#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

Houseplants Don’t Need Sunlight – PLANT MYTH MONDAYS #11

October 30, 2017

MONDAY 10.23.17 MYTH: Houseplants don’t need sunlight

Absolutely not true – saying houseplants don’t need sunlight is like saying humans do not need food to grow. Sunlight is food to plants. And food is energy that plants need to grow bigger and stronger. However, how much sunlight does your plant need? How much sunlight is enough

I am sure you have heard people saying “bright light”, “medium light”, and “low light” before, along with “direct light” and “indirect right”, when talking about houseplants. But what are these terms referring to? See their simplified definitions below:

Bright/Direct Light

Bright light, or full sun, means there are no curtains or blinds between the plant and the sunny window. There’s no tree, building, or anything outside the window to obstruct the light either. For example, the windowsill that’s right next to your widow is generally where your plant will receive the most light inside.

Medium/Filtered light

Medium or filtered sunlight is diffused by your curtains in the window. There also might be a building in front of your widows blocking some of your light during the day. Coffee tables or dressers that are few feet away is another example of medium light and a filtered light environment.

Low light

This means no direct sun will touch your plants. It is generally few feet a way from your widow (light source), or sometimes in a room without window with only artificial light.


When in doubt, you can always do a shadow test to determine how much light your environment actually provides. Take a sheet of paper and put it where you would like to have your plant around mid-day on a sunny day. Now hold your hand a foot or so over the paper. If you see a clear, sharp shadow, that means you have a bright light environment. Like how you go to the beach and your shadow is vivid and clear on the sandy ground. On the other hand, you probably have a low light environment if the shadow is fuzzy and indistinguishable. Image on raining days when you can barely see your shadow walking down the street.


Aloes, succulents, and palm trees – are sun loving plants. Ideally, they should be getting direct sun for at least 6 hours a day. Generally speaking, you would want to put them the brightest spot you have at home. For example, your windowsills or coffee table that’s right next to your window.And some plants – like ferns and aroid plants (monsteras, aglaonemas, etc.) – have evolved to live on the forest floor, so they are used to being shaded from the sun. They have not evolved to handle the harsh rays of the sun directly and cannot protect themselves against them (like desert-dwelling cacti can). These types of plants, that prefer indirect light similar to their native environment, are perfect for inside spots away from windows. Hence, the medium or low light environment is great.

Remember sunlight is food for plants. When bringing a new plant home, make sure you understand how much natural sunlight your space can provide, and visa versa, how much natural sunlight your plant needs. In ideal situations, as in nature, a little bit of natural sunlight, even just a splash of light, is always better than none!  No natural light = no happy plants.

PS: Read more debunked Plant Myth Monday here, including where you put your plants and how much water to give your plants.

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