26 Houseplants That Thrive in Direct Sun

Do you have a sunny area inside your home that's perfect for a new houseplant? In this article, gardening expert Madison Moulton shares her favorite houseplants that can not only survive, but thrive in full, direct sunlight.

Houseplants That Thrive in Direct Sun


If you have a bright south-facing windowsill, you’re probably looking for direct sun houseplants that can handle the intense light. Unfortunately, the practice of bringing home any plant and throwing it on the shelf to fend for itself doesn’t always work so well.

Most tropical houseplants prefer a spot with bright indirect light throughout the day. But many species also require a few (or several) hours of direct sunlight per day to stay alive.

When moving plants to a new spot, slowly acclimate them to the new conditions over a few days to avoid any potential shock. Here are 26 houseplants that benefit from a half or full day of direct sun.

Jade Plant

White planter with green plant, sitting in front of a window. Plant has thick, brown stems that has round, waxy thick leaves spaced apart, growing up each stem.
The Jade plant is very low maintenance and can easily adapt to different environments.
botanical-name botanical name Crassula ovata
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect sunlight
water-needs water needs Once every 2 to 3 weeks
height height 3 to 6 feet

Crassula ovata is known around the world for its ease of care and ability to adapt to a wide range of conditions. They are one of the few succulents that can be grown indoors under low light conditions without showing too many signs of struggle. Jade plants make great options for beginner gardeners.

While they can tolerate low light well, your jade plant will grow far better in direct light. This matches their native conditions in sunny South Africa, where they are usually found in full sun or partial shade.

Your jade plant will grow much larger and produce more leaves and branches in full sun conditions. After slowly introducing my jade to full sun conditions, it burst with growth! I was able to trim it to form a tree shape. Now, it is three feet tall and thriving.

Snake Plant

Rows of clustered, tall, thick, spiky green leaves with yellow striping.
Snake plants are extremely easy to care for and make perfect houseplants for busy plant parents.
botanical-name botanical name Dracaena trifasciata
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Indirect sunlight
water-needs water needs Once a month
height height 1 to 12 feet

If you look for a list of low-maintenance, easy-to-grow houseplants, Dracaena trifasciata (formerly Sansevieria) will likely appear near the top. They are commonly known as snake plants or “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” due to their long, pointed leaves with interesting and colorful variegation patterns.

One of the reasons why snake plants are so popular is that they have been deemed almost impossible to kill. Think of a spot where most houseplants struggle – dim offices or shopping malls, for example – and you’ll probably see a snake plant growing happily.

Snake plants can adapt to various growing conditions, including full sun. I have several of them in pots in my garden that survive sun and heat incredibly well.

Rather than moving a snake plant from a shady spot to bright light, it is best to choose snake plants that are accustomed to full sun at the nursery. Alternatively, you can avoid leaf damage by propagating new plants that are adapted to full sun from the start.


Close up of a light green and pink rosette of thick, rounded leaves with a pointed tip on each one.
Echeveria are drought tolerant and love to be in the sun.
botanical-name botanical name Echeveria
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade, full sun
water-needs water needs Every 1 to 2 months
height height 2 to 24 inches

Succulents are a vast group of plants that all share similar moisture-holding properties. Despite this diversity, when I think of succulents, the first genus to come to mind is Echeveria. These plants are known for their impressive geometric shapes and compact structure, drawing attention on their own or planted en masse.

While jade plants and snake plants both adapt to indirect light or full sun, Echeverias need full sun to grow successfully. If you’ve tried to grow succulents indoors but always end up with a stretched or rotting plant, this may be why.

When Echeverias don’t receive enough sunlight, the leaves diminish, and the stems begin to stretch to the nearest light source. This problem is known as etiolation and negatively impacts not only the aesthetic but the health of your succulent. Keep these beauties in as much sun as you can and you should have no trouble growing them.

Coral Cactus

Close up of a light pink and light green, tree-like shaped plants, with a strong thick base and spiky, wavy forms on the top.
Coral cactus will typically grow to be around 2 feet tall.
botanical-name botanical name Euphorbia neriifolia for the base, Euphorbia lactea var. Cristata on top
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun, partial sun, shade
water-needs water needs Every 1 to 2 weeks
height height 2 feet tall

This alien-like plant is not one single species but two different succulents grafted together. Coral cactus is a combination of two Euphorbia species – Euphorbia neriifolia on the bottom and Euphorbia lactea var. Cristata on the top. This creates a tree-like shape with a strong structural base and wavy forms on the top.

Although they are often marketed and sold as houseplants, both Euphorbia species dislike low-lighting conditions. They need a healthy dose of full sun to thrive, making them perfect for bright south-facing windowsills.

Because they don’t live particularly long or grow much larger than the size they come in, many indoor gardeners don’t notice the problems with placing a coral cactus in low light indoors. But if you want yours to remain healthy and happy with fewer chances of rot or pests and diseases, full sun positions are best.

Ponytail Palm

Potted plant with a brown, enlarged base with long, curled leaves exploding out the top.
The Ponytail palm is low maintenance and will thrive best in bright sunlight.
botanical-name botanical name Beaucarnea recurvata
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright light
water-needs water needs Once every two weeks
height height 10 feet

Another unique houseplant, the ponytail palm comes straight out of a fairy tale. It features an interesting enlarged base with curled leaves exploding out the top, creating a whimsical shape.

In their native habitats, Ponytail Palms grow in partial to full sun. They adapt well to indoor conditions with bright indirect light for most of the day but will grow much larger when placed in full sun and a large pot.

In full sun positions, ponytail palms can make wonderful indoor tree features for empty corners. My ponytail palm in full sun grew slowly, but it is now much taller than me in its pot (although I am considered quite short for comparison’s sake). Keep them directly in front of a south-facing window or on your patio to allow them to grow to their full potential.

Burro’s Tail

Potted plant with cascading stems packed with light green, thick, waxy, individual leaves that resemble tails.
Burro’s tail will need the right amount of sun and water to keep its plump, tail-like features.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum morganianum
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright light to Full sun
water-needs water needs Every 10 to 14 days
height height 12 inches

Sedum morganianum is one of the most popular sedums on the market. The common name burro’s tail refers to cascading stems packed with individual leaves that look like tails. These plants are ideal for hanging baskets or pots on shelves where the drooping ‘tails’ can be left to hang off the edges of the container.

Burro’s tail is commonly recommended as a succulent houseplant. But those who place theirs in less than perfect conditions may struggle to keep the vines looking ‘tail’-like. When they don’t receive enough sunlight, the gaps between the leaves will grow, and some leaves may drop off the plant altogether.

To keep your burro’s tail looking lush, provide gentle, direct sun throughout the day. They won’t appreciate scorching sun in the hottest parts of the day as this can dry out and burn the leaves, but a couple of hours of direct light will keep them looking their best year-round.


Close up of a bright orange cluster of small flowers with tiny orange buds surrounding them. Leaves are green with red, scalloped edges.
Kalanchoe comes in a variety of colors and are part of the Jade family.
botanical-name botanical name Kalanchoe
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs Every 2 to 3 weeks
height height 8 to 12 inces

This succulent genus shares a family with the popular jade plant. There are over 100 species to choose from, but Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is the species that is most commonly grown indoors. The feature that makes these succulents so popular is their flowers. They produce large clusters of blooms in various bright and captivating colors.

In their native habitats, these plants will flower in partially shady conditions, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular as houseplants. However, if you want to get the most blooms possible, direct sun is recommended.

In a full sun position, your Kalanchoe will be covered in colorful blooms almost year round. To get this right, you’ll need to force them into blooming by leaving them in a dark, cool spot for 14 hours a night for around 6 weeks. This matches how they bloom naturally, encouraging them to push out flowers continuously.


