Everything You Need to Know About Light
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Healthy, attractive growth is determined by the right amount of light.
Key Tip: Check how much light a plant needs before buying it.
The amount of light is the hardest thing to change in your home so it’s important to know how much light you really have. Indoor light is significantly weaker by at least 50% (due to the reflection of the glass) than outdoors, making care for sun-loving plants difficult. Some factors that can reduce the amount of light your plant receives are dirty windows, window screens, dust on leaves, and the distance from a window.
If you have the option to put your sun-loving plants outdoors when the weather is nice, do it! All plants benefit from being outdoors, but gauging levels of shade for non-sun-loving plants can be difficult. Do this gradually, only leaving them outside for a few hours at a time at first as to not shock them.
Before I buy a plant, I check how much light it needs. A simple search like “_____ plant light requirements” or “_____ plant care instructions” will give you terms like: “full sun”, “bright indirect light”, or “partial shade”. These are general descriptors because it’s difficult to define light for all situations. This post will help you decipher those terms to make it simpler.
Does your plant seem to be growing wild but the stems are really long and the leaves are small? This is called etiolation. That means the plant isn’t receiving enough light!
SUN STRENGTH BY WINDOW DIRECTION
Southern facing – Direct sunlight all day.
Can be described as: “full sun”, “lots of light”, “high light”, “6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day”
Western facing – Few hours of direct sunlight in the afternoon.
Can be described as: “partial sun”, “bright indirect light”, “4-6 hours per day”
Eastern facing – Few hours direct sunlight in the morning.
Can be described as: “partial shade”, “2-4 hours per day”
Northern facing – Indirect sunlight all day.
Can be described as: “shade”, “less than two hours of direct sunlight per day”. Not enough light for any plant during the winter 🙁
The sun spends most of its time in the sky on the southern half of the world year-round, making southern windows ideal for keeping a wide variety of plants. Afternoon sunlight is also more powerful than morning sunlight which is why western facing windows are second best.
How to increase light:
- Move a plant outdoors if possible
- Buy grow lights
- Clean windows and leaves of plants
- Move a plant closer to a window
- Move plants further apart from each other
- Put reflective material around plants or paint walls white
How to decrease light:
- Move a plant indoors
- Move a plant away from a window
- Put up a screen or sheer curtain
- Move plants closer together