This little light of mine (might just kill my plants)

This little light of mine (might just kill my plants)

A simple problem

I cannot stress enough to you how important it is to get the light conditions right for your indoor plants.

Low light is the biggest killer of indoor plants. And chances are you are vastly overestimating the amount of light your plants are getting. Think about it this way:

Light is food for plants. Very simply: the more food they get, the bigger and healthier they will grow.

If you don't give your plant enough light, you are essentially starving it. It may limp along for a while, but ultimately root rot, or weakness, or bugs, or some other issue will cause its untimely demise.


Maybe not so simple...

Usually when a guide says "direct sunlight" or "your sunniest windowsill" that means actual sunlight i.e. dhoop hitting your plant for at least a few hours through the window.

Especially indoors you have to be particular, as the light is coming through a window, perhaps through a jaali, and that cuts down the amount of sunlight hitting a plant significantly.

Please note: when we refer to "direct sunlight" indoors, that is still sunlight through a window, is considered indirect sunlight, and is about 50% of the intensity of direct sun outside. However, we are calling it "direct sunlight" in our guides and care cards as that is the most direct you can get indoors.

As if that wasn't enough - whether it's summer or winter makes a huge difference in the amount and intensity of light coming in through the same windows. As you can see above, the intensity is much greater in summer. But depending on where your window faces, the lower angle of the sun in winter could mean a greater amount of direct sunlight coming in. It is something to keep an eye on!


A complex answer

We get a lot of questions regarding plants for a bathroom with no windows, or a low-light corner in a bedroom. The unfortunate truth is you are not going to find a plant that thrives in the near darkness caused by no windows or being in a far corner of the room. You might have some luck with mushrooms and mosses in terrariums, but most commercially available plants will not thrive in those spots, no matter what the guy at the nursery tells you.

Take a look at the diagram below - this is a good way to gauge the light situation in a room (the windows on the left are west facing):

Artist: @kail_bales, found on Leon & George, adapted for Pakistani settings.

It is immediately obvious that the 'low light' areas get the least amount of natural light, and thus are not great areas for putting most plants. These are, let's say, more than 7-8 feet from the windows.

You might get away with keeping snake plants there for a while, but eventually even these indestructible guys will start to etiolate, sending out thinner, more brittle leaves that grow far too long in search of more light and then flop over, unable to support themselves.

Your best bet for putting cacti and sun-loving succulents (like these guys) is the far left, directly where the light is entering the room.

Some foliage plants, like money plant, philodendron, syngonium/pink syngonium, would be fine in almost any part of this room especially the bits marked "bright indirect" but even in "medium light." If you have a variegated type of philodendron (like brasil for instance), then allowing it a couple of hours of early morning or later afternoon sunshine would help to maintain better and more interesting variegation in the leaves.

Philodendron brasil in white plastic planter.

Plants like haworthias, aloe black gems, snake plants, and dyckias would be happiest in the bright light or direct light areas typically. But snake plants can also tolerate medium light areas for quite a long time.

Use the illustration above to help guide you on where to set up your plants.

The truth of the matter is, unless you're willing to invest a lot in grow lights, your aesthetic must cater to your plants, and not the other way around.

This does have the wonderful upside of happy, healthy plants that immediately brighten up any room. They make your settings simultaneously cosier and more luxe, uplift your mood, bring you closer to nature, and create a sense of 'completeness' that no other object of decor can do.

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