Tips & Tricks

Determining Light Levels In Your Space

Potted tropical plants on a shelf and in shallow crates on the floor with a green and pink watering can.

Bringing home a new plant before understanding what you have to offer it in terms of light is basically the same as condemning it to an untimely death. Before you shop, assess your light and figure out which plants are best for you and your space. We understand that this can be pretty confusing for the new plant parent, so let’s talk.

Direct sunlight refers to bright, hot beams of light that cast harsh shadows, while indirect sunlight is more of a bright, ambient glow that filters into a room. Low light would be a space that is never touched by rays of light, and is constantly shadowed by furniture or other factors. If that’s still a bit tough to understand, we've got you covered. Scroll on to view our light guide, and check our detailed breakdown of different light types.

A cartoon graphic of a girl lying upside down on a couch surrounded by plants while her elephant friend paints her nails with its trunk. There are indicators in the room showing that bright light is by the window, and low light is in corners of rooms and high shelves.
  1. ☀️ Bright, direct light: Beams of sunlight that are strong and hot. Usually received on a southern or western windowsills, or in the direct path of the window up to 5' away. Best for herbs, cacti, and succulents.
  2. ⛅️ Bright, indirect light: Bright, ambient sunlight, but no direct beams. Usually received by a slightly obstructed south/west/east facing window, or 5'+ away from a window that gets direct sunlight. Most plants thrive in this condition. Best for ficuses, birds of paradise plants, and alocasias.
  3. 🌥 Medium, indirect light: Dappled sunlight that is usually received at the midway point of a room, or directly in front of a north-facing window. If you can read a book with the lights off during the day, and you’re not standing by the window, that’s medium light. A lot of houseplants will do okay here, but may grow slower. Best for dracaenas, aglaonemas, and ferns.
  4. ☁️ Low, indirect light: The lowest lighting condition, but still enough filtering into the room for plants to survive with no supplement. Usually received in basement apartments, dark corners, and shady bathrooms. While this isn’t ideal lighting, many plants will tolerate it and grow just fine. Best for sansevierias, ZZ plants, and pothos.

Live in a windowless room or cave and don't have any of the above? Welp, there's always grow lights. 😅 Check out our Grow Light 101 blog post to determine if they are right for you.

Seriously, if you still need a hand determining your light levels, snap a photo of your space and email us at We'll help you figure it out.

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