Every plant is a unique living organism. They have special personalities and cannot exist in the same conditions. While certain plant species need sun, others thrive in shade.
Before figuring out what kind of lighting your plant needs, think of why houseplants actually need light at all. Once the sun's rays "hit" a green plant, the chemical process of converting water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates happens. Thus, the plant gets the nutrients needed for growth and healthy development. This entire process is called photosynthesis, the main energy source of which is sunlight.
If the plant's light conditions are disrupted, the "photosynthesis machine" stops and the process does not proceed; although both ‘parties of it’ (chlorophyll grains) and materials (water, nutrients, carbon dioxide) are ready to work. This means that without light, indoor flowers, eventually starve to death, even though they are abundantly watered and fed. With a poor lighting regime, houseplants plants wither. Most houseplants do not like full sun; many of them become damaged or cannot survive very long if they receive too much direct sunlight.
Insufficient or excessive lighting of indoor flowers
Remember that every plant can signal the lack of light at home in its special manner. If you can see one of these signals, be sure to change your plant's location. It often happens that plant leaves (or stems) grow better on one side towards a window more than another side. This means that one side of a plant receives more light than the other. Thus, turn the plant around every couple of weeks. Another good option is to move a plant to spot with more light coverage.
If a plant is not receiving enough light (or receives too much direct sunlight) there are tell-tale signs to look out for. Here are the common problems caused by incorrect lighting.
Lack of sunlight:
- Plants do not flower,
- Weak, slow or spindly growth,
- Yellowing leaves (that eventually fall),
- New leaves seem smaller than usual.
Too much sunlight:
- Flowers shrivel up (and die quickly),
- Leaves shrivelling up and drying,
- Leaves fade in colour,
- Drooping leaves.
Excessive lighting is just as bad for houseplants as not enough light. If you put a shade-loving plant in a south-facing window, the leaves will peel and hang down helplessly during the hottest hours. After a while, yellow and then brown spots appear on the leaves: this indicates sunburn. Move the plant away from the window back to the room. During the hottest time of day (11 to 2 pm), you may shade plants a little: put a curtain up or just put a newspaper between the window pane and the plant. If the plant gets the right amount of light, it grows healthy, producing strong shoots, intensely colored leaves, and flowers.
Lighting conditions for active plant growth at home
A special index - lux, measures the level of light intensity. It allows you to accurately determine in which place of the room, and at what time of the day the intensity of light is the maximum and minimum. Plants requiring bright light for active growth (1500-2000 lux or more), should be placed on a sunny south-facing window.
In many apartments, living room windows face the south side of the house. They are usually large windows and windowsills. You can put a lot of plants there to be brightly lit by the sun on sunny days from noon to evening.
Plants that originate from south and love light:
- Pittosporum tobira,
- Strelitzia reginae,
Plants that do well in any location:
- Coleus blumei,
- Euphorbia milii.
Artificial lighting for plants at home
Sooner or later, every home florist faces the problem of reduced light levels during the cold period. The days get shorter, the sun rarely appears, and the light exposure of indoor pets decreases.
If normal daylight is not enough for plants in winter, you can compensate for it with artificial light. Using artificial lighting is an ideal way to grow or propagate plants in a room without windows. Fluorescent lights are indeed affordable and available in different styles with tubing or spot lamps. The tubing lights should be hung from the ceiling or a frame and will have a reflective background.
Conventional filament lamps are not suitable for this purpose: they are highly heated and can burn plants.
Artificial light bulbs have more ultraviolet, blue light, and less infrared light. Terrariums with lighting are a great option.
Gro-lux fluorescent bulbs are specially designed for indoor growing and emit a mixture of blue and red light spectrum's.
The hanging lamps should hang in the center of the plants so that the plants are not distorted. Wall lights are less practical in this regard. Household lights are not suitable artificial lighting and do not have the desired effect on indoor plants.
- When creating optimal lighting conditions for indoor flowers, keep in mind the following
On sunny days, the temperature at south-facing windows rises a lot, and plants located there need to be watered often (but not at midday). Black plastic pots overheat the soil quickly; use ceramic pots for south-facing windows plants. You can also put dark pots in light-colored containers.
If you have a bottom-hung window or a vent, keep them open in the summer. Otherwise, hot air will stagnate.
- You can prepare the shading in different ways: fabric, metal or paper blinds (be careful: metal blinds must not touch the plants, because they get very hot), you can frame them with a cloth overlay. Temporar options are newspaper or cardboard.
- Choose energy-efficient LEDs or affordable fluorescents. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) create light when an electric current — a flow of electrons — passes through a special material called a semiconductor).
- The distance from the plant to the lamp should be not less than 80 cm.
- If the plants are grown exclusively under artificial light, the lamps should burn from 12 (for shade-loving species) up to 16 (for light-loving plants) hours per day
Arranging plants to sit in groups is a way of offering a varied amount of light to each plant. When taking care of flowers at home, do not forget to shade plants on the south window. This is where you can put more of your varieties if you turn the searing direct sunlight into a pleasantly diffused light. While most plants thrive in 12 - 14 hours of daylight each day, they also need their rest period which includes resting during the winter.