Close up of a tree with bent branch filled with clusters of yellow fruit, and large, green, pointed, oval shaped leaves.
Lemon trees can be grown indoors with the right amount of sunlight.
botanical-name botanical name Citrus limon
plant-type plant type Small evergreen tree
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial sun
water-needs water needs Once weekly or Bi-weekly
height height 3 to 6 feet

The previous entries on this list are traditionally grown as houseplants. Lemon trees are not. For those who live in cold climates where a lemon tree won’t survive the winter outdoors, growing them indoors is your best chance at enjoying the tart fruits fresh from the tree.

For lemon trees to produce fruit, they need plenty of direct sun. Around 8 hours per day is recommended (preferably more) to encourage strong growth and flowering, especially indoors and in containers where conditions are not ideal for growth. A large south-facing window is a must if you want your tree to produce fruits.

Unfortunately, even if you manage a minimum of 8 hours of full sun per day, your indoor lemon tree won’t produce many fruits. But you can still enjoy these impressive plants for their foliage and wonderful scent.


Close up of a tree with a cluster of green fruit surrounded by green, curled up, oval shaped leaves.
Lime trees need plenty of sun to bloom and be productive.
botanical-name botanical name Citrus aurantiifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs Once or twice per week
height height 3 to 6 feet

Continuing with the citrus family, limes are also great candidates for indoor growth if you have an unfilled spot with direct sun. Like lemons, these trees can grow quite large, so it’s best to choose a dwarf or semi-dwarf lime variety that will grow happily in a container.

To get as many fruits as possible from your lime tree, aim for around 10 hours of full sunlight per day. Use a pot stand to raise the container off the floor slightly and get the leaves right in front of the window for the best result.

If the light is too low, your lime will struggle to flower or produce fruits. Any fruits that do pop up will likely be small and may take a while to grow. When growing these trees indoors, the more sun you can give them, the better.


Close up of a tree branch that has a small cluster of small orange fruit, surrounded by skinny, long, dark green leaves.
Kumquat trees can handle some shade but will thrive in front of a bright window.
botanical-name botanical name Citrus japonica
plant-type plant type Flowering broadleaf fruit tree
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to partial sun
water-needs water needs 2 to 3 times per week
height height 8 to 12 feet

When you think about growing citrus trees, kumquats are probably not the first option to come to mind. But these adorable fruits can make great indoor trees with the right space and plenty of full sun throughout the day.

Like lemons and limes, kumquats need a full day of direct sun to produce the most fruits. However, these trees can handle a little more shade than the others – ideal for positions in front of windows that may be shaded in later parts of the day.

Use your kumquat harvest in the kitchen to make marmalade or other preserves. They are also wonderful additions to cocktails and can be candied as a sweet treat with a bit of zing.

Rubber Tree

Tall white planter and small glass vase with same plants in them. Each plant has a thick, brown stem with large, waxy, oval shaped leaves on them.
Rubber trees come in a few varieties that are easily propagated to enjoy throughout your house.
botanical-name botanical name Hevea brasiliensis
plant-type plant type Ficus elastica
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
water-needs water needs Every 1 to 2 weeks
height height 6 to 10 feet

Scientifically known as Ficus elastica, the rubber tree has been popular for the past several years. Outdoors, they grow well over 30 feet, but indoors they are managed by the size of their container and the height of your ceiling. Several colorful cultivars with burgundy leaves or unique variegation patterns are available on the market.

Unfortunately, many indoor gardeners have trouble with these popular plants. I have grown several in the past few years, and each one struggled and dropped leaves until I figured out the secret – keeping them in direct sun indoors.

Rubber trees can be found in full sun positions in their native habitats, and this is where they typically grow best. But rubber trees grown in greenhouse environments and sold as houseplants need a little time to adapt to avoid scorching. Introduce your rubber tree to full sun slowly, increasing the exposure over about 2 weeks until it can grow safely in its new spot.


Yucca plants with white blooms on the top of the plant.
While it prefers to be grown outdoors, Yucca can be grown inside as well.
botanical-name botanical name Yucca
plant-type plant type Perennial shrubs and trees
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part sun
water-needs water needs Once per week
height height 6 to 7 feet

The Yucca genus is full of easy-to-grow plants that tolerate plenty of neglect. The thick stems and spiked leaves add wonderful structure and a desert-like look to any room, hinting at the conditions in their native habitats.

