Aug 9, 2010

Light Requirements Rule of Thumb

Here’s a basic guide for plant light requirements, both indoors and out. My list defines what sun and shade really means, gives a corresponding direction, and offers plants suited to that location! I hope it helps!

Full Sun = 5 + hours of sunlight per day which falls on the plant’s leaves and causes a distinct, sharp shadow behind the plant. Watch for sunburn! Water plant often *unless it has low watering requirements.* Plants like Jade and Aloe don't need a lot of water, even in the summertime! If your plant sits outside in a full sun location, it just might need water every day!
Direction: South
Plants: Cacti, Jade Plant, Echeveria, Croton, Venus Flytrap, Aloe Vera, Chrysanthemum, Sansevieria, Basil, Marigold, most roses

Partial Sun = 3 - 4 hours of sunlight per day, causing a shadow behind the plant. Be cautious of sunburn, water your plant fairly frequently (especially a Peace Lily!)
Directions: Southwest, West
Plants: Peace Lily, Majesty Palm, Norfolk Island Pine, Coleus, Sansevieria, Wormwood, Mugwort, Parlor Palm, Philodendrons

Indirect Sun = 2 - 3 hours of sun per day that’s not falling directly on the leaves, but is rather diffused – obscured by a tree’s leaves or some other object directly in front of the plant. Light in these locations is often diffused or reflected off walls and never direct. Shadow cast is fairly weak
Direction: East
Plants: Pothos, Spider Plant, Lucky Bamboo, Warneckii Dracaena, Janet Craig Dracaena, Palms, African Violet, Sansevieria, Philodendrons, Begonias

Shade = About 1 - 2 hours of sunlight per day, which does not cause a shadow on the plant. Light in these locations is often diffused or reflected off walls and never direct. A window, if present may be far away, such as in a basement environment. Wet soil will take longer to dry out in less sun, so soggy conditions are dangerous!
Direction: North, Northeast
Plants: Sansevieria, Cast Iron Plant, Chinese Evergreen, Ferns, Philodendrons

Full Shade = Less than 1 hour of sunlight per day. No shadow is cast by the plant.
Direction: North
Plants: Belladonna, Persian Shield

Here’s a quick test to be certain of the light levels around your plants: During the day, place your hand between the nearest light source and the plant you want to test. If your hand casts a deep shadow over the plant, you have full or partial sun. If the shadow is less obvious, the light is indirect. If there is little to no shadow, your plant is located in a shaded area. Follow individual plant rewquirements, especially for watering, and only use this information as a general guide. The only way to truly know how your plant will react once in your home is to keep an eye on it -- if it appears to be doing well, don't change a good thing!

If you suspect your plant needs less light, you don’t necessarily need to move the plant to another room altogether. Simply move it back from the light source by a few feet: you will be surprised by the effect!

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