30 Indoor Plants That Like Direct Sunlight

From potted varieties to indoor trees, hanging plants, and more

plants in sunlight

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Many houseplants come from jungle regions where the tree canopy constantly filters sunlight. However, some plants, especially those native to South Africa and Australia, need a lot of sunshine to thrive. You can transform a bright room with a pretty planter and one of these houseplants that like direct sunlight all day long:

  • Aloe vera
  • Jade
  • Sago palm
  • African milk bush
  • Snake plant
  • Papyrus
  • Croton
  • Ponytail palm
  • Hibiscus
  • Areca palm
  • Jasmine
  • String of pearls
  • Basil
  • Gardenia
  • China doll plant
  • Ti Plant
  • Golden barrel cactus
  • Moon cactus
  • Burro's tail
  • Coral cactus
  • Dragon tree
  • Fiddle-leaf fig
  • Echeveria
  • Hens and chicks
  • Tree aeonium
  • Zebra haworthia
  • Yucca plant
  • Meyer orange
  • Norfolk Island pine
  • Bird of Pardise

Learn more about each plant's care and keeping in the list below.

Illustration of sun loving houseplants in a living room

The Spruce

30 Plants That Like Full Sun

  • 01 of 30

    Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)

    aloe vera

    The Spruce

    Add to your first aid arsenal with a low-maintenance aloe vera plant. The sap provides ready relief for minor cuts and burns, and plants are easy to propagate by repotting the pups. Plant your aloe vera in a heavy terra cotta pot that will both support the top-heavy growth, and encourage air circulation. You can also mound soil around the stem to provide support for flopping plants. 

    • Light: Full sun; tolerates filtered sun
    • Water: Keep evenly moist; do not overwater; provide good drainage; tolerates drought
  • 02 of 30

    Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

    jade plant on a nightstand

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    With its sturdy stems and interesting, fleshy leaves, jade plants have endured as popular houseplants for those with sunny windowsills or bright conservatories. Jade plants need at least four hours of sunlight each day, so a south-facing window is ideal. Although the Crassula argentea is a succulent, and therefore drought-tolerant, it is not a cactus. Keep your jade plant moist by watering it when the soil surface is dry to prevent shedding leaves. Jade plants can live for decades and continue to grow slowly over time, so keep your plant in a suitably heavy pot to prevent it from toppling over. 

    • Light:  Full sun 
    • Water: Water regularly; provide good drainage
  • 03 of 30

    Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

    sago palm by a window

    The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak 

    The sago palm is a slow-growing cycad that fits well into modern decorating schemes. It produces no flowers and rarely sheds its leaves, making it a tidy choice for the bright bedroom or living room. Got curious cats or nibbling toddlers? This plant is toxic and should not be around pets or kids.

    • Light:  Filtered sun
    • Water: Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.
  • 04 of 30

    African Milk Bush (Euphorbia trigona)

    African milk bush plant with cactus-looking leaves growing upwards closeup

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

    Euphorbia trigona is an unusual-looking plant that often elicits strong feelings of affection or dislike. Although not a cactus, this succulent does grow sharp spines that can make repotting a challenge. The African milk bush is strictly a tropical plant, and if you give it a summer vacation outdoors be sure to bring it back in before temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    • Light:  Bright indirect light
    • Water: Allow the plant to dry out between waterings; does not tolerate long periods of drought
    Continue to 5 of 30 below.
  • 05 of 30

    Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

    closeup of a snake plant

    The Spruce / Alonda Baird 

    This popular "impossible-to-kill" houseplant is carried in most garden centers as an ideal specimen for those new to houseplants, or those too busy to provide much care to their plants. Sansevieria trifasciata does great in bright light, but it will grow in shady conditions as well. If you are lucky, your snake plant might even reward you with a flush of fragrant white flowers. 

    • Light: Full sun to low light
    • Water: Let the soil dry between waterings.
  • 06 of 30

    Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus)

    Papyrus plant with triangular stems with grass-like bracts closeup

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    The same plant the ancient Egyptians used to build boats and make paper also happens to be an interesting houseplant specimen for sunny spots. The key to growing a happy papyrus plant is to give it constant moisture. Papyrus grows as a pond margin plant, so it is accustomed to having wet feet. Place your container in a dish of water and change it weekly to prevent it from becoming stagnant.

    • Light:  Full sun
    • Water: Provide constant water; wet roots are best.
  • 07 of 30

    Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

    croton plant metal basket planter
    Jacob Fox

    The croton is proof that foliage can be every bit as lovely and vibrant as flowers are. Do not overwater your croton plants; only water when the soil surface feels dry. Croton plants need warm temperatures to thrive and may experience dieback if temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Light:  Full sun
    • Water: Keep moist; likes high humidity.
  • 08 of 30

    Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

    ponytail palm by a window

    The Spruce / Lisa Ruschioni

    The swollen trunk and frizzy foliage of the ponytail palm make it a fun accent plant for the sunny kitchen or family room. Care for your ponytail palm as you would a succulent plant. Give it coarse soil amended with sand and water weekly. The ponytail palm grows slowly and will only need repotting once every year or two. 

