Do Orchids Need Sunlight? Find The Perfect Spot

Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Real Men Sow

The elegant and beautiful addition of orchids to your home is a well-known favorite. Orchids will bloom differently depending on their genus. So, how can you tell if your orchids get enough light? There are many factors that can trigger an orchid to flower, but none of them will work unless it has the right light conditions.

How Much Sunlight Do Most Orchids Need?

Bright, indirect sunlight is essential for orchids to thrive. Orchids will thrive in a window that faces east or west depending on their species. Grow lights are a great way to provide consistent lighting conditions without the harmful heat of direct sunlight.

Orchids Growing Conditions

Many orchid species are epiphytes, meaning they can grow in the air. They are able to grow on the forest floor but would rather be found in the lower canopy, using another species of plant (most often a stump or tree branch) as their host.

Orchids are rooted to the plant they live in and draw moisture and nutrients from rain, humidity, and any particulate matter that may fall around them. Orchids are adapted to living below the forest canopy and do not like direct sunlight.

The Best Place To Put An Orchid For Sunlight

Depending on the orchid type, it would be best to place an orchid in front of an east- or west-facing window. Later in this article, we will discuss the specific lighting requirements of each orchid type. Because light conditions can vary greatly depending on the distance from a windowsill, sometimes just moving from one windowsill to another side table may solve your light problems.

How Long Can Orchids Stand Sunlight?

It can be difficult for orchids and other plants sensitive to sunlight to thrive in ideal lighting conditions. It is not likely that an orchid placed in a room facing north or across a window will provide enough sunlight. But most orchids can tolerate less than one hour of direct sunlight each day, depending on their genus.

What Are The Light-sensitive Orchids?

However, some orchids, such as the Vanda, Cattleya, and Dendrobium which are more sensitive to light, can be acclimated to direct sunlight provided the foliage doesn’t get too hot. You can also aim for filtered sunlight if your window gets too much sun. You can achieve this by placing the orchid in front of a  window with a sheer curtain or blinds.

Determine the Types Of Light You Have In Your Home For Growing Orchids

There are three main factors that should be considered when considering sunlight for orchids: intensity, duration and quality. Your orchid’s exposure to light will depend on how close it is to a window and which direction the window faces. Because the morning sun is more intense, light from east-facing windows is best for orchids.

South-facing windows

When the sun is high in the sky, the middle of the afternoon is when it shines brightest. Direct sunlight from a south-facing window can cause your orchid’s foliage to become brittle. The direction that the window faces will also affect the duration.

West-facing windows

Direct sunlight will be limited to east and west-facing windows for only a few hours each morning or afternoon. The sunlight coming from a west-facing window will however be slightly stronger.

The quality of the light is crucial when growing orchids. They will need light from both the blue and red ends of the spectrum to bloom. It is important that your plant is not too far from the window. Also, ensure the window is clear and unobstructed. Tinted windows or stained glass will block much of the sunlight that plants need to grow and bloom.

Ways To Check If Your Orchids Are Getting Enough Light

It is vital that your orchid gets enough sunlight to thrive and bloom year after year. Here are three methods to do this.

Leaves Observation

The best way to monitor the lighting conditions of orchids is to watch their reaction to it by inspecting their leaves.

Shadow Test

You can also test how much shadow is being cast on your orchid’s leaves. This is a proactive way to make sure that you are not wasting time. Place your hand between the plant’s light source and the plant on a clear day. Keep your hand approximately a foot away from the plant and observe the shadow it casts on the leaves.

If your orchid doesn’t have a shadow, it isn’t getting enough sunlight. Your light level should be sufficient for most orchids if the shadow is faint and blurred. For the orchids that tolerate higher levels of light, a well-defined and sharp shadow is better.

Light Meter

You can also buy a light meter to measure the intensity of light your plant receives. The lux unit of light is often measured with foot candles. Technically, a foot candle (fc), refers to the amount of light one candle emits from 1 foot away. Luminous is the basic unit of illumination in the metric system. Any of these measurements can be used and you have many online calculators to help you convert if necessary.

