VanWisdom: Houseplant Lighting Requirements

As we know, plants have a few key necessities they require for survival, like water, soil, food, humidity, temperature, and sunlight. But much like people, the amounts of each of these vary greatly between plants. Because we know that plants require sunlight to perform photosynthesis, it can be difficult to understand that sometimes plants can receive excessive or insufficient sunlight. For some plants, it is as simple as placing the pot on the windowsill and moving on, but for others, it can be a more complicated mix of lighting requirements. In this guide, we will walk you through some of the specifics when it comes to keeping your houseplant healthy and well-lit.

Different Types of Light:

Bright Light (Direct Sun) This comes from those south-facing windows in your home which receive direct light all day long. These will be the brightest areas in your home.

Bright Indirect Light This can either be filtered light from a south-facing window or light that’s just to the side of a south-facing window.

Medium Light Medium-light can typically be found in the interior of a room where there’s south or east-facing windows providing light.

Low Light Areas in your home which are near north-facing windows or those dark corners of a bright room can be defined as low light areas.

Little to No Light Rooms with no windows at all or rooms with windows where the sunlight is being blocked by a tree or building fall into this category.

It is important to understand where the light in your home is coming from and how intensely it shines. Plants can be very sensitive to changes in light.


There’s nothing worse than bringing a new plant home, and after a week or two having it start to develop crispy leaves or seeing the leaves start to turn yellow. These can be signs that your plant isn’t happy with the light it’s getting.

Not Enough Light: Have you ever seen a plant growing lopsided with all of the new growth leaning toward a window? This is the plant saying it needs more light. Limbs that appear leggy or otherwise stunted growth are sure signs that your plant needs more light. Additionally, if you see yellowing or dropping of leaves, that can also be an indicator of poor light.

Too much light: Similar to the way we get a sunburn, plants exhibit similar characteristics when they’re exposed to too much sun. If your plant develops brown, crispy leaves (especially at the tips), or you notice burned patches on the plant, you might want to try moving your plant to a darker area.

Keep in mind that some of the above symptoms like leaf drop can be caused by a few things, so lighting may not necessarily be the culprit. Check your plant for signs of over or under watering, and look for bugs or disease as well as lighting conditions. When in doubt, call us or pay us a visit. We’re always here to help.

Corners: Many people like to place their plants between two windows on a corner table or, if you have a fiddle leaf fig, standing in the corner of a room or space. The problem, in this case, is that the light arcs around the plant and deprive the plant of the necessary light it needs. Consider low light houseplants for room corners.

Which Plant for Which Lighting?

Bright Light (Direct Sun)

  • Jade
  • Aloe
  • Croton
  • Kalanchoe
  • Peperomia
  • String of Pearls
  • Cacti
  • Succulents
  • Citrus
  • Hibiscus
  • Hoya
  • Crown of Thorns

Bright Indirect Light:

  • Norfolk Island Pine
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig
  • Ficus
  • Schefflera
  • Orchid
  • Ivy
  • Money Tree

Medium Light:

  • Palms (Most)
  • Bromeliad
  • Rubber Tree
  • African Violet
  • Pilea
  • Spider Plant
  • Ferns
  • Monstera
  • Philodendron
  • Begonia
  • Dracaena
  • Pothos

Low Light:

  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Anthurium
  • Calathea
  • Snake Plant
  • ZZ Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Ferns
  • Peace Lillies
  • Polka Dot Plant

Little to No Light

  • Snake Plant
  • ZZ Plant

If you have any concerns about light or which plant might work best for your space, drop in for a little VanWisdom from our houseplant experts!