Explore the Best Plants for North, South, East, and West Facing Areas

Sun exposure plays a crucial role in the growth and development of plants. Different plants have varying needs for sunlight, so it’s essential to understand how sun exposure affects plant growth before selecting the right plants for your garden. Plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, which is the process by which they convert light energy into food.  

Best Plants for North, South, East, and West Facing

North Facing Plants for Shade 

North-facing areas can be a challenge when finding the right plants. These areas typically receive less direct sunlight, resulting in shade for most days. There are plenty of plant options that thrive in shady conditions. Ferns are an excellent choice for north-facing gardens. They have beautiful foliage and can tolerate low light levels. Some popular Fern varieties include Maidenhair Ferns and Boston Ferns. 

Best Plants for North: Fresh green of Boston fern leaves

Hostas are another excellent option for shade-loving plants. Their large, textured leaves add a touch of elegance to any garden. They come in various colors and sizes, making them versatile for garden designs. Lungwort is a unique plant that thrives in shady conditions. It features attractive spotted leaves and clusters of colorful flowers that bloom early in the spring. If you want to add height to your north-facing garden, consider planting Foxgloves or Hellebores. Both plants produce tall spikes of flowers that brighten up even the shadiest corners. 

South Facing Plants for Sun 

South-facing areas of your garden are blessed with abundant sunlight throughout the day. This means you have many plants that thrive in full sun conditions. Plenty of options suit your taste and style, whether you’re looking for vibrant flowers, lush greenery, or aromatic herbs. When it comes to flowering plants, consider adding some cheerful Marigolds or colorful Zinnias to your south-facing garden.

These annuals can withstand the intense heat and will reward you with vibrant summer hues. Succulents like Agave and Sedum are excellent for those who prefer low-maintenance options. These drought-tolerant plants handle direct sunlight and add an interesting texture and form to your garden. 

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Marigold in midday light

Plant some Butterfly Bushes or Salvia in your sunny spot to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Their nectar-rich blooms will feast for these delightful creatures while adding beauty to your outdoor space. South-facing areas are perfect for growing culinary favorites like Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, and Oregano. Not only do they love the sun’s warmth, but they also provide fresh flavors for your cooking endeavors. 

East Facing Plants for Morning Sun 

When it comes to gardening, understanding the orientation of your garden is crucial in choosing the right plants. For this type of area, a variety of plants thrive. One popular choice is the Lavender plant. It loves the morning sun, and its fragrant flowers and foliage add beauty and tranquility to any garden. Another great option is the Salvia plant. With its vibrant colors and ability to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, Salvia adds a burst of life to your garden while basking in the gentle morning rays. 

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Best Plants for North3

If you prefer something more low-maintenance, succulents like Sedums are perfect for an east-facing area. These hardy plants store water in their leaves, tolerating dry conditions and thriving with just a few hours of sunlight daily. For those looking for vertical interest, Climbing Roses or Clematis are excellent choices for an east-facing porch or trellis. Their blooms will greet you every morning as they reach towards the rising sun. 

West Facing Plants for Afternoon Sun 

  • Succulents: These hardy plants are perfect for a west-facing area as they can tolerate direct sunlight and dry soil. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, making them a stylish addition to any garden. 
  • Lavender: Not only does Lavender add beauty with its vibrant purple blooms, but it also loves the sunny spot provided by west-facing areas. 
  • Coneflowers: These tough perennials have long-lasting blooms that attract butterflies and bees while adding visual interest to your garden bed or border. 
  • Rosemary: Known for its culinary uses, Rosemary is also an excellent choice for west-facing gardens thanks to its ability to handle heat and lack of water. 
  • Daylilies: Their stunning blooms that last only one day bring bursts of color throughout the summer months when planted in western exposure areas. 

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Deep pink coneflowers

Best Plants for North Facing Balcony 

If you have a north-facing balcony, you may think that finding plants that thrive in low-light conditions is a challenge. However, several beautiful and resilient options will bring life to your outdoor space. One plant that does well in shady areas is the Fern. With their delicate fronds and lush green foliage, Ferns can add a touch of elegance to any balcony. Another great choice is the Impatiens flower, which comes in various vibrant colors and can tolerate shade. 

