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Indirect light is best for most orchids, but the best amount of light for orchids to grow is between 6 and 8 hours a day. Each type of orchid has different light requirements, which may be higher or lower than the standard level. Having grown potted orchids for many years, I understand that this is an important factor for their health and growth, as well as support to increase the success rate of my new orchid propagation process. I advise considering enough energy for your beautiful orchids to achieve healthy results, along with vibrant blooms color throughout the seasons.
The ideal amount of light for orchids is at least 6 to 8 hours per day. In general, the more light, the higher the flowering ability. However, as I mentioned earlier, this amount required may vary depending on the type of orchid you are growing. I will share the light requirements of the popular orchid species in the next part.
Bright, indirect light is needed for orchid plants. It is best to place orchids facing the eastern or southern window. Here are 5 most common types of orchids and their light conditions:
Phalaenopsis orchids, also known as ‘butterfly orchids’, are my favorite indoor orchids because they can survive in low light conditions for several hours per day, even without sun. Therefore, I do not need to worry about the light problems for this orchid. In the winter months, I still leave my Phalaenopsis pot in the southern window to absorb direct sunlight but only for 1-2 hours a day. It is not recommended to propagate Phalaenopsis orchids in winter, as they may not grow new plants or stunt growth in the lack of light environment.
When using grow lights, Phalaenopsis orchids require about 11 hours in the winter and 14 to 16 hours in the summer.
Similar to Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium orchids often grow in bright, but not direct light. I recommend placing this orchid near a windowsill where it can receive filtered light and partial shade through glass panels or curtains, as this is perfect for Dendrobium orchids to thrive. If you notice yellowing leaves, it could be a sign that your orchid is not getting enough light.
Indirect light from 2,000 to 3,000 foot candles is good growing conditions for Cattleya orchids. The bright green-leaved Cattleya variety needs about 4-6 hours of filtered sunlight per day to bloom brilliantly. However, if you do not want the leaves of Cattleya orchids to be dyed red from sunburn, they should not be exposed to direct sunlight in the middle of the day. To revive sunburned Cattleya orchids, water them deeply and move them to a shady location.
Oncidium orchids are considered “medium light” orchids. That said, this orchid prefers direct light and can tolerate full sunlight in the morning or late afternoon for one to several hours. In addition to light, it is important to maintain the temperature of the orchid at 70°F – 85°F during the day to create the best growing environment. Proper care can prevent issues such as droopy leaves.
Placing orchids in west or south facing windows is a good idea.
Vandas are like “girls” who love being exposed under full sunlight at least 6-8 hours per day. In my garden, I usually hang two Vandas potted orchids in direct sunlight in the morning or late afternoon. However, if left outside during times of high temperatures and intense sunlight, the flowers and leaves can easily burn and wither, or the leaves may start to curl. I suggest moving the plant out into a shade place during the middle of the day to make a break time for them.
Yes, orchids can thrive under artificial lights when provided with the right conditions such as temperature, full spectrum, wavelength color or wattage. You should maintain a lighting schedule of 12-14 hours per day for orchids using a timer to avoid sudden changes in lighting time that stress the plant. I often hang LED lights at a distance of 12 inches – 18 inches to ensure the heat emitted from this light will not burn my orchid pots.
I recommend LED or fluorescent bulbs with full spectrum in the off seasons because they can mimic natural sunlight.
Light is always a factor that not only helps overall health but also promotes the flowering for orchids. However, mistakes in providing the wrong light can reverse this result, causing the plant to wilt or burn. To know if your orchid is lacking light, pay attention to signs such as turning yellow or red leaves, wrinkled, or drooping leaves. Although I know some orchids are able to adapt to strong, direct light, but be careful, too much of anything will be harmful.
Do all orchids like indirect light?
Most orchids grow under indirect or filtered light. However, there are some species that prefer full and direct sunlight such as Phalaenopsis and Oