Light can be one of the trickiest things to understand because it seems like everyone has their own definition. It also is very dependent on your environment, and the type of plant you have.
Usually when I talk about light I think of it as Bright Light, Bright Indirect Light, Medium Light, and Low Light. These measurements are usually determined by which window you are (or are not) placing it near. It can also change if there are any obstructions like curtains, trees or shrubs outside. Also, grow lights are an easy solution if you want a certain plant in an area of your home that doesn't naturally get enough light. If you want more information on grow lights, you can check on podcast episode 63 or the corresponding blog post. So, let's break down light!
Bright Light: This is best in a south or west facing window. In a south window, you will have continued sun throughout the day, and during the heat of the day, which gives the most sunlight. In a west window, usually you will have the hot afternoon sun (second half of the tail end) which also gives lots of sunlight.
Bright Indirect Light: I would consider this to be off of a south or west window, and directly in an east window. Anywhere you are still catching some of the sun's rays through the window, but your plant isn't sitting directly in the window.
Medium Light: This is somewhat near the middle of your room that has a west or south window or directly in a north window. Your plants are getting hit by any of the sun's rays, but it is still bright in the areas these plants are growing.
Low Light: This tends to be the opposite wall of a window or several feet away from the window.
This is all VERY dependent on which facing window you have so I created several diagrams below to mimic sunlight with any facing window. If you planned to use a grow light, usually those can be considered bright light depending on how far away the light is from your plant and if it is facing directly at the plant or not.
Also, keep in mind the lighting through your windows, and indoors, is much different than outdoor light. If you move your houseplants from a bright light position indoors, to a bright light or direct light position outdoors, the plant may burn since it is not used to an as intense sunlight.
South Facing Window
West Facing Window
East Facing Window
North Facing Window
I asked followers if they had any specific plant questions I could address in this podcast and blog. Here are the questions and answers for this episode...
"How do you give bright light without things burning? Ex: rubber tree burned under light."
This is dependent on what bright light means to you. If you moved your rubber tree to a south facing window when it hadn't been used to that much light, it may have caused burning. If you had your rubber plant directly under a grow light, this may have been the same cause. My recommendation would be to move your rubber tree a little bit farther away from your window or position your grow light so it isn't so close to your plant.
"Is a stand in between 2 west facing windows going to get enough sun? Same room also has 3 north facing windows & 1 east facing window."
To answer this question well, I would need to know what plants you have there, but many plants can tolerate different light conditions. With the multiple walls of windows in the room you are getting extensively more light than just having one wall of windows. I believe in this position between the west windows you are mostly getting medium light and potentially some bright indirect light. That is definitely enough light for MANY houseplants out there!
"What type of light is bad or harmful to plants?"
I would say a grow light that is too close to your houseplant could be the most damaging light, but a more sensitive plant that is placed in a south or west window could also be damaging.
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Love, Holly (Owner & Creator of Houseplant Homebody LLC)