Light, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthy Houseplants

How much light do your plants need? This question is crucial to the survival of your plants but is mostly met with vague responses like “medium light” or “bright indirect light.” If you don’t understand what those phrases mean, it will be difficult to provide the best care for your plants. So, let’s dive into what those phrases mean and what level of light different plants require.

Bright Direct Light

Bright direct light is exactly what it sounds like. This is when light shines directly onto your houseplants. Plants that need this type of light typically need at least 6 hours in the sunlight, although the amount of bright direct light significantly reduces in the fall and winter. The most ideal locations for plants that need bright direct sunlight are south and west facing windows. Plants that thrive in bright direct light include Basil, Ponytail Palm, Gardenia, and Jasmine.

Bright Indirect Light

Bright indirect light comes from a light source that does not directly hit your plants. It is light reflected off another object before landing on your plants. This means that you should put plants that need bright indirect light in areas where the light will bounce off the ceiling, curtains, or walls first. Plants that grow well in bright indirect light include African Violets, Hedra Helix, Kentia Palms, and Peace Lilies.

Medium Light

Plants that require medium light prefer about 4-6 hours of light a day. Medium light is the bright light that fills a room without being direct. For example, you should place a plant that needs medium light near a west or southeast facing window, but far enough away to not receive direct light. Houseplants that do best in medium light conditions include Begonias, Moth Orchids, Dumb Cane, and Spathiphyllum.

Low Light

Low light does not mean that you should put your plants in a dark room. Plants that live in low light conditions still need a few hours of consistent light every day, whether it is artificial light or sunlight. The best locations in your house for low light plants are north facing windows, areas where the light is blocked by outdoor features like trees and other buildings, or in the middle of a room on a dining table. Plants that require a low level of light include Snake Plant, Dracaena, Spider Plant, and Heart-leaf Philodendron.

Looking for light advice or help with troubleshooting issues that could be related to light in your unique home? Email us at with the type of plant, a description of the issues it's having, and pictures (if possible).