30 Stunning Plants for North Facing Windows

When it comes to growing houseplants in the northern hemisphere, north-facing windows often receive a bad rap, due to a lack of direct sunlight coming through them.

While that will always be the case, it doesn’t have to be a hindrance when it comes to indoor growing. Thanks to a plethora of available houseplant options that thrive in low light.

The best north-facing window plants are those that have naturally evolved in dappled sunlight shining down through a canopy of large trees.

The following 30 examples, you’ll notice, have leaves with very little (if any) variegation and are therefore able to properly photosynthesize with little light exposure.

Selecting Plants for North-Facing Windows

Plants with extreme variegation lack enough green chlorophyll cells in their leaves to properly photosynthesize in low light. Making plant failure inevitable, regardless of your care efforts.

That’s why selecting a mostly green plant with little to no variegation (like the ones listed below) is critical to its success in a north-facing window. 

This doesn’t mean you’re limited to plain and uninteresting plants, though. Nature doesn’t make those. Keep reading to see a collection of beautiful plants that have evolved to thrive with limited sunlight.

Best North-Facing Window Plants 

While perusing this list, note each plant’s mature size for a comfortable fit in its intended space. Also, note that some of these are toxic and can cause severe breathing and swallowing issues if ingested.

However, down low or up high, most of these are quite hardy and easy to maintain.

Calathea Ornata -

1. Calathea Ornata

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall and wide
  • Watering: Keep the soil lightly moist
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases variegation
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 85°F (18° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A mix of potting soil, orchid bark, charcoal, and perlite
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets
  • Common problems and pests: Leaf damage from inconsistent water/fertilizing, fungus gnats, mealy bugs

This surprisingly low light-tolerant plant presents lush, burgundy-backed leaves that can reach 12” in length on a 3 ft tall plant.

This rich pigment breaks through the vivid green topsides as stunning, double or triple stroked, pink variegation.

In exchange for all this beauty in north-facing windows, the Ornata requires higher than average humidity, consistent watering, and nutrient-rich soil.

This plant will communicate a lack of these needs with curling leaves that unfurl when conditions are corrected.

Ficus Lyrata (Bambino) - Plants for North Facing Windows

2. Ficus Lyrata (Bambino)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall by 1.5 ft wide
  • Watering: Water well, and allow to dry out 50% before repeating
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight boosts growth
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 75°F (15° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining and aerated potting mix with 5.5-7.0 pH 
  • Toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystals in sap is toxic to humans and pets
  • Common problems and pests: Root rot and pest infestations due to inconsistent water/fertilizing.

If you love Fiddle Leaf Fig plants but don’t have an available west or south-facing window, this Bambino cultivar is a nice option.

With distinct yellow and orange veining, relatively large, vibrant green leaves are able to sufficiently photosynthesize in north-facing windows.

In brighter light, this dwarf Lyrata can grow to 6ft tall. But, in lower light, it will remain under 3 ft. If you live in the southern hemisphere, this will naturally apply to south-facing windows.

Monstera deliciosa (Non-Variegated Varieties)

3. Monstera deliciosa (Non-Variegated Varieties)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 10 ft tall by 8 ft wide.
  • Watering: Water deeply when the top 2-4“soil is dry.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight increases leaf and stalk size.
  • Best temperature: 65° and 85°F (18° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining combination of potting soil, coco coir, perlite, and wood chips, with a 5.5-6.5 pH 
  • Toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystals can cause swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips and difficulty breathing and swallowing in humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Stressed plants can experience root rot, leaf spot disease, powdery mildew, and blight.

There are few north-facing window plants as grand as the Monstera Deliciosa. While many variegated cultivars need brighter light, solid green types will tolerate lower light. As a plant that naturally grows below tree canopies in dappled light, it’s well suited to bright indirect light. If you place a Monster in direct sun it will scorch and turn the leaves yellow and brown.

Despite their size, Monsteras are fairly low maintenance. Just be sure to provide them with an adequate support structure (ie. moss pole) to grow on, and position them as close to a north-facing window as possible.

You should also provide them with consistent watering and average to high humidity.

Parlor Palm

4. Parlor Palm

  • Potential growth height & spread: 6 ft tall by 4 ft wide
  • Watering: Water well when the top 50% of soil is dry; sensitive to overwatering.
  • Light: Indirect sunlight; exposure to intense light may burn fronds.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 85°F (18° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A combination of potting soil, coco coir and perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets
  • Common problems and pests: Fungal, bacterial and pest infestations due to inconsistent water/fertilizing.

If you live in colder regions but crave a touch of the tropics, the Parlor Palm is an intriguing option. Large, green fronds, atop clumping stalks, will catch the summer breeze flowing through a north-facing window and voila! Instant island getaway.

With proper care, this can reach 6 ft tall with a 3-4 ft spread. Plus, being non-toxic, they’re safe to put on the floor.

Excessive moisture will cause leaves to yellow. Water and fertilize sparingly, especially in winter.

Lady Palm

5. Lady Palm

  • Potential growth height & spread: 7 ft tall by 4 ft wide.
  • Watering: Maintain evenly moist soil, without being soggy.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight increases frond and stalk size.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 80°F (16° and 26°C)
  • Soil: A coarse combination of potting soil, wood chips, and perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets
  • Common problems and pests: Stressed palms can experience mites, mealybugs, and scale and leaf spot infections.

Another tropical option for north-facing aspects is the Lady Palm. Broad green leaflets fan out from bamboo-like stalks. Creating a lush, dramatic presence that can potentially reach 7 ft tall, albeit slower in lower light.

If you see any yellowing leaflets, this may not be the result of insufficient light, provided that your tree is right next to the window. This could also be caused by a lack of nutrients in the soil or inconsistent watering.

 Zz Plant

6. ZZ Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall by 1 ft wide.
  • Watering: Allow soil to completely dry out in between thorough waterings
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight increases color vibrancy and growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 75°F (16° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting soil with 25% wood chips or perlite. 
  • Toxicity: All parts of the plant are toxic, and may cause severe intestinal issues and skin rashes. 
  • Common problems and pests: Brown scale, mealybugs and root rot due to over/under watering or fertilizing.

The succulent Zanzibar Gem grows surprisingly well in low light. Leathery leaves, in gradient shades of green, sprout along upward-reaching stalks and are highly efficient at capturing sunlight and retaining moisture.

The Zz can reach 3 ft tall with a 1 ft spread with dense, vibrant growth and demonstrate an impressive tolerance for different indoor temperatures and humidity levels.

However, this does contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals. So, growing it up on a counter or shelf is best.

Silver Philodendron

7. Silver Philodendron

  • Potential growth height & spread: 10 ft long by 3 ft wide.
  • Watering: Allow the to soil dry 75% before thoroughly watering and draining.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight increases leaf variegation and growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 80°F (18° and 27°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting soil mixed with coco coir and perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystals can cause a burning sensation and swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat.
  • Common problems and pests: Insufficient care can result in various pest infestations, root rot and disease.

Even with such beautiful variegation, the Silver Philodendron will thrive and vine out 5 to 10 ft, even in a north-facing window.

However, these broad streaks of silver will fade as the surrounding green chlorophyll cells rapidly multiply in order to properly photosynthesize. The growth of small leaves will be your cue that its light source is too dim.

While pest resistant, the Silver philodendron is sensitive to overwatering, and root rot and a vulnerability to disease may follow.

Bromeliads

8. Bromeliads

  • Potential growth height & spread: 1ft tall by 2 ft wide, indoors.
  • Watering: Water when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight increases color vibrancy, growth rate and ‘pup’ formation.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C), with 46-60% humidity.
  • Soil: A well-draining potting soil with 25% vermiculite or perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets. 
  • Common problems and pests: Aphids, Thrips, Mites and yellowing leaves result from inconsistent watering and a lack of soil nutrients.

For a rare splash of vibrant color among north-facing window plants, the Bromeliad presents long, green, strap-like leaves that give way to a single rosette of colorful bracts encasing a tiny flower.

Specimens like ‘Guzmania’ and ‘Aechmea’ with darker leaves will fare better and still bloom in lower light. As long as they’re in a warm, humid environment.

Once the bloom has faded, any offshoot ‘pups’ should be propagated to continue the life of your particular Bromeliad cultivar.

