How much light/sun does my orchid need?
Orchids have a wide variety of light needs depending on their species. Understanding the appropriate amount of light for your orchid is essential to their health. Inadequate light is one of the major reasons that orchids do not bloom. Orchids require different light then normal house plants. They do not require the kind of bright direct sunshine that let's say a tomato plant does.
Too little light can make their leaves turn a rich dark green color (shown below) which is not good, their leaves should be a light green color.
Too much light can scorch or “sunburn” their leaves (as shown below). A good way to tell if your orchid is getting too much light is to touch their leaves and feel for heat. If your orchid leaves feel hot they need to be moved to shadier spot.
Orchid light requirements range from from “low light” to “high light.” I briefly described the difference below.
- Low Light = two hours of indirect sunlight per day. These plants can be grown indoors under indirect light or outdoors under shade.
- Medium Light = four hours of indirect sunlight per day… preferably either outside or by a moderately sunny windows or under lights would be suitable.
- High Light = six hours of indirect sunlight per day….preferably in bright, sunny window or outdoors would be ideal for these plants.
“High light” level orchids enjoy being outside in the summer (with dappled shade). This is the easiest way, to give them enough light to bloom. If you are keeping your “high light” orchids indoors, you may find that they will not bloom reliably without some sort of supplemental light unless they are in a very bright sun room or greenhouse. I have been told that fluorescent bulbs (with broad spectrum bulbs) work well with these types of orchids, as well as High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights…shown below. Remember, as stated in my previous post that in nature orchids get natural light cues, so you will need to keep them on a schedule as the days get longer and then get shorter.
“Low light” and “Medium light” orchids will not be happy far from a light source but are easy to grow in a filtered sunny widow. My Phalaenopsis orchids are low to medium light orchids and they do very well in my East facing window seat (shown below).
Below you will find the light requirements recommended by the American Orchid Society. You can figure out what orchid you have by looking at your plant's label and determine what genus it is (which is the first name on the tag). How much light your plant will require will depend on the type of orchid it is.
- Cattleya –Medium to High
- Cymbidium –Medium to High
- Dendrobium –Medium to High
- Masdevallia –Low to Medium
- Miltonia –Medium
- Odontoglossum –Medium
- Oncidium –Medium to High
- Paphiopedilum –Low to Medium
- Phalaenopsis –Low to Medium
- Vanda –Medium to High
Note on leaves:
- If your leaves are wilted, slimy or have spots. Click here.
- If your leaves are turning yellow. Click here.
- If you want to know how to clean orchid leaves. Click here.
Hope that helps,
Feel free to leave comments or questions.