Discover how to determine the lighting needs of your indoor plants in this comprehensive guide. Assess natural light, understand light requirements, and learn how to supplement with artificial lighting. Ensure your plants thrive with the right amount and quality of light.


Do you have indoor plants but struggle to determine their lighting needs? Understanding the lighting requirements of your plants is crucial for their health and growth. In this article, we will explore the factors you need to consider to determine the lighting needs of your indoor plants. Whether your plants need high light, medium light, or low light, we’ve got you covered.

Assessing Natural Light

The first step in determining the lighting needs of your indoor plants is to assess the natural light available in your space. Different plants have varying light requirements, so it’s important to choose plants that match the natural light conditions in your environment.

  • Natural Light: Consider the orientation of your windows and the amount of sunlight they receive throughout the day.
  • Direction of Windows: North-facing windows receive the least light, making them suitable for low-light plants. South-facing windows receive the most direct sunlight and are ideal for high-light plants. East-facing windows provide bright morning sunlight, while west-facing windows receive direct sunlight in the late afternoon.
  • Window Coverings: Factors such as curtains, blinds, or shades can affect the amount of sunlight reaching your plants. Sheer curtains can filter intense sunlight from south or west-facing windows, creating bright indirect light.

Understanding Light Requirements

Different plants have different light requirements, and it’s important to select plants that suit the lighting conditions in your space. Here are the three categories of light requirements for indoor plants:

  1. Low-Light Plants: These plants thrive in rooms with limited light, such as north-facing windows or shady areas. While they can tolerate low light, they will grow more vigorously with medium light. Examples of low-light plants include the snake plant, pothos, and peace lily.

  2. Medium-Light Plants: These plants require at least four hours of medium light daily. They should be placed within a few feet of a north-facing window, six to eight feet from an east or west-facing window, or eight to twelve feet from a south or southwest-facing window. Examples of medium-light plants include ferns, calatheas, and philodendrons.

  3. High-Light Plants: These plants need direct or indirect sun exposure for most of the day. They should be placed in south or southwest-facing windows or outdoor areas to receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Examples of high-light plants include succulents, tropical plants, and fruit-bearing plants like tomatoes and peppers.

Supplementing with Artificial Lighting

If your space lacks natural sunlight or you want to provide additional light for your plants, you can supplement with artificial lighting. Here are some considerations:

  • Light Source: LED bulbs are energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them a popular choice. Fluorescent bulbs have a lower upfront cost but may need to be replaced more frequently. Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest but are inefficient and produce heat. High-pressure sodium bulbs are commonly used in commercial settings but may not be suitable for home use.
  • Light Intensity: The distance between the light source and the plants affects the light intensity received. Seedlings generally require a distance of 4-6 inches from the light source, while foliage houseplants may need 12-24 inches.
  • Light Quality: Plants primarily use red and blue light from the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) spectrum. Starting seeds may require more blue light, while promoting bud formation may require additional red light.
  • Light Duration: The duration of light, known as the photoperiod, is the number of hours of light a plant needs per 24-hour period. Seedlings typically require 16-18 hours of light per day, while flowering houseplants may need 14-16 hours.

Evaluating Light Intensity

Measuring light intensity is essential for assessing the suitability of a location for your plants. Here are two methods you can use:

  1. Light Meter: A light meter is a device that measures the intensity of light in units such as foot-candles or lux. It provides numerical values for brightness, helping you determine if a location has sufficient light for your plants. You can find light meters online or use light meter apps available for smartphones.

  2. Window Direction: The direction your windows face can also give you a general estimate of light levels. In the northern hemisphere, south-facing windows receive the most sunlight, east-facing windows receive morning sun, west-facing windows receive afternoon sun, and north-facing windows receive the least light.


Determining the lighting needs of your indoor plants is crucial for their health and growth. Consider the natural light available in your space, select plants that match the lighting conditions, and supplement with artificial lighting if necessary. Pay attention to factors such as light intensity, quality, and duration to promote optimal plant growth.

By understanding the lighting needs of your indoor plants, you can create a suitable environment for their thriving. So, go ahead and assess your space, choose the right plants, and provide them with the light they need to flourish.


  1. Lighting for Indoor Plants and Starting Seeds – University of Minnesota Extension: Read More
  2. Houseplant Lighting Guide – Gardener’s Supply: Read More
  3. Indoor Plant Lighting 101 – Bloomscape: Read More
  4. How to Determine What Level of Light You Have in Your Home – Well+Good: Read More
  5. Comprehensive Guide to Indoor Plant Light Requirements – Houseplant Harmony: Read More
  6. The Ultimate Indoor Plant Light Guide for Houseplant Lovers – Smart Garden Guide: Read More
  7. Indoor Plant Lighting – University of Missouri Extension: Read More
  8. She Shed Decorating: How to Light Your Plants in a She Shed – Martha Stewart: Read More
  9. Brighten Up Your Plant’s Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Plant Light Requirements – SKH: Read More
  10. House Plant Lighting Guide – Indoor Plants Lighting Guide: Read More
  11. Lighting Indoor Houseplants – University of Florida IFAS Extension: Read More
  12. Understanding Houseplant Lighting Requirements – Alfie & Gem: Read More