Lucky Bamboo

9. Lucky Bamboo

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall with a varied spread.
  • Watering: Replace water in soil-less mediums every 7-10 days, ensuring the roots are always covered.
  • Light: Low to medium indirect sunlight.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 95°F (18° and 35°C)
  • Soil: A nutrient-rich, soil-less medium with a 6.0-6.5 pH.
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets but not necessarily to humans. 
  • Common problems and pests: Mealybugs, mites and fungal infections can set in if water is not routinely changed.

This fortuitous, little plant may be the easiest to grow on this list. As a member of the Dracaena family, the Lucky Bamboo can be grown as a single, green, bamboo-like shoot or grouped together in exciting configurations.

While pest resistant, this does have a sensitivity to harsh, tap water. Filtered or aerated water will help your plant flourish and steadily grow to 3ft tall.

This is a toxic plant, so caution is recommended around small children and pets.

Christmas Cactus

10. Christmas Cactus

  • Potential growth height & spread: 12-15” tall by 12-24” wide.
  • Watering: Water thoroughly when the top 1/3rd of the soil is dry.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight will increase bloom numbers.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 70°F (15° and 21°C)
  • Soil: A free-draining, nutrient-rich potting soil with 25% perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets. 
  • Common problems and pests: A broad range of houseplant insects, leaf/flower drops and root rot will result from overwatering or overfertilizing.

Second, only to the Bromeliad for color, this is famous for warming up cold, winter days with flowers in various shades of red, orange and yellow.

Despite the name, these dazzling plants are native to coastal regions with filtered sunlight. Preferring a warm, humid spot next to a north-facing window in your home.

In lower light, this plant will focus more on photosynthesis rather than abundant blooms. But, flowers will still appear without bright light.

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum)

11. Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall and wide.
  • Watering: Keep the soil lightly moist with weekly watering
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium to bright, indirect sunlight will trigger increased blooming.
  • Best temperature: Between 68° and 85°F (20° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A chunky cactus or African violet mix works best. 
  • Toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystal can cause immediate swelling of the mouth and throat if chewed or swallowed. 
  • Common problems and pests: Attraction of aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites, as well as drooping or yellow leaves, are caused by over/under watering or fertilizing.

With subtle pageantry, the Peace Lily releases large, hooded spathes in crisp, white. Lighting up the often shadowed areas in front of northside windows.

With so many Spathiphyllum varieties on the market, your best choices will be those with solid green leaves. These will offer charming foliage and eye-catching blooms that, together, will steadily mature to 2-3ft tall and wide.

Similar to the Calathea Ornata, Peace Lilies communicate their need for water with drooping and/or fading leaves.

Golden Pothos

12. Golden Pothos

  • Potential growth height & spread: 8 ft long by 1.5 ft wide.
  • Watering: Every 1-2 weeks, depending on ambient temperatures, allow the soil to completely dry out before repeating.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight improves color vibrancy and growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 70° and 90°F (21° and 32°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix or soilless medium. 
  • Toxicity: All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystal which can cause severe mouth and intestinal issues if ingested. 
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites and mealybugs, leaf drooping and yellowing caused by inconsistent watering and/or fertilizing.

By far, the most popular among north-facing window plants is the resilient Pothos. The ‘Golden’ offers dynamic variegation, ebbing and flowing with the changing light.

In winter, leaves may lose variegation altogether, appearing more like ‘Jade’ than ‘Golden’. But, when longer days return, so will its sunny coloration. 

Over time, the vines of this cultivar can reach 8 ft in length and are best grown where they can wind their way around a sturdy support system.

Moth Orchid

13. Moth Orchid

  • Potential growth height & spread: 12 ft tall and wide with 3-5” wide blooms.
  • Watering: Keeping growing medium most and mist aerial roots every few days.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight will increase growth and blooming rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 70° and 80°F (21° and 26°C)
  • Soil: A gritty potting mix or soil-less growing medium. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets. 
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites, mealybugs and a variety of fungal and bacterial diseases can be a consequence of insufficient care.

For soft, luminous blooms to adorn your northern aspect, nothing beats Phalaenopsis orchids. But, only a few, such as this gorgeous moth orchid, will thrive in limited sunlight.

Strings of long-lived, winged blooms rise in pastel hues from a bed of vivid green leaves and aerial roots.

Sub-surface roots are sensitive to overwatering, so bark or small pebbles are best as a growing medium. Aerial roots will need to be occasionally misted in dry environments to prevent drying out.

