Lighting is one of the most vital components
of plant care. All plants need light in order to live
and grow. No plant can survive in absence of light.
However, there is a range of optimum light levels, which
varies by species. Be sure to grow your plant in its
proper light conditions. Plants that are grown in light
that is too low may develop a “leggy” or
pale appearance, or fail to thrive or bloom. Plants
that are grown in light that is too high may develop
The intensity of light is measured in
footcandles (f.c.). One footcandle is defined as the
amount of light cast by a candle on a surface 1 foot
away. Light intensity can be measured using a light
meter. Below are the classifications of low, medium
and high light plants based on footcandle measurements.
The measurements are listed in both the minimum light
needed for survival, and also in the preferred optimum
amount needed for proper growth.
- 500 f.c.
The intensity and duration of light that
a plant receives is dependent on its location. Below
are descriptions for the light intensity found in North,
South, East, and West facing windows.
- South Window –
Southern windows receive bright light during the winter
months, but in summer months, the light intensity
is much lower, and plants in south facing windows
will only receive bright sunlight during noontime
in the summer. Plants with high light requirements
are well suited for Southern exposures.
- North Window –
North Facing Windows receive a constant supply of
low light throughout the year. The intensity of the
light is also fairly consistent throughout the day.
Low light plants and a few tolerant medium light plants
are suited for Northern exposure windows.
- East Window –
Many plants are most tolerant of an Eastern facing
window. Eastern exposure windows receive bright light
from sunrise until noon. Medium light plants and some
high light plants are well suited for Eastern windows.
- West Window –
The Western window is similar to the Eastern window
in terms of light intensity and light duration. This
location is suited to medium light plants and some
high light plants.
Also, the light intensity will also be influenced by
how clean the window panes are, and whether there is
any type of overhang over the window, or objects such
as trees blocking the window. Additionally, the plant’s
distance from the window will also influence the light
intensity it receives. For instance, a plant placed
a few feet away from a window will receive much lower
light than a plant placed directly next to the window.
Some general light tips:
- Plants that bloom will need high light
- Plants with colorful or variegated
foliage will need high light
- Plants with small, or narrow leaves
will need more light than those with large, wide leaves
- Large leaved, green foliage plants
will usually need medium to low light
Written by Adrienne Kleintop