October 10, 2023

All About Indoor Plant Light Conditions

By Rachel P
All About Indoor Plant Light Conditions
It's time to shed some light (pun alert!) on a crucial aspect of plant care— you guessed it, light conditions! Ensuring your green buddies get just the right amount of sunlight can sometimes feel like a tightrope walk. If this resonates with you, we're here to help you master this balancing act.
The Importance of Light in Plant Care
Sunlight is the lifeblood of our plants. It's the essential fuel they use for photosynthesis, the process of converting light, water, and carbon dioxide into the food they need to grow. Indoor plants, outdoor plants, succulents, or ferns, they all need light to flourish.
Now here's the tricky part— not all plants are created equal when it comes to their light needs. That's why it's critical to understand your plants' specific needs and match them with the right light conditions.
Common Light-Related Issues in Plants
How can you tell if your plant is having a light-related problem? Here are a few signs to look out for that can help signal that your plant isn't getting the correct amount of light:
1. Leggy and thin growth: If your plants are stretching out towards the light source and have long spaces between their leaves, they might be yearning for more light.
2. Yellowing leaves: Too much light can lead to leaf scorch, resulting in yellow or brown, crisp leaves.
3. Dull, dark-colored leaves: If your usually vibrant plant is looking a little dull and dark, it might be telling you that it's not getting enough light.
4. Slow growth or no growth: Your plant needs light to grow. If it's not growing or is growing very slowly, it might need more light.
Solutions to These and Other Light-Related Plant Problems
If your plant is showing any of the above signs of light distress, don’t worry. Here are a few simple solutions to help your leafy friends thrive:
1. Know your plant's light requirements: Every plant species has different light needs that match its native habitat. Some love basking in bright, direct light (hello, succulents!), while others prefer the cool, indirect light found in the undergrowth of a forest (we're looking at you, ferns!). Research your plant's natural habitat and try to mimic those light conditions. You can check our plant care guide for details about specific plant.
2. Know your home's spatial orientation and immovable structures: Let's get into the details of North, South, East, and West facing windows. Most plants prefer early day sunlight so they can start their photosynthesizing early--kind of like how your morning smoothie jump starts your day. Typically, that means an east facing window. If you have West facing windows, you might get adequate light in the late morning and better light in the afternoon until sunset. South Facing windows receive direct sunlight from morning til afternoon during the Summer. You'll need to protect these plants from the harsh rays of the Summer sun. Plants that need brighter light are best placed in South facing windows in the Summer. A sheer curtain to filter the light is ideal. North facing windows receive sunlight during the winter months, although it's weaker in strength. Lower light tolerant plants can be placed in North facing windows.
These are generalities and things can get tricky once you factor in any surrounding structures that might be blocking light from streaming in, like a big oak tree or a building right across from you, so you'll have to check the sunlight pattern in your home to be sure.
To recap:
  • East facing windows receive more sunlight in the morning hours.
  • West facing windows receive more sunlight later in the day.
  • South facing windows receive all day direct sunlight during the Summer months and this is strong light and should be filtered.
  • North facing windows receive all day direct sunlight in the Winter months. This is weaker sunlight with shorter hours.
3. Move your plant around: Since your home isn't a static light environment, don't hesitate to move your plants around to take advantage of different light conditions as time goes on. As we went over above, the amount and intensity of sunlight streaming in can vary with the time of day and season. Play around with your plant's location to find the sweet spot where it seems happiest and reassess as the season changes.
4. Consider supplemental lighting: If you live in an area that doesn't get a lot of natural light, or you're a fan of plants that require a lot of sunlight, consider getting some grow lights. These specially designed lights can provide the full spectrum of light your plants need. They are particularly helpful if the sunlight wanes in your home throughout the day due to the orientation of your windows or structures as mentioned above.
5. Pruning and rotating: If parts of your plant are getting too much light while others are getting too little, rotating your plant can help. Pruning leggy growth can also encourage your plant to grow more densely, making new leaves that will be better equipped to capture more light rays for continued growth.
Mastering the art of providing the right light conditions for your plants might take some time, but patience is key in the plant care journey. Keep a keen eye on your green pals, experiment when needed, and they'll reward you with lush, healthy growth.