Helping Your Houseplants Get The Light They Need

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November 29, 2019

Houseplants don’t have only one time to shine; they’re a beautiful addition to the home year-round. But what if your space lacks the light to bounce off all that greenery?

It’s no secret that plants need light to survive. They turn light, water, and carbon dioxide and turn it into food for themselves, a process also known as photosynthesis. Even greenery that thrives in shade needs at least some light!

Grow In The Dark: How To Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants, by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, is an excellent read for houseplant-loving folks who lack illumination!  

This book has some excellent tips and tricks to help plants along in situations where sunlight is at a bare minimum.

Wash Your Windows

Many of us take the time to wash the inside of our windows, but how about the outside? A lot of dust, dirt, and grime builds-up on the exterior of our homes in a short time.

I recently took some warm water, dish soap, and a squeegee to the outside of my windows, and trust me; it makes a massive difference!  

The house looks better, and my houseplants sitting on a nearby shelf are already showing their gratitude. 

Remove Your Screens

While washing the exterior of the windows, I also removed the screens. I liked the “screen-less” look so much; I’ve decided to keep them off for the winter. 

According to Eldred Steinkopf, even a clean screen can block the sunlight from nearby plants by as much as 30%! 

If you don’t have a choice in the matter, wash your screens regularly, so they’re clear of all dust, pollen, and dirt. 

Wipe Down Your Plants

Just as you would dust your home, brush everything off the leaves of your plants, too. I am always amazed by how much pet hair and dust end up settling on my ‘living decor’. 

All you need is some water and a sponge to unclog your plant’s pores. You can also give them a gentle shower in the sink. 

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

I’m a big fan of decorating with mirrors and used them often when I was a college student living in a small, low-light apartment. 

While I’ve moved on from my college digs, I still strategically hang mirrors across from windows to give the illusion of more natural light in my house. 

Plants will take any light they can get, even if it’s reflected! 

Turn Some Lights On

On that note, many houseplants can grow well without any natural light at all. Fluorescent lights are an excellent alternative for those looking to supplement their plants.  

Eldred Steinkopf recommends using T-5 or T-8 bulbs.

A more energy-efficient option is LED lighting. These lamps don’t have to be on too long to have a positive effect on plants. For a full list of recommendations on how to best grow in low-light situations, be sure to pick up a copy of Growing In The Dark!

Catherine Sherriffs
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Catherine Sherriffs

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.
Catherine Sherriffs
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