Low Light Problem Solving

Our tips for plant care when your plants just aren't getting enough light.
plants on cabinet

It’s no secret that access to light is an important part of houseplant ownership. So what are you supposed to do when you have the perfect spot for a plant but it doesn’t receive enough light? Luckily there are a few options available that can make dark indoor areas more hospitable.

Grow Lights

Plants don’t necessarily need pure sunlight to photosynthesize. Adding grow lights to your home is a great way to boost light access for your plants. Most houseplants want light with a full spectrum of color so these kinds of grow lights are the best to get.

LED grow lights are a great choice for a primary light source since they use minimal energy and last quite a while.

Fluorescent lights can also work for supplemental light because they are cheap and easy to find. However, they aren’t as strong as other sources and might not give off enough energy to be a primary light source for your plants.

Many grow light bulbs will fit in normal light fixtures and lamps making it easy to convert your current lights to grow lights or to add matching lamps that look good in your space.

Mimic Nature

The ideal amount of light that a plant receives depends on the individual but most plants like a cycle of light and darkness that mimics nature. You can use timers to turn your lights on and off during the day. This also helps to make sure you aren’t wasting electricity when you don’t need to. A good rule of thumb is to give your plants at least 8 hours of supplemental light during the day. And up to 16 hours for plants that receive little natural light.

Low Light Plants

Another way to get around a lack of light is to just get plants that don’t need as much. There are many different plants that will survive with minimal light. ZZ Plants, Snake Plants, Peace Lilies, and Aglaonemas are some of the most popular low-light plants. There are many different color and leaf patterns for Snake Plants and Aglaonemas so you are sure to find one that will match your space.

Do note that while these plants are okay in minimal light, this doesn’t mean that they will survive in a room that receives no light at all. Also keep in mind that a plants growth rate corresponds to the amount of light it receives. Plants that are kept in low light areas will not flourish as much or grow as quickly as those with good access to consistently bright light.

Signs of Too Little Light

Plants that aren’t receiving enough light will give you signs. Some indications are yellowing or dropped leaves and slow growth. Variegated plants will start reverting (losing variegation) or growing in dull. New growth will be sparce or leggy, meaning the space between leaves will increase. Continuously wet soil is another indicator, as the plant isn’t growing fast enough to drink the water. A big indicator is your plant becoming phototrophic and leaning towards the light or all its leaves turning the same direction. However, some phototropism is normal.

All plants are phototropic to some degree and will begin to lean if they have been in the same spot for a while. Rotating your plant a quarter turn every few months can keep it upright. Another thing to do is to position it in a way that it receives equal amounts of light on all sides.

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