What Is Indirect Sunlight For Outdoor Plants

The majority of these plants can tolerate a lot of direct sunlight, but until you perfect your positioning, be on the lookout for sunburn on the ends of their leaves.

Medium Light

The majority of medium-light houseplants can tolerate some direct sunshine, but they much prefer indirect light. Indirect sunlight can come in three different forms in your house:

  • Direct sunlight that penetrates the room for the most of the day is filtered by drapes, blinds, an awning, or even the trees directly outside the window. By putting your plant farther away from the window, you can also generate filtered light.
  • When your plant is in a shaded region inside of a space that receives direct sunlight, it is receiving indirect sunlight. It might be concealed by a piece of furniture or another plant.
  • Only some parts of the day, such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon, see direct sunshine. This is known as partial sunlight. This is typical in east-facing windows that get some morning light followed by some indirect afternoon light for a few hours.

What does outdoor indirect sunlight mean?

When the sun’s path is blocked by something, such as a window shade, tree branches, or anything else that is in the way of the plant and the sun, indirect light is produced. When the plant is positioned in a location that is not directly facing a window, bright indirect light can also be provided.

Is the sunshine outside direct or indirect?

Identifying direct and indirect sunlight outside is relatively simple. Simply compare the areas of your lawn that receive sunlight vs those that receive shade.

Because the sun’s rays are not shining directly on the plant, the majority of light inside is regarded as indirect light. However, there are various intensities of indirect light, from dim to intense.

What Is Direct Light for Plants?

The sun’s rays reach the plant directly when they are unimpeded. This only typically happens indoors when the plant is situated next to a glass door or on a ledge.

Indoor gardening is not possible for any plants that demand “full daylight” or extended periods of direct sunlight.

A single, black shadow will be cast in the direction that the light is coming from when the sun is directly on a plant.

Is Direct Light Bad for Plants?

Direct sunlight sometimes gets a bad rap in the world of houseplants, but it’s not necessarily the bad guy. The majority of houseplants can thrive without direct light and don’t even require it to grow.

Some plants, especially those that prefer the gentler morning sun, can endure very little direct light.

Crotons, snake plants, and succulents are a few species of houseplants that not only endure but also benefit from direct sunlight.

These are some of the plants you can put in areas of your home when direct sunlight cannot be avoided.

Is Morning Sun Direct Sunlight?

Direct sunlight is regarded as occurring in the morning. Even yet, it usually doesn’t feel as harsh as the midday sun.

For indoor plants that want more sunshine to blossom but are unable to withstand intense direct sunlight, this is a fantastic lighting solution.

What Is Indirect Light for Plants?

Ambient lighting is similar to indirect light. The plant is not in the dark, but neither are the rays directly contacting it.

Most rooms with windows have indirect lighting. To provide indirect illumination, a thin curtain can be draped over windows that get direct sunlight.

Low light and partial/full shade plants often thrive in these lighting conditions.

What Does Indirect Light Look Like?

Your plant’s leaves won’t be immediately exposed to the sun’s beams. Instead, general lighting is created in the space as a result of light reflecting off other things.

You might see several faint shadows projected in various directions rather than just one dark one.

What Counts as Bright Indirect Light?

Since brightness cannot be measured, it might be challenging for plant owners to figure out how much light is required to produce “bright, indirect light.”

First, the light must be indirect, which means that the plant must not be exposed to any direct sunlight. Bright refers to a higher level or intensity of ambient light.

The indirect light that is the brightest will typically be near a window or glass door. In comparison to low light, you will frequently notice darker shadows in bright light.

How To Measure Light Levels for Plants

There are a few techniques you may employ to more accurately describe the quantity of light in your home if you’re still unsure about the lighting levels in each room.

While some approaches are more scientific than others, they all ought to help you understand how your home is lit.

Shadow Test

Hold up your plant or your hand during the brightest part of the day (typically around noon) and look at the shadow that results:

One or two somewhat black shadows with slightly blurred edges appear in a bright light.

You can repeat the shadow test throughout the day based on how much light your plant requires (because the sun’s movement will result in varying light levels).

You can identify which plants will thrive in a particular environment if the bulk of the tests fall into a particular category of light.

When deciding a plant to house in that position, keep in mind whether you receive different categories throughout the day.

Light Meter

Buy a light meter or download an app to your smartphone to geek out on the estimated amount of light a location is receiving.

By using a light meter, you can count foot-candles (an outdated measure of illuminationone unit equals the illumination of one candle at a 1-foot distance).

The unit of measurement for your light meter can also be lux, or one-tenth of a foot-candle.

Even when you are using a light meter app indoors, make sure to turn the app’s outdoor measurement setting and point the camera at the light source (window).

