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When I first stepped into my north-facing flat….
Posted on May 14 2022
We all want to have a jungle in our home, but I was confronted with a dilemma when I found myself in love with a flat that had a great view but faced the wrong direction for any direct sunlight. I chose the view, tried many plants, and after two years I got my jungle.
I'm going to share with you a few tips and ideas on how to fill a north facing flat with plants. ‘No sun’ doesn’t have to mean ‘no plants’, there’s a huge group of shade lovers that you can choose from; the size of your jungle just depends on how much space you’re willing to sacrifice.
When I first moved into my flat I thought I might have just a few plants on the window ledge and maybe a hanging one somewhere nearby. As you can see, I didn’t stop there and like every plant lover, I still have a few more in mind. There’s always space for more plants, right?
Let's start with your darkest spaces and bring them to life with some green foliage.
- ZZ Plant - Some of the easiest plants going, ZZ are a brilliantly low maintenance choice. Tolerant of exceptionally low shade thanks to their deep glossy green leaves, they’ll thrive in bright indirect light. Just allow the soil of your ZZ to dry completely between watering to keep it happy.
- Calathea Network - These intricate beauties will adapt very well to low light conditions. Like all Calatheas, they don't like to dry out so water regularly, fertilise monthly and watch them grow. Calatheas can be sensitive to hard water and chlorine, so ideally try to use rain or filtered water where possible.
- Sansevieria - Sansevieria, also known as 'Mother-in-Law’s Tongue' or 'Snake Plants', are an evergreen that requires minimum care and has superior air-purifying abilities. Make sure to let yours dry fully before watering, Sansevieria will thrive in bright sun but can tolerate shaded places.
- Maranta - The prayer plant Maranta is a popular choice thanks to their ability to open and close their leaves every day. As Maranta mature they trail low and wide showing off their delicately patterned leaves. Prayer plants do not like to be dry so keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid letting it stay soggy. Bright shade is best for fuller growth but Maranta can also tolerate lower light too.
- Peace Lily - These easy-care Peace Lilies are well adapted for dark corners but will thrive in bright shade, throwing out tall white flowers all through the warmer months. Peace Lilies are the kind of plants that like to be neglected, so it's always best to water them infrequently. Their glossy green leaves will tell you when it's thirsty as they start to gently droop.
Kentia Palm - Best kept in bright indirect light for strong and vibrant growth, the Kentia palms can also manage with a somewhat shadier spot. Allow them to dry slightly between watering and avoid letting their soil stay soggy. Kentia palms can only tolerate full sun without scorching if situated far from the window source.
If you’re looking for hanging plants, here are a few of my favourites that have grown in low light now for quite some time. Hanging plants are a great way to create a jungle (especially when you’ve run out of surfaces), they can often grow quickly and these are easy to care for.
- Devil's Ivy - If you want to change your home into a jungle in no time, Devil's Ivys are the plants for you. They’re fast-growing, trailing or climbing plants that can survive neglect and low light spots with ease. Best kept in bright shade for full and well-patterned growth, make sure to let it predominantly dry out between watering.
- Satin Pothos - These easy to grow trailing or climbing plants can survive moderate neglect and low light spots with ease. Best kept in bright shade for full and well-patterned growth, make sure to let the top half of their soil dry out between thorough waterings.
- Hoya - Hoya is a large family of easy-care trailing and climbing plants that look good in any room. Keep them in bright indirect light for the fastest growth but they will also tolerate low light well. Allow them to dry thoroughly between watering, feed them with a good quality plant food from the start of Spring through to the end of Summer and you’ll be rewarded each year with their fragrant trademark wax flowers.
- Neon Pothos - Like all of the Pothos family, Neon Pothos won't mind a little neglect. Simply water well when the top third of the soil dries, keep it away from full sun and feed it regularly in the growing season to be rewarded with long and bushy trailing stems of vivid green leaves in no time.
Marble Queen Pothos - A very popular option from the robust Pothos family. While they will tolerate low light, if you want to keep them in better shape and retain the white variegation then find a bright area for it away from full sun such as in a north-facing window and water well when the top third of the soil dries.
Lastly the easiest position, here are a few examples for your north-facing window. This spot is great for most of your plants as it provides lots of bright light but with no direct sun perfect for most of our plants that grow below the rainforest canopy.
Once your home is finally a jungle, here are a few tips on how to keep it in good shape all year long:
- Rotate - It's recommended to change the position of your plant especially when the light is constantly coming from one side. So occasionally rotate and move your plants around your flat to make sure that every side of them get to receive some light, promoting even growth and a healthy shape.
- Use a good fertiliser - When growing plants in low light you might find that the new leaves can be smaller due to lack of light. Using good fertiliser will help promote stronger growth of larger leaves to help fill out your jungle in no time.
- In winter move sensitive plants from cold places, like windows and beside drafty doors - Son’t forget that most of your plants are not used to low temperatures, so the first winter is always crucial after which your plants should adapt and their care will be easier. So watch out for those colder periods days and move your plants to more sheltered and warmer spots as necessary.
- Don’t overwater - North facing homes are the easiest when it comes to your watering schedule as they’re typically cooler in temperature. Try to let your plants dry out fully, and be aware that it will take a longer time for them to dry in shadier places, so neglect your plants when it comes to watering but remember to check on them a bit more often in summer.
Ultimately don’t forget to experiment with your plants. Even though some plants need south-facing windows I didn’t give up and still have a few sun lovers that are growing in my shady collection. You will find a few varieties of Alocasias, Begonias, Variegated plants and Bonsai all have that potential too, they may require a bit more care but when you see your jungle coming together you’ll know it's worth it.