Light and Water
Requirements

THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS NEEDED FOR INDOOR PLANT HEALTH ARE WATER, LIGHT AND FRESH AIR. MOST PLANTS HAVE DORMANT AND ACTIVE CYCLES. THEIR WATERING AND FERTILIZING REQUIREMENTS WILL DIFFER GREATLY FROM SEASON TO SEASON. A LITTLE RESEARCH SHOULD BE DONE FOR EACH OF YOUR HOUSE PLANTS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.


LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR HOUSE PLANTS

The amount and intensity of light that a plant receives dictates much of a plant's life cycle. Insufficient light usually manifests itself through paler foliage, lanky growth and general lack of luster. When this happens you must do whatever you can to increase light intensity for that plant. This can usually be achieved by moving the plant closer to a window or moving it to another room with different light exposure.

HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT SPOT FOR YOUR PLANT

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What is a sunny (direct sun) location?

  • Within 2 feet of a south- or southwest-facing window.

  • Window sills flooded with sunlight.

  • A sun room (If you have one, lucky you!)

What is a bright (indirect sun) location?

  • Within 4-5 feet of an east- or west-facing window.

  • 3-5 feet from a window that faces south or southwest.

  • Any place where the sun shines into a room for several hours.

What is a partially shaded (low light) location?

  • An east-facing window where the morning sun shines into the room for only a few hours. 
    (Morning sun is cooler than afternoon sun, so you don't have to worry about overheating your plant.)

  • At least 3-5 feet away from a window that faces south or southwest.

  • Directly in front of a north-facing window gives a plant low-to-medium light intensity.

What is a shady location?

  • More than 6 feet away from a south- or southwest-facing window.

  • Hallways, staircases, and corners of rooms.

  • Near windows that are shaded by trees.

Because light levels are naturally lower in winter than in summer, a plant that was perfectly happy on an east-facing windowsill in summer may need to be moved to one with a western exposure after cold weather arrives.

WHEN YOU CHANGE THE LIGHT DRASTICALLY FOR A HOUSE PLANT, DO IT GRADUALLY TO ACCUSTOM THE PLANT TO THE BRIGHTER ENVIRONMENT. PLANTS WILL SUNBURN IF THEY ARE EXPOSED TO BRIGHT LIGHT AFTER THEIR SKINS HAVE BECOME TENDER FROM LACK OF LIGHT.


WATERING REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR HOUSE PLANTS

Contrary to popular belief, over-watering house plants is more often the cause for problems than under-watering. Since roots cannot absorb more water than a plant needs, excess water will take the place of oxygen in the soil. Plants need oxygen just like we do. Soggy soil suffocates roots and leads to rot.

So How Much Water Does a Plant Need?

A simple way to tell if a plant needs water is to poke your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle -- it's the surefire way to know if your plant needs watering. Does the soil feel damp? Don't water. Does the soil feel dry? needed moisture varies with the species and its native habitat, the soil in which it is growing, and the light, temperature, and humidity in your home. Plants with a lot of leaf surface or soft, lush foliage will be thirstier than those with less foliage or waxy or leathery leaves.

House plant watering needs are also affected by growth cycles. A plant absorbs more water during active growth periods than during rest periods.

The size and type of container are also important factors: in a small pot, moisture is absorbed quickly, a too-large pot will retain too much water. A plant in a porous clay pot will need watering more frequently than one in a plastic or glazed pot.

Watering House Plants Guidelines

  • Use water at room temperature.

  • In most cases, water thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering again.

  • Don't over-water -- it's the #1 reason house plants die. Many plants are in a stage of no or very slow growth in the winter.

  • Some plants may need only a bit of water all winter. This is definitely the case with succulents.

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