You will expose the sensor and point it in the direction of the light source for a real light meter. You may calculate the light level there based on the reading:

  • Low, indirect light is between 25 and 100 foot candles (ftc).
  • Medium, indirect light, 100-500 ftc
  • High, indirect light, 500–1000 ftc.
  • Direct sunshine, 1000+ ftc

I would suggest this rapid-response type with a lighted LCD and spinning sensor so you only need to point in the direction you wish to measure for the most accurate readings.

Plant Growth/Appearance

Trial and error must be used to determine this light measurement. Place a plant where you think it will receive bright, indirect light if it is advised for that location.

Depending on the plant’s rate of growth, it may take weeks or months before any negative consequences of improper lighting become apparent.

Here are some indicators that the plant needs more light:

  • growing quickly in the direction of the light.
  • scant or leggy growth
  • no fresh growth
  • tiny leaves
  • The soil is not drying up.
  • losing diversity
  • dark green foliage

Here are some indicators that the plant needs less light:

  • Crispy, dry leaves
  • patches of sunburn.
  • brown borders
  • foliage with a light color.

Many of these symptoms might also be brought on by pests, illness, or an unbalanced water supply. When experimenting with light settings, be sure all other facets of plant care are handled properly.

Which Direction Gets the Most Light?

The most light will enter a window facing south if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. This is due to the sun’s constant proximity to the equator.

Throughout the day, the sun also swings from east to west, so such areas will mostly receive morning or afternoon sun.

Indirect Light vs. Shade

Despite the fact that the phrases are frequently used differently, shade and indirect light refer to the same phenomenon.

In the outdoors, shade refers to a region where the sun doesn’t beam directly. This is typically close to a structure or shade-producing trees.

When sunlight does not directly touch a plant indoors, the lighting is referred to as indirect light.

Technically, due to the roof above and the surrounding walls, every indoor space is regarded as shaded (with the exception of areas where direct sunlight enters through a window).

Some plants may be grown either indoors or outside, so if you want to try growing them as houseplants, check for outdoor plants designated as “shade.”

What Is Partial Sunlight?

Three to six hours a day of direct sunshine is considered partial sunlight. In open spaces, this is simpler to accomplish.

However, it can also be done indoors in windows with a west, south, or east orientation.

The lighting here might not be ideal for them, though. The plant might not flower or develop to its full potential as a result.

Is Light Through a Window Considered Direct Sunlight?

It is technically not 100% direct sunlight when it shines through a window since some of it is refracted and veiled.

True direct sunlight, when the sun shines directly on the plant without any obstructions, can only be obtained outdoors.

However, direct sunlight is referred to when referring to indoor plants because it comes through a window.

This is so because this type of indoor light is the most direct and bright one available.

Direct sunlight from the outside or via a window may be too strong for houseplants because they do best in filtered or indirect lighting situations.

If sunlight enters a window directly, a thin curtain can reduce the brightness of the light, making it indirect.

North-Facing Windows

North-facing windows rarely receive direct sunshine in the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, they usually make a bright, indirect lighting atmosphere that lasts the entire day.

South-Facing Windows

South-facing windows will benefit sun-loving plants the most because they normally receive the most direct sunlight throughout the day (in the Northern Hemisphere).

East-Facing Windows

East-facing windows will receive direct sunlight in the morning, when the light is generally less harsh on sensitive plants and less intense.

For indoor plants that need plenty of sunlight to blossom but can’t stand too much harsh, direct light, this is an excellent place.

How is indirect sunlight determined?

Interior plant lighting comes in three primary categories:

  • Bright Light: A sunny window that receives direct light all day long is one that faces the south or west. It needs at least five to six hours of direct sunlight each day, ideally more. Avoid the temptation to relocate your plant closer to the window during the winter months when caring for plants can often be more difficult. The majority of plants that require lots of light won’t be able to withstand the chilly drafts that get worse the closer you get to a window.
  • Indirect Light: The interior of a room that receives full light from a south or west-facing window will have indirect light. It can also have indirect light in areas with an east-facing window. This may also imply, for example, that there is a sheer curtain between the light source and your plant.
  • Low Light: Especially in the winter, a lot of spaces meet this criteria. Low-light conditions include spaces that have windows that face north or that are partially shaded. If it’s difficult for you to read a newspaper, the lighting is usually poor. Even in dimly lit spaces, plants can still grow with the use of artificial lighting.

Is light coming in from a window indirect light?

Indoor plants have a wide range of light needs, and many are especially sensitive to direct sunshine. But does sunlight that comes through a window count as direct sunlight? Let’s together research this.

