This Is the One Question Every Plant Person Needs to Ask Before Buying (or Renting) a Home

published Jan 6, 2022
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Credit: Kristan Lieb

You’ve raised them, cared for them, and watched them grow — your plants have brought you plenty of joy this past year. And as a plant parent, you know that moving them into a new home can be stressful for the both of you. To make sure your plants survive and thrive in a new place, understanding the lighting situation can go a long way toward creating a happy, healthy home.

When you’re embarking on a home search and want to bring your plants along to the new space, there’s one important question you need to ask your real estate agent. But first, here’s a quick astronomy lesson.

You probably grew up learning that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Turns out, it’s not quite as simple as that. The Stanford University Solar Center explains that at the spring and fall equinoxes, the sun rises due east and sets due west. For the rest of the year, it rises and sets north or south of due east and due west. 

After it rises, the sun follows a curved path (as the Earth travels around the sun) to the south. This means that the sun never travels north, and north-facing windows never receive direct sunlight.

The sun’s path also depends on the season. In the northern hemisphere, the sun travels overhead in the summer, creating longer and warmer days. In the winter, the sun’s path is lower and closer to the horizon, resulting in days that are shorter and cooler.

So what does this mean for a dedicated plant parent?

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Does the home have south-facing windows?

This is the most important question that you should ask a real estate agent if you want to create a plant-friendly space. 

Jason Gelios, a Realtor and the creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show, explains, “Homebuyers with a green thumb should consider which way the home is facing to ensure that the natural sun will benefit their plants.”

South-facing windows are the ultimate plant parent amenity in a home. They provide the most natural light and are the best place to situate a number of different sunlight-loving plant species.

Gelios also points out some other features that plant parents should be on the lookout for, including “higher ceilings for indoor trees and taller plants, and in some cases a solarium, or indoor greenhouse.” Although solariums tend to be a more common amenity in luxury homes, he notes that this type of feature could be integrated at lower price points as well.

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I love the space, but there aren’t south-facing windows. What should I do?

If you just can’t say no to the space, but you know that the window situation isn’t ideal, rest easy — there are some solutions to make sure your plants won’t hate your new home.

  • Incorporate grow lights, or special lamps that mimic the light that supports photosynthesis. These devices introduce plant-friendly light into a space that lacks natural light, though you should be aware that they can increase your electric bill.
  • Choose shade-tolerant plants that thrive in indirect light or low light, like ferns, Swedish Ivy, or moss terrariums.

Gelios recommends also looking for “oversized windows and spacious ledges that can accommodate various plants” to get them as close to the sun as possible.