Light Requirements For Low, Medium, And High Light Orchids

Although orchids can tolerate less light, insufficient light is the leading cause of orchid failure. The type of orchid you have will determine the amount of light that is required. Low-light orchids such as Phalaenopsis, can live in low light while Brassavolas, a high-light species, prefer bright sunlight or direct sunlight. Below are the types of orchids that require low-, medium-, and high-light. Also see how much light certain orchids need indoors.

Low-Light Orchids

Low-light orchids are most sensitive to direct sunlight. They are most at home in east-facing window sills, west-facing window sills with sheer curtains, or just a few feet from direct sunlight. Low-light orchids love conditions that cast a blurry shadow. Their ideal location would be between 1000 and 2000 feet candles or 10700 to 21000 lux. These are some examples of orchids that thrive in low light conditions: Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilum.

Mid-Light Orchids

They prefer light with a mid-range intensity but avoid direct sunlight. They will do well in an east-facing windowsill or west-facing windowsill. With the shadow test, they would prefer conditions that cast a blurry shadow on the leaves. They would prefer light levels of 2000 to 3000 feet candles or 21000 to 32000 lux. These are some examples of mid-light orchids: Brassia, Cattleya, and Dendrobium

Higher-Light Orchids

Some orchids can be adapted to higher light levels, but direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time could still pose a problem. The orchids do well if placed in a west-facing window or in a south-facing windowsill with a sheer curtain.

They are more attracted to conditions that cast a shadow slightly over the leaves than the other orchids. These conditions should be between 2000 and 5000 feet candles or 21000 to 53000 Lux. These are some examples of orchids that have higher light levels: Vanda, Dendrobium

Because it is such a versatile orchid, the Dendrobium orchid was mentioned twice. It can thrive in more light conditions than others, including 1500-5000 foot candles or 16000-53000 lux. There are signs that a plant may not be getting enough sunlight or is receiving too much direct sun. These are some of the most common problems that can be caused by poor lighting.

How To Tell If Your Orchid Is Getting Excessive Sunlight

Your orchid will tell you if it is experiencing too much light. It is possible to mistake it for being helpful in the beginning stages. In the beginning, increased sunlight can lead to greater flower production and even reblooming from one flower spike.

Orchid Leaves Turn Yellow

The initial benefits of more sunlight will soon be overshadowed by irreparable damage to the leaves. Your orchids’ leaves will turn a pale green to yellow color if they are exposed to too much sunlight. If nothing is done, you will see reddish spots along the edges of your leaves. Low humidity can cause leaves to wrinkle and become deformed in these conditions.

When you notice that your orchid is changing in color, it is important to move it to a place with less sunlight. The damage that can be done to your orchid quickly becomes severe once browning starts to occur.

Issues With Insufficient Sunlight For Orchids

Orchids can become difficult to recognize if there isn’t enough sunlight. Because the leaves are often vibrant and lush green, it can be difficult to identify insufficient sunlight. But insufficient light can cause orchid leaves to become darker. This is because they are trying to retain more chlorophyll in order to help in photosynthesis. This is a sign that your orchid may be struggling, even though it might appear dark green. It is unlikely that orchids will produce new flowers in lower light conditions.

Be careful when moving orchids from low to high light environments. Like most houseplants it is possible to shock an orchid by moving it from one environment to the other. This can cause damage or stunt their growth. It is better to slowly move from dark conditions to light for a few days, then to the final resting place in the ideal location.

Use Grow Lights When To Make Up For The Lack Of Natural Sunlight

This LED grows light can be used to grow orchids. Do not forget that orchids require nighttime as much light as day. Many grow lights have a timer built-in. This allows you to program your lights to automatically turn on and off, creating a lighting schedule. You can purchase a separate plug-in timer if a timer is not included.

Proper Light Exposure Is The Key To Successful Blooming Orchids

Sunlight is the most important thing for orchids that produce beautiful and long-lasting blooms. It might take some time to find the perfect spot for your orchid. It is crucial to choose the right spot for your orchid to call home in order to allow it to flourish. Orchids are beautiful and attractive houseplants that require little maintenance.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.