House Plants That Do Not Tolerate Direct Light

Most house plants that are native to wet tropical jungles can not tolerate full sun. Under the dense forest canopy very little light reaches them and they have adapted low light conditions. Some like very bright light, but they need that light to be reflected at them like off rocks or water. Direct light can dry the plants out and burn the leaves.


Anthuriums are a popular houseplant because of their brightly colored heart shaped flowers and glossy green foliage. They generally stay below 2 feet tall, but some types are slightly larger. Dwarf varieties are also available. The flowers are on top of long stems surrounded by colorful bracts that are shaped like the leaves. Anthuriums like bright indirect light. They can not tolerate direct sun which causes damage. An east or west window is adequate when growing them as houseplants. A southern window will work if it is shaded by curtains or has trees outside to block the direct sun. Northern exposures may not be enough light to promote blooming. They like a well draining soil that remains moist. Preferably the soil should contain some organic matter. Water the plant when the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch. Humidity is important and should remain above 50 percent. Temperatures should stay between 60 and 70 degrees.

Boston Fern

Boston fern (scientific name Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis') is a tropical fern that has been grown indoors since Victorian times. The sword-shaped fronds reach a length of two to three feet but stay slightly shorter indoors. They are light green colored and resemble a feather. The fronds grow from creeping above ground rhizomes . The underside of the fronds is often covered with small brown dots which is where the spores are produced. Boston ferns will not tolerate direct sunlight which will cause the leaves to burn. They should be located in an east or lightly shaded west window to protect them from the afternoon sun. They like humidity levels above 60 percent and evenly moist soil. Water only when the surface feels dry to the touch. They like any type of soil that is well drained but retains some moisture. Do not let them remain wet. The ideal temperatures for Boston ferns is 50 to 60 degrees at night and day temperatures under 75 degrees.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen (scientific name Aglaonema commutatum) is an indoor foliage houseplant that prefers low light levels. It can not tolerate full sun. They stay under 2 feet tall and two feet wide making them a good choice for a windowsill when grown in small pots. It has dark green oval-shaped leaves that are pointed at the tips. The leaf veins are often white, silver or cream colored. Chinese evergreens like low light and direct sun will burn them. A northern exposure works well for them. They prefer to stay evenly moist, but not wet. The soil surface should be allowed to dry to the touch between watering. Humidity is not a critical factor for these houseplants, but they prefer it to be above 50 percent. Normal household temperatures are adequate for this plant.

Keywords: anthurium, Boston fern, Chinese evergreen

About this Author

Brian Albert has been in the publishing industry since 1999. He is an expert in horticulture, with a focus on aquatics and tropical plants like orchids. He has successfully run an aquatic plant business for the last five years. Albert's writing experience includes the Greater Portland Aquarium Society newsletter and politics coverage for a variety of online journals.