Plants for a South Window

The south window is a bane and a blessing. It is the window that gets the most sun in the winter. Therefore, we gardeners (or at least I do–and I suspect I am not alone in this!)–really try to “push the envelope” and grow plants that I have no business growing.

And while these plants may be “easy care” in the sense that they don’t require any extra work, because I am trying to grow the wrong plant in the wrong place most of the time,  (citrus inside, olives? Are you kidding me? Tropical hibiscus? Do I think this is Florida? At best my house is 64 degrees!) I wind up picking up leaves and flowers and sometimes pruning off branches all winter long.

Is it worth it? In most cases, yes, because I then have a lovely plant to return outside next year when it gets warm again. Often, I’ll get lemons or limes. I will get lovely blooms until November that begin again in March or so when the sunlight gets bright again. So I definitely encourage this.

cactus and succulents

And of course there are cactus and succulents. They will grow with no complaining all through the winter provided I don’t over-water. These look good until I put them back on the sun porch in May.



Pelargoniums (zonal, bedding, Martha Washington or scented geraniums) Here is a “zonal” geranium that I have obviously just brought in. It will not look this lovely all winter, I assure you! But this is its second winter that I am “saving” it over. It started as a hanging basket the summer of 2014. Most geraniums like to get completely dry before you water.

Herbs can be tricky indoors as well. They love the sun from the south window but they can all too easily get over-watered and get lots of fungal diseases. A mix of 50/50% of milk and water in a spray will cure powdery mildew but the easiest way to avoid the diseases in the first place is to keep them on the driest  side possible.


Citrus.  This is my lime. My lemon looks equally as lean. They don’t like the transition indoors. They will continue to drop leaves all winter. Despite this, I do not  fertilize until March. The plants aren’t actively growing at this point–no point in wasting fertilizer. And again, I try to keep them on the drier side.



The variegated plant is a pittosporum. I keep it around to remind me of my trip to Italy. To its left is an osmanthus, a plant that’s not known for anything but it’s incredibly numerous small fragrant cream flowers. To its right is my olive. You can just see the long, twiggy limb of the olive. At this point, as long as we still have bright, sunny days, I water once a week. Once we get into the gray days of January and February, perhaps every 10 days might be enough!


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