Houseplants that Need Lots of Light - dummies

By Bill Marken, Suzanne DeJohn, The Editors of the National Gardening Association

To stay in top condition, sun-loving houseplants need to be in a container in a south or west window. These houseplants require and direct light much of the day. If you have the spot for them, give these plants a try for an interesting indoor container garden:

  • Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis): Long, succulent spikes grow from the center of the plant. The gel inside the leaves is used to relieve minor skin irritations. Aloe vera is slow-growing, but undemanding with regard to temperature and water. Allow soil to dry out between waterings. Divide offsets, and pot them up for new plants.

  • Ficus: A large class of plants that includes fig trees, rubber plants, fiddle-leaved figs, and creeping figs, ficus plants are similar in that they all have a milky sap that can be irritating to skin. Plant in regular potting soil and keep the soil slightly moist — avoid overwatering. Most types do best in bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, and medium humidity. Ficus is easy to grow.

  • Hibiscus: These tropical plants are known for their shiny foliage and huge, saucer-shaped flowers. Left on their own, they’ll grow into a shrubby tree. You can keep them small with regular pruning, or train them to a standard (single-trunk tree). Provide rich, moist soil and bright, indirect light. Because they can be temperamental when it comes to flowering and are often attacked by aphids and whiteflies, they get a medium rating for fussiness.

  • Meyer’s lemon: In addition to fruit (which is far from a sure thing indoors), this small tree produces glossy leaves and fragrant flowers. Put the plant outside in summer. Indoors, provide average to cool temperatures. The tree may need supplemental light in winter. Keep the soil evenly moist. Growth is slow; don’t repot too often. Lemon trees are prone to scale insect pests, need consistent fertilizing, and may require hand-pollination for fruit set, making them a medium on the fussiness scale.

  • Polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya): This plant is best described as perky, with dark green leaves speckled with pink. It grows quickly. Keep the soil evenly moist. Cut plants back to keep them small and bushy. Polka-dot plants are easy to grow.