As much as water is the source of life, so is sunlight. All plants need light to survive and grow – and light bulbs do not count. We mean natural sunlight!
Plants need sunlight for photosynthesis, which through metabolic reactions, creates sugar (food & energy) for plants. Luckily most houseplants come from the understories of jungles and forests, and are used to living in low light conditions.
But, the darkest shade outdoors is still brighter than the brightest light indoors.
Even in shade outdoors, light is bounding in all directions — 360 degrees around the plant. Indoors, however, light usually only comes from one source, like a window, reducing the angles for light to bounce off.
So what do our light requirements mean?
Means your plant will do best near a large north or east facing window, where the morning light streams in through glass that does not have curtains or blinds. If you’re keeping aloes, succulents, flowering plants or palms, this is their favourite spot.
Means the plant is a couple of metres from a sunny window, or there may be a tree in front of the window, or it’s covered by blinds. The plant is still getting light, but it’s filtered. Ferns love this! Actually it’s the sweet spot for most houseplants that have evolved to live without direct sun rays.
This is when your plant is on the opposite side of the room to the window, or near a south-facing window. A few plants are able to tolerate poor light, but they are more likely to thrive in medium light. Shop our collection of low-light plants for the survivors.
Signs your plant is getting too little light
- Falling leaves.
- New growth that differs from previous growth. For example, the new leaves may be smaller and not as vivid in colour.
- The plant will be visibly lopsided or growing sideways towards the light source.
- Stems get leggy and elongated as they search for light.
- Leaves may cup upward.
Signs your plant is getting too much sun
- The leaf colour will fade, looking washed out.
- Leaves can crisp and dry – falling off.
- During midday when the plant receives the most light, it will wilt.
- Leaf burn can occur = dry scorched patches on leaves.
It is possible to use artificial lighting that imitates sunlight, which contains a full spectrum of colours. The two colours within this spectrum that are most important for plant growth are blue and red. Blue light regulates plant growth, while red light stimulates flowering. The lights in most homes and offices contain primarily green and yellow light, which are no use to plants. Specific grow plant lights are commercially available, but our recommendation is to go ea natural!