The best light position for your indoor plants

Decorating the inside of your home with houseplants is a great way to bring life into any room. However, there are indoor plant guidelines you’ll need to follow to ensure your plants stay happy and healthy for years to come.

Sunlight is one of the most important factors in healthy plant growth. Understanding the types of sunlight each plant needs will help your plants thrive and prevent pests and diseases. Check out our indoor plant light guide to expand your knowledge of your indoor plants and the light levels they require.

Your guide to indoor plant lighting

Of course, various types of plants prefer different lighting conditions based on their natural habitat. Succulents and cacti, for example, are native to deserts and extremely dry climates and therefore love hours of sunlight and minimal watering. Tropical plants like ferns, bird of paradise, and philodendrons, on the other hand, prefer bright, indirect light and more frequent watering in order to mimic a rainforest environment. Here’s how to position different plants for each type of lighting condition.

Direct light

Plants native to wide, open terrains like cacti, herbs, and many succulents fall into this category. Generally it’s best to aim for six or more hours of direct sun, meaning the sun’s rays are hitting the plant’s leaves, each day. The type of placement to obtain this lighting is somewhat limited:

  • South- or southwest-facing window: Place your plant within 60cm of the window where it can soak up as much direct sunlight as possible.
  • West-facing window: Though it’s not ideal, a west-facing window is the next best option. Place your plant as close to the window as possible to maximise the direct light it receives in the late afternoon and early evening.

Bright indirect light

Plants that gain height as they grow enjoy bright indirect light. Many houseplants that fall into this category are native to tropical rainforests, where they grow high enough to gather bright light but are still protected from direct sun thanks to larger trees overhead. A few examples of plants that enjoy this environment are Philodendrons, Dracaena, and most Ficus species. There are many options to recreate this in your home:

  • North-facing window: Place your plant very close to the window.
  • East- or west-facing window: Place your plant within 1,2-1,5m of the window. It will receive some direct sunlight either in the morning or late afternoon, which is OK since the sun’s rays are far less intense when it’s low in the sky.
  • South- or southwest-facing window: Place your plant between 90cm and 1,5m back from the window, where it won’t receive direct sun. Or, you can place it close to the window and hang a sheer curtain to filter the direct sun.

Medium indirect light

Many low-growing tropical houseplants like ferns, calatheas, and pothos do great in medium indirect light. These types of plants have evolved to thrive on a forest floor, where light is abundant but highly filtered through the canopy of trees, vines, and shrubs overhead. The guidelines to recreate this in your home follow the patterns of bright indirect light but allow placement farther from a window:

  • North-facing window: Place your plant within a few centimetres of the window.
  • East- or west-facing window: Place your plant within 1,8 to 2,4m of the window.
  • South- or southwest-facing window: Place your plant within 2,4 to 3,6 feet of the window.

Low light

Some hardier plants that prefer indirect light are also adaptable to low light. A few examples of plants that can tolerate low light include the ZZ plant, pothos, and snake plant. If you have small windows, windows that are obstructed by buildings or trees, or are dealing with only artificial lighting, you’ll want to seek out plants in this category. These types of plants actually prefer brighter conditions, but can tolerate less-than-ideal conditions such as low light.

If you still have any questions about indoor plant light requirements, you can always contact us! And remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting with your indoor plants until you find the perfect setup for your collection!