Indoor plants displayed on a wall.

What Plants to Choose for Cool Light Places in Your Home

This is a cool position that, receives little or no direct sunlight: for example, a bright window in a north- or east-facing kitchen, hallway, or unheated spare bedroom.

The popular winter- and spring-flowering azaleas, cyclamen, and hydrangeas that are so often given as presents will quickly drop their flowers and die in the dry air of a warm, centrally-heated living room. These plants prefer a cool position with good light and some humidity.

These conditions can be found in rooms that, receive sunlight for only part of the day, either an east-facing window that receives cool morning sun or a really light, large, north-facing window. The color of 1:1 e walls in a room and the amount of curtaining over a window can both affect the light intensity. Pale colored walls reflect light, making a north-facing room appear much brighter, while dark, somber walls absorb light. Some rooms may not receive any direct sunlight, at all, but still have windows large enough to provide good bright light for growing plants. A windowsill probably receive the most light, but remember that temperatures can drop to below freezing here at night — especially if plants are left behind drawn curtains.

As well as considering the correct light source for your plant, think about the temperature in the room. Temperatures of around 60—65°F (16—18°C) are ideal for most bulbs, azaleas, and cyclamen, but these can be difficult to achieve in most houses. Azaleas really dislike warm conditions and must be kept permanently moist, without being waterlogged, if they are to thrive indoors.

They also need good humidity, so the secret is to mist your plants daily or place them on a bed of wet gravel. When the flowers have finished, move the plant to a frost- free position — somewhere like a cool conservatory or porch — and when the danger of frost has passed, plant it outdoors in the garden. Plunge the pot into the soil in a shady corner and make sure it doesn’t dry out during the summer. You can then lift the pot again in fall, ready to make a lovely display in time for Christmas.

Cyclamen are one of the many flowering houseplants available around Christmas time and popular as gifts. However, these beautiful plants are often short-lived due to a lack of understanding their needs. This is as shame, because well-grown cyclamen can last for many weeks and be kept from season to season, getting bigger and bigger each year with a large head of flowers. Cool conditions, a bright room, and careful watering — never directly onto the tuber — are all these plants need if they are going to thrive.

Indoor bulbs need similar conditions and, although their flowers do not last for long inside the house, they are a welcome sight in spring, bringing enormous pleasure. Bulbs like hyacinths, muscari, and daffodils can all be planted outside in the garden when they have finished flowering.

The cymbidium orchids are an easy group of orchids to cultivate, and their exotic, waxy blooms suit many contemporary settings. The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is particularly striking, and while it may seem a i expensive plant to buy, it can flower for several months if kept at an even temperature of around 60°F (16°C) and given good humidity, making it a worthwhile investment.

Plants for cool light

The following plants are all suitable for a cool, bright position:

Pink and red: Azalea (Rhododendron simsii), Cyclamen persicum, Manuka tree (Leptosperrnum scoparium), Tulips (e.g. Tulipa’Red Riding Hood’)

Yellow and orange: Black-eyed susan (Thunbergia alata), Narcissus, Primula obconica

White:  African hemp (Sparrmannia africana), Florist’s cineraria (Percallis x hybrida), Italian bellflower (Campanula isophylla ‘Alba’), Jasmine (Jasminum polvanthum), Lilies, Pick-a-back plant (Tolmica inenziesii)

Blue and mauve: Crocus cvs., Florist’s cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida), Hydrangea macrophylla, Primula obconica