    • Light:  Full to partial sun
    • Water: Allow soil to dry out between waterings; the bulb-like base stores water.
    Continue to 9 of 30 below.
  • 09 of 30

    Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

    hibiscus flower

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    No houseplant brings larger flowers indoors than the tropical hibiscus. A site with strong light is essential to achieving blooms when growing the hibiscus indoors. Pinch your plants monthly to keep them compact and branching and feed them regularly with a potassium-rich houseplant fertilizer. To keep your hibiscus healthy, provide regular, even moisture and avoid soggy soil.

    • Light: Full sun
    • Water: Water regularly but provide good drainage.
    • Color varieties: Red, pink, orange, yellow, and white
  • 10 of 30

    Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

    an areca palm by a window

    The Spruce / Alonda Baird 

    The areca palm is a grand specimen for entryways or living areas with vaulted ceilings. The plants can grow about 6 to 8 feet tall indoors and have a spread of several feet. Areca palms need little other than a brightly lit space and even moisture. Make sure no water is left standing in the dish under the pot.

    • Light: Bright, filtered light
    • Water: Consistent moisture with high humidity
  • 11 of 30

    Jasmine (Jasmine)

    Jasmine plant hanging with small white flowers near brightly-lit window

    The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

    Gardeners covet jasmine vines for their highly fragrant flowers that appear in late winter. White jasmine blooms are simple but plentiful, and a few cut stems make any flower arrangement special. Some varieties also bloom in pink. Jasmine plants like bright but not direct sunlight. They need humid conditions, and a summer vacation outdoors will increase their longevity and performance. 

    • Light: Bright indirect sun
    • Water: Water regularly; keep moist; mist regularly
    • Color varieties: White and pink
  • 12 of 30

    String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

    String of pearls plant with small green bead-like succulent leaves in terracotta and white pots closeup

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Senecio rowleyanus plants are a fun conversation piece tumbling over the edge of a container or hanging basket. The succulents like bright indirect light, sandy soil, and infrequent watering. Cuttings are easy to root, so you can share some of this whimsical plant with your friends. 

    • Light: Bright indirect sun
    • Water: Water occasionally
    Continue to 13 of 30 below.
  • 13 of 30

    Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

    Ocimum basilicum is a warm-weather herb that grows as a perennial as an indoor houseplant. It is an ideal addition to a sunny kitchen windowsill, where it adds glossy green color while providing tasty leaves to clip for cooking. It's best to prevent it from blooming by steadily pinching off or harvesting the stem tips. Once the flowers appear, the plant can become woody and sparse.

    • Light: Full sun
    • Water: Deep, regular watering; make sure pot is well drained.
  • 14 of 30

    Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

    This tropical evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves can make a good indoor houseplant if you choose a dwarf variety like 'Buttons' and prune it regularly to keep it small. Although it prefers partial shade as a garden plant, when grown indoors it thrives in a sunny location. It will bloom repeatedly with fragrant creamy-white flowers if you promptly clip off spent blossoms. Early spring and summer is the prime bloom period, but the foliage makes this an appealing plant year-round plant.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Water deeply once a week at soil level
    • Color varieties: Creamy white
  • 15 of 30

    China Doll Plant (Radermachera sinica)

    China Doll Plant sitting on a white desk next to an iMac desktop.

     The Spruce / Cori Sears

    This subtropical broadleaf evergreen tree from China makes an excellent potted plant for indoors, where it thrives with plenty of bright indirect light but will also tolerate a limited amount of full sunlight. It gradually will become a 4- to 6-foot floor plant but can be grown as a tabletop plant when young. Prune every few months to maintain its shape.

    • Light: Full sun, bright indirect light
    • Water: Regular deep watering
  • 16 of 30

    Ti Plant (Cordyline minalis)

    This tropical woody evergreen plant with palm-like leaves makes an excellent floor plant for indoors, with colorful foliage that can include pink, green, purple, red, as well as streaked variegated forms. Indoors, it tolerates the limited amount of direct sun available through windows and doors, but it prefers bright indirect light. As a tropical plant, it prefers humid conditions.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Keep potting mix moist but not wet; water when the top inch is dry
    • Color varieties: Foliage can be pink green, purple, red, or variegated
    Continue to 17 of 30 below.
  • 17 of 30

    Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

    golden barrel cactus on a mantel

    The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

    It's no surprise that desert cactus plants thrive in full sun, and barrel cactus is a prime example of a cactus species that makes a good houseplant. There are several different species in two different plant genera that go by the common name barrel cactus, but Echinocactus grusonii, with its green body covered with golden spines, is an excellent choice for indoors. Eventually, it can mature into a 2-foot tall, 3-foot wide spiny intimidator, but its growth rate is slow and it can spend many years as an interesting tabletop specimen. Be careful about growing this sharp-spined plant in a home with small children, or one where pets don't quickly learn their lessons. This cactus likes warmth as well as direct sun, so make sure windows are sealed against drafts in the winter

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Light weekly watering in spring and summer; once midway through winter
    • Color Variations: Bright yellow flowers are possible in spring for mature plants
  • 18 of 30

    Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii)

    Moon cacti are grafted plants, in which colorful top growth (the scion) has been grafted onto lower rootstock (the host) from another species. Depending on the scion species, many different colors are possible, including yellow, red, orange, purple, or white. Care for these plants is similar to that of any cactus: warm temperatures, occasional watering, and plenty of light. In the case of a moon cactus, though, too much intense direct sunlight can cause the colorful scion to fade. This type of cactus will do best if you limit direct sunlight to a few hours per day.

    • Light: Partial shade, tolerates full sun
    • Water: Allow plant to dry out completely, then water deeply
    • Color varieties: Orange, red, yellow, purple, white
  • 19 of 30

    Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

    Also known as donkey's tail, this is a perennial succulent plant with small blue-green teardrop-shaped leaves that cluster around stems. The stems cascade down over the rim of a pot, making for an interesting display on a tabletop or in hanging baskets. Although slow growing, the stems can eventually reach lengths up to 4 feet. Unlike many succulents and cacti, burro's tail prefers moderate temperatures and can survive down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Once a month
    • Color Variations: red or pink flowers in spring (rare when grown indoors)
  • 20 of 30

    Coral Cactus (Euphorbia lactea 'Cristata')

    A green coral cactus in a terracotta pot with white stones on the soil sitting next to a window.

    The Spruce / Cori Sears

    One of many Euphorbia species commonly grown as houseplants, this unusual cactus grows in the shape of shrub or small tree, with thick stems terminating in wide, flat fleshy leaves tipped with thorny protrusions. When grown indoors, E. lacta cristata can reach about 2 feet in height (though it grows much larger as an outdoor garden plant). Although this rarely happens with indoor plants, it's possible for the leaves to become scorched and burned if they receive too much direct sunlight. Like many succulents, this plant is mildly toxic, so be wary if your pets are prone to chewing on plants.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: During the growing season, water whenever the top 2 inches of potting mix are dry; in winter, water only when the plant begins to shrivel
    • Color varieties: Leaves range from bright green to silver, depending on the cultivar
    Continue to 21 of 30 below.
  • 21 of 30

    Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

    Dragon tree in small white pot with sword-shaped leaves in living room

    The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

    Dragon tree, one of several popular houseplant species in the Dracaena genus) is a broadleaf evergreen tree that can easily grow to touch the ceiling, though it takes this slow-growing plant many years to do this. Ideally, this plant wants very bright indirect light from morning until night—positioning it a few feet back from a south-facing patio door would be ideal. But it will do fine with some direct sunlight, provided it gets some relief for at least part of the day. A plant that sits in harsh sunlight from dawn to dusk may develop burned leaves.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Every three weeks, when top half of potting mix is fully dry
  • 22 of 30

    Fiddle-Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

    Fiddle-leaf fig is a popular member of the fig family, named for the shape of the large leaves that grow out from a slender trunk. Indoor specimens readily grow 6 to 10 feet tall, so this plant will need plenty of space in a room that is quite bright. Like many indoor plants, it would prefer bright indirect light, but there's no problem if it receives several hours of direct sun, preferably in the morning. To keep it looking its best, wipe the leaves free of dust every week or two.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Frequently; when the top 1 inch of potting mix dries out
  • 23 of 30

    Echeveria (Echeveria spp.)

    Echeveria is a large genus with dozens of species and hundreds of cultivars that are popular as houseplants. Though sizes and colors vary considerably, all of them are characterized by fleshy leaves arranged in a dense rosette pattern. Echeveria plants exist in such diversity that you can readily construct fascinating mixed container gardens using nothing but varieties from this genus. They are also popular plants for fairy gardens and terrariums. These desert succulents genuinely want as much sun as you can give them—no bright filtered light for them. In summer, Echeveria plants love to spend a few months outdoors on a sunny patio or deck.

    • Light: Full sun
    • Water: Weekly during spring and summer; monthly during fall and winter
    • Color varieties: Colorful flowers are possible but not common for indoor plants
  • 24 of 30

    Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

    Like Echevaria, hens and chicks is a succulent perennial with fleshy leaves that form dense rosettes. But hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) is a more sturdy, durable plant that tolerates outdoor temperatures down to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Indoors, they thrive at typical room temperature—65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Although offering less diversity than the Echevarias, hens and chicks is an excellent plant to mass together in a shallow pot, or as an addition to mixed succulent/cactus containers. They are easy to propagate, simply by cutting off the small offsets (the chicks) that form alongside the mother plant (the hen).

