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Houseplant Lighting Guide


Every houseplant comes with a tag telling you the name of the plant and a little about it. Among the information provided is what kind of light the plant needs. However, many consumers and gardeners find lightning to be one of the most confusing aspects of plant care. What's the difference between semi-shade and indirect light? Isn't direct sunlight always best? Here's a quick overview of the different kinds of light and what plants do best there.

Full Sun
This defines an area within 2 feet of a south facing window or an area that gets at least 9hrs of direct sunlight a day. Only Cacti, Succulents and Geraniums can withstand such constant and strong light.

Partial Sun
This defines an area within 2 feet of a east or west facing window, more than 2 feet from a south facing window, or an area that gets 4-5hrs of full sun a day. This is the idea condition for most houseplants, including Philodendrons, Dracaenas and Ficus.

Indirect Light
This defines an area that gets no direct sunlight but is brightly lit for most of the day, or an area that extends about 5 feet from a window that gets partial sun. Many plants, including Philodendrons, Pileas, and Dieffenbachias do well here.

Semi-Shade
This defines an area within 5-8 feet of a sunlit window or close to a sunless window. Flowering houseplants will not be happy here, but most foliage plants will happily adapt.

Shade
This defines an area that is poorly lit but bright enough to read by for several hours a day. Few houseplants will be happy here. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema), Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra) and Birds Nest Fern (Asplenium) are the exceptions. Any plant that is happy in semi-shade will survive in this area for a month or so. After that they will need to be rotated back to a better lit area.

The majority of houseplants prefer bright, indirect light. If there is a dark hallway or corner you'd like to have a plant in, be prepared to buy several and rotate them on a monthly basis between the location you want them in and a well lit spot. Light is one of the three basic needs every plant has. The other two are water and oxygen and will be covered in future articles. For now, use our lighting guide and you're sure to find the perfect spot for all your plants!

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Content copyright © 2014 by Sue Walsh. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sue Walsh. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sue Walsh for details.

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