Growing Plants At An East-facing Window

A position at a window provides plants with strong indoor light, whichever way the window faces. Plants on an east-facing windowsill will receive good light to promote healthy growth without suffering from sun scorch.

Light from the east

Early morning sun, when it shines, is less hot than the mid-day or afternoon sun. This means that plants in an east-facing window receive a more even light throughout the day. A north window, which receives no sun, has the least variable light of all.

Place a plant at the side of a window and the light it receives drops surprisingly. Buildings blocking out sun and light in cities, and trees in the country, will also affect the amount of light available to plants on a window sill, no matter which way the window faces.

If you have a favourite plant which does not suit the light of the window, net curtains or semi-opened blinds over the glass will filter through the light, reducing its impact. It is then safe to let the plant rest there, providing you ensure that it does not get too hot and that its watering requirements are closely observed.

Window shapesGrowing Plants At An East-facing Window Peacock Plant and Codiaeum

The plants you choose to use will, to some extent, be governed by the size and shape of your windows.

Full-length windows are usually also walk ways, so need to be at least partially unobstructed. In winter, when french windows and patio doors are in less frequent use, this is a good position for exotic plants brought indoors to protect them from the frost. They will need nighttime protection, however. Identical plants placed on either side of the window look very effective but in this position they will receive much less light than those placed in front of the glass. All will need turning regularly so that all sides of the plant receive their share of direct light.

Small windows usually need small plants, unless the view would be improved by hiding it. In, glass shelves across the window or trellis placed over at least part of it can give you an attractive curtain of plants. Screw a shelf slightly below a small window so plants displayed on it will receive necessary light for growth but the pots will not stop light or hide the view. A neat effect will be created if you place plant pots in an indoor window-box screwed on brackets to the wall below the window. Set the containers on a tray with a layer of pebbles and surround them with peat and you will provide necessary humidity too.

Wide windows give you a chance to mix plant sizes and shapes. A group of plants, backed by a climber growing up one side of the window, would still leave space for plenty of light to enter the room and a view to be enjoyed. Strategically placed, the plants could be used to obliterate an ugly object outside.

Tall, narrow windows provide space for taller plants. A plank of wood screwed across the bottom of the window can hide pots and protect plants from being knocked off the sill. If the window is over-tall use a climber, placed on the sill or on a ledge above the window, rather like a café curtain, training it on wires or trellis across the window to create a squarer shape.

Turn plants regularly, as they are receiving a lot of light from only one direction and this can result in uneven growth.

Don’t sandwich plants between curtain and glass in winter. This is the coldest position in the room at night. Try rather to pull curtains or blinds behind the plants to protect them. If this is difficult, use a small table in front of the window as a plant stand instead of the sill.

On cold winter days the window sill can be a cold spot, unless you have double glazing. Make sure that plants are not pressed against the glass.

Tips on plant care

Plants close to a window need special care. Follow the tips below to ensure they remain healthy.

Plants for east-facing windows

  • Flowering varieties Arum Lily (Zantedeschia) is an exotic plant that has decorative white spathes. It can be placed outside the house in summer and autumn, provided the temperature remains at above freezing.
  • Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus) with its blue, pink or white flowers is ideal for an east window.
  • Chinese Primrose (Primula sinensis) has red, white or blue flowers in spring.
  • Christmas Begonia (Begonia x cheimantha ) has white or pink flowers in mid-winter.
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) with pink, red or white flowers in winter, can create a decorative display, lined along the sill.
  • Diffenbachia: A robust, slow growing evergreen with clusters of large variegated leaves.
  • Peacock Plant (Calathea makoyana) has silvery green leaves with splashes of deeper green in the centre.
  • Pocketbook Plant (Calceolaria herbcohybrida) with its pouch-like, and often speckled, yellow, orange or red flowers in spring, will flourish here in temperatures around 14°C (57°F).
  • Ranunculus can be grown indoors if you pick a dwarf variety. Choose from double or semi-double flowers in various colours.

Green plants

  • Mind-your-own-Business (Soleirolia soleirolii) with its globe of bright green leaves would be effective at a small window.
  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) will tolerate poor conditions but will thrive in this position.
  • Canary Island Ivy (Hedera canariensis) with its grey- or creamy-splashed green leaves, will trail decoratively over the sill edge.
  • Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) with its delicate, trailing stems could also be used.
  • Aluminium Plant (Pilea cadiersi) is small and compact, with attractive, silver-patterned leaves.
  • Goosefoot (Syngonium) likes low to medium light, so place it in a window that has a view shaded by trees or buildings.
  • Sweetheart Plant (Philodendron scandens) with its glossy green leaves, can be trained around a window.
  • Miniature Grape Ivy (Cissus gnaw) is a more delicate climbing plant that would be ideal trained part of the way round a small window.

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