Light Requirements for Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants & how to keep your foliage happy & healthy

Understanding light levels for plants, let alone the varying light needs for each type of plant, can be tricky. So we made you a light guide! Double check the lighting needs for your type of plant and make sure they're getting their balanced dosage of vitamin D.

Direct Light - the light that comes in through west or southern-facing windows, the most intense light for your indoors and will expose plants here directly to the sun's rays. (Works for: cactus and succulents)

Bright Light - not really direct light, but definitely not medium light, the spots right night to a window that receives a dash of direct light (no more than an hour a day) before being obstructed. Works for: all plants living indoors would be happy here.

Medium Light - the spots in a room that are half the distance between a window and back wall. Still plenty bright, but nowhere near direct. Works for: palms, dracaenas, philodendrons.

Low Light - areas that are 7ft or more from windows, or places that have no natural light. Certain plant species are adaptable and can live here, but will grow much slower. If your plant starts to look sad, consider moving it to medium light. 

Artificial Light - indoor, full-spectrum lights can imitate the sun and work wonders for low light areas. 

Keep in mind that plants can also be "conditioned" to different light levels, but be careful to do this over a period of a few weeks. A sudden shift in light levels will cause your plant to go through shock.

Not Sure How Much Light Your Plant Gets?

A quick way to tell is just with a hand test. Take a piece of paper or some other plane surface and hold your hand about a foot away from it, between it and the light source. If you can’t see much of a shadow or it’s very faint, you’re getting low light. In a medium light situation you’ll see a blurry or fuzzy shadow of your hand, and in bright light you’ll get a crisp clear shadow.

Signs You Haven’t Found The Sweet Spot Yet

If you see yellow or dropping leaves or longer spindly stems, this may indicate your plant wants more light. A change of position in the room, a different room, or adding a lamp nearby may be what your plant is looking for.

Noticing pale leaves or crispy browning areas? 

This may mean your plant needs a step back from too much light or direct light.

Don’t Have Enough Natural Light?

While low light plants are the best bet for low-light areas, another option to consider is getting an artificial or grow light, which can basically make growing plants anywhere, even in a windowless room, a possibility!

Remember to above all be realistic about the light you have to offer and the plant you want to get — no matter how much you love them, certain plants will simply not survive if not place in an adequate environment!

- Harper's Garden Centre