Water and Light Requirements of Indoor Plants

Two of the basic fundamentals of growing indoor plants are meeting their light and water requirements. If these needs aren’t correct, the plant will fail to thrive. Some plants are forgiving, even in the wrong conditions, and will continue to grow happily, but many have very specific needs.

As a rule, succulents are one of the hardiest plants, they love full sun and can handle drought conditions as they store water in their fleshy tissues. Other plants need consistently moist soil but not soggy. When the soil is saturated, the pore space is filled up which deprives the roots of oxygen.

I have excluded the frequency of watering because it will vary from season to season, outside temperature and location. Obviously, a houseplant in Australia during summer will require more water than a houseplant in England during winter. It is also important to note that not all plants will follow the same water regimen. It is far more effective to check the soil of each plant individually and water as required.

Soil substrate is also important for each individual plant. Some prefer rich soil, others well-draining. If you are at all unsure, check with your local garden centre.

Related: Is shamrock plant toxic to dogs?

Potting mix

Low/moderate: Able to tolerate lower-light positions, but prefers bright, indirect light.

Bright/indirect: A location that receives diffuse bright light, and morning light, avoid afternoon sun which is too strong. Can be placed close to a bright window, but out of direct light.

Full sun: Likes to grow in full sun, with at least six hours of sun a day.

Most plants are happy in bright but indirect light. This means the plant is placed near a window or glass door, but not so close that the sun rays hit the foliage.