    • Light: Full sun
    • Water: Infrequently; when soil dries out completely
    Continue to 25 of 30 below.
  • 25 of 30

    Tree Aeonium (Aeonium arboreum)

    aeoniums planted in a container

    The Spruce / Kara Riley 

    The Aeonium genus includes several popular species grown as houseplants. One popular choice is arboreum (tree aeonium), which has leaves that form dense rosette clusters atop fleshy stalks. Indoor specimens grow slowly to eventually become as much as 3 feet tall. These plants need somewhat more water than other succulents, but take care not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Aeonium plants can work well in mixed succulent containers with lower-growing Echeveria plants, adding height to the design.

    • Light: Full sun to part shade
    • Water: Occasionally, when top 1 inch of soil dries out
  • 26 of 30

    Zebra Haworthia (Haworthiopsis fasciata)

    zebra plant

    The Spruce / Alonda Baird

    Hawthoriopsis fasciata, commonly known as zebra hawthoriopsis, is one of the more popular perennial species in the succulent category, prized for the thick green leaves with horizontal white striping. Ideally, this plant prefers very bright indirect light, but it is quite tolerant of some direct sunlight, especially in the morning. If leaves turn red, yellow, or white, it's a sign the plant is getting a bit too much sun.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Occasionally; when top 1 inch of potting mix dries out
  • 27 of 30

    Yucca Plant (Yucca spp.)

    Spineless yucca plant in tan glazed pot in corner of room closeup

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    The Yucca genus includes about 40 perennial plants, ranging from 1 to 30 feet in height. For indoor use, two species are most popular: Yucca gigantea and Yucca aloifolia. Y. gigantea is especially popular because its swordlike leaves are lacking the sharp spines found on other species. Although it can eventually grow into a 30-foot tree, the growth rate is so slow that Y. gigantea can serve as a good houseplant for many years before it outgrows its space. Yucca plants are very tolerant of temperature shifts, but make sure not to overwater them.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: When the soil dries out; at most, once a week
  • 28 of 30

    Meyer Lemon (Citrus × meyeri)

    Many dwarf citrus trees can make acceptable indoor houseplants, but an especially good choice is Meyer lemon, a hybrid developed by crossing a lemon tree with a tangerine tree. While outdoor trees grow to a height of 10 feet, Meyer lemon tends to grow slower and smaller when potted for indoor growth. This tree really needs 8 full hours of direct sunlight each day, so it will need the sunniest winter or patio door you can provide. This tree grows well with a temperature range between 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but it likes humidity levels of about 50 percent, so you may need to use a room humidifier, especially if you want to enjoy fruit. With indoor trees, fruit usually ripens in spring, but only after the tree is four or five years old.

    • Light: Full sun
    • Water: Water thoroughly when the top 1 inch of soil dries out
    Continue to 29 of 30 below.
  • 29 of 30

    Norfolk Island Pine

    Norfolk Island pine is not a true pine, but rather a species in the Araucaria genus, which also includes monkey puzzle tree. Outdoors, it can be a 200-foot tree, but indoor specimens typically remain at 3 to 8 feet. The soft, needle-like leaves cover symmetrical branches extending from a perfectly vertical trunk. The species looks so much like a conifer that it is often grown to use as a living Christmas tree. Though this is a tropical plant, Norfolk Island pine is relatively forgiving of dry indoor air.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Every two weeks; let the soil dry out fully
  • 30 of 30

    Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

    Bird of paradise is a tropical plant related to banana, named for the distinctive look of the orange, white, and blue flowers. Although it can grow to a height of 6 feet, there is no central trunk. Instead, the large leaves emerge directly from the base. The unique flowers appear in late winter and spring, but only appear with mature plants at least three years old. This plant requires direct sun and high humidity. It can be a good idea to move the plant outdoors for the summer months. Mature plants should be allowed to become root-bound, as this will stimulate flowering.

    • Light: Full sun to partial shade
    • Water: Daily during spring and summer; twice weekly during winter
    • Color varieties: Yellow, white, and blue

Tip

Bright rooms and south-facing windows seem like a boon to houseplants at first glance, but in reality, many houseplants can experience leaf scorch from too much sunlight. Be sure you know how much sunlight is right for each of your houseplants.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. What Is The Problem with My Indoor Jade Plant? Missouri Botanical Garden.

  3. Sago Palm Poisoning.VCA Animal Hospitals.

  4. Codiaeum Variegatum var. Pictum. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  5. Scorch, Sunburn, and Heat Stress. Missouri Botanical Garden