Jewel Orchid

14. Jewel Orchid

  • Potential growth height & spread: 12” tall and wide.
  • Watering: Keeping growing medium most and mist aerial roots every few days.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight will increase growth and blooming rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 70° and 80°F (21° and 26°C)
  • Soil: A gritty potting mix or soil-less growing medium. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets. 
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites, mealybugs and a variety of fungal and bacterial diseases can be a consequence of insufficient care.

In the homes of orchid collectors, you may find a Jewel Orchid or two growing in their north-facing windows.  

Prized more for their dark green, patterned foliage, which more closely resembles a watermelon peperomia or a nerve plant, than for their flowers, these actually grow more robustly than Phalaenopsis in lower light.

Yet, strings of small, delicate flowers offer striking contrast, making this an overall stunning plant that reaches a petite 12” tall and wide.

Dracaena Marginata

15. Dracaena Marginata

  • Potential growth height & spread: 8 ft long by 3 ft wide, in pots.
  • Watering: Water when the soil is dry down 2” and allow to fully drain.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; medium and indirect sunlight enhances color vibrancy and growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 75°F (18° and 23°C)
  • Soil: A nutrient-rich, slightly acidic potting soil with sufficient drainage properties. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans. But, contains saponins that prove lethal for pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Excessive nitrogen in fertilizers can attract scale, mealybugs, aphids and thrip.

This striking plant presents a pendulous crown of long green leaves that drape from a sturdy stalk. Each leaf is trimmed with a light-catching red and remains so even in a north-facing window.

Bright, indirect light will fuel faster growth. But, when unavailable, all Dracaena requires is loamy, well-draining soil, regular watering, and occasional fertilizing.

While slow-growing in low light, a happy Marginata can still reach 6 ft tall and wide, at maturity and be long-lived.

16. Sword Fern

16. Sword Fern

  • Potential growth height & spread: 4 ft tall and wide.
  • Watering: Maintain evenly moist soil and mist fronds in dry conditions.
  • Light: Prefers lower light conditions; bright light can burn fronds.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 80°F (16° and 27°C)
  • Soil: Loose, well-draining and nutrient-rich potting soil. 
  • Toxicity: Low-level toxicity, can cause irritation to the mouth, tongue, throat and GI tract if ingested by pets and small children. 
  • Common problems and pests: Ferns will begin to dry out and shed in low humidity. Overwatering can lead to spider mites and fungus gnat infestations.

Famous for preferring shade is the elegant fern. Each long, lush, frond is sensitive to bright sunlight, making this perfect as a north-facing window plant.

However, when light and humidity levels are too low, ferns will begin to shed. When this happens, deep watering (weekly to bi-weekly) and daily misting will increase humidity and soil moisture to sufficient levels.

Clustered fronds will then emerge from the soil and potentially grow to 4 ft tall and wide.

Spider Plant

17. Spider Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 24” tall and wide with 2-3 ft long, dangling plantlets.
  • Watering: Water when 50% of the soil is dry. Mist in dry conditions.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight will encourage plantlet and flower growth.
  • Best temperature: Between 70° and 90°F (21° and 32°C)
  • Soil: A loamy, well-draining potting mix works best. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets. 
  • Common problems and pests: Overwatering may lead to white fly, spider mite and aphid infestations, as well as root rot.

Not only will this north-facing window plant produce long, beautifully striped leaves for you, but plantlets and flowers, too! Better yet, variegation will not fade or change in low light.

Although, plantlet numbers and color vibrancy may vary depending on available light.

In exchange for this spectacular show, the Chlorophyllum does need higher humidity to avoid browning or yellowing leaf tips.

Conversely, their roots are a bit more resilient and will tolerate a bit of occasional drought.

Philodendron Scandens (Heart-Leaf Philodendron)

18. Philodendron Scandens (Heart-Leaf Philodendron)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 4 ft long with 10” long leaves.
  • Watering: When the soil is completely dry, water deeply and allow it to drain.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and leaf size.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 85°F (18° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix that includes coco coir and vermiculite. 
  • Toxicity: All parts of plants contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe mouth and intestinal issues if ingested by humans or pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites, aphids and mealybugs are attracted to excessive fertilizer use.

