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
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 Lilies are beautiful flowering plants with long, green leaves and white flowers that grow well near an east or north-facing window.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sunlight through a window without any window treatments, curtains or obstructions is direct light. Direct sunlight is determined by any amount greater than 1000 foot-candles.
Bright indirect light is a few feet from south or west-facing windows. Plants that require bright, indirect lights can also be placed near an east or south facing window.
Indirect light is light that is either artificially created or has bounced off another object. For example, light through a window, moonlight and fluorescent lighting are considered indirect light. Indirect light can vary in intensity. Specific potted plants require different intensity levels.
500–1000 foot-candles are considered bright indirect light and is enough to create a shadow with blurry edges. Using a light meter will give an accurate measure of the light a plant receives.