How to find the best light for indoor plants

An indoor plant has stolen your heart at the nursery. After taking it home, you’re faced with a dilemma: where do I put this new prize?

Introduce plants to their new home slowly

After bringing a plant home, you’ll want to introduce it to its new environment gradually. This will help it acclimatize to the light levels in your home.

Slowly introduce the plant over a week or two by gradually moving it from a spot with lower light or shade into more sunlight.

Understand the three types of light

The light in our homes can be broadly understood in three different categories:

1. Direct light: suits few plants, including cacti and succulents

An illustration of cacti and succulents in bright sunlight inside a bedroom, few plants can tolerate intense light.
Too much intense sunlight can burn many indoor plants.(ABC: Gardening Australia)

This type of light is typically provided by a large, north-facing window that gets the sun directly on it from 9am to 1pm, give or take. This is the highest level of light.

If a plant is exposed to too much light, sunburn can occur. It looks like general bleaching and greying on a particular area of foliage, which appears rapidly and will crisp over the following days.

2. Indirect light: suits most plants, including monstera and philodendrons

An illustration of indirect sunlight in a loungeroom, with sunlight barely reaching plants placed away from the window.
Indirect sunlight is a ‘safe zone’ for many indoor plants.(ABC: Gardening Australia)

Indirect light is when a plant is placed 1-2 metres from a north-facing window, which gets sun from morning to around midday.

A sheer curtain or a tree outside that filters some of the light can also provide indirect light.

3. Shade, low light: suits few plants, devil’s ivy is one that can survive

An illustration of a lounge room with some light coming in from the window, and indoor plants in shade, a low light scenario.
Asidistra and snake plants are two varieties that can survive in low light conditions.(ABC: Gardening Australia)

While shade and low light may be common in our homes, most plants aren’t suited to these conditions.

  • A plant will tell you if they’re not getting enough light.
  • They’ll move to get to more light. The stems will elongate and stretch, and the petioles will lengthen and extend.
  • They can take almost anything, from cacti-like full-on arid light down to almost no light. It’s remarkable.

Two easy ways to measure light

Even if you understand the different types of light, it can be hard to work out how they apply to your home, especially if you’re a beginner. Luckily, you can measure light and there are two simple ways to do this:

  • Go hi-tech and use a light meter app on your smartphone. These apps use the internal light meter of your phone’s camera and give you readings in “lux”, a scientific measure of light. While they’re not strictly accurate, they will take the guesswork out of understanding different light levels in your home. There are free and paid options and some tailored just for plants.
  • Or go low-fi and observe shadows. The ideal time to do this is when the light is strongest in your house, which will depend on where your windows are facing. If they face west, it’ll be in the afternoon around 3-6 pm. Or if your windows face east, it’ll be in the morning.

Courtesy of: https://www.abc.net.au/life/ – https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-to-find-the-best-light-for-indoor-plants/