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Houseplant Light Requirement Breakdown

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Houseplants are a fun and simple way to liven up a space. If you are new to the houseplant world, it is hard to know what each one needs in terms of care. Here I will shed some LIGHT on what the light requirements on your plant tag mean, and how to implement them in a real-life situation.

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Houseplant foliage can brighten up your space!

Direct Light

Direct light means the plant likes to have sunlight hitting its leaves directly. Direct light would mean the plant is in front of a southern or western facing window with the sunbeams hitting it.

There may be subcategories such as bright or moderate. This implies the amount of time the sunlight is hitting the leaves.

Bright direct light may mean a sunny window with 5-6 hours of direct light. Oftentimes this is a south facing window.

Moderate direct light may mean slightly less time, but still 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. This could mean an eastern facing window for example.

Examples of some houseplants that need direct light would be cactus and succulents

Indirect Light

Indirect light is light that is available to your plants without being in the form of a direct sunbeam. This means the light might bounce off a wall before hitting your plant, or your plant could be in front of a window that does not get many direct sunbeams through it.

Bright Indirect Light may be in a spot next to a window, but not directly in front of it. They do not want hours of sunbeams hitting their leaves, but a little bit will not hurt them.

Examples of houseplants that thrive with bright indirect light are ivy, monstera, croton, rubber plant, ZZ plant, pilea

Medium Indirect Light plants do not want sun hitting its leaves directly. Plants that want medium light want to be in a space with a window, but not directly in front of the window.

Some examples of these plants are palms, philodendron, peperomia, peace lily, ferns, ZZ plant, monstera, calathea

Low Indirect Light means that the plant may not get very much light at all. They can do well even in places with no natural light. This is common particularly in winter, especially in MN. Usually, plants only tolerate low light, they still would prefer to have more light, but they can handle the lower light conditions.

Some good options for low light tolerant plants include snake plants, ferns, Chinese evergreens, pothos, and ZZ plants.

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Breakdown of light zones in a home

Adapting to your conditions

Around here, amounts of light change with the seasons. Usually, you will see less growth in the winter months, but come springtime they will shoot new growth and begin to thrive again.

Plants can be flexible and if they are struggling, they will show signs. If you see brown or crunchy leaves, move it to an area with less sunlight. Or if your plant starts to look spindly, try moving it to a space with more sunlight or consider an artificial growing light.

One last thing to note is that everybody has different definitions for what these light requirements mean. If your plant is doing well in a certain area, don’t sweat it! It must be happy with the light it is receiving.

Keep going and keep growing!


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