Solid green, heart-shaped leaves on this popular Philodendron means it does far better in the lower light through a north-facing window than other familial types. 

However, at the height of summer, when northern sun exposure is at its brightest, streaks of gold may appear down the center of each leaf.

Regardless of the season, the adaptable Scadens is very efficient at photosynthesizing and retaining moisture in low light, as it matures and vines out 5-10 ft. 

Snake Plant

19. Snake Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 8-12 ft tall by 12-15” wide.
  • Watering: Water every 14 days or when the soil is completely dry.
  • Light: Tolerant of low and artificial light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 75°F (16° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A chunky, well-draining potting mix formulated for succulents. 
  • Toxicity: Contains saponins that can cause mild to severe reactions in pets and humans.
  • Common problems and pests: Overwatering and overfertilizing can lead to Spider mite and mealybugs infestations.

This succulent may grow a bit slower in low light, but thrives and, due to its moisture-retaining abilities, is quite tolerant of drought.

Gold-edged cultivars may see leaves turning completely green. Yet, they’ll still be long and plentiful.

With drought tolerance comes a sensitivity to overwatering, especially in low light. These are also toxic when ingested. So, watering when the top 2” of soil is dry and keeping it away from little fingers and paws are safe practices.

Peperomia Graveolens

20. Peperomia Graveolens 

  • Potential growth height & spread: 10” tall and wide.
  • Watering: Water only when the soil is completely dry, water deeply and allow it to drain.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight will increase color variegation and growth.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A gritty, well-draining potting mix formulated for succulents. 
  • Toxicity: Peperomias are listed as non-toxic.
  • Common problems and pests: Dark spots (from overwatering) may be an indication of spider mites, aphids, or mealybugs.

This succulent is not only adept at water retention but has “window” cells that allow any available light to penetrate through thick tissue for healthy photosynthesis. Making this a wonderful and colorful option for north-facing windows.

With a mounding growth habit, the Graveolens develop small, folded leaves, trimmed in a ruby pink, that encircle dense stems. All reaching a compact 10” tall and wide.

With sufficient temperature, humidity, and well-draining soil, tiny, pale yellow flowers may bud in spring.

Ctenanthe Oppenheimiana (Never Never Plant)

21. Ctenanthe Oppenheimiana (Never Never Plant)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall by 4 ft wide.
  • Watering: Water when the soil is 25-50% dry.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and leaf variegation.
  • Best temperature: Between 55° and 85°F (13° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix that includes coco coir and perlite. 
  • Toxicity: Sap can cause rashes on sensitive skin.
  • Common problems and pests: Excessive fertilizing can result in pest infestations. Extreme humidity can lead to grey mold on leaves.

This gorgeous Ctenanthe presents leaf variegation in gradient shades of green with purple undersides. Giving you an engaging plant that changes color as leaves fold together in the fading evening light.

As a hardy houseplant, the Oppenheimiana still requires a warm, humid environment and watering when the soil is dry down 1-2”. 

As with most uniquely variegated plants, this should be grown with caution as it can be toxic to pets and small children. 

Painted-Leaf Begonia

22. Painted-Leaf Begonia

Potential growth height & spread: 10-24” long with a varying spread.

Watering: Water when the top 1” of soil is dry, avoid getting water on leaves.

Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases color vibrancy and growth rate.

Best temperature: Between 75° and 78°F (23° and 26°C)

Soil: An aerated, well-draining potting mix, similar to an African violet blend. 

Toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystals can cause mouth and intestinal issues if ingested by humans or pets.

Common problems and pests: Wet leaves can lead to powdery mildew, root rot, and botrytis.

With similar coloration, the Rex begonia also thrives in lower, northern light while still retaining its stunning variegation. Small, arrow-shaped leaves take on soft green, shimmering silver, and deep pink with dark veining as they mature.

With adequate nutrients, humidity, and deep yet infrequent watering, the Rex can reach a mature size of 12-18” tall, with each leaf reaching 9” long.

When happy, small pink blooms may reach through these luscious leaves in late winter, as the light increases.

 Rattle Snake Plant

23. Rattle Snake Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3 ft tall and wide.
  • Watering: When the top 1” of soil is dry, water deeply and allow to drain.
  • Light: Prefers lower light; bright, indirect sunlight will increase growth rate.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A sandy, well-draining mix with coco coir and vermiculite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Overwatering will invite pests, yellowing leaves and root rot.

