Ask a Question forum: Deep shade plants?

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Name: Aaron
New York (Zone 7a)
Aroids
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Araceae
Dec 5, 2017 10:18 AM CST
Hello! I have a north-facing window and would like to know if there are any unique plants that can thrive in these conditions (besides pothos, anthurium, dieffenbachia, schlumbergera)

Are there any begonias or orchids that can flower in deep shade?

Thanks all.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Dec 5, 2017 10:51 AM CST
If you want unique, check out the "Air Plants", I have some in shady spots although they enjoy a bit of sun if they can get it. Also, since they do not need soil, they are easy to hang above the plants sitting on the windowsill, they basically weigh nothing! They are popular now, and readily available.
I used to have some African Violets on a shelf away from the window, never got a beam of direct light, and they survived and even flowered.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 5, 2017 10:53 AM CST
Welcome!

My Phalaenopsis and African Violets live in north facing windows. There are no curtains inside and no obstructions. I live at latitude 39.5 and New York City is at 40.7 - you are a little north of me so I may have slightly brighter north windows than you do.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Aaron
New York (Zone 7a)
Aroids
Image
Araceae
Dec 5, 2017 1:52 PM CST
Pistil said:If you want unique, check out the "Air Plants", I have some in shady spots although they enjoy a bit of sun if they can get it. Also, since they do not need soil, they are easy to hang above the plants sitting on the windowsill, they basically weigh nothing! They are popular now, and readily available.
I used to have some African Violets on a shelf away from the window, never got a beam of direct light, and they survived and even flowered.


Awesome I will look into them! Are these like spider plants?
Thank You!
Name: Aaron
New York (Zone 7a)
Aroids
Image
Araceae
Dec 5, 2017 1:54 PM CST
DaisyI said: Welcome!

My Phalaenopsis and African Violets live in north facing windows. There are no curtains inside and no obstructions. I live at latitude 39.5 and New York City is at 40.7 - you are a little north of me so I may have slightly brighter north windows than you do.



Ooo I will look into the moth orchids!! Do they technically need a soil medium I wonder?
Thank You! nodding
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 5, 2017 2:20 PM CST
Phalaenopsis are epiphytes so no, they don't need any medium. If you could keep the humidity high enough, you could mount them or just grow them in an empty orchid pot. Or, here is a thread from the Orchid Forum:

The thread "Does anyone do water culture???" in Orchids forum

Air plants (Tillandsia) are also epiphytes. You can attach them to something and hang them up or sit them in a dish of pebbles on the window sill. My daughter found an old picture frame, tied string back and forth and hung Tillandsia from the string with orchid clips. Then she hung it up in her window.

I found quite a few ideas Googling "tillandsia picture frame".

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Dec 5, 2017 3:23 PM CST
I just took some snapshots of mine. You can see I have several species. Spanish Moss is an Air Plant you may have heard of. I took the opportunity to water my plants. Today I just put them under the faucet for a few seconds, often I will sink them in a bucket with room temperature water, and very dilute complete fertilizer, for an hour or so. Then they drain in the sink for a while before going back "home". None are blooming right now, when they do they are generally small but intensely colored and quite showy. I don't know if any would be likely to bloom without any direct sun.

This one in a hanging pot, but the pot has no soil in it:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/2764e0

Out of the pot upside down so you can see the lack of roots:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/3d2578

I have two that sit on aquarium gravel in glass orb, dangling in shady kitchen window:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/4896ee
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/49d60a

These are in a "Wardian Case" and get a bit of sun sometimes. I leave it cracked open so not too hot:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/c26473

Here they are out of the case:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/7c32ec

My little posse of Air Plants draining in the sink:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/65573d

Name: Aaron
New York (Zone 7a)
Aroids
Image
Araceae
Dec 5, 2017 5:38 PM CST
Pistil said:I just took some snapshots of mine. You can see I have several species. Spanish Moss is an Air Plant you may have heard of. I took the opportunity to water my plants. Today I just put them under the faucet for a few seconds, often I will sink them in a bucket with room temperature water, and very dilute complete fertilizer, for an hour or so. Then they drain in the sink for a while before going back "home". None are blooming right now, when they do they are generally small but intensely colored and quite showy. I don't know if any would be likely to bloom without any direct sun.

