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Home » Indoor Plants Lighting Guide

Indoor Plants Lighting Guide

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

The indoor plants lighting guide provides information about the light requirements needed for plants. It is a vital part for them to survive and grow well.

Various conditions are essential factors that have to be provided for a house plant’s survival. These include water, humidity, a suitable growing medium, correct temperatures, and of course “light”.

Main Types Of Natural Light Settings

Main Types Of Natural Light Settings
  • Full Sun: Most house plants do not like full sun. Many of them will become very damaged or will not survive very long when they receive too much direct sunlight. The only plants that enjoy the summer sun are desert cacti, and succulents can tolerate a lot of sun (succulents seem to prefer some sun and bright conditions). Full sun is experienced from a south-facing window.
  • Partial sunlight and shade: For a plant to receive sun during the day for a couple of hours or so it will need to be seated close to a west or east-facing window. Placed near a west or east-facing window will give a plant some morning or evening sun. Avoiding the heat of the midday sun. Many plants, especially flowering types grow at their best close to a window in partial sun and shade. There are some exceptions just like in the case of calla lilies where they also prefer full sun as long as they are kept moist.
  • Full shade or low light: Most plants do not grow at their best in shaded or low-light conditions. This includes flowering types. However, you’ll find some species survive and are known for their ability to thrive in low light. They’re easy to grow (good for beginner growers). A few plants that come to mind that grows in low lighting well include the cast iron plant, mother in laws tongue, dragon tree, ZZ plant, and others which you can find in a collection here. A north-facing window provides full shade, but low light can often depend on the size or amount of windows in a room.
  • Bright without the direct sun: This is the lighting requirement for most foliage plants and many flowering types too. The best place for bright light without direct sun is a south-facing window; with the plant set back a few feet from the window. East and west-facing windows are also suitable if the window is large enough to allow plenty of daylight, with the plant sitting far enough back from the early midday sun arriving and early sunset.

Identifying Problems

If a plant is not receiving enough light or too much direct sunlight there are telltale signs to look out for. Here are the common problems caused by incorrect lighting.

Not Enough

  • Flowers not blooming
  • Weak, slow, and spindly growth.
  • Yellowing leaves eventually fall.
  • New leaves remain smaller than usual.

Too Much

  • Flowers shrivel up and die quickly.
  • Leaves shriveling up and drying.
  • Leaves fade in color.
  • Drooping leaves.

Growing Towards Windows

Quite often plant leaves and stems can begin to grow on one side towards a window more than on another side. This is normal when one side is getting more light. To solve this problem turn the plant around every couple of weeks to the other side. You can move it to a spot where the lighting covers more of the plant.

Artificial Lighting

Artificial Lighting

Some plants may need artificial lighting to be able to grow well indoors, but not that many. During the winter (in temperate climates) it can be pretty light-less all day and maybe only 7 hours of daylight (never mind sunshine). So, you may have to provide artificial lighting, especially for those that need up to 12 hours a day. Using artificial lighting is an ideal way to grow in a room without windows, and for propagating plants.

Using artificial lighting provides a grower with the extra benefits of having certain flowering plants (like the African violet) in bloom during winter months. And, keeps foliage plants looking green and healthy.

Type of lighting: Household lights are not suitable for artificial lighting. They do not have the desired effect on indoor plants.

Florescent lights are best used which can be affordable to buy. They are available in different styles with tubing or spot lamps. The tubing lights have to be hung from the ceiling or a frame and will have a reflective background. Terrariums with lighting are a great option.

The cheapest option which is also suitable “if you’re just supplementing natural daylight for a few hours a day” is a compact fluorescent lamp, which are bulbs that can be used in any lamp you have (with the correct fitting), although a lamp with reflective background is best used.

Different spectrums (light radiation) or a combination of them are available for the type of plant or situation they’re growing in, which represents the changes from natural sunlight. Gro-lux fluorescent bulbs are specially designed for indoor plants growing and emit a mixture of blue and red light spectrums.

Other Information And Tips

Photosynthesis: Plants receiving enough light is part of the process which gives us the oxygen we breathe; called photosynthesis.

Other Information And Tips

Conservatories: A conservatory is one of the best places for growing indoor plants because of the amount of light they receive. Most plants can be grown here without direct sunlight unless they’re cacti (cacti can have full sun). Even a north-facing conservatory can receive enough light for foliage plants to grow well.

Moving plants: I’ve seen plant problems caused so many times when they’ve been moved to a new place. This can temporarily put a plant into shock before they adjust to the new lighting arrangement – or it can kill some species.

You really need to look at each plant specifically to see if it’s advisable to move the plant. Many foliage types are usually fine but do check the specific plant. With some indoor plants, it can be the best thing to do, especially moving them closer to a window during the winter to receive more daylight.

Plant arrangement: Arranging plants to sit in groups is a way of offering a set of plants a varied amount of light each. A plant that needs more light than another can sit at the front and then plants that enjoy being in shade can be at the back or side. This is a great opportunity to improve the humidity levels as well, because of the water vapor from the damp soil.

Plants also need rest: While most plants thrive in 12 – 14 hours of daylight each day they also need their rest period which includes resting during the winter with other care instructions that have to be followed. I mention this in case a person may think providing a plant with more than the average 12 hours a day lighting will improve the plant’s growth, when in fact it will just tire it out and cause harm.

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