October 20, 2022

Indoor plants low light in Riverside, CA

Why Do Plants Need Light?

All living things require food and water. For plants, light is food. They use it in an important process known as photosynthesis, in which the energy of light is captured by chloroplasts, stimulating multiple metabolic reactions-- one of these being creating sugars (food) for plants. Sugars propel plant growth, so the more light a plant is exposed to, the more energy it will produce and the faster it will grow.

Know these pairs:

  • Quality = Color
  • Quantity = Intensity

These characteristics of light are necessary in knowing how and why a plant will behave in your home.


Quality is based on the color and kind of light. Light is energy that comes in varying wavelengths, each with a corresponding color. Colors we can see with our own eyes may not be helpful for plants, since they 'see' light in a different way than we do. Plants look green because they reflect green light, so green light is useless to plants. Rather, plants need light they can absorb and make use of like yellow, orange, red, blue and violet, as well as invisible light like UV light from the sun and some infrared.


Quantity of light is based on the intensity or the brightness of light that reaches the leaves. The more light photons that hit the leaf = the more energy captured and faster growth. Begonias or Oxalis, for example, depend on powerful light to maintain their fast-paced growth. Any plant that produces flowers or fruits relies on strong light too. These plants are working with fundamental ingredients like water, CO2, sugars and nutrients that are chemically built into complex molecules, like flower pigments, but just when the right light intensity conditions are met. Some plants have self-regulating mechanisms and will even refuse to flower or will try to but fail halfway through the process if there isn't sufficient intense light.

In and Out

Outdoors, even in the shade, light is bouncing from all angles-- from 360 degrees around and from the 180 degree arc above in the sky. When a plant is inside, light typically only comes from one place, like your sunny window, greatly minimizing the angles light is bouncing off from, and the amount of light and vital photons a plant requires. When we bring a plant indoors, we actually invoke something called exponential reduction in photon exposure. The poetic quote above helps us remember this fact a little more easily.

Light Bright

You may have heard the terms "bright light" and "low light" plants, but what does that really mean?

"Bright light" or "full sun" means there is no obstruction (curtains or blinds, a tall tree or building that creates shade) between the plant and the source of light (a sunny window). This is where your plant will receive the most bright or direct light while inside. Ficus, succulents and Monstera are sun worshiping plants and should be positioned directly in or no more than 2-3 feet from a window. Typically speaking, you would want to place them in the brightest spot in the room.

"Medium light" or "filtered sunlight" is light that's been diffused (sheer curtains) between the plant and the source of light (a sunny window). Some refer to it as "dappled sunlight". Anything partly obstructing the path between your plant and the light creates this medium light. Ferns and aroid plants (ZZ and Philodendron) have evolved to live on the forest floor, so they are used to being shaded from the sunlight. They have not evolved to manage the extreme rays of direct sunlight so they favor medium light conditions.

"Low light" means no direct sunlight will reach your plant. It is most likely a few feet away from your light source (sunny window) or any kind of area where it can see outdoors but can not see the sky. Low light means less energy and less food. Some plants can survive in low light environments but they will not flourish.

Remember that the sun changes places in the sky depending on time of day and season, affecting how much light your plant will get. Track how the light changes throughout the year and change your plants placement as necessary.

For all the grow lighting supplies with the best and latest technology in Riverside, California, contact Grower’s Choice at 909-972-8419 or visit our website at Growersc.com for more information.


Get in touch

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.