Indoor gardeners typically recommend placing yucca species in bright indirect light indoors. While they will certainly survive these conditions, they will probably grow quite slowly, not adding much height year after year. However, pop them into a direct sun position (slowly), and you’ll see how big these plants can really get.

Yuccas make great houseplants because they can adapt to a wide range of growing conditions, including lower light than usual. But if you want to match the conditions in their native habitats closely, a direct sun position is ideal.

Bird of Paradise

Large green fan shaped plant with long, pointy leaves and orange bird shaped flowers, against a light pink wall.
These tropical plants can add some drama to the perfect, bright indoor location.
botanical-name botanical name Strelitzia
plant-type plant type Evergreen tropical herbaceous plant
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light, full sun
water-needs water needs Every 1 to 2 weeks
height height 6 feet

The Bird of Paradise has exploded in popularity in recent years and is fast becoming one of the most popular plants of the year. These South African plants are beloved for their large leaves and impressive stature, quickly reaching ceiling height in the right conditions.

Strelitzias are also known for their bright flowers that are said to resemble birds, hence the common name. Unfortunately, when grown indoors, the Bird of Paradise often doesn’t flower, even if the leaves are growing happily. My plant has been growing without trouble for almost two years in the corner of my living room, but I have yet to see any signs of a flower.

That’s where sunlight comes in. Moving your Bird of Paradise to a full sun position (around 6 hours of direct sun per day) gives you a much greater chance of seeing flowers. The leaves can burn easily, so ensure the sunlight is not too intense too quickly, or you may lose some of the foliage.

Crown of Thorns

Close up of a ball shaped cluster of bright pink flowers on top of a thick, brown, spiky stem.
Crown of Thorns love to be in full sun and can reach 2 feet tall.
botanical-name botanical name Euphorbia milii
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs Once per week
height height 2 feet

Commonly known as Crown of Thorns or Christ Thorn, this Euphorbia species is one of my favorites. It features long spiked stems that look like they have a life of their own, topped with green foliage and the most adorable flowers in an impressive range of colors.

Euphorbia milii is sensitive to cold and can only grow outdoors in USDA zones 9 and above. However, their ability to adapt has made them great succulent houseplant options for those with a sunny window.

Native to Madagascar and found in full or partial sunlight, Crown of Thorns needs direct light indoors to thrive and produce their beloved blooms.

This Euphorbia species is great for planting in a combined container with other succulents. The tall spiked stems will stand out, surrounded by compact geometric plants below to create an indoor feature unique to your home.


Close up of a tall plant with a thick, brown base and long, skinny, leaves that slightly curve away from the base. Each leaf is bright green with light greenish-yellow stripes running down the center.
These popular houseplants can survive in warmer than usual climates.
botanical-name botanical name Dracaena
plant-type plant type Succulent shrubs
sun-requirements sun requirements Part Sun, Sun
water-needs water needs Every 10 to 14 days
height height 1 to 3 feet

Similar in shape to yuccas (but often with smaller leaves), the Dracaena genus also contains several species with thick stems and pointed foliage.

Species like Dracaena marginata and Dracaena fragrans are known as tree-like and grow quite tall indoors. There are also the rhizomatous Dracaenas previously from the Sansevieria genus (Dracaena trifasciata and Dracaena angolensis, for example).

The over 100 species of Dracaena are predominately native to warm climates in Africa, with some spread throughout Asia and Australia. Here, you can usually find them growing wild in partial to full sunlight in areas where heat is intense. Thanks to these native environments, Dracaenas are great candidates for direct sun indoors.


