Bright indirect light? Part shade? Direct sun? The language of light when it comes to houseplants can be confusing. Here is a simple guide to figuring out what kind of light you have in your home - and how to match a plant to your space.
Lighting is one of the most important factors in the health of your houseplant. You can change your watering schedule and soil - but the amount of natural light your home receives is a constant.
Fluorescent Lighting: The typical fluorescent lighting we have in our homes and offices is not bright enough for most houseplants to survive. Adding greenery into a space without natural light is tricky. Windowless bathrooms or offices are not ideal for sun-loving plants. However, there are a few plants that can do well in a windowless room or office: zz plants & snake plants.
I do suggest ‘recharging’ plants that predominantly live in a windowless space by giving your plant light when you can. For instance, if you have a zz plant in your windowless office, it would enjoy a field trip to a window (with indirect sun exposure) when you go home for the weekend. At my suggestion, my mom dutifully moves her zz plant across her office on weekends so that it can get the extra light it needs to really thrive.
Low light: Low light does not mean no light (see above). Low light is very diffuse light that receives no direct sun. Low light is across the room (8-10 feet) from a very brightly lit window or next to a window that receives very diffuse light. Northern windows tend to have medium to low light - depending on the architecture of your surroundings. If you have a covered patio or trees outside of a northern window - plants next to this window will receive low light.
Philodendron and pothos plants are easy-care low-light plants with a lot of variety in their shapes. Pothos are beautiful low-maintenance trailing vines - and philodendrons can be vining or produce beautiful upright leaves. Keep in mind that different varieties of these plants may require more light.
For example, golden pothos produce marbled yellow variegation that comes out stronger when it is exposed to more light. Placing golden pothos in a very low light spot can result in a reduction in variegation over time. A good rule of thumb - stick to richly colored green varieties of these plants if you need to place them in low light.
This Golden Pothos would lose its beautiful variegation if placed in low light.
This Monstera adansonii is a great plant that does well in low light situations. Plants placed in low light situations will grow more slowly than higher light - but this plant is a prolific grower!
This lemon lime philodendron has neon-colored leaves. I recommend choosing this kind of philodendron for a higher-light spot in the home.
Snake plants come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Even if you are working with a low-light space - you have a lot of fun options available to you. Left: Sansevieria Laurentii, Right: Sansevieria Black Gold
*All of the plants used in photos are in-store and available to purchase as of June 3rd, 2021.