A different sort of snake plant, the Goeppertia insignis (once categorized as a Calathea) presents heavy drops of deep green on long, undulating, chartreuse leaves with purple undersides.

This mix of deep colors allows the insignis to absorb a healthy dose of sunlight from north-facing windows for proper photosynthesis. Excessive sunlight will actually cause the leaves to fold downward in an attempt to protect themselves.

Consistent watering, when the soil is dry down 1-2” is vital to maintaining variegation.

Adiantum (Maidenhair Fern)

24. Adiantum (Maidenhair Fern)

  • Potential growth height & spread: 2 ft tall and wide, indoors.
  • Watering: When the soil surface feels dry, water deeply and allow it to drain.
  • Light: Prefers lower light; bright sunlight can scorch leaves and dehydrate the plant.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 77°F (16° and 25°C)
  • Soil: Moist, nutrient-rich potting soil that’s slightly acidic. 
  • Toxicity:  Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Compacted, poorly draining soil can lead to root rot and pest infestation. Low humidity will cause fronds to shed.

One of my favorites for a northern aspect window is the elegant Maidenhair fern. Frothy fronds are lined with tiny Gingko-shaped fans that are highly sensitive to extreme heat, dry air and bright light. 

When the perfect combination of light, warmth, humidity and water is achieved, Adiantum houseplants can reach 24” tall and wide.

Moist (but not soggy) soil and daily misting will contribute to a healthy, long-lived fern. Slow growth is advantageous because this doesn’t like being repotted.

English Ivy

25. English Ivy

  • Potential growth height & spread: 12 ft long by 12” high.
  • Watering: When the top 1” of soil is dry, water deeply and allow to drain.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and leaf size.
  • Best temperature: Between 50° and 70°F (10° and 21°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining, loamy potting mix promotes sufficient drainage. 
  • Toxicity: Contains saponins that can cause mild to severe reactions in pets and humans.
  • Common problems and pests: Over and underwatering invites insects and root rot.

English Ivy has a surprisingly vigorous growing habit for a low-light plant, adding beautiful color and texture and form to a north-facing windowsill.

Pointed, tri-lobed leaves form an 8” tall crown with dark and light green marbling that can include golden edges in summer’s brighter light. From these, vining runners can stretch to 15 ft, in length.

This Ivy cultivar grows best on a trellis and prefers cooler environments (60-65°F) with above-average humidity and consistently moist soil.

Nerve Plant

26. Nerve Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3-6” tall with a 12-15” spread.
  • Watering: When the soil is dry down 2”, water deeply and allow to drain.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and leaf variegation.
  • Best temperature: Between 60° and 80°F (16° and 27C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix that includes coco coir and sand. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Overwatering will invite spider mites, fungus gnats and mealybugs. Low humidity leads to browning leaves that are unable to photosynthesize.

This pretty and petite plant is a favorite among terrarium enthusiasts. Small dark green leaves with glowing pink, orange and yellow veining shine in low light and only reach a mature size of 3-6” tall with a creeping spread of 15”.

The trade-off is a preference for consistently warm, humid environments (like a terrarium). In a northern windowsill, frequent watering to keep the soil moist (but not soggy), temperatures above 70°F and daily misting will promote this.

Chinese Evergreen

27. Chinese Evergreen

  • Potential growth height & spread: 2-3 ft tall and wide.
  • Watering: Water deeply, yet infrequently. Allowing the soil to dry out in between.
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; indirect, morning sunlight will support a faster growth rate and well-defined variegation.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 76°F (18° and 24°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix that includes perlite and wood chips. 
  • Toxicity: All parts of plants contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause severe oral and intestinal issues if ingested by humans or pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are attracted to excessive watering and fertilizer use.

With a multitude of Aglaonema to choose from, only those with the greenest leaves are considered north-facing window plants. A good choice is the ‘Red Siam’ with long, tapered, verdant leaves, outlined with a vibrant red.

With a mounding growth habit, this colorful houseplant can reach 2-3 ft tall and wide. Preferring temperatures above 65°F (18°C) higher than average humidity and moist soil.

Once maturity is reached, the ‘Red Sima’ may even release small, white, hooded spathes. 

