the most important factor for healthy plants is light. our plants have life thanks to photosynthesis – a process whereby light interacts with green chlorophyll in stems & foliage to provide energy the plant needs to grow.
in their natural habitats plants have adapted to varying amounts of light. the best way to care for your plants is to provide each one with the kind of light it needs to be healthy. the amount of light from windows depends on the direction they face. in the northern hemisphere, south facing windows receive several hours of direct sunlight. east or west facing windows have direct sunlight in the am or pm only and bright light the rest of the day. it’s important to note that western pm sun is stronger than eastern. north facing windows get very little direct sunlight – while the light isn’t as strong as other exposures it is the most consistent. we have east facing windows in our home so we get direct am light then bright, indirect light.
levels of lighting
what i found confusing was the labelling of light requirements provided on plants. i got some clarity after reading the light section in reader’s digest (1979) success with houseplants. according to this book, different levels of lighting may be interpreted by the following:
light from an unobstructed south facing window for most of the day. it also occurs for a few hours via east, southeast, southwest, or west facing windows.
🌤 bright filtered light
direct sunlight that is filtered through semi-transparent blinds or curtains or through a tree outside the window.
light in areas close to those reached by direct sunlight. it is the brightest light entering a sunny room that is not direct sunlight & the light is less strong.
🌥 medium light
level of light found close to a north facing window, where no direct sunlight enters. it also includes light from an east or west facing window where an obstruction such as a tree or building blocks the sun. in this case, the level of light is reduced for every three feet that a plant is moved farther away from a window. medium light is also provided in shaded areas of sunny rooms, e.g., along side walls where the plant is out of direct sunlight.
this includes corners that do not face windows, areas more than approximately 8 feet away from the window, or windows shaded by buildings or other obstructions.
get to know your environment
the amount of light in your home depends on the size & number of windows, the season, & its surroundings (reader’s digest, 1979). for instance, light is reflected into windows from the building across from mine so we get a bit of that pm sunlight. rooms with white or light coloured walls are brighter than darker colours. as such, placing plants against a white wall is recommended as light will be reflected onto the back of the plants (reader’s digest, 1979). however, remember that some plants can’t handle too much direct sunlight as they will likely be scorched & dried out.
plants need to rest, too!
on average, plants need 12 to 16 hours of light a day to maintain active growth. a plant receiving less hours of light will grow slowly or stop growing. sometimes this is okay! most healthy plants need a rest period in order to remain healthy. periods of less light are not issues if the plant is given time & space to rest by being given less water & no extra food, i.e., fertilizers. after the rest period aka spring, take caution when moving plants outside as you will need to acclimatize them over a week or two via slowing exposing them to brighter light.
overall, get to know your environment & the direction that your windows face. this will help with understanding what type of plants will be happy in your home & where to place them. keep in mind that the amount of light from a window diminishes as the distance from the window increases. after you’ve placed your plant monitor it. your plant will let you know whether or not this is a good spot for it – just observe & understand its needs. happy growing 💚🌿