light. Some rooms may not receive any direct sunlight at all, but still have windows large enough to provide good natural light for growing certain houseplants.

Indoor plants are grown in the nursery in a controlled environment and very few can tolerate sudden changes in temperature. A windowsill may offer the best light for your plants, but remember temperatures can drop to below freezing in many geographical regions at night, making it a hostile place for tender plants. Conversely, in summer you must take care that your plants aren’t pressed up against the glass, which will scorch their leaves.

Most plants at the garden center are labeled with their ideal growing conditions, and there is a directory of plants at the back of this book with advice on temperature, light requirements, and maintenance. Before you make your selection, check that your home offers adequate growing conditions. Humidity, in particular, is crucial to many house- plants and there are several ways of increasing the humidity in your home.


When choosing a plant for a particular position in the home, make sure that it will receive adequate light, warmth, and humidity.

Cool, light hallway

  • Argyranthzmum frutescens
  • Campanula isophylla
  • Cyclamen persicum
  • Fatshetiera lizei
  • Hedera helix
  • Jasminum polyanthum
  • Narcissisus cvs.

Focal point: warm, bright light

  • Allamanda cathartica
  • Brunfelsia pauciflora Macrantha’
  • Ciirofortunella microcarpa
  • Gerbera jamesonu

Sunny windowsill

  • Nerium oleander
  • Pelargonium cvs.
  • Plumbago auriculata
  • Desert cacti

Floor display: warm, bright light

  • Cocos nucifera
  • Howea forsteriana
  • Rhapis excelsa
  • Schefflera elegantissima

Focal point: poorly lit hallway

  • Fatshedera lizei
  • Maranta leuconeura
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Senecio macroglossus


It is sometimes easy to neglect plants upstairs. Always make sure that they have enough water and food.

Warm, bright bathroom

  • Caladium bicolor
  • Cyperus papyrus
  • Hoya lanceolate subsp. bell a
  • Rosa chinensis (above)

Well-lit bedroom

  • Argy ranthemum frutescens
  • Azalea
  • Begonia x Hiemalis
  • Stephanotis floribunda
  • Streptocarpus

Floor display: landing

  • x Fatshedera lizei
  • Ficus benjamina
  • Philodendron spp.
  • Polyscias guilfoylei

Humid bathroom

  • Aeschynanthus speciosus
  • Dracaena cvs.
  • Exacurn affine
  • Peperormia spp.
  • Selaginella martensii
  • Ferns