Determining the right lighting level for houseplants is not an exact science. Other factors, like temperature, humidity, duration of sunlight and the temperament of the plant itself will all make a difference. You'll simply have to learn something about your plant and do a bit of trial and error at first.
However, most houseplants don't like to be placed in the direct sun of a windowsill. Strong sunlight may actually burn their leaves. Only plants that specify bright, direct sun, like Cyclamen, gardenia, geranium and other indoor plants grown for their flowers, should be sited in a south facing window. Low light plants, like Pothos and Philodendron, will be fine placed further in a room where indirect sunlight reaches. Those in between are the houseplants you'll need to keep watch on. East and west facing windows are fine for most plants, but if your home lets in a lot of light, you may be able to grow houseplants well away from the windows.
The idea is to watch your new houseplants for signs of unhappiness. Plants that are not getting as much light as they need will look pale, rather than a healthy green. They will start to look spindly, as they reach for the sun, and you may also notice that the new leaves are smaller than usual. If this happens, move the plant to a sunnier location and try not to kill it with TLC while it adjusts.
Here is a simple breakdown to use when determining if a houseplant will be happy in your home and where to place it once you bring it home.
- Bright Light: Bright light means a sunny southern or western facing window with bright, direct light all day long.
- Indirect Light: Indirect light can be either an eastern facing bright window or in the interior of a room with a southern or western facing window that receives full light.
- Low Light: Many rooms qualify as low light, especially in winter. Rooms with north facing windows, rooms partially shaded by outdoor trees and even tables set too far in to receive much light from a window, would all qualify as low light situations.