Is light coming in through a window regarded as direct sunlight? Since some of the light is scattered and reflected as it goes through the window and lessens in intensity, light coming through a window is not always direct sunshine. The most direct source of light inside, light through a window, is typically at least 50% less bright than direct sunlight outside.

Your indoor plants need the correct amount of light to grow healthily, but you don’t want to overdo it to the point where they start to struggle. Discover how powerful light coming through a window actually is by reading on.

Where can I find strong, directional light outside?

Making links between light meter values and your actual environment was a topic I covered last time. We discovered that the light meter’s readings will be quite high when the sun is directly overhead: 400–600 foot candles through glass (as in the image above) and 10,000 and higher outside. Readings are proportional to the entire visible sky region if the sun is blocked. In essence, the readings are higher because more of the sky is visible. Your walls and ceiling are obstructing the majority of the sky that is visible all around you, thus the ideal light scenario you can provide for your houseplants is to place them where they have the largest possible view of the sky *AND* take the duration of direct sun into consideration.

But if you give your plant as much sky as it can see, the sun might also appear for a while, depending on the size and placement of your windows and any outside impediments. Do you still consider this to be “bright indirect light”? Yes, however your windows’ size has a significant impact.

Let me first inform you of a misunderstanding on the definitions of “shade.”

A place where there is NOT a direct line of sight with the sun is the word’s straightforward definition. However, in gardening, a location is considered “shadow” if it receives 0–4 hours of direct sunlight daily. In other words, the location that is described as “shade” may experience up to 4 hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the gardening definition of “shade” and the basic definition of the word since, during those four hours of direct sunlight, you might occasionally look at a plant and wonder, “I thought this plant was supposed to be for “shade.

A location like this might exist between two houses, but consider how much of the sky is obscured. While the sky is blocked by dwellings on two sides, it is open in the area directly overhead, where the sun beams for those brief hours.

Let’s go inside and ask ourselves how much of the sky is now directly overhead is now covered by a ceiling and walls are all around us. We’ll be facing a window.

Since the sun does not shine directly on the site, a straightforward definition of “indirect light” would indicate that. However, this makes you unable to determine whether the area is genuinely sufficiently lit and leads you to believe that factors such as window size, proximity to the window, and external obstructions don’t really matter. To me, the lack of emphasis on the significance of light, along with imprecise descriptions of light, is the primary cause of houseplant death. The second reason is that since they are considered decor, houseplants are often placed where they would look good rather than where they can see the sky.

To answer the question: yes, a spot that is considered “bright indirect light may receive direct sun for a few hours.

The justification is the same as how a location designated as “shadow” (by gardening standards) may experience up to 4 hours of direct sunlight. No matter where you are away from the sun, a location that is deemed to have “strong indirect light” (or “poor light, for that matter) is NOT just any location.

Place your plant where it can see as much of the sky as possible, and think about the number of hours of direct sunlight that it can withstand (obviously this varies per plant). Let me explain why it agrees more closely with the results a light meter will provide.

  • In relation to the window: “See as much of the sky as you can implys that the plant will receive more light (from the sky) the closer it is to the window.
  • Window dimensions: “Having as much of the sky as possible means that the plant will have greater light exposure if the window is larger. further windows? Better still. How long is the sun directly overhead? If the duration of the sun is too strong for you, you can block it out with a white sheer curtain “plants that thrive in bright indirect light.
  • Obstacles in the outdoors: “If you can see as much of the sky as you can, it will be brighter since there will be less obstacles in your way. Reflections are a notable exception, though. Try measuring the ambient light with your light meter while placing a black cloth next to it as opposed to a white cloth. On the other side of the sun, the same thing occurs with light-colored or reflecting buildings.

The reality is…

Anyone with consistently gorgeous houseplants (and who has kept them for a while) probably has large, unrestricted windows… and understands when to water. It is not due to some sort of wizardry known as a “greenthumb” that plants take on the morphology of their lighting conditions. Accepting this fact will help you set reasonable expectations for how your plants will grow rather than being dismayed when your fiddle leaf fig loses 90% of its foliage despite the fact that you watered it as directed.

Next time: what is PAR and why I’ve been able to grow houseplants just fine without measuring it.

My go-to light meter is located at: https://amzn.to/317tUqu (Affiliate links help support HPJ’s work.)

PAR meter (but wait to purchase it until after reading my forthcoming post; it should help you determine whether you actually require it): https://amzn.to/2A3j88Q

Understanding your environmental circumstances, giving it your best effort, and allowing nature take its course are the three pillars of my approach to caring for houseplants. This way of thinking will enable you to appreciate plants more deeply than only as decorative items during the course of your life. You can follow these instructions from my book, “The New Plant Parent”: