If you shop for plants, you've probably heard the term 'bright filtered light' a lot, and if you've been in our shop, we probably asked you what direction your windows face. North, South, East, West, each one and the conditions that impact the amount of light entering your window can drastically change what types of plants can grow well in your space. Understanding your light is key to having healthy house plants.
Here are some examples we've put together to help you understand what type of light you may have in your space.
Scroll down to learn more.
How to determine your light in California
The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
North: No direct sun, only reflected light from the sky. East: Direct morning light. South: The angle of the sun creates direct sun to the South throughout the day. West: Direct sun after noon until sunset.
The more North you face, or the less direct sun you get through your windows, the lower the light. For example, North-East is lower than South East.
Use your phone's compass to determine your exact window direction. Nuances matter a lot!
North is low light
Even though you might experience your north-facing environment as bright, plants experience light differently and North is actually the lowest light direction for houseplants.
In order for photosynthesis to be possible, place plants as close to your North window as possible.
In low light plants need less water and can be difficult to care for. We highly recommend supplementing with grow lights for any plants you place away from your North-facing window.
East is Moderate to low light
If your East-facing windows are large or get direct morning sun, there are many plants that will grow well in your space.
Obstructions such as trees or overhangs will drastically reduce light for plants. We highly recommend supplementing with grow lights for any plants you place away from or off to the side of your East-facing window.
South is bright!
Spaces with Southern exposure have a vast selection of options available for houseplants. Many plants will thrive in this environment.
If light is unobstructed, plants in front of your window might get several hours of direct sun every day. Plants a few feet back or to the side of your window will get indirect or bright filtered light.
Note: Obstructions like trees, awnings, blinds, and curtains can reduce light and create moderate or even low light environments.
West is the brightest!
If your windows face West, they can get many hours of direct sun every day. West-facing light is great for many houseplants and can burn others. Make sure you know whether the plants you select can handle direct sun (we have filters for that:)
Take note of any obstructions to your light. If you use blinds or curtains to shield your home from the sun, this will reduce the light in your space.
Important things to consider
Plants need light to photosynthesize and generate the energy to live and grow. In more light, they will use water more quickly. In lower light, they use less water. Because light cannot bend easily, plants placed in areas where they can't benefit from window light experience much lower light than we do, even in bright spaces.
Obstructions: Plants like ferns that require outdoor shade need bright filtered light indoors (think of your roof as the shade). Even if a space feels bright to you, obstructions like other buildings, trees, porch overhangs, and blinds will reduce light.
Habits: Keep your habits in mind when searching for plants. If you close your blinds or curtains during the day, this will reduce the light your plants are in too.
Having plants should be a good experience! Trying to grow a plant that needs bright light in a low light space can mean that the plant may adapt, but not in a way that will result in a healthy plant. You may need to be more active with pest control since the plant may not be able to produce its own immune responses to pests, and the plant may experience a lot of leaf loss.
Have more questions? Call us or come in! We're happy to help you choose plants that will look great and thrive in your space.