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April 17, 2023 4 min read

As plant parents, we've all been there. You're eagerly reading the care instructions of a new houseplant you like the look of and read the words: "Low light conditions."

Cue the internal panic as you search your home for the darkest corner to place your precious plant baby.

But hold on, before you banish your plant to plant purgatory, let's shed some light on the truth about light conditions and your houseplants.

Low Light Doesn't Mean No Light

Let's start with the basics. Plants need light to survive. While some plants may tolerate lower light conditions better than others, no plant can thrive in complete darkness. So, when you see "low light" or "shade tolerant" on a plant care label, it doesn't mean your plant can survive in a windowless room or a closet without any light source. It simply means that the plant can tolerate less intense or indirect light compared to other plants.

Bright Idea: Placing Your Plants in the Right Spot

Understanding the light conditions in your home is key to keeping your houseplants happy and healthy. While low light plants may not need as much direct sunlight as their sun-loving counterparts, they still need some light to carry out photosynthesis, the process that allows them to produce food and grow. So, instead of banishing them to the darkest corner of your home, aim to place them in brighter rooms with some distance from direct light sources.

North-facing windows are often ideal for low light plants, as they provide indirect light that is less intense compared to south-facing windows. You can also place your plants further away from bright windows or use sheer curtains to filter the light. Keep in mind that different plants have different light requirements, so it's essential to research and understand the specific needs of your plant babies to give them the right light conditions they need to thrive.

Bright Idea: Rotate Your Plants

One common issue that many plant parents face is their plant's leaves leaning over one another in a desperate attempt to reach the light. This can result in uneven growth and a "bad hair day" look for your plant. But fear not, the solution is simple: just give your plants a spin!

Rotating your plants regularly can promote more balanced growth and prevent them from leaning towards the light source. For plants that require lots of light, rotate them once every few months, and for low light plants, once a month is ideal. This ensures that all sides of the plant receive an equal amount of light, promoting symmetrical growth and a more balanced appearance. It's like a little yoga session for your plants, helping them stretch towards the light and stay in tip-top shape.

Bright Idea: Check The Care Guide

While light is a crucial factor in plant care, it's not the only one. Remember to also consider other environmental factors like moisture levels, humidity, and temperature in your plant care routine. Proper watering, maintaining adequate humidity levels, and providing a suitable temperature range can all contribute to the overall health and happiness of your indoor plants.

Reading the Light:
How to Recognise if Your Houseplants are Getting Too Much or Not Enough Light

Too much or too little light can cause various issues, from stunted growth and wilting to yellowing leaves and even plant death. But how can you tell if your plants are getting too much or not enough light? Here are some signs to look out for:

Signs of Too Much Light:

Leaf Burn: If you notice brown or yellow spots on the leaves, especially towards the tips or edges, it could be a sign of sunburn caused by excessive light exposure. This is more common in plants that are sensitive to direct sunlight or placed too close to a strong light source.

Wilting and Dryness: While it may seem counterintuitive, plants can actually wilt and dry out when exposed to too much light. If the soil feels excessively dry, even though you've been watering regularly, and the leaves appear droopy and crispy, it could be due to excessive light that is causing excessive water loss through transpiration.

Bleaching: If your plant's leaves appear pale or faded, it could be a sign of bleaching caused by too much light. This is more commonly seen in plants with lighter-colored foliage.

Stunted Growth: Although it may seem contradictory, too much light can actually inhibit growth in some plants. If you notice that your plant is not growing as expected, despite proper care in other aspects, it could be a sign of excessive light exposure, which can disrupt the plant's natural growth patterns.

Signs of Not Enough Light:

Leggy Growth: If your plant's stems appear elongated and weak, with leaves spaced far apart, it could be a sign of insufficient light. This is the plant's way of reaching towards a light source in an attempt to get more light for photosynthesis.

Yellowing Leaves: If the leaves of your plant start turning yellow, especially towards the lower parts of the plant, it could be a sign of not enough light. Yellowing leaves can indicate that the plant is not producing enough chlorophyll due to lack of light, resulting in reduced photosynthesis and nutrient uptake.

Slow Growth or No Growth: If your plant is not showing any signs of new growth or is growing very slowly, it could be due to inadequate light. Plants need sufficient light to produce food through photosynthesis, and without enough light, their growth can be severely impacted.

Leaning or Stretching: If you notice your plant leaning or stretching towards a light source, it's a clear indication that it's not getting enough light. Plants will naturally try to orient themselves towards the light, and stretching or leaning is their way of reaching for more light.

So, don't be left in the dark when it comes to understanding light conditions and your houseplants. Low light doesn't mean no light, and with the right placement, rotation, and attention to other environmental factors, your plants can thrive, even in less intense light conditions. Embrace the bright side of low light and watch your houeplants flourish in their cosy corner of your home.