Green plants live off light the way animals live off food: They absorb it and convert its energy into the sugars and starches they need to grow and survive. Without adequate light, no plant can thrive.
Fortunately, house plants tell us when they are not getting enough light. Their growth will be pale, and they will stretch toward the nearest light source. Flowering will be weak or totally absent. It becomes impossible to water them adequately: Without sufficient light, they can’t use the water we supply, and eventually rot sets in.
Southern exposures get full sun from late morning to mid-afternoon.
The light needs of different house plants vary. What may seem like a dark corner to a flowering house plant may be perfectly acceptable to a foliage one. Whatever your conditions, as long as enough light to read by exists, certain house plants will thrive there.
Light intensities vary according to season. A south window, which may be too intense for many foliage house plants in the summer, is the best location for most house plants during the winter months. During the summer, move plants back from hot south or west windows, or draw a sheer curtain between them and the glaring sun. A north window, on the other hand, may not receive enough light for flowering house plants during the winter, but almost every house plant will thrive in its cool brightness during the summer months. Never hesitate to move house plants from site to site according to season.
Improving Natural Light
If your house plants show
signs of lack of light, you can increase the intensity they receive by
removing any obstacles that block the path of the light: for example,
curtains, blinds, and outdoor foliage. Even cleaning the windows
regularly will help. Another easy way of improving light is to paint
nearby walls and furniture in pale shades, so they reflect light rather
than absorb it.
House plants adapt perfectly well to growing under artificial light. Incandescent lamps, however, even those offered for plants, produce light of poor quality that promotes weak, unhealthy growth. They are only good choices for house plants receiving some natural light. Fluorescent lights and halogen lamps, on the other hand, produce light so close in quality to sunlight that house plants will thrive under them. For best results, use artificial light on timers set at 12- to 14-hour days and make sure the lamp is far enough from the plants so they don’t overheat.
Light exposure varies among the windows in your home.
In the next section, we'll talk about watering house plants.
Want to learn about house plants by type? Try these:
- House Plants
- Full Sun House Plants
- Bright Light House Plants
- Filtered Light House Plants
- Light Shade House Plants
- Hanging Basket House Plants
- Floor Plant House Plants
- Table Plant House Plants
- Terrarium Plant House Plants
- Very Easy House Plants
- Easy House Plants
- Demanding House Plants
- Temporary House Plants
- Flowering House Plants
- Climbing or Trailing House Plants
- House Plants with Colorful Foliage
- Fragrant House Plants