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Pink Impatiens flowers blooming outdoors

For those looking for something with height, consider growing Ivy or climbing Hydrangea on your balcony railing. These climbing plants will provide privacy and create a lush and inviting atmosphere. Try growing Hostas or Heucheras in containers. These shade-loving perennials have beautiful foliage if you prefer something more compact. They come in various colors and patterns. 

Ideal Plants for South-Facing Garden 

This orientation receives ample sunlight throughout the day, making it an ideal spot for many plants to thrive. When choosing plants for your sunny garden, consider those that can handle the heat and intense light. One excellent choice for a south-facing garden is Lavender. It loves full sun, and its fragrant purple flowers add beauty and charm to any landscape.

Another option is the vibrant Marigold, which brightens your garden with its bold colors and repels pests naturally. For those looking for vertical interest in their south-facing gardens, consider planting Climbing Roses or Trumpet Vines. These climbers will provide stunning blooms and create a lovely focal point on walls or trellises.

Succulents are another great choice for sunny gardens, as they can tolerate drought conditions and still look gorgeous. Add varieties such as agave or sedum to bring unique texture and color to your outdoor space. South-facing gardens are perfect for growing culinary herbs like Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary. They add flavor to your cooking and attract pollinators with their aromatic foliage. 

Top Choices for East-Facing Borders 

When creating beautiful borders in your garden, choosing the right plants for an east-facing area is crucial. These areas receive morning sun and are shaded during the afternoon, making them perfect for various plant options. One top choice for east-facing borders is the Astilbe. With its feathery plumes of flowers in shades of pink, white, and red, it adds a touch of elegance to any border.

Another great option is the Japanese Anemone, which blooms with delicate flowers in late summer and early fall. For a splash of color throughout the season, consider planting some Daylilies. These hardy perennials come in various colors and will brighten your border from spring to fall. If you prefer something more subtle, try Hellebores. Their nodding flowers bloom early in the year and provide interest even when other plants are still dormant.

Consider some Ornamental grass, such as Miscanthus or Calamagrostis, to add height to your east-facing border. These grasses create movement with graceful foliage and can provide privacy as they sway gently in the breeze. Don’t forget about groundcover plants like Lamium or Vinca Minor for added texture and color at ground level. These low-growing plants will fill out your border beautifully while suppressing weeds. 

West Facing Patio Plants 

When choosing plants for your west-facing patio, it’s essential to consider their sun tolerance and heat resistance. Opt for varieties that can handle direct sunlight and don’t require constant watering. One excellent choice is the Bougainvillea, whose vibrant flowers bloom year-round. Palm trees are ideal for those who prefer a more tropical feel. They provide shade while also adding height and texture to your patio design. 

Consider incorporating climbing vines like Jasmine or Ivy to create visual interest on your west-facing patio. These plants will grow upward along walls or trellises, providing shade and a delightful fragrance. For color choices, bold hues like reds, oranges, and purples can stand up well against the strong afternoon sunlight. Marigolds or Mexican Sunflowers are great options if you want bursts of vibrant color on your patio. 

Shade-Loving Plants for North-Facing Windows 

Ferns are popular for north-facing windows as they love the low light conditions. Their delicate fronds bring a touch of elegance and create a calming ambiance. Another great option is the Pothos plant, which has lovely heart-shaped leaves that cascade down from hanging baskets. If you’re looking for something different, consider the Snake or ZZ plants. Both resilient plants tolerate low light levels exceptionally well and require minimal care.

They also have unique foliage patterns that add visual interest to your windowsill. Impatiens are an excellent choice for north-facing windows for those who prefer flowers. These colorful blooms thrive in shady spots and brighten any room with vibrant hues. Another flower option is the Begonia, available in various colors and sizes. Mint and Parsley are two herbs that grow well in the shade and can be conveniently harvested right from your windowsill for culinary purposes. 

Sun-Loving Plants for South-Facing Walls 

Regarding south-facing walls, you have a prime spot for sun-loving plants that can thrive in direct sunlight. These walls receive ample sunshine throughout the day, making them perfect for plants that crave warmth and light. One excellent choice is the Bougainvillea. With its vibrant, colorful blooms and ability to withstand hot temperatures, this plant adds a stunning tropical touch to any wall.

Another option is the Honeysuckle vine, which loves the sun and attracts hummingbirds with its fragrant flowers. If you prefer something more compact, consider planting succulents like Sedum or Echeveria along your south-facing wall. These low-maintenance plants are heat- and drought-tolerant, making them ideal for sunny locations.

