North facing windows in the UK receive almost constant shade, with almost no direct sunlight filtering through. In the winter months, these windows provide very low light conditions that many tropical plants will shudder at the thought of!
With that being said, there are a number of plants that can not only survive the partial shade, but thrive in it. These leafy plants are accustomed to low light conditions that are actually common for their natural environments. Whether they grow beneath larger plants, trail from the tree tops, or emerge from the rainforest floor, these versatile plants are ideal for the north facing window in your home.
In this guide, we'll explore 10 of our favourite north-facing window plants at Prickle that are great for plant parents at all experience levels.
Plants for north-facing windows
When selecting a plant for your north facing window, there are some important considerations. Think about:
Natural light levels all year round - does the spot receive bright light from other windows in the room too?
Room temperature - many indoor plants that are from tropical climates prefer warm and humid environments.
Artificial light - can you supplement natural light with filtered light, to help the plant grow on the darkest days?
At Prickle, we categorise all our plants so you can quickly choose a plant that's right for your home. Browse through our entire Low Light Plant Collection and keep an eye out for symbols that indicate a pet-friendly plant. You can find detailed info on the temperature, light and humidity for each plant variety too.
Indirect light conditions
There are several terms you will come across when looking at light conditions. Check these carefully so you know how to keep your new Prickle happy.
Direct light indicates that the plant should be placed directly in a sunbeam, so the sun can touch the leaves. Many cacti and succulents prefer this light type.
Indirect light indicates that the plant prefers a bright spot, but not a direct sunbeam. Many Spider Plants and other popular house plants, like the Swiss Cheese Plant and Chinese Evergreen, prefer bright indirect sunlight like this.
Partial shade indicates that the plant prefers a shadier spot, but still near a window that it receives some indirect light. For a north-facing room, tropical plants that like partial shade are ideal.
Most plants also enjoy quite warm and humid conditions, which is harder to recreate by a north facing window. Be careful not to use too much mist or water too frequently - without the sun to dry out the soil, you could end up with root rot or mould. Read our Guide to Watering to learn more.
Plants that thrive at a north-facing window
Sure, Snake Plants thrive in bright indirect light but they aren't the only ones! These 10 hardy plants are perfectly suited to a spot by your north-facing windows.
1. Cast Iron Plant
The Cast Iron Plant, aka the Aspidistra elatior, is a wonderful addition to your north-facing window. Growing natively in Japan and Taiwan, this plant prefers plenty of shade instead of direct sunlight. The occasional misting and watering is all it needs to thrive, so it's a popular low maintenance choice for beginners.
We especially like that the Cast Iron Plant has large, glossy leaves which will brighten up any north-facing window and as a bonus, they are pet-friendly too. Make sure to dust the leaves regularly to let as much light as possible onto this shade loving plant.
Keep me in the shade for optimum plant health
Cast Iron Plants need the low light conditions that come from a north-facing window. Too much light can actually create scorch marks on the leaves. You should also pay attention to brown marks on the leaves, which is an indicator of thirst. With a good water, letting the soil drain well afterwards, it should bounce back happily.
2. Black Coral Snake Plant
The Black Coral Snake Plant, aka the Sansevieria Black Coral, is a variety of Sansevieria that we love at Prickle. These hardy plants enjoy indirect sunlight and can handle low light conditions with ease. Snake Plants are fairly common across the UK and we known for being easy-going indoor plants.
The Black Coral Snake Plant has dark green leaves - a shade darker than Sansevieria Laurentii Snake Plants - that grow to heights of 1.2 metres. They are great for growing on the floor in large plant pots, where they can chill out in low light conditions.
Mature plants reach heights of 1.2 metres!
Snake Plants are known for growing to spectacular heights, with their sharp and pointed foliage. They are certainly unusual to look at. Thankfully, however, the Snake Plant is a slow grower and will take a number of years to mature. Resist the urge to place it in direct sunlight or give it an extra water to help it grow - this Snake Plant is native to West Africa and enjoys the dry air common in the desert.
