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How Much Light Does Your Plant Need?

low light hanging plants

Getting a houseplant isn’t only about brightening up your living space or adding color. There’s a lot more to it; like how much light does your plant need? What sort of light does it need? And, how can you fulfill the light requirements of your low light hanging plants?

Exposing your plant to too much or too little light can cause its leaves to burn or wilt. Therefore, you should know precisely how and where to place all your plant pots to meet their individual light needs.

Here, we’ve broken down all the different kinds of lighting: Natural and Artificial, and explained exactly how much light each of your plants would need. 

But, before we get to that, you should know that there are three main levels of indoor lighting: 

  • Bright (Direct) light
  • Indirect light, and
  • Low light. 

Bright Light 

Bright light conditions mean that the plant receives several hours of unfiltered or direct sunlight. Plants that need bright light usually do well outdoors, perhaps on an uncovered patio or planted in soil. 

However, if you plan on keeping such plants indoors, it is essential to give them the required amount of direct sunlight daily.

Where Can I Find Bright Light Inside my Home?

Direct light streams in throughout the day, usually from south or west-facing windows. If your plant needs bright light, you’ll need to place it near an uncovered window that gives it direct light for at least five to six hours each day.

South-facing windows receive sunlight almost throughout the day. West-facing windows usually start receiving direct sunlight in the mid-afternoon. This lasts till the sun sets in the evening. 

Remember, though, if you place your plant too close to an open window in the winter, the cold drafts might be harmful depending on your climate. Conversely, south-facing windows can become quite hot in the summers; plants that can’t tolerate high heat will scorch or burn in the summer sun.

The same goes for west-facing windows, the hot afternoon sun might be too much for your plant, and you may consider placing it a few feet away from the glass. 

Which Plants Need Bright Light? 

Typically, flowering plants require lots of sunlight to bloom. There are exceptions, though; some plants such as the Peace Lily fare better in low light. 

Most herbs and vegetables (except for greens) require bright light. Fruit trees, such as citrus, need generous sun as well. We’ve made a list of popular houseplants that need bright light:

  1. Succulents
  2. Geraniums
  3. Begonias
  4. Hibiscus
  5. Orange Bird of Paradise
  6. Madagascar Palms
  7. Desert Roses
  8. Zebrinas
  9. String of Beads
  10. Aloe vera
  11. Yucca
  12. Croton
  13. Most Ficus species (including Fiddle Leaf Figs)
  14. Norfolk Island Pine
  15. Particular Palms, like Date, Ponytail, and Areca palms
  16. Wax plant
  17. Spider plants
  18. Dracaena
  19. Jade plants

Now coming to filtered or indirect light.

Indirect Light 

Indirect light means that your plant needs light, but not the direct rays of the sun. If your plant is labeled ‘full shade’ or ‘partial shade,’ this is what it usually means. Outdoors, indirect light means keeping your plant in the shade. 

You may place it along the east wall of the house so that the house will block the more intense sun from the west and south. 

Where do I Find Indirect Light Inside My House for low-light plants? 

You can place such plants on an east-facing window or place them farther from a window facing south or west. However, if you still want to put your plant on a south-facing window sill, consider using sheer curtains to block the direct rays, and your plant will be happy. 

Alternatively, you could apply a UV-shield window film, which blocks out about 45-85 percent of the sun’s heat in the summer. This not only creates a hospitable environment for your plants but also helps you save on cooling costs. 

Which Plants Need Indirect Light? 

You may live in a north-facing apartment and fret about the limited number of options you have. It turns out there are many houseplants that will do very well in indirect light. We’ve made a list of the most popular ones: 

  1. Calathea
  2. Palms like Kentia, Sago, and Bamboo palms
  3. White Bird of Paradise
  4. Most Ferns
  5. Alocasia
  6. African Violets
  7. Many Ficus varieties (including Rubber plants)
  8. Dragon Trees
  9. Most Orchids
  10. Prayer Plants
  11. English ivy
  12. Schefflera
  13. Monstera
  14. Snake Plants (Sansevieria)
  15. Pothos
  16. Parlor Palms
  17. Chinese Evergreen
  18. Peace Lilies
  19. Philodendrons

There are, however, some plants that thrive in low light. Let’s read about this category.

