Exotic Sun-Loving Indoor Plants

Most people want Indoor Plants for low light – but some homes, especially those along Camps Bay & Sea Point, are flooded with sunlight, as are some balconies, and need plants that can take high light to full sun. So – here’s another list of plants that want lots of light…

Porcupine plant

A sculptural, easy plant is the Porcupine Plant (Agave gemniflora)(1). It is a low care, water-wise plant for a focal point and fits in with modern minimal décor. It is now rare in the wild in Mexico where it originates.

Another sun-loving plant from Mexico, is the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnia recurvata)(1 & 2). It is not actually a palm, despite its name, but it is also easy care, tolerating neglect and low water. It will eventually, slowly, grow into an indoor tree.

Ponytail palm

And a third sun-loving plant from Mexico is Yucca elephantipes (1), or spineless yucca. It is also a water-wise, sculptural plant that is easy care. If it grows too tall for its space, simply chop it off at the desired height, and it will grow leaves again! (5: p185)

Cacti are known to love a dry, sunny environment. The big ones are an appropriate choice for modern homes. Some good ones for indoors are Opuntia subulata, Cereus peruvianus (the blue one!), Cereus jamacaru, Aporocactus flagelliformis, Notocatus concinnus and Notocactus ottonis (LATimes 03/07/2020).

Olive Trees (1) with their pleasing blue-green foliage and grey trunks, are another good choice for sunny apartments. They can give that necessary woodland feel, and that extra height at a focal point in the room. But they are not permanent indoor plants and will eventually have to be planted outdoors.

Schefflera aboricola

There are two more that I would like to add to this list: Schefflera and Croton. They like similar growing conditions (6: p118-119).

Schefflera aboricola, or the Umbrella Plant, is a listed invasive in South Africa, so may only be grown indoors, where it thrives in high light areas, but not full sun, and loves to be sprayed from time to time, as it enjoys humidity. It is available variegated, or plain (3 & 4: p93). The variegated one is perfect for high light. It will also grow into an indoor tree, with character and presence.

Choose the most colourful-leaved Crotons for tolerance of high light indoors. And remember that it does not like to be moved – it is prone to lose leaves when moved, but be patient, it grows them again and then settles down to its new environment. And one must not forget that it is a tropical plant, so it is best grown on a moist pebble tray and sprayed to enhance humidity. In winter, keep barely moist, and in summer ensure that is well drained, watered and fed well (3 and 4: p73).


  1. https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-07-03/10-houseplants-that-thrive-in-full-sun (as accessed 04/07/2020)
  2. https://www.thespruce.com/best-houseplants-for-sun-4147670 (as accessed 04/7/2020)
  3. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/croton/care-croton-plants.htm#:~:text=Like%20many%20houseplants%2C%20caring%20for,keep%20it%20looking%20its%20best (as accessed 04/7/2020)
  4. Squire, D: Houseplant Handbook. 2017. Fox Chapel Publishers. UK
  5. Bailey, F: The Healing power of Plants. 2019. Pop Press. London
  6. Peerless, V: How not to Kill Your Houseplant. 2017. Dorling Kindersley. London
Sue Kingma
Sue Kingma
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