Cast Iron Plant

28. Cast Iron Plant

  • Potential growth height & spread: 2.5-3 ft tall by 3 ft wide.
  • Watering: Sensitive to overwatering; Water only when the top 2” of soil is dry. 
  • Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and leaf size.
  • Best temperature: Between 45° and 85°F (7° and 29°C)
  • Soil: A well-draining potting mix that includes coco coir and vermiculite. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Spider mites, thrip and fungus gnats, as well as yellowing leaves, may appear with insufficient care.

The Cast Iron plant is named so for its resilience against low light, inconsistent watering and varying temperature and humidity levels. 

Its lanceolate green leaves are exceptionally efficient at capturing any amount of available light. Making it one of the top-rated, north-facing window plants for beginners. 

The only major requirements are well-draining soil (to avoid root damage and plant failure) and the replenishment of soil nutrients to reach a mature size of 2-3 ft tall and wide.

Pilea (Aluminum Plant)

29. Pilea (Aluminum Plant)

Potential growth height & spread: 12” tall with a 10” spread.

Watering: When the soil is 50% dry, water thoroughly and allow it to drain.

Light: Tolerant of low light; bright, indirect sunlight increases growth rate and variegation.

Best temperature: Between 60° and 75°F (15° and 23°C)

Soil: A well-draining, evenly moist potting mix that includes coco coir and perlite. 

Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.

Common problems and pests: Spider mites and mealybugs are possible with excessive nitrogen use. Overwatering could lead to root rot.

The petite Pilea presents concentric, silver variegation on dark, grey-green leaves. Yet, because each of these colors contains adequate amounts of chlorophyll cells, the Pilea is able to maintain these patterns with northern light.

Hailing from the tropics, this naturally prefers a warm, humid spot to grow in and water only when the soil is half dry.

Taking up to 2 years to fully mature, the Aluminum Pilea will eventually reach 9-12” tall with a 6” spread.

Boston Fern

30. Boston Fern

  • Potential growth height & spread: 3-4 ft tall and wide.
  • Watering: When once or twice per week to maintain consistently moist soil.
  • Light: Prefers low light; bright, indirect sunlight dehydrates ferns and causes them to shed.
  • Best temperature: Between 65° and 75°F (18° and 24°C) with 50% humidity or higher.
  • Soil: A nutrient-rich, chunky potting mix that has sufficient drainage. 
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Common problems and pests: Compacted, poorly draining soil can lead to root rot and pest infestation. Low humidity will cause fronds to shed.

Out of 30 different Boston fern cultivars and hybrids, most of them prefer a shady spot in front of a north-facing window to a bright, west-facing one.

This sub-genus of Tracheophyta is known for its triangular, lanceolate fronds lined with delicate leaflets and comes in a variety of mature sizes. The Boston ‘Cotton Candy’ seen above can grow to an imposing 5ft tall and wide. Creating a grand presence in large rooms with a north view.

Plants to Avoid In Low Light

It would be lovely to be able to grow any plant in any window of our homes. But some simply absorb and utilize sunlight at a much faster rate and therefore require more of it. The following examples are not considered appropriate as north-facing window plants:

Succulents

Jade, Aloe Vera, Echeveria, and the like, already grow slower than other plant types because of the limited water and nutrients in their native habitat.

However, sunlight is abundant and a critical resource in their survival. Without enough light, succulents will stop growing, become distorted in shape, and eventually fail.

Cacti

Not having leaves, cacti have developed a Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis process. Whereby, C02 is absorbed from the atmosphere at night through surface pours.

This is converted into an acid that is used for energy and food during the day. Without enough light to sustain themselves, the cacti will die.

Plants with Extreme Variegations

High variegation results from more underlying pigment cells than green chlorophyll cells or fewer of them, making leaves appear a lighter green or even white.

Only chlorophyll cells can photosynthesize. The fewer of them a plant has the more light it will need throughout the day.

Flowering Plants

Flowering plants naturally require bright, indirect sunlight for sufficient photosynthesis. But, sunlight also triggers proteins and enzymes within the plant to form buds when warmer temperatures and longer days are detected.

Some bloomers need more sunlight for this than others. This is why Bromeliads and orchids are appropriate as north-facing window plants.

FAQs Plants for North Facing Windows

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.