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.

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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.

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