4 Houseplants to Put in Your Windows to Diffuse Light and Make Your Room Feel So Much More Beautiful

Create beautiful filtered light effects with foliage by choosing these inspired houseplants that create privacy and shade

living room with window seat and two big plants
(Image credit: Photography: Lisa Cohen)

Basking in the shadow of leafy foliage on a sunny day is a summer joy-but it isn't just for the outdoors. With these indoor plants for shade, it's possible to enjoy hazy dappled light and gently cooling effects in the home too.

In areas with large expanses of glass, such as bay windows, under roof lights, or in sun rooms, some strategically placed plants can provide welcome respite from the beating heat.

Choose tropical varieties and they'll not only create an indoor garden jungle look, they'll thrive under the warmth and natural light.

1. Palms

plants from Leaf Envy

(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

Love snoozing under a swaying palm on the beach? We can't promise sand between your toes, but it's possible to create an 'no vacation' version of this vibe in a reading corner at home.

'Indoor palms like the Cat or Majesty Palm have tall, arching fronds that can provide filtered shade indoors,' says Paris Lalicata, plant expert at The Sill. 'Position palms near windows or in well-lit areas to create a shaded spot beneath their foliage.

'Cluster shade-providing plants together to create a larger shaded area. Grouping plants with dense foliage can help maximize shade coverage and create a cooler microclimate in indoor spaces.

'Palms prefer to dry out about half way down before watering-and they like humidity, adds Paris.'

2. Dracaena

row of dracaena marginata on a window sill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Dracaenas are tall, slender plants with spiky foliage that can also help filter sunlight indoors,' continues Paris. 'Varieties like the Dracaena tarzan or Dracaena marginata can be placed near windows or in bright rooms to create shade.

'These shade providing plants can be used in a few ways. Place them near windows or in bright rooms where they can receive sufficient sunlight to thrive. The filtered light that passes through their foliage will create a shaded area beneath, ideal for placing other light-sensitive plants or for creating a comfortable spot for relaxation.

'Dracaena will thrive in bright indirect light to a few hours of direct sunlight. Water once the soil has mostly dried out, adds Paris.'

Plant stylist, artist and author of Living Wild, Hilton Carter, styled a huge 9-ft/2.7-m Dracaena marginata in one of his projects. As well as anchoring the space and creating a focal point in the room, it provides dappled light and connects the outdoors too.

'Positioning the marginata behind some chairs created the effect of a little canopy of fireworks,' says Hilton. 'As the foliage is long and ribbon-like and the branches are slender, light filters through and keeps the outside courtyard in view.'

3. Fiddle-leaf fig

living room with fiddle-leaf fig tree

(Image credit: Future / Jake Curtis)

Fiddle-leaf figs may be loved for their looks, but these majestic plants have practical uses in the home too. Placed by a window, the enormous fiddle-shaped leaves on a tall tree provide filtered shadows when the sun's position changes at key times of the day.

'Resisting the temptation to fill an area with plants allows the space to breathe and the light to dance through the room,' says Hilton Carter.

4. Bird of paradise

sun room with lush plants

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

The enormous leaves on a Bird of Paradise plant provide the archetypal leaf canopy. Yet this lush, sun screen effect can be created in a light-filled room indoors with a large plant or two. Position the plants behind or beside lounge chairs to evoke a sense of relaxation and somewhere to recline under the leaves.

'The qualification for an amazing sunroom is that there must be plants basking in said sun,' says Hilton Carter.

'When it comes to plant care, the right light is the most important thing you can give a plant, and if you’re able to provide it from a source above, you’ll see your plants absolutely thrive.'

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.