Looking to shed some more light on your plant know-how? Keep reading to learn about the most important part of a plant's life: light.
What's So Important About Light?
Light, whether it comes from the sun or grow light, provides warmth and energy for plants to survive. Energy from light is used by plants to makes their own food energy in their leaves. In this sense, plants are what we call "autotrophic", meaning they make their own food. Bacteria, algae and plants are the only living organisms on our planet who can make their own food. Life as we know it depends on the ability of plants, algae and bacteria have to make food from light. The food we eat, whether it vegetable or animal, the medicine we take and many of the products we use every day, like paper and wood, are products of this power.
This ability is known by a more common name: photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction where light energy is absorbed by chlorophyll, a green substance found in chloroplasts in plant cells and algae. The absorbed energy from light is used to convert carbon dioxide (from the air, thanks humans!) and water (from the soil, thanks roots!) into a sugar called glucose, which is sent back to the roots of the plant and absorbed as food.
As many of us know, oxygen is released into the air by plants as a by-product of the photosynthetic process. Which is great because that's what we breathe. Win-win. #symbiosis
Getting the Light Right
The basic rule of (green) thumb with light and plants is straightforward. Not enough light, preferably from the sun, will slow down a plant’s growth and even kill it. Too much light can be a problem too, if the plant and soil are drying out too quickly between watering.
Here’s a run down of the basic types of light houseplants need.
Low light means shade. It also means never put the plant in direct sunlight. Too much light can cause the leaves to crust and yellow (aka plant sunburn) and the soil to dry out. To avoid the silent screams of “it burns us” from low light plants, place them in a room with a north facing window or on a dim shelf.
Low light plants include: ZZ Plant, Heartleaf Philodendron, Peperomia, Ferns
A step up from low light. Plants in this category will like some sun, but not long periods of direct sunlight, say more than 4 hours. Keep them out of west facing windows, as afternoon sun is the most intense. An east or south facing window is best.
Moderate light plants include: Fiddle Leaf Fig, Monstera, Palms, Rubber Tree, Draceana
Grab your sunnies, these guys love light. Here we are talking plants like cacti and succulents. An east or south facing window is great for these guys. A west facing window works too, just keep an eye out that it doesn’t get too hot, especially in the summer.
High light plants include: Cacti, Succulents, Madagascar Palm