Jasmine is an excellent choice for those looking to add fragrance to their outdoor space. This climbing vine produces delicate white flowers with a sweet scent. Don’t forget about ornamental grasses like Miscanthus or Pennisetum, either. These grasses provide texture and movement while adding height to your south-facing wall area. 

Morning Sun Plants for East-Facing Porch 

If you’re lucky enough to have an east-facing porch, you’ll know it gets plenty of morning sun. This means you have the perfect opportunity to grow various plants that thrive in these conditions. One great choice for your east-facing porch is the Impatiens. These colorful annuals love the morning sun and brighten your space with vibrant blooms. They come in various colors, from pinks and purples to oranges and yellows. 

Another option is the Geranium. These hardy perennials are known for their beautiful flowers and can withstand heat and direct sunlight, making them perfect for an east-facing porch. Consider growing herbs on your porch for those looking for something different. Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, and Basil love the morning sun and can add flavor to your cooking and beauty to your space. If you want to add height to your porch, try planting climbing vines like Morning Glory or Clematis. These plants quickly cover trellises or walls with lush foliage and stunning flowers. 

Afternoon Sun Plants for West Facing Courtyard 

Choosing the right plants is essential when creating a vibrant and inviting courtyard. For west-facing courtyards that bask in the afternoon sun, you’ll want to select plants that can thrive in these conditions. One excellent choice for a west-facing courtyard is the vibrant and drought-tolerant succulent. These hardy plants add a touch of exotic beauty with their unique shapes and colors. Some popular varieties include Echeveria, Sedum, and Agave. 

If you want to add height and drama to your courtyard, consider planting ornamental grasses like Miscanthus or Pennisetum. These elegant grasses sway gracefully in the breeze while adding texture and movement to your outdoor space. For bursts of color, flowering perennials such as Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, or Daylilies are fantastic options. They will provide beautiful blooms throughout summer and attract pollinators like butterflies and bees.

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green echeveria elegans plant

To create a lush green backdrop for your courtyard, opt for evergreen shrubs such as Boxwood or Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Not only do they offer year-round interest with their dense foliage, but they also provide privacy from neighboring buildings or streets. Wisteria or Clematis can transform plain walls into vertical gardens bursting with color and fragrance. 

North-Facing Climbing Plants 

North-facing areas can be a bit challenging when it comes to finding the right plants, especially when it comes to climbing plants. However, several options thrive in these conditions and add vertical beauty to your space. One great choice for north-facing walls or trellises is the English Ivy. This evergreen vine is known for its ability to climb and cover large areas with its dense foliage. It tolerates shade well and can withstand colder temperatures, making it ideal for northern climates. 

Another option is the Climbing Hydrangea, which features beautiful clusters of white flowers in summer. It thrives in partial shade and can adapt well to north-facing locations. Make sure you give it enough room to spread out as it grows. If you’re looking for a splash of color, consider the Japanese Hydrangea Vine. This climber produces stunning white flowers and prefers partial shade or filtered sunlight. 

Drought-Tolerant Plants for South-Facing Landscapes 

Choosing drought-tolerant plants is key when creating a vibrant and sustainable garden in a south-facing landscape. These hardy beauties can withstand the intense heat and limited water supply often accompanying a sun-drenched garden. One excellent choice is the succulent Agave Americana. Its thick, fleshy leaves store water efficiently, allowing it to thrive in dry conditions.

Another great option is Lavender, with its aromatic purple blooms and ability to tolerate hot temperatures with minimal watering. For groundcover options, consider planting Creeping Thyme or Ice Plant. These low-growing plants add visual appeal and have shallow root systems that help them endure periods of little rainfall. If you want vertical interest in your south-facing landscape, try incorporating Yucca or Red-Hot Poker plants.

These stunning specimens can handle scorching heat and drought conditions while adding drama and height to your outdoor space. Other noteworthy choices include Russian Sage, Blanket Flower, and Santa Barbara Daisy – all of which boast beautiful blossoms requiring less water than traditional garden favorites. 


Choosing the right plants for your specific sun exposure is essential for creating a thriving and beautiful garden. By understanding the different requirements of north, south, east, and west-facing areas, you can select plants that will flourish in their respective environments. You can create a harmonious garden that grows in all areas by choosing appropriate plantings based on each direction’s unique characteristics. 


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