Low Light

Many would think of low light as a dark room. That’s not the case. Here’s a criterion: If you struggle to read a newspaper in the room, it’s probably low light. Many plants can do well in low-light rooms with artificial light added.

Where do I Find Low Light Inside My House? 

North-facing windows do not receive direct sunlight at any time of the year, so they are suitable for plants that require low light, especially in the winter. 

Remember, even low-light plants need some amount of light. If your plant begins to look glum in a low-light environment, particularly in the rainy or cold season, consider moving it to a sunnier spot for a few weeks. 

Which Plants Need Low Light?

Here’s a list of plants that you can keep inside a room with a relatively dim light:

  1. Prayer Plant
  2. Cast Iron Plant
  3. Lucky Bamboo
  4. Devil’s Ivy
  5. Chinese Evergreen
  6. Sago Palm
  7. Weeping Fig Tree
  8. Heart-Leaf Philodendron
  9. Bromeliads
  10. Silver Pothos
  11. Nerve Plant
  12. Dieffenbachia
  13. Christmas Cactus
  14. Spider Plants
  15. Red Aglaonema
  16. Calathea
  17. ZZ Plant
  18. Snake Plant
  19. Wax Plant
  20. Dragon Tree

Growing Plants with Artificial Light

If you’re thinking of growing a plant you don’t have enough light for, consider artificial light. You can use artificial light to supplement daylight or even replace it entirely if your plants are in a closed environment. 

The sun’s light is a warm shade of gold because it contains several wavelengths of the spectrum. We can identify these wavelengths as individual colors. Generally, plants need blue and violet wavelengths for their leaves and warm red and orange to flower. 

How To Create an Artificial Light Setup for your Plants

You can use 40-watt lights and combine cool-white and warm-white light under a reflector. These offer the plant the blue and red wavelengths it needs for photosynthesis. 

Place your plants directly beneath the light, with the foliage plants at least 12 and flowering plants at least 6 inches below the light for adequate reception.

Switching the Lights On and Off

Maintaining a regular on/off cycle is essential to creating a normal circadian rhythm for your plants. You can connect your lights to an automatic timer, so they turn on and off at the same time each day. 

Foliage plants will need about 14-16 hours of light each day, while flowering plants need 12-16 hours of light. Remember, the period of darkness is vital to flowering. Give your plants at least 8 hours of complete darkness every day. 

Which Plants are Best for Artificial light? 

Flowering Houseplants:

  1. Begonia
  2. Bromeliad
  3. African Violet
  4. Orchid
  5. Cyclamen

Foliage Houseplants:

  1. Polka-Dot Plant
  2. Spider Plant
  3. Peperomia 
  4. Nerve Plant
  5. Aloe Vera

FAQs

Is 12 hours of light too much for plants?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many variables that affect plant growth, including the type of plant and environmental conditions. In general, most plants need at least 12 hours of light per day to grow optimally. However, if you have a very bright window in your home, you may need to reduce the light exposure to avoid over-stimulating your plants. If your plants are not growing well, experiment with different light schedules and indoor conditions to find the most suitable growth environment.

What happens if I leave my grow light on 24 hours?

Leaving your grow light on 24 hours a day can be dangerous and can lead to fires or electric shocks. While you might think that leaving the light on will allow your plants to grow faster and produce more harvest, it can actually do the opposite. If the light is left on 24/7, your plants will not have regular periods of darkness. This will prevent them from all the normal processes of growth that take place in darkness. Your plants may become stressed out by the continuous exposure to light, and their growth may even stop altogether.


Can any LED light be used as a grow light?

Generally, no. Regular LED lights can’t be used as grow lights, even though they may emit some of the wavelengths necessary for plants. Regular LED lights don’t emit enough of the light that plants require. Plant growth primarily requires red & blue light, which LED grow lights are designed to maximize.

Summing Up

Different species of houseplants have different lighting requirements. Some need extended hours of bright sunlight, while others can do well in partial shade or low light. Being an indoor plant enthusiast, it’s essential that you know the type and amount of light your plant needs. If not, I’m sure this guide will help you!

For information about caring for different houseplants and other tips and tricks, please visit our blog and take your gardening skill up a notch!

Written by Chris Buckland

Hello, I’m Chris. I’m a houseplant expert. I have been Cultivating and Growing Houseplants for 20 years. Plants are like my children. I love to write about Indoor plants and share my experience. That's why I started writing everything I know about houseplants.

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