This summer, I traded some cuttings with a fellow plant enthusiast. She gave me a couple of new succulent and cactus varieties, and told me, “Just throw them outside in the sun. They’ll be fine.” I wasn’t sure, based on my experiences with my own ever-going succulent/cactus collection, but against my better judgment I followed her instructions.
The direct sun on my back porch burned the living daylights out of those poor plants! First they turned white and showed major signs of sunburn (and as a fair-skinned person who is extremely prone to sunburn, I sympathized with them). Then, they turned brown and died.
And thus I should clarify: when talking about bright light for houseplants, I do not mean putting them outside in direct sun for the whole day. What is meant by bright light is that these plants will do well receiving a bit of direct sun throughout the day. They are great picks for conservatories, south-facing windows, and sitting on windowsills.
Something you will notice as you look through this list is that many of the plants that do well in bright light have variegation on their leaves OR are the types of plants that grow in deserts/dry places. Keep in mind when growing them indoors that they will be happiest when you are basically replicating their growing conditions outdoors.
Aloe vera is a common houseplant, as it has medicinal qualities. I remember one time when I was a kid, my mom was helping a friend cook and she burned her hand on a pan. Her friend grabbed some aloe vera, broke a piece off, and put the aloe sap on the wound. My mom immediately experience relief – which I thought that was CRAZY cool, even at a young age! Aloe vera is a type of succulent and will do best when planted in quick-draining/cactus soil in a terracotta pot. All of this will keep the roots from rotting out.
Jade is another common succulent, although there are many types of jade available. Jade grow best when they receive at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, ideally from a south-facing window. Although it is drought-tolerant, water jade plants when the soil surface is dry. They will also grown best in quick-draining/cactus soil in a terracotta pot.
Croton plants are easily recognized by their brilliantly colored leaves – proving that leaves can be just as beautiful and appealing as flowers! Keep in mind that direct sunlight will actually brighten up the coloration in croton leaves. Crotons should not be overwatered, but should receive a drink when their soil surface feels dry.
Jasmine vines are known for the sweet-smelling flowers they produce, and always remind me of a trip I took to India when I was 16 years old. Every time I smell them, I am immediately transported! Although jasmine like bright light, it should be noted that they do not like directlight. They need humidity, and it is recommended that they spend their summers outside, if possible, to increase their lifespan.
String of pearls is another succulent that enjoys bright, indirect sunlight, but is unique in that it is a vining succulent. It should be watered when the surface soil is dry – just like other succulents. It is easy to propagate (either in water or by just poking pieces of the strings back into the soil), so it is a great plant to share with friends. I have a large pot of string of pearls, and I have to frequently give it a “haircut,” as it grows very quickly.
Many varieties of dracaena do well in bright light and as a result, have beautiful variegation on their leaves. Most varieties enjoy bright, indirect light. Their soil should be moist in the growing season (summer) but waterings should be less frequent in the dormant season (winter). I just got a large dracaena for my birthday in August, and it is in a planter near a south-facing window. So far, it seems pretty happy!
Snake plants thrive in bright light. (Whoa, wait. Didn’t we just see those on the low-light list a few blogs back? Yes, you did!) Snake plants are very versatile and can survive in almost any light conditions. Some varieties that do especially well in bright light are: Sansevieria kirkii, Sansevieria metallica, and Sansevieria zeylanica. As said before, snake plants do well when allowed to dry out completely between waterings.
African milk bushes (formally known as Euphorbia trigona) are plants that looks like a cactus, but actually are succulents with spines. Be careful if you get one of these as their spikes are merciless! As with most succulents, be sure to water only when the surface soil is dry. (I also recommend potting in a terracotta planter.)
Now it’s time to survey your space, taking into account where you want to put plants and the type of lighting you have in those areas. Once you have done that, you will have a much better chance of selecting plants that won’t just stay alive, but will thrive in your space!
As always, thanks for joining me on this journey!