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Exotic sun-loving indoor plants

Published on March 6th 2021
A room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a tree
Most people want indoor plants for low light – but some homes, especially those along Camps Bay and Sea Point, are flooded with sunlight, as are some balconies, and need plants that can take high light to full sun. So - here’s a quick list of plants that want lots of light!

Porcupine Plant (Agave geminiflora)

A sculptural, easy plant is the Porcupine Plant (Agave gemniflora). 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.
A close up of a green Agave geminiflora plant

Agave geminiflora

Agave geminiflora

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Another sun-loving plant from Mexico is the Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata). It is not actually a palm, despite its name, but it is easy-care, tolerates neglect and has low watering needs. It will eventually, slowly grow into an indoor tree.
A vase of flowers on a plant

Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes)

And a third sun-loving plant from Mexico is Yucca elephantipes, or spineless yucca. It is 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!


Cacti are known to love a dry, sunny environment. The big ones are an appropriate choice for modern homes. Some good ones for indoors include Austrocylindropuntia subulata, Cereus repandus (the blue one!), Cereus jamacaru, Aporocactus flagelliformis, Parodia concinnus and Parodia ottonis.
A plant in a pot

Olive trees

Olive trees 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. They are, however, not permanent indoor plants and will eventually have to be planted outdoors.
There are two more that I would like to add to this list: Schefflera and Croton (Codiaeum spp.). They like similar growing conditions.

Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola)

Schefflera arboricola, 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. The variegated one is perfect for high light. It will also grow into an indoor tree, with character and presence.
A green plant

Crotons (Codiaeum spp.)

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.
A close up of a green plant

To explore more indoor plants dig into the KNOWLEDGE collection below!

  1. Squire, D: Houseplant Handbook. 2017. Fox Chapel Publishers. UK
  2. Bailey, F: The Healing power of Plants. 2019. Pop Press. London
  3. Peerless, V: How not to Kill Your Houseplant. 2017. Dorling Kindersley. London