Continuing our tour around the windows of a house (or, if you happen to have an apartment, condo or co-op that only faces one direction, then this is the series for you!) I am now going to talk about some plants that will fare well in an east window. Generally, the east and the west windows are the most adaptable, provided, again, that you are getting some natural light from the outside and you’re not just facing a neighbor’s wall and getting no light at all (I know that in cities this can be an issue)
Personally, if I had to choose just one way to face, I would choose east. I may have a natural bias here. My current home and my childhood home both faced east.
But I’m not sure that’s why I would choose east. East windows seem most adaptable. The sun is the most forgiving. It’s the first thing you see in the winter (when you most need it) and, if you have no trees to shade it in the summer, you can always use a curtain or blind. But it’s usually gone by the hottest part of the day in the summer–again, very forgiving. Anyway, I like it.
And so do lots of plants. Almost everything will grow in an east window although the really “tropical” plants that want a lot of warmth will prefer a south window (but more on that on Monday).
Here is just a small sample of plants that like the east window:
- Angel wing and other begonias. These adaptable plants thrive in my east bay window. In fact, I have one bay window that is almost entirely rex begonias. It seems to bring out their best color without drying them out, burning their leaves or rotting them. (My house is notoriously cold in the winter and begonias hate cold and wet. Yet they thrive in the east bay. Here’s that photo)
African violets and streptocarpus. These plants are actually “plant relatives” and I find that both do very well in the east as well.
Spider plant. This plant is very adaptable about light and a great air cleaner. If you don’t have an east window, just set it back a bit from a south or west window. It will remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from your air.
Rubber Plant and Weeping Fig (Ficus elastica and benjamina). Most ficus are great at removing formaldehyde from the air. The problematic weeping fig will also remove xylene and toluene if you can keep it from losing all its leaves! Ficus are also fairly adaptable about light. My two rubber trees are in east and west windows. They are fussier about drying out than they are about how much light they get. My weeping fig has been in a south window and now it is in a west window. Again, it prefers a bit of a higher light situation. Most folks give up on weeping fig when, after buying it and bringing it home, it loses all its leaves. Just ignore it until it re-foliates itself and then it will be perfectly happy in your house. They just are a little fussy about being re-located.
Orchids. You can see the oncidium orchid in the window with my begonias.
Here is the other east bay window that I have full of phalaenopsis or moth orchids (as well as a jade plant and yet another begonia!). It’s my kitchen and since the window is right over the sink, it’s really easy to water those orchids.
Dendrobium orchids and phalaenopsis, or moth orchids will remove xylene and toluene. Granted, that’s not as helpful as many of the plants, but it’s still useful in our everyday lives since so much of our “tech” like printers contain that sort of thing. I do not ascribe to the “ice cube” theory of watering. I just slip them from their decorative outer pots, and hold the inner pots over the sink and let the water run over the bark mix (not the leaves) for a minute or so per plant once a week. Once all the water has drained through, I replace the plant back in its decorative pot and its watered. I wouldn’t want ice anywhere on me–I don’t think a plant does either.
Dracena, another incredibly versatile plant, loves east windows (but will also adapt to lower light west windows or even a bright north window!) One of the best things about dracenas is the variety of leaf shapes and colors available. They are also great at cleaning the air and will remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and trichlorethylene! Water when dry (in my house, once a week)
Chinese Evergreen (aglaonema) is another versatile plant, in terms of leaf coloration. Many folks think this plant comes in just plain old green and white. But take a look at the different varieties of the variegation. There are several of them and they can be dramatically different. There’s even a few varieties with red stems and red leaves. This plant excels at taking benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Again, these aren’t too fussy about water. I water once a week–perhaps a little less in the winter when my house is cool and the plants don’t dry quite so fast.
On Monday, we’ll visit the tropical south window!