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House Plants : Light Requirements

Low light | Good light

Low light 

Most indoor situations have some light. This ranges from very little to quite a lot – even within a average-sized room. There are plants to suit any situation where daylight reaches.

Croton needs good light

Croton needs good light

In really poor light situations, leave the plants in position for only a couple of months at a time, rotating them between good light and dull conditions. Otherwise consider installing artificial lighting of sufficient power to allow plants to grow in shaded corners. The lights should be aimed at the plants, and placed fairly close to them. Use ‘cool’ lights that will not scorch the leaves.

Green foliage plants tend to turn pale yellow-green, and variegated foliate plants tend to lose their variegation if there is too little light. Flowering plants flower badly, or not at all. Plants become lanky, with smaller leaves on long leaf stalks and with bigger gaps in between, and they turn towards the source of whatever light there is.

Good light

The majority of house plants need good light, such as the window-sill of an east, or west-facing room and near, but not on, the window-sill of a south-facing room. Flowering house plants, variegated foliage plants and green foliage plants all need good light – the needs of flowering plants being greatest and those of green foliage plants least.

Many house plants – mostly the foliage kinds – cannot tolerate the very bright light in south-facing windows and porches. Some plants revel in it, such as geraniums, cacti, succulents, yucca and bougainvillea.

Fading is the tell-tale sign of too much light. Flowers lose their colour and often dry out at the edges of the petals. Foliage plants often fade to yellowish green, and variegated plants, though they enjoy some sun, may fade to whitish yellow. Ferns go brown from scorching, and other plants can develop brown spots on the leaves too. Danger time is summer.


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