Small round terra-cotta pot with a small spiky green plant growing in a bed of tiny rock pebbles.
Haworthia can handle any spot in your home that receives a full day of intense sun.
botanical-name botanical name Haworthia
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to partial sun
water-needs water needs Every 2 to 3 weeks
height height 3 to 5 inches

Similar in popularity to Echeverias, the Haworthia genus is full of interesting succulent plants that make wonderful indoor features. The many species to choose from have classic juicy, succulent leaves in unique shapes and growth patterns. If you want them to maintain these shapes, you’ll need to give them a spot with direct sun.

Like several other succulent plants, Haworthias are native to hot and dry areas where the sunlight is intense. They appreciate as much direct sun as you can give them throughout the day. This will keep them compact and producing pups prime for propagation.

Although Haworthias look great on their own in small containers, I like combining several species in the same pot for a harmonious but visually interesting feature. As they have similar growing requirements, species within this genus will grow well together in the same conditions.


Tall plants with large, long, oval shaped leaves that have bright yellow, green, orange and red striping on them.
Croton is known for it’s beautiful, mixed, colorful leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Croton
plant-type plant type Small shrub
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
water-needs water needs Daily, keep soil moist
height height Up to 10 feet

Let me start by saying I’m not the biggest croton fan. Although I’ve tried to grow these colorful beauties in the past, I have never had any luck keeping them alive. They always dropped leaves or stopped growing annoyingly quickly, leaving me with a diminished and dull plant in the corner of the room.

However, while I could pin this on bad luck, I think it’s far more likely that I wasn’t giving them enough sunlight. Crotons are sun lovers that gladly handle direct sun as long as they are slowly introduced to it. In fact, higher sunlight levels are also the key to preserving their stunning color – one of the main reasons people choose to grow these plants.

With the right light levels, your croton will quickly outgrow its pot, filling your home with colorful leaves in no time.


Close up of a bright pink flower that has five, round, ruffled, overlapping petals with a long yellow stamen.
A hibiscus plant can be grown indoors if given an adequate amount of light.
botanical-name botanical name Hibiscus
plant-type plant type Shrub
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs Daily, keep soil moist
height height Up to 6 feet

Hibiscus plants are known for their stunning tropical flowers. These plants are a crowd-favorite, with the many types and varieties producing wonderful blooms for almost the entire year in the right conditions.

These large shrubs are not typically considered indoor plants. But, since they enjoy full sun to partial shade outdoors, they can grow well inside with enough direct sun.

You will need a large pot to manage the impressive size of several varieties. If you can meet those conditions and water often, a hibiscus is certainly a candidate for indoor growth.

Remember that your hibiscus probably won’t flower as prolifically indoors as it would outdoors in the right environment. But if you don’t live in a climate zone suitable for keeping them outdoors, growing hibiscus as a houseplant is a great alternative.

Potted Roses

Small orange planter with a small flower bush that has two pink flowers and small green, spiky leaves.
Potted roses will last longer if they are repotted and given the right potting mix.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa spp.
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs As needed, keep soil moist
height height 6 to 8 feet

Roses in pots are typically given as gifts, especially around Valentine’s Day. They are produced to flower for short periods at this time, often dying back relatively quickly afterward. However, with a new container and the right care, you can successfully grow potted roses indoors too.

The first step is repotting. Roses are grown in very small containers, ideal for transportation and sale. While it makes the bush look lush and abundant, this lack of space isn’t great for long-term growth. Repotting into a larger pot with a specialized rose potting mix will help your potted roses survive longer than a couple of months.

Then, you can turn to the next (and arguably most important) condition – full sun. Most gardeners know that roses are unsuitable for shade and need plenty of light to produce their blooms. With direct sun from a bright window all day, you can encourage your potted rose to stay alive and even flower again without moving it outside.

String of Pearls

White hanging planter that has a green plant in it that has long vines cascading over the sides with tiny round, pea shaped leaves growing down each vine.
String of pearls will require some extra care and attention, but its unique look makes it worth the effort.
botanical-name botanical name Senecio rowleyanus
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
water-needs water needs Once every 2 weeks
height height 1 to 2 feet

One of the first of the string succulents to gain popularity, String of Pearls is quickly recommended to indoor gardeners looking to grow succulents for the first time.