3. ZZ Plant
This unusual-looking prickle is the ZZ Plant, aka the Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Preferring shade with a touch of bright indirect sunlight, the ZZ Plant can grow up to three feet and beyond! These average-speed growing plants enjoy dry conditions within the temperate range of 15°C to 24°C, which is typical of their native climate in East Africa. Rather than keeping the soil moist, ZZ Plants prefer slightly dry soil - only give the pot a water when it feels extra dry.
This is a rather versatile plant and doesn't need much maintenance and it enjoys being pot-bound too. That's why we recommend ZZ Plants for beginners and intermediate plant parents.
A low maintenance tropical plant
Low maintenance are the magic words! Unlike flowering plants, this is a tropical plant that wows us with foliage instead. The ZZ Plant has tall, woody stems with symmetrical glossy oval leaves. Wiping the leaves of dust helps keep them shiny and healthy, but keep them out of the way of pets and children - this is a toxic plant.
4. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily, aka the Spathiphyllum, brings undeniable elegance to your north-facing window. Unlike many flowering plants, these plants prefer indirect sunlight and don't need bright light to flower with beautiful white blooms. Growing to a maximum height of 2 metres, they are best north-facing windows plants for large living rooms and airy bedrooms.
To keep a Peace Lily Plant alive, keep your watering schedule consistent and give it frequent misting. Ensuring Peace Lilies are planted in well-draining soil will ensure that they don't catch a nasty case of root rot.
Air purifying low light plants
Besides enjoying shade and indirect light over bright sunlight, Peace Lilies are also air purifying. Most flowering plants stain the air with floral scents, but the Peace Lily can actually cleanse the air instead by removing toxins and airborne chemicals.
Peace Lilies are often thought of as the best plants to give as gifts. While they may be good for homes with north-facing windows and bright indirect light, their leaves and flowers are toxic. Don't gift them to homes with pets and small children!
5. Leopardina Prayer Plant
There are numerous varieties of Prayer Plant, but the Leopardina Prayer Plant, aka the Calathea leopardina, is one of the more unusual and best suited plants for north facing windows. This prickle likes to bathe in bright indirect light and can even handle a few minutes of direct sunlight. It loves plenty of mist to mimic warm and humid conditions, but only water this plant when the soil begins to dry out.
Growing to a maximum height of 60 cm and having lush bushy foliage, these window plants are best placed on a small side table rather than the windowsill directly. The pale striped leaves are iconic of the Prayer Plant family and are non-toxic to pets and babies who take a curious nibble.
I prefer the indirect light of a north-facing window
The bright light from a north facing window is perfect for this plant. One of the nicknames for this plant is 'shadow plant' which says it all! To make sure this plant is happy, keep an eye on the leaves. Curling leaves are a sign of too little humidity, while yellow spots indicate it is sitting in too much water. Finally, if you spot brown leaves, this typically indicates not enough water or the wrong kind of water (try filtered water rather than tap water).
6. Variegated Weeping Fig
The Variegated Weeping Fig, aka the Ficus starlight, is one of the larger plants for north-facing windows. Reaching heights of 2 metres in a relatively short time frame, the Variegated Weeping Fig is also known as the Java Fig and the Benjamin Tree. It is well-known for being pet-friendly and great for beginners.
To keep this plant happy, direct sunlight is out and bright indirect light is in. A north or East facing window that provides consistent low light all year round will be perfect. Well-draining soil is also a must, to ensure that the Weeping Fig isn't sat in a puddle. These plants thrive in humid environments, so don't be afraid to go a little mad with the misting!
Fast growing Plants
As mentioned, Variegated Weeping Figs are fast-growing plants. However, they may not shoot up straight away. Once you've found the right light conditions in your home, refrain from moving the plant pot around. This plant variety needs time to settle in one spot before it can get serious about growing tall.
7. Silver Lady Fern
The Silver Lady Fern, aka the Blechnum silver lady, is a leafy friend for your north-facing window. Thriving in bright yet indirect light (keep it away from direct sunlight), the Silver Lady Fern has that wild mess of foliage - it's like a Spider Plant, but better suited to shady corners!
