Orchids Care & Light: How Much is Enough?

Is Your Orchid Getting Enough Light?

As I talk about in our book about orchid care, many different varieties of orchids can successfully be grown inside your home with the right amount of light exposure. The amount of light intensity your orchid receives is crucial for it to flourish and bloom year after year. It is important, when evaluating your orchid’s care, to make sure that it is getting enough light.

How Light Intensity Is Measured

Alrighty. Let’s start by talking about how light is actually measured. The way light intensity is measured is by what’s known as “foot-candles” (fc). In this article I’m going to concentrate exclusively on light intensity from natural light from inside your home. There are three light level categories that most orchids fall into. These categories are low light (1,000-1,500 fc), medium light (1,500-3,000 fc), and high light (3,000-4,500 fc).

A Simple Way to Measure Light: By Using The “Hand” Test

Orchids CareIn order to determine which light level category your orchid falls into you can use a simple method using just your hand. All you need to do is hold your hand about 12” above the leaves of your orchid and look at the shadow your hand projects on the plant. This will reveal the light level your orchid is receiving. Make sure that you perform the test on a bright day rather than a cloudy one.

Now, if you don’t see any type of shadow than the light intensity is low light level, a light grey shadow indicates a medium light level, and a dark shadow indicates a bright light level. I’ll give you a little tip: The best time of day to perform this test is in the middle of the day when the light is brightest. There are other ways to get this same information such as a light meter that you can purchase online or at a home improvement store.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Another thing that’s important for you to know is this: It is imperative that you do not place your orchid in direct sunlight, because if orchids receive direct sunlight, they can often become sunburned. And by the way, this can happen in just a matter of a couple hours (really, it can happen that quick).

Sunburn on the leaves of orchids can look like brown spots. Sometimes the orchid can recover from a mild sunburn, although if the burn is quite extensive than the orchid is most likely going to die. You will want to place your orchid in a spot where it will not get direct sunlight. If you would like to place your orchid near a window you can simply shade your window with a sheer curtain or place other plants in front of the orchid to block the sunlight from directly hitting the orchid.

(Using different techniques to give your orchid *just* the right amount of light is something covered in our book in much more detail…)

One last tip for you today:

One way to check if your orchid is getting enough light is to look at the leaf color. Plants that are getting a sufficient amount of light will be bright green, where as plants that are not getting enough light will have yellow or red colored leaves and may not flower. Because light is what I call one of the “building blocks” of orchids care, it’s important to monitor your plant to ensure that is in fact getting the right amount of light.


IMPORTANT: To learn everything you need to know about caring for your orchids, if you haven’t already I strongly recommend signing up for the “Orchid Care Tips & Secrets Newsletter” my wife and I publish by clicking here.

It’s completely free – and the best part? You can even choose the type of information you’d like to receive (reblooming tips, basics of orchid care, etc.) Join over 20,000 fellow orchid enthusiasts young and old and sign up for our free orchid care newsletter today! :-)

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