Is my plant getting enough light?

June 21, 2017

In science at school most of us learned that a combination of carbon dioxide, temperature, water, nutrients and light are required for plants to survive and flourish. Whilst each of these variables are important to the good health of your interior plants, in this article we will focus on determining the light levels within an internal space, choosing the plants that are most suited to those light conditions and helping you recognise symptoms in your plants that may be caused by inappropriate light conditions in the environment.

How light is my office?

Whilst light meters can be used to gather scientific data about light levels in a room, generally this can be gauged by the human eye and categorised into high, medium and low.

High Light

The characteristics of a high light level area would be described as a sunny location which is south facing or which receives direct sunlight for most of the day. In a commercial environment a good example would be an atria area where light streams in throughout daylight hours or next to a window with no tints or blinds. Not all plants are suited to such high light levels and indeed some may become damaged and dry out, especially in summer in the northern hemisphere where we have much longer daylight hours. Indications of too much light include yellowing leaves or burnt spots, plants beginning to wilt through the day and even leaf drop. Some of the plants that are more suited to high light levels include members of the Ficus family, Yucca, Beuacarnia, cactus and currently popular succulents.

Medium Light

This may be any location where the sun shines into a room for several hours in the day and probably describes the majority of office environments. Many plants actually survive best in this type of light level where they have an opportunity to photosynthesise and  grow when light levels are high but to respirate and consolidate when it becomes darker.  Generally the majority of office environments will have enough natural light to be classed in this category and have sufficient light to grow some of the common varieties below.

Low Light

A location would be classed as having low light levels where there are no windows or the sun shines in for only a couple of hours in the morning when the sun is weaker and cooler, where the intention is to create a dark and moody environment with for example dark curtains and some board rooms and meeting rooms where curtains are often drawn to improve the visibility of projected. There are some sturdy varieties of plant which will continue to survive in such an environment but some of the following symptoms might be telling you that your plant is not getting enough light.

  • Growth is spindly and the new leaves are smaller than the existing ones.
  • Lower leaves turn yellow and fall off
  • No growth or slow growth
  • Variegated leafy plants turn a solid green
  • New shoots reach out and grow toward the light

Some of the best varieties for low light levels include:

If in doubt our experts here at GP will be able to advise on the best plants for any commercial environment and when buying plants through a retail outlet there will be information on the tag to indicate the best light conditions required for healthy growth.