Originating in Fiji, these tropical window plants won't exceed heights of 1.2 metres and take quite a long time getting there. Both slow growing and low maintenance, they are excellent north facing window plants for beginners.
Bright indirect sunlight is my favourite!
Too much direct sunlight will bleach the leaves of this plant, so keep it out of direct light and somewhere a little darker - by a north-facing window is perfect. As for watering, don't keep the soil moist. Instead, wait for the first couple inches of soil to dry before giving it a drink. You can also give the Silver Lady Fern an occasional misting to keep those feathery leaves lush and bright.
8. Elgergrass Prayer Plant
The Prayer Plant family has some unusual prickles, but few are more unusual than the Elgergrass Prayer Plant, aka the Calathea rufibarba elgergrass. This plant will make a statement with its deep purple stems with velvety soft hairs and dark shades on the bottom of each crinkled leaf. The top sides of the leaves are a bright mid green with a wonderful glossy texture, great for a darker look in your home.
The key to keeping the leaves healthy is to place the Elgergrass Prayer Plant in low light and indirect sunlight. Along with moderate humidity and a warm temperature between 18°C and 23°C, these light conditions mimic the natural environment of the Prayer Plant in Central America. If you notice the leaves begin to drop or go brown, this is usually a sign that it needs more water and humidity.
Pet-friendly indoor plants
The Elgergrass Prayer Plant is one of our best pet-friendly plants from the low light collection. These window plants are totally non-toxic so it's okay if guests and small children are curious about what the soft, hair-lined stems feel like! If pets take a nibble of the leaves, you can rest assured that this plant is non-toxic for them too. Reaching a maximum height of 90cm, the only real danger that the Elgergrass presents is outgrowing your north-facing window space!
9. Watermelon Peperomia
The penultimate plant on our list for north-facing windows is our Watermelon Peperomia, aka the Peperomia argyreia. Named so thanks to the iconic round leaves with curved white and green stripes, this beauty is one of the best plants for low light conditions. So long as it has some brightness from the window every now and then, it will grow slowly and happily.
The size of a mature Watermelon Peperomia is only 30cm, so it is the ideal plant for small windowsills by north-facing windows. You don't need a Master's in Agriculture to take care of it either - keep this succulent happy with dry soil, the occasional water, and a mist of humidity every now and then.
Trailing plants for low light conditions
The Watermelon Peperomia is a trailing plant, so there's also the possibility of growing it in a hanging plant pot. So long as it's near the north facing window where it can receive adequate lighting, you can choose any planter you like. Just remember to take the plant pot out when it is time for a water - letting the soil drain rather than stay water-logged is best for root health.
10. Chinese Money Plant
The Chinese Money Plant, aka the aka the Pilea peperomioides, (not to be confused with the Chinese Evergreen), which is a pet-friendly succulent with a good tolerance for shade. The round, dark green leaves are glossy and very aesthetically pleasing. As long as they receive a little indirect light, they will grow and trail happily from the pot they are placed in.
The Chinese Money Plant is also one of the best plants for homes with babies and pets. The foliage and stems are non-toxic, even if they are accidentally swallowed. Also known as the UFO plant and Pancake plant, the unusual foliage is also air-purifying. This means that it will remove small quantities of toxins and chemicals that are in the air, for healthier living.
The perfect small windowsill plant
With access to indirect sunlight, the Chinese Money Plant grows quickly to a maximum height of 50cm. If you have a lonely windowsill to be filled or a small space on a side table, the Chinese Money Plant will feel right at home. It is also a great moving gift for friends and family, as it's easy to care for, can tolerate shaded areas by north-facing windows, and won't harm any curious nibblers.
Find plants for shady and cool environments at Prickle!
North facing window plants are far more shade tolerant than other indoor plants. Hiding away from too much sun and surviving without fluorescent lights, these prickles are typically hardier than other indoor plants too.
To find other low light plants, or sun-loving plants, explore all our pricks here at Prickle! From lush green foliage to yellow or white pattern leaves, there are some intriguing plant friends to introduce to your home. For more help finding plants for north-facing windows, make sure you follow your favourite prick on social media @prickeplantsuk.