(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Janury 28, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
There are a lot of people that don't have the luxury of windows with full sun exposure. They may live in an apartment building, townhouse or just live in a home with a lot of shade trees. I've spoken to many a person who refuses to have plants in the house; they think there is no point since they do not have south-facing windows.
I have decided to prove them wrong.
My living room has a whopping 15-plus feet of windows, facing north. "Ackk..," I heard you say, "poor Lee Anne, she can't grow anything." Guess what? You would be surprised at what I can grow. "Yeah..foliage type plants," you say. Wrong again!! I have many blooming beauties. Let me show you some of what can be grown in a northern exposure.
Episcia. One of my favourites, they bloom constantly, have wonderfully coloured leaves and beautiful flowers. They will not die, but do sulk if watering is not regular. They also don't appreciate cold drafts. They live happily in my north windows as long as they do not touch the windows.
Hoya. Easy care plants, happy growing in low light. Wonderfully scented flowers. I have 2 blooming now, the scent in the evening permeates my entire house. I allow mine to dry between waterings. Hoya carnosa (pictured right) almost thrives on neglect. It is situated to the side of a North window, very low light. Even when not in bloom, some Hoya have wonderfully patterned leaves.
Aeschynanthus and Columnea (Lipstick Plants). Also easy to care for. They require average watering, do not sulk when accidently allowed to dry out, and infrequent fertilizing. They will still provide you with lots of blooms.
Begonia. Alright, so their flowers aren't always spectacular, but their foliage more than makes up for that. So I snuck in a foliage plant. They are worthwhile though because they come in every colour imaginable. They actually love the coolness found near my windows. In fact, in the winter months when the air is dry from artificial heat, the only place I can keep them happy is in a cool North window. If neglected, they will drop a few leaves but recover nicely.
African Violet. Not only happy in a north window, they are equally happy under a table lamp. My windows are old, I get ice on the inside in the winter. The African violets don't mind as long as they are not touching the window. Properly watered, and fertilized occasionally, they will bloom seemingly all year long.
The above are the plants that I can grow in my northern exposure windows. Don't give up, you can have flowers indoors in low light areas, no matter what they tell you!!
For more information, you will find hundreds of species and cultivars listed in PlantFiles, including African violets, Begonias and Hoyas. You can also visit these fine plant specific forums here on Dave's Garden:
Note: the asterisk (*) indicates forums available to Dave's Garden subscribers.
More very informative articles about growing African Violets:
An article of mine about growing Episcia:
All photos used in this article are my own.