Houseplants require light to grow and live. Light is one of the major components required for plants to make their own food for growth and energy. The process of making food in plants called photosynthesis only occurs in the presence of light energy. Therefore it is very important to provide houseplants with the correct light amount and intensity to ensure that they are growing and remain healthy. If adequate light is not provided, houseplants will grow slowly, become stunted or even die. Providing the correct lighting for houseplants requires the consideration of two aspects of lighting which control growth; the duration and the intensity of light.
The duration of light a plant requires is 12-16 hours for most houseplants to maintain active growth. If there is less light, there is reduced food production which results in poor growth of a plant.
The intensity requirement varies enormously from houseplant to houseplant. Some houseplants prefer a sunny windowsill, others light shade, others can tolerate direct sunshine while others relish direct sunshine. See this guide on how to select houseplants based on light intensity.
Signs of too little light;
Signs of too much light;
In most houseplant care guides the terms used to describe the light requirements may not be clear. The human eye is a poor instrument for measuring light intensity. This simple guide can help you determine the right spot for your houseplant.
This is an area with as much light as possible. Such a spot is suitable for houseplants that can withstand scorching conditions like Desert Cacti, Snake Plant, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Gerbera Daisy, Jasmine and ZZ Plant among others. These include such areas as;
This is a brightly-lit area with some sunlight falling on the leaves during the day. This spot is perfect for many flowering houseplants and some sunloving foliage houseplants like Saintpaulia (African Violet), Cordyline terminalis (Ti Plant), Rubber Plants (Ficus elastica), Codiaeum (Crotons) among others.
This is an area close to but not in the zone lit by direct sunlight; no sunlight falling on the houseplants. Many houseplants like Monstera deliciosa, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree), Dieffenbachias among others grow best when placed in this area.
This is a moderately lit area. Few flowering houseplants can flourish here but many foliage houseplants like Marantas, Dracaena marginata, Dracaena fragrans, Baby's Tears (Helxine), Pothos among others will grow happily. Most of the bright but sunless foliage houseplants can adapt to these conditions.
This is a poorly lit area but bright enough to read a newspaper during several hours of the day. Only a few foliage houseplants will flourish with the exception of Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen), Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant), Asplenium Fern (Bird's Nest Fern), Heartleaf (Philodendron scandens) among others. Many semi-shade foliage houseplants will adapt to these conditions and will actually thrive. No flowering houseplant can thrive in these conditions.
Note: There are many exceptions to these guidelines. Look up the requirements of your houseplant in the Houseplants A-Z Guide.