Plant Lighting

Plant Lighting- Guide for Gardening Beginners

Just like with watering, fertilization and other components of care, each plant has its specific demands for light. Some of them thrive when you expose them to direct sunlight, the others prefer shadier places.

Each of them has its own requirements, and it’s up to you to adjust them and make sure your green friends will develop properly. But, what to do when you have more than one plant, how to make sure each and every one will get what it needs?

For that reason, I came up with this convenient guide on plant lighting, so you can get a better insight into some of the most essential universal information.

Introducing Different Types of Natural Light Settings

First of all, let us discuss various types of natural lighting. It’s the sun, one and only, you may say, what else is out there but that?

Yes, it’s the sun, of course, but your house and mine are not positioned in the same ways. Therefore, the level of exposure to the sun is not the same, and you need to accommodate your plant based on that.

Following are the main settings:

Full sun

Let’s start with the brightest extreme of all. The majority of indoor plants do not like being exposed to full sun. This type of light comes from a window which is positioned south.

If you keep them in such place, you risk harming them. Or they could start dying.  They simply cannot withstand so much direct light from the sun and cannot live very long when they receive an excessive amount of it.

On the other hand, if you are a proud owner of a cheerful gang of desert cacti, you won’t have to worry about over-exposure. They ADORE direct sun.

Also, succulents are very tolerant of huge amounts of brightness. Still, it doesn’t mean you should leave them cooking or frying on your window.

Full Sun for Indoor Plants

Partial sunlight and shade

This is probably the most ideal setting, as the vast majority of plants prefer it like this, to receive the sunlight for a couple of hours daily. This particularly goes for flowering ones.

So, where’s that perfect place?

Those are the west or east-oriented windows, which can give your plant just the right amount of morning or evening sun. And the best part of all-when seated on such windows, they will avoid the “most dangerous” lighting scenario- the midday sun.

Full shade or low light

If you have lots of flowering plants, then you probably already know that this is the setting they DON’T like. To be more precise, they won’t treat you with as many enchanting flowers as they would if placed in brighter light.

This type of lighting is found on north-oriented windows. Of course, the amount and brightness of the light will depend on other factors as well. It’s not the same during summer and winter.

On the other hand, you will find a surprisingly good assortment of plants that can develop well when the light is lower. What’s even more, they are an excellent choice for beginners- Cast Iron plant, Dragon Tree, ZZ plant, Snake plant (aka mother in law’s tongue), are just some of the examples.

Bright without direct sun

Just like the second setting I’ve described here, this is the scenario that works just fine for a wide assortment of foliage plants, but it is suitable for many flowering types as well.

Which window is that?

It’s the one oriented towards south, but there’s one more trick to create adequate lighting conditions. You should place your plant a couple of feet away from the window.

Of course, east and west- positioned windows work too, if they are huge enough to enable the right amount of daylight, at the same time protecting it from sun during the middle part of the day and early sunset.

Pro-Tip: Do bear in mind that light conditions change from one season to another. Perhaps you will have to relocate your plants when the seasons shift but don’t do that too often. Frequent relocation can be stressful for your green friends.

Full Shade or Low Light for Indoor Plants

Is Artificial Lighting Helpful?

Yes and yes, particularly if you live in areas that are not so sunny, and you happen to be a passionate gardener. Also, if your office has no windows, and you want to adorn it with some plants which thrive on light, artificial lights will make that happen for you.

There are so many solutions. If you dive a bit deeper into the matter, you will manage to find the right grow light which will help your plants develop properly.

Of course, not all plants need it. The vast majority of them can do just fine with the amount of light provided by nature. But in case they need a boost, no problem- artificial lights save the day.

What you need to do is make a difference between lighting and sunshine, these are not the same. During summer, days are longer and you don’t have to worry about the amount of light. However, during winter, you might need to work on that.

Approximately 12 – 14 hours of daylight is ideal for plants, and more than that can harm them. Instead of improving, it can only worsen their condition. So, allow your plant to rest properly, and follow the guidelines for each specific species- don’t keep them exposed under light too long.

Using this type of lighting provides a gardener with some unexpected and charming surprises only flowering plants can give you. The African violet is a perfect example. Artificial light will not only inspire it to produce flowers during winter months, but it will keep its leaves green and healthy.

Which lights are the best ones?

The best (and at the same time) the most affordable ones are fluorescent lights. They come in different models, some of them with tubing the other as spot lamps.

The former ones are usually hung from the ceiling or some sort of a frame. But pay attention to set it that way to get a reflective background. Terrariums equipped with lights are a great solution for non-gigantic plants.

In case you just want to supplement the natural light, then you can find some interesting compact fluorescent lamps. You can utilize those with various types of lamps. But my advice is to use the one with the reflective background. It’s the most efficient.

Pro-Tip: Artificial light doesn’t mean placing your plant underneath the fancy chandelier. Household lights are not suitable for the purpose and do not have the necessary properties to make indoor plants thrive.

Artificial Light for Indoor Plants

More Useful Tips for Creating Optimal Plant Lighting Conditions

To be able to fully grasp why is proper lighting an essential component of healthy plant development, you need to understand the photosynthesis and why is it important to humans. If plants receive the necessary amount of light, they can produce the oxygen we need and breathe. That’s how the process works.

If you are not sure whether your green friends receive the necessary and well-balanced amount of light, consider conservatories.

Also, when you move your plant, give it a couple of days to get used to new surroundings and new lighting conditions.

During the winter, you can relocate the container closer to a window to enable your green friend to get more light during day.

Pro-Tip: Plant arrangement plays an important role in adjusting the right amount of light for each. You can place a plant that requires more lighting at the front so those that that prefer being in shade remain at the back or side. This will also increase the humidity levels.

Identifying Issues Resulting from Inadequate Lighting

Just like with underwatering, overwatering, inadequate fertilizing, a plant will reveal if it is not satisfied with the amount of lighting it receives.

What you should do is look for telltale signs and fix the problem as soon as you can.

If a plant is not receiving enough light, you will spot the following:

  • Flowers not blooming
  • Slower growth and overall development
  • Weaker plant
  • The leaves will start yellowing and will eventually fall
  • New foliage remains smaller in size than usual

If your green friend is receiving too much light, you will spot the following:

  • Wilted leaves which die quickly
  • Drooping leaves
  • Changes in foliage coloration

Pro-Tip: Does your plant looks as if it’s growing towards windows? That’s because one side of it is receiving more light. To fix this, make sure you turn it around so that the light reaches the other side. Repeat this “ritual” every couple of weeks. That, or you can relocate it to a place where the greater share of the entire plant will receive enough light.


As you can see, there’s nothing particularly complicated about it. You just need to informed well on each plant and its particular lighting requirements.

Once all the crucial factors are in harmony, your plant will have no reasons not to prosper and make you happy and satisfied.

Of course, do note that this guide is a general one. To make sure you will adjust the light conditions precisely, check out some of the numerous plant care articles I’ve created on various species.

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