This one in a hanging pot, but the pot has no soil in it:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/2764e0

Out of the pot upside down so you can see the lack of roots:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/3d2578

I have two that sit on aquarium gravel in glass orb, dangling in shady kitchen window:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/4896ee
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/49d60a

These are in a "Wardian Case" and get a bit of sun sometimes. I leave it cracked open so not too hot:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/c26473

Here they are out of the case:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/7c32ec

My little posse of Air Plants draining in the sink:
Thumb of 2017-12-05/Pistil/65573d



Woah awesome collection there, Mary!
That's inspiring because I too have a glass orb terrarium... and almost no space left in my room for big potted plants! Hilarious! What is the name of the ones in the glass orb?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 5, 2017 5:48 PM CST
I would describe a north windowsill as bright indirect light rather than deep shade. But that is more about language. My point is that there are many possibilities for north window light, many of them previously mentioned. Here are some others:

ZZ Plant, Bromeliads, many Fern species, Chinese evergreen, Sago Palm, Peace Lily, Oxalis, Money Plant, Crassula, Kalanchoe and many others.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Image
Pistil
Dec 6, 2017 10:32 AM CST
Araceae,
not sure but I think the straight one is probably Tillandsia juncea, and the curly one might be T. bulbosa. Probably both of these would like some morning sun but they do OK in that window.
If you are inspired by the Tilandsia (Air Plants) you might want to look at the book "Air Plants" by Zeneida Sengo
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
Dec 7, 2017 4:37 PM CST
I would disagree with Will = we're both in NYC and I would call a north facing window at this latitude dense shade all year long. Even the stuff outside the north side of hte house in it's shadow struggle- Hortensia and rhododendron are about the only ones that make it and they get some morning and evening sun. He is an expert and there may be more to it than just light- but I don't have anything but violets and pothos that will tolerate an entire winter in a north window- never mind a lifetime.

Lady slipper / Paph orchids are reputed do fine in a north window- I hear. They like dense shade. My Phals can survive in a north window, but won't bloom if they don't get recharged every year with some bright summer sun. Supposedly reiger begonias will do well in a north window, but Its so hit or miss with me- I think Im screwing up their watering more than light. YMMV.

Is this a permanent placement? or just temporary?I rotate my plants so no one has to suffer north light all winter.

Pistil's air plants are really beautiful. Im about to web shop fr a bunch- but remember the pacific NW is a humid place

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Dec 7, 2017 5:35 PM CST
Hi Paula,

I don't want to quibble over the language we use to describe indoor north facing window light. However, I do have a lot of experience with dozens of plant species in many different locations with north light only. All of the plants I listed, as well as others, have proven over the years to survive quite nicely in north light.

However, it is important for me to clarify that the difference between light intensity on a north window sill or directly in front of a north window and the light several feet or more away from that window is quite substantial. Light intensity drops off dramatically with every foot of distance from the light source. Once you get beyond 5 or 6 feet from a north window or place a plant in a corner, then there are few plants that will survive long-term.

So thnak you for getting me to clarify my comment.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 7, 2017 6:37 PM CST
Phalaenopsis won't set buds without a temperature drop that lasts about 45 days.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
Dec 8, 2017 1:22 AM CST
@ Will-
Light travels in a straight line, right? so in the north hemisphere light originates from the south. A N facing window in the N. hemisphere is getting FULL SHADE. FULL STOP. We don't even have to do physics, no differential mathematics- straight line with a house in a way. N windows are FULL DENSE SHADE. Not partial shade, not dappled shade, not light shade - ITS A HOUSE to the south AND over the top- to get less light you'd need dark.

I don't claim to have expertise in the species you note, but peace lilies for example are one thing I do have experience with and I disagree. What you're reporting/recommending (assuming your speaking from experience) does NOT work for me- not even a little. A peace lilly in a north window in NY with appropriate care wont die. But it aint gonna be pretty. Sparse skinny leaves - nothing more than 8" tall 2" wide. Why bother?

I am confident light will always be the limiting factor in a house plant in zone 6b. In my experience North windows SUCK, it is full shade all the time- the sun never ever, not once, not on a best day, not on June 21st - doesn't ever face them, mathematical fact.

@ Daisy L, phals don't need cool temps as much as they need a day/night temp spread- as long as nights are >10 degrees cooler than days anywhere in the 60-85 degree range for ~6wk they will bloom again. Any time night temps approach 60 you're really pushing the envelope. Once it gets colder than that their growth gets stunted. It isn't necessary to risk it.
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Dec 8, 2017 3:17 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 8, 2017 8:47 AM CST
Paula - A north window provides bright INDIRECT light and that is adequate for many low light indoor plants. I am sorry you have not had success with north light. Perhaps there is something else that is causing your lack of success in north window light.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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