How to Grow Plants With the Lighting You Have

Sun Exposure and Indoor Plants

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. The shade in your yard determines which plants can grow well there.

The right amount of lighting is crucial for plant health. There are certain factors to consider regarding direction of the sun's exposure, as well as how to care for your indoor plants.

Sun Intensity

Consider differences in sun intensity when planting on the east and west side of shade-casting trees or buildings. Even if east- and west-facing sites receive the same number of hours of sun, they will not produce identical results.

  • Gardens with an eastern exposure are illuminated with cool morning sun, then shaded in the afternoon. They are ideal locations for minimizing heat stress in southern climates or for plants such as rhododendrons that can burn in hot sun.
  • Gardens with western exposure are shaded in the morning and drenched in hot sun in the afternoon. Sunburn, bleaching, and sometimes death of delicate leaves can result, especially in warm climates and when growing sensitive young or shade-loving plants. Afternoon sun can also cause brightly colored flowers to fade. However, the west side of a building is the ideal place for sun-loving and drought-tolerant plants.

Indoors When growing potted plants indoors, supplement natural light with fluorescent or grow lights. Sometimes in winter the weather may be cloudy for days, even weeks. This creates problems for tropical plants, potted flowers, and even foliage plants that need light to remain healthy. The solution is to hang a fluorescent shop light directly over your indoor plants. Special grow lights or full spectrum bulbs (formulated to produce light wavelengths that plants need most) can be used in place of fluorescent bulbs for spectacular results with flowering plants. For extra-easy maintenance, plug the lights into an automatic timer, then set them to turn on for 14 to 16 hours a day and off again at night.No matter how intense or dim your lighting source, or which direction it's coming from, you can still grow beautiful plants with the right know-how.

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