Orchids are known for their unique light requirements. To complicate things further, not all orchid varieties and cultivars require the same amount of light.
Some thrive on low light while other varieties won’t ever flower if the light is not strong, direct, and bright enough.
How much light do orchids need? Whether orchids are growing indoors or outdoors, they require at least 6 hours of indirect bright light every day during the spring and summer. Some orchid varieties are adapted to growing under large trees and tall plants, so dappled light and partial shade are quite adequate for these orchids.
The variety of the orchid matters in determining how much light you need to provide.
If you accidentally expose a low-light orchid to direct sunlight for long hours, you could lose the blooms and plant altogether. The same is true for high-light orchids limited in terms of light exposure.
Read more to find out how much light orchids need and how to tell whether the orchid needs more or less light.
Orchid Lighting Requirements
Between total darkness and direct sunlight, there are many different degrees of light. Even shade can be divided into partial and bright shades.
These factors are important to an orchid, and they affect not just its growth but the likelihood of the orchid blooming at any given year.
Why Light Is Important for Orchids
Although some orchids can survive in partial shade and less-than-bright corners in the garden or the house, that doesn’t mean that the orchids will grow successfully and turn into the show stoppers you hope they would be.
Poor light might not be fatal for the orchid, but it can impact it in other noticeable ways:
- Small Leaves: Without proper light conditions, the leaves of the orchid become smaller, thinner, and fewer compared to an orchid getting 6 hours of direct sunlight.
- Poor Root Development: Even though the orchid roots are underground, lack of light still affects them, and the plant will develop fewer roots in general.
- No Blooms: Orchids are ornamental plants, and without flowers, there’s little reason to grow them. Deprived of bright light, the orchids will stop blooming altogether until the light conditions improve and photosynthesis resumes again.
- Leaf Drop: If poor light conditions continue, the leaves of the orchid will fall and the plant will take longer and longer to replace them with new growth.
Ideal Hours of Light for Orchids
Orchids need between 5 and 6 hours of indirect, bright light every day during the spring and summer.
If you grow your orchids indoors, you’ll need to place the potted plants on a window sill facing the east or north. Orchids growing in the garden should have access to indirect sunlight to ensure bright and big blooms.
Ideal Type of Light for Orchids
The right type of light for orchids is direct sunlight. Partial shade, low light, dappled light, or filtered light is not suitable for orchids.
The more hours of indirect light the orchids get, the faster their growth, the richer their foliage, and the brighter their blooms.
How To Tell if Orchid Is Getting Enough Light
An orchid will not fail to let you know if it’s not getting enough light. In ideal light conditions, the orchid grows at a fast rate and blooms without fail. The leaves will look healthy, and the plant can weather pests and diseases easily.
Orchid Light Requirements in Winter
Since light conditions affect the growth and health of the orchid all year long, you should provide the plant with up to 5 hours of indirect light every day during the winter. This is true of evergreen orchids, such as Dendrobium, more than other varieties.
Correct winter lighting will encourage the development of roots and keep the foliage healthy and growing at expected rates.
Effects of Too Much Light on Orchids
Too much light can affect even high-light orchids. If exposed to direct sunlight, orchid leaves will get burned, which impacts photosynthesis and the leaves’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
This in turn affects the energy the plant generates and stores, which causes stunted growth.
Effects of Too Little Light on Orchids
Too little light can have a devastating effect on orchids. It affects their growth, the size of the leaves, the health and growth of the roots, and even the flowering itself. Light-deprived orchids are prone to diseases and will succumb to pest infestations.
Where To Place Orchids Indoors
Orchids should be placed near windows facing north or east. Choose a room with plenty of windows that allow in as much light as possible.
However, don’t let the sunlight fall on the orchids since that could lead to leaf burn. A bathroom is ideal due to the high humidity and low direct light.
How To Increase the Amount of Light for Orchids
If the orchid near an east- or north-facing window is not getting enough light, then move it closer to a west- or south-facing window instead.
Don’t put the pot in direct sunlight. Instead, keep it near the window at an angle where it gets the reflected light on the walls and plenty of bright, indirect light.
High Light Orchids
High-light orchids are orchids that grow originally in the tropics. They can tolerate bright light as long as it’s not direct. They include the following varieties:
- Vandaceous orchids
- Semi-terete leafed Vandas
- Hard-Cane Dendrobium
- Anselia africana
- Brassavola nodosa
- Vanda Taib
Low Light Orchids
Low-light orchids have a high tolerance for dim lights and can grow indoors. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- Areanthes ramosa
- Bulbophyllum facetum
- Coelogyne prasina
How To Measure Light Intensity for Plants
To measure light intensity for plants, use a light meter (I personally recommend this one).
Place the light meter as close to the leaves as possible with the sensor facing the source of light. The light meter will give you a reading that reflects the exact light intensity the plants are getting.
Grow Lights for Orchids
If you don’t get enough natural bright light for the orchids, you can use grow lights.
AMBOR 5-Head Grow Light With Stand
This grow light comes with a stand to make it easy to install it in any corner. It emits full spectrum light and has a timer that can be adjusted to 4, 8, or 12 hours.
The light intensity can be adjusted, and the grow light has 10 light settings ranging from dim to very bright.
GooingTop Clip Grow Lamp
The LED grow light has both white and red lights. Red lights are necessary for flowers. It has a timer that starts and switches off the grow light at intervals of 4, 8, and 12 hours.
It has five light settings to adjust the intensity of the light according to the plant’s needs.
Do Orchids Like Bathrooms?
You can place your orchid in the bathroom. The humidity and high temperatures from the showers combined with low direct lights are all suitable for orchids.
Do Orchids Like To Be Misted?
As tropical plants, orchids prefer high humidity. If you grow orchids indoors, make sure to mist them regularly to increase the humidity levels around the plants. Also, consider using pebble trays to further boost humidity.
Orchids prefer indirect bright light coming from a north or east facing window. Poor light conditions stunt the growth of the orchids and prevent blooming. Too much light burns the leaves.