Home Houseplants What is Indirect Light for Houseplants?

What is Indirect Light for Houseplants? – GIY Plants

Bedroom bright with indirect light with two plants

Many houseplants flourish in indirect sunlight. However, it is difficult to find the perfect location for your favorite potted plant.

Too little sunlight causes your plants to shrink in size, lose their color, and have long spaces on the stem between each leaf (often referred to as “leggy”).

On the other hand, too much sunlight causes a potted plant to develop brown patches and droopy leaves. Apart from being unsightly, an inappropriate amount of light sickens or kills your houseplant.

When reading a care manual, you may wonder what indirect light is and what distinguishes indirect sunlight from shade or direct sunlight? Here are tips to maintain your houseplant and keep it beautiful all year round.

Indirect Light vs. Shade

Indirect light and shade are similar. Essentially, Indirect light is either artificial light or light that bounces off other objects. Whereas shade refers to obstructed light by large objects like trees.

“Understory plants” are a type of plant that thrives in shade. In their natural environment, understory plants grow on the forest floor underneath large trees, which makes them the perfect choice for a houseplant.

Direct Light vs. Indirect Light

Direct light is sunlight not refracted by window treatments or blocked by a tree. Place plants that require direct sunlight outdoors because they need a full 12-14 hours of sunlight.

Potted outdoor plants that live indoors thrive in a high-light area like a south facing window. Moreover, potted plants in a high-light area require much more watering and maintenance. Keep in mind that windows with weather treatments refract more light, so not all south-facing windows are alike.

Contrary to outdoor plants, houseplants need indirect light. Therefore, houseplants thrive best near an east-facing window or even further from the light source altogether. Place flowering indoor plants near a window. Furthermore, foliage plants survive in darker areas of the house.

House Plants that Flourish in Indirect Light

Snake plant

Snake plants are a common indoor plant that live in low light levels. Moreover, these attractive plants resemble snakes and have dark green leaves outlined with a neon yellow

Prayer Plant

Prayer plants have multicolored foliage of red, yellow and green. Interestingly, they fold overnight like they are praying and grow best near east-facing windows or lower light levels.


Pothos are easy to care for and are not picky about hydration or light level. Additionally, their vine-like leaves spill out of their pots and look dramatic as a hanging plant.


Monsteras have shiny dark green leaves with a unique and stunning shape due to large holes or fenestrations. Place Monsteras near an east facing window or a fluorescent light.

Peace Lily

Peace Lilies are beautiful flowering plants with long, green leaves and white flowers that grow well near an east or north-facing window.

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