They can be fussy and trickier to care for than the ‘low-maintenance succulent’ label may make you assume. But these adorable vines are well worth the extra effort.

String of Pearls doesn’t need as much direct sun as other common succulents like Echeverias. That’s what makes them great for growing indoors. But that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from some direct sun throughout the day.

For strong vines with plenty of leaves (that don’t fall off, as String of Pearls leaves often do), a few hours of direct sun are essential. To prevent the leaves from shriveling or the soil from drying out too quickly, be sure the light is not too intense. Around 4 hours of morning sun will boost growth and keep your String of Pearls happy.

Aloe Vera

Three planters with tall, thick, pointed  leaves that has tiny spikes running down the edge of each leaf.
An aloe vera plant can thrive indoors if given a bright spot with lots and lots of sun.
botanical-name botanical name Aloe vera
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light
water-needs water needs Once per week
height height 1 to 2 feet

Aloe vera is famous around the world for a number of properties, not only as a houseplant. The gel is widely used to heal wounds, help sunburn, aid digestion, and a range of other benefits. If you want to reap these benefits for yourself and grow a stunning succulent plant at the same time, Aloe vera is for you.

Of all the Aloes, this species is the one most often grown indoors. However, that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for low-light conditions. If you want your Aloe vera to grow as much as possible, it will need a spot with direct sun.

Even in these sunny conditions, don’t be surprised if your Aloe vera doesn’t look its best year-round. These succulents can be quite fussy and often develop discoloration in the leaves or stretch a bit as they grow. Keep up the care, and you can continue to harvest the leaves for their many uses.

Sago Palm

Row of five basket planters with a small tree in the center basket. Tree has short, thick, spiky base with large, bright green palm leaves.
The Sago palm is very slow growing and must ease into its sunny spot.
botanical-name botanical name Cycas revoluta
plant-type plant type Tropical and sub-tropical showy evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Direct sun
water-needs water needs Once per week in summer, 2 to 3 weeks in winter
height height 2 feet

Scientifically known as Cycas revoluta, the interesting Sago palm isn’t actually a palm at all. As evident in the species name, this plant is actually a cycad. The shape of the trunk and branches has a look reminiscent of a palm, giving them their confusing common name, but beyond that, they have little palm relation.

The ancient Sago Palm grows incredibly slowly, living for an impressive 200 years or more. Indoors, their growth is even slower. To maximize the potential growth of this plant and get them to the towering heights many growers are after, a spot with some direct sun throughout the day is preferred.

Sago Palm leaves can be sensitive to direct sun in hot climates if they aren’t accustomed to bright light. Slowly increase the amount of light they receive throughout the day and keep them in indirect light during the hottest parts of the day to avoid scorching.


Two terra-cotta pots that have green plants in them. Each plant has tall stems with small, long, skinny leaves lining each stem.
The kitchen window is the perfect spot to grow and consume these wonderful little herb plants.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia rosmarinus
plant-type plant type Shrub
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
water-needs water needs Once per week
height height 1 to 4 feet

Avid home cooks will understand the benefits of having fresh herbs around the home, with flavors far superior to that of store-bought produce.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the backyard space to start an herb garden. But several herbs are also suitable for growing indoors as long as you have a spot with direct sun to keep them happy. Rosemary is one of them.

Rosemary can be tricky to grow indoors due to their lighting requirements and space required. Giving them around 8-10 hours of direct sunlight indoors will maintain growth, or you can supplement with grow lights for more leaves to harvest.

Trim your rosemary often to use in the kitchen and promote healthy new growth. The leaves have many uses, from roasts to stews, and the woody stems are also great for kebabs or roasting food over the fire.


Small square terra-cotta that has a small green plant in it. The plant has skinny, spindly stems with tiny, oval shape leaves clustered up and down each stem.
Thyme is a hardy, easy-to-care-for herb to grow indoors.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus vulgaris
plant-type plant type Perennial evergreen herbs
sun-requirements sun requirements Full direct sun
water-needs water needs Every 10 to 15 days
height height 5 to 18 inches

One of my favorite herbs to grow indoors is thyme. Unlike fussy herbs like basil and cilantro that quickly wilt and turn yellow in pots indoors, thyme is tough and able to adapt well to indoor conditions. They are also great for growing in direct sun, delivering the strongest possible growth and plenty of stems to harvest.

If your patch of direct sun is large, you can consider growing several varieties of thyme at once. Plenty of options in different sizes and flavors allow you to expand your culinary tastes and try something new in the kitchen.

Lemon thyme is a personal favorite that I’ve kept in my garden for years. The subtle citrus flavor is wonderful for fish or chicken dishes, but I often toss a few of the leaves with my roast vegetables for an extra zing.

Moon Cactus

Close up of a thick, round, spiky yellow cactus growing on top of a thick, flat, green base.
Unlike most succulents, these plants tend to be a bit fussy.
botanical-name botanical name Hylocereus spp. base, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii top
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Indirect sunlight
water-needs water needs Every 2 to 4 weeks
height height 12 inches

If you spot a moon cactus in your local nursery, you may think they aren’t real plants at first glance. This unique plant is a combination of two species (like the coral cactus). The green base is typically Hylocereus or another tough species. But the real star of the show is the colorful top, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, with mutations that turn the entire plant an almost luminous yellow, red, or orange.

This grafted combination makes lighting conditions a little difficult to manage. The bottom prefers full sun like other cactuses. Due to the lack of chlorophyll, the top bulb is sensitive to direct sunlight exposure. A balance is required to keep both sides happy.

It’s best to give your moon cactus a couple of hours of direct sun in the morning from an east-facing window. When the sunlight becomes more intense in the summer, move them into an area with bright indirect light to protect the rest of the plant from burning.

African Milk Tree

Close up of a tall, flat, green stem that has a spiky edge and small, oval shaped leaves growing of each spike.
The African milk tree can easily be grown as an indoor plant in full sun or partial shade.
botanical-name botanical name Euphorbia trigona
plant-type plant type Succulent
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun, partial shade
water-needs water needs Dry between each watering
height height 6 feet

Similar in look to a cactus, but not quite part of this group, is the African milk tree. Scientifically known as Euphorbia trigona, it looks so cactus-like that one of the common names is candelabra cactus, but it is actually a succulent.

This rapidly growing plant has long upright stems in a triangle shape. The ends feature spikes and unique leaves that grow upwards. With this growth habit and shape, it’s easy to see why it is commonly mistaken for a cactus.

African milk tree is native to Africa and typically grows in full sun. However, they can handle some partial shade, which is why many choose to grow these plants indoors. For the best possible growth, give them protection in midday and afternoon, but direct sun for the rest of the day.

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Close up of a plant that has large, shiny, tear drop shaped leaves with yellow veins.
Fiddle leaf fig trees are known to be finicky and high maintenance, but with some patience and proper care, they can thrive indoors.
botanical-name botanical name Ficus lyrata
plant-type plant type Broadleaf evergreen
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to partial sun
water-needs water needs Once per week
height height 10 feet

Houseplant lovers will clearly recognize this famous ficus that exploded in popularity during the recent houseplant boom. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a fiddle leaf fig in stores; they have retained this popularity for years.

Unfortunately, as many gardeners have had the chance to grow a fiddle leaf over the past few years, these plants have developed a bit of a reputation. And not a good one. They are known for being fussy, dropping leaves at the slightest change in conditions, and struggling to put out new leaves.

One of the tricks to avoiding these problems is to give your fiddle leaf a bit of direct sun throughout the day. In their native environments, they are often found in full or partial sun and prefer brighter areas if they are slowly introduced to them. You’ll be surprised how much better your fiddle leaf grows with a bit of direct sun throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have the knowledge of the houseplants that can best tolerate direct indoor light, it’s time to pick one (or many) that will fit perfectly into your houseplant collection! Each of these options will make great houseplants, and can be grown in a variety of different locations.

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