Date: April 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Horticulturists
Light is one of the most important factors to consider in the care of houseplants. All plants require light as their energy source in photosynthesis. This is the way green plants manufacture food. Without adequate light, food supplies dwindle and plants die.
Often plants become spindly and "reach" toward the source of light. They may shed leaves, especially older ones. Variegated plants may revert to solid green. Flowering plants may fail to produce buds. On the other hand, plants exposed to too much light may become scorched, bleached and limp.
To grow houseplants successfully, you need to know the light requirements of specific plants and how to evaluate light levels. There are three factors to consider when evaluating light:
-- First, light duration refers to the number of hours of light per 24-hour period.
-- Second, light quality refers to the wavelength, or color, of light. The sun supplies both of these.
-- Third, light intensity refers to the brightness of light.
These three factors together form an endless combination of light levels that fall into three basic groups: low, medium and high light.
Generally, a low light area receives no direct light; for example, a north window exposure in the winter. Medium light areas are well-lit areas in the home; for example, areas facing east or west windows. High light areas are brightly-lit locations, generally facing south or southwest.
In choosing an indoor plant, evaluate the light level in the place the plant will live; then, select a plant whose light requirements match what you have to offer.
Some plants that do well in low light are Chinese evergreen, cast iron plant, Dracaena, Philodendron and Sansevieria.
Some plants that do well in medium light are ferns, begonias, Schefflera, ficus, peperomia and African violets.
Cacti and succulents, geraniums, herbs and velvet plants do well in high light.
For further information contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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