Growing Plants At A West-facing Window

West-facing windows provide good but less harsh light than south facing ones, so they will suit a wide variety of flowering and green plants. Apart from using a sill to display attractive specimens, windows provide a wonderful backdrop to a wide variety of plant arrangements.

About the light

Sun is usually stronger towards the end of the day than at the beginning, so a west-facing window will receive stronger, often hotter light than an east-facing window. In this position light varies considerably through the day from almost 100 per cent directly inside the window when the sun is on the window to around 20 per cent when it is not. If you have an obstruction like a tree or building outside the window, the light could fall to around 10 per cent or even lower.

Even if flowering plants and cacti prefer bright light, most will grow happily in the conditions a west-facing window provides, since plants are amazingly tolerant. But there are a few exceptions; Ferns, Chinese Evergreen, Painted Net Leaf and other Fittonias will not flourish in bright light and should never be exposed to direct sunlight.

Growing Plants At A West-facing Window

Making the most of a window

A window can become the backdrop for a very effective plant arrangement. Here are some suggestions to try:

  • Full length windows look especially effective if two tall identical plants stand sentinel on each side. Yuccas are ideal, or use Sword Ferns on stands instead.
  • Place glass shelves across the window and use for a collection of small plants like cacti.

Arranging plants at a window

If you are lucky enough to have a wonderful view from your window then use plants to form a frame for it rather than obliterate it. Place taller specimens at each end of the sill, gradually reducing the size of plants towards the middle to form a U shaped arrangement.

If you are not overlooked, you could form a small frame of trellis around the window and grow a couple of climbers on it. A Canary Island Ivy, a Kangaroo Vine, a buttercup yellow flowering

Allamanda or a decoratively patterned Syngonium could be trained around the trellis to provide an unusual, highly decorative frame instead of curtains.

Place trellis over part of the window, the lower half for instance, and train climbers over this.

Hide an unsightly object that spoils an otherwise attractive view. Use for a Piggyback Plant, a Mother of Thousands, a Spider Plant or a Purple Velvet Plant.

Fix a wide shelf under the window and use for a collection of attractive glass or pottery with an indoor garden as a centrepiece. Use a decorative bowl or a basket to contain a group of Primula, Begonia, Gloxinia or African Violet.

Instead of a shelf, use a small table and place large plants on the floor at the side as part of a group.

Plants for west-facing windows

Flowering varieties

Flaming Sword, a bromeliad with rosette forming, green and purple banded leaves from the centre of which appears a bright red spike of bracts and tiny yellow flowers

African Violet, which comes in a wide range of colours: white, pink, purple, violet, magenta Gloxinias have showy trumpet shaped flowers that can be white, pink, red or purple Cape Primrose flowers throughout the summer and can be white, pink, blue or mauve Elatior Begonias flower for most of the year and can be yellow, white, deep red or pink Azaleas have beautiful rose-like flowers in white, red and many shades of pink. Some are also flecked and splattered in different shades.

Green plants

Spotted Laurel has shiny bright green leaves variegated with yellow Spider Plant, with a cream stripe down the centre of each sword-like leaf, and Piggyback Plant, which can be attractively variegated, both look good on a short stand that allows it to hang Club Moss, which forms a dense, low, green carpet, could be effective grouped with other taller plants Grape Ivy, with its rich, green leaves, could be grown at the side of a window up a pole or trained on wires Aluminium Plant, with its attractive silver markings, would look good in its dwarf variety massed in a bowl.

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