Water Light
Adanson’s monstera (Monstera adansonii) Moderate Partial sun to full shade
African milk thistle (Euphorbia trigona) Low/moderate Bright/indirect to full sun
Aluminium plant (Pilea cadierei) Moderate Bright/indirect
Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp.) Moderate Partial shade
Anthurium (Anthurium spp.) Moderate Bright/indirect
Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) Moderate Bright/indirect
Baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Bear’s paw (Cotyledon tomentosa) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Bengal fig (Ficus benghalensis ‘Audrey’) Moderate Bright/indirect
Bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) Moderate Medium to low/indirect
Black velvet alocasia (Alocasia reginula) Moderate Bright/indirect
Blue chalk sticks (Curio talinoides var.
Low Full sun
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Brittle maidenhair fern (Adiantum tenerum) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys) Low Full sun
Cacti (Cactaceae) Low Full sun
Calathea (Calathea spp.) Moderate Bright/indirect
Candelabra tree (Euphorbia ingens) Low Full sun
Carrion plant (Stapelia grandiflora) Moderate Full sun
Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) Low to moderate Bright/indirect
Chain of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) Moderate Bright/indirect
China doll plant (Radermachera sinica) Moderate Bright/indirect
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.) Moderate Medium to low
Chinese palm fern (Livistona chinensis) Moderate Bright/indirect to full sun
Chinese money plant (Pilea spp.) Moderate Bright/indirect
Christmas carol aloe (Aloe x ‘Christmas carol’) Low Bright/indirect
Climbing onion (Bowiea volubilis) Moderate Bright/indirect
Cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica) High Bright/indirect to full sun
Condom plant (Ceropegia ampliata) Low Full sun
Creeping philodendron (Rhaphidophora decursiva) Moderate Low/moderate
Cupid peperomia (Peperomia scandens) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Devil’s ivy (Pothos spp.) Moist, water when top 5 cm of soil is dry Bright/indirect
Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.) Moderate Indirect
Donkey ears (Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Drooping prickly pear (Opuntia monacantha) Low Full sun
Dwarf umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola) Moderate Bright/indirect
Elephant ear (Alocasia spp.) Moderate Bright/indirect
Elephant’s foot yam (Dioscorea sylvatica) Moderate Bright/indirect
Elkhorn fern (Platycerium bifuracatum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Emerald ripple peperomia (Peperomia caperata) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
English ivy (Hedera helix) Water when the top of the soil feels dry Bright/indirect
Exotic begonia (Begonia brevirimosa) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Eyelash begonia (Begonia bowerae) Moderate Bright/indirect
Fancy leaf caladium (Caladium bicolour) High Bright/indirect
Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) Moderate Bright/filtered
Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli) Low Bright/indirect to full sun
Flapjack (Kalanchoe luciae) Low Full sun
Fuzzy leaf begonia (Begonia peltata) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Giant taro (Alocasia macrorrhizos) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Golden cane (Dypsis lutescens) Low, allow to dry out between watering Full sun
Golden rat tail (Winterocereus aurespinus) Low Bright/indirect to full sun
Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) Moderate Low/moderate
Green shield alocasia (Alocasia clypeolata) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Happy plant (Dracaena) Slightly moist, allow to dry out between watering Bright/indirect
Heart-leaf fern (Hemionitis arifolia) High Bright/indirect
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Hoya spp. Moderate Bright/indirect
Horsehead philodendron (Philodendron bipennifolium) Moderate Bright/indirect
Iron cross oxalis (Oxalis tetraphylla) Slightly moist Bright/indirect
Jade plant (Crassula ovata) Low Full sun
Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) Moderate Bright/indirect, will tolerate shade
King anthurium (Anthurium veitchii) Moderate Bright/indirect
King or queen air plant (Tillandsia exeographica) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Kris plant (Alocasia sanderiana) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) Moderate Bright/indirect
Laui (Echeveria laui) Low Bright
Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans) Moderate Bright/indirect
Macho fern (Nephrolepis biserrata ‘macho’) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) Low Bright/indirect to full sun
Maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Mazae begonia (Begonia mazae) Moderate Bright/indirect
Mini monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) Moderate Bright/indirect
Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera) Moderate Bright/indirect
Money tree plant (Pachira aquatica) Moderate Bright/indirect
Monstrose apple cactus (Cereus
Low/moderate Full sun
Moses-in-the-cradle (Tradescantia
Slightly moist Bright/indirect
Nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis) Well drained, moist, but not too soggy Low/moderate
Network calathea (Goeppertia kegeljanii) Moderate Bright/indirect
Oak leaf philodendron (Philodendron pedatum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Ornamental yam (Dioscorea dodecaneura) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Painted leaf begonia (Begonia rex) Moderate Bright/indirect
Parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans) Moist in spring, summer and autumn, dry in winter Indirect, will tolerate shade
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) Moderate Low to bright, indirect sunlight
Peacock plant (Calathea lietzei) Moderate Bright/indirect
Pearl laceleaf (Anthurium scandens) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Peruvian apple cactus Low/moderate Full sun
Philodendron (Philodendron spp.) Moderate moisture, but allow to dry out between
Pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.) High Bright/indirect to full sun
Polka dot begonia (Begonia maculata) Moderate Bright/indirect
Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) Moist, water when the top 1 cm of soil is dry Bright/filtered
Polydactylum anthurium (Anthurium polydactylum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Purple shamrock (Oxalis triangularis) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) Lightly moist, allow the soil surface to dry out
between watering
Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) Moderate Bright/filtered
Purple oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) Slightly moist Bright/filtered
Queen anthurium (Anthirum warocqueanum) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Queen of hearts (Homalomena rubescens ‘Maggie’) Moderate Bright/indirect
Rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) Moderate Bright/indirect
Radiator plants (Peperomia spp.) Moderate Bright/indirect
Raindrop peperomia (Peperomia polybotrya) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
Red bristle philodendron (Philodendron squamiferum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Rock tassel fern (Huperzia squarrosa) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) Average, water when the top 3 cm is dry Bright/indirect
Sabre fig (Ficus binnendijkii) Moderate Bright/indirect
Satin vine (Scindapsus pictus) Moderate Bright/indirect
Scaly zamia (Lepidozamia peroffskyana) Low Bright/indirect
Silver dollar vine (Zerosicyos danguyi) Low Full sun
Silver leaf monstera (Monstera siltepecana) Moderate Bright/indirect
Skeleton key philodendron (Philodendron tortum) High Bright/indirect
Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) Low, allow to dry out between watering Full sun, partial sun to full shade
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) Average, water when the top 2.5 cm of soil is dry Low/moderate
Spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla) Moderate Bright/indirect to full sun
Staghorn fern (Platycerium superbum) Moderate Bright/indirect
Strap leaf anthurium (Anthurium vittarifolium) Moderate/high Bright/indirect
String of buttons (Crassula perforata) Low/moderate Bright/indirect
String of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) Low, allow to dry out between watering Bright/indirect
String of beans (Curio radicans) Low/medium Bright/indirect
String of needles (Ceropegia linearis) Moderate Bright/indirect
String of pearls (Curio rowleyanus) Low/medium Bright/indirect
Sundew (Drosera spp.) High Bright/indirect to full sun
Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis) Moderate Bright/indirect
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera
Moist, well drained, water when the
top 5 cm is dry
Partial sun
Swiss cheese vine (Monstera adansonii) Moderate Bright/indirect
Ti plant (Cordyline spp.) Keep moist during the growing period Bright/indirect
Tree houseleek (Aeonium spp.) Low Bright
Trumpet pitchers (Sarracenia spp.) High Full sun
Velvet leaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum
var. hederaceum)
High Bright/indirect
Velvet plant (Gynura aurantiaca) Moderate Full to partial sun
Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) High (use rainwater or distilled water) Full sun
Watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) Moderate Bright/indirect
Wax plant (Hoya spp.) Slightly moist, water when the soil dries out Medium to bright indirect light
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) Moderate Bright/filtered
White vein arrow leaf (Caladium lindenii) High Bright/indirect
Windmill palm tree (Trachycarpus fortunei) Consistently moist Partial shade
Yucca (Yukka spp.) Low Bright
Zebra alocasia (Alocasia zebrina) Moderate Bright/indirect
Zebra cactus (Haworthiopsis attenuata) Low Full sun
Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) Moderate Bright/indirect
ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) Low Low/moderate