How to Choose a Plant for Every Room

POSTED BY: LAUREN BRUNSVIK

Hi! I’m Lauren, the resident Plant Witch at Rare Device. I’ve been growin’ and slingin’ plants in San Francisco for over a decade, and love trading bizarre botanicals with other plant nerds. I studied conservation biology at UC Berkeley, and spent three years at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers learning from the best. When I’m not plantmancing at Rare Device, I do private jungalow consulting all over the city. Come visit me at the shop for all your plant parenthood needs!

I'm stoked to be starting a plant blog series at Rare Device. For my inaugural post, we're going to start with the basics: light. The most common complaint I receive from aspiring plant parents is, “I can’t have plants because my apartment doesn’t get any light!” What this usually means is they don’t get that coveted bright, warm, southern exposure and have needlessly resigned themselves to a life without greenery. That’s where I come in! I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite low-maintenance houseplants that will be stoked to live with you, no matter what kind of light your space gets. 


Northern Exposure

While the sun never reaches this room, it gets fantastic bright, indirect light all day. These conditions are perfect for low to medium light-loving species; the “goth club,” as I call mine. Think of the plants that grow on the ground in dense forests that are lucky to catch just a glimpse of the sun through the canopy- these are your guys.

  • Alocasia
  • Dracaena
  • Ferns (except maybe stay away from Maidenhairs at first because they can be bad for the self-esteem of even the most seasoned plant nerds.)
  • Maranta
  • Pothos
  • Stromanthe
  • Syngonium

Satin pothos

Eastern Exposure

This room receives some magical direct light in the mornings before the sun gets too hot, and then stays pretty shady the rest of the day. These conditions lend some versatility and room for experimentation- while an Aphelandra may not like being right in an eastern window, it can thrive tucked further back into the room. Viney, climbing species do well here because they can more or less choose how much light they get.

  • Anthurium
  • Aphelandra
  • Chlorophytum
  • Hoya
  • Monstera
  • Oxalis
  • Pothos
  • Schefflera

Oxalis

Western Exposure

West-facing rooms achieve that lovely middle ground between the gentler eastern exposure and the hot southern exposure. While west-facing rooms do receive several hours of direct light, the sun is lower in the sky and not as intense, preventing the scorch some plants might receive in a southerly window.

  • Aeschynanthus
  • Coleus
  • Ficus
  • Gynura
  • Philodendron
  • Peperomia
  • Ponytail palm

Gynura aurantiaca, “purple velvet plant”

 

 

Southern Exposure

South-facing rooms can achieve an almost Mediterranean microclimate allowing for a wide range of sun-loving and warmth-seeking plants. But don’t limit yourself to succulents and cacti! There are all sorts of sunbathers to meet.

  • Aloe vera
  • Bougainvillea
  • Citrus
  • Croton
  • Geranium
  • Hibiscus
  • Sago palm
  • Tradescantia

Succulents 

 

Cubicles, bathrooms, basements, Golem’s cave..

These guys thrive on neglect and can live almost anywhere- perfect for you plant killers and for rooms without natural light.

  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant)
  • Sansevieria
  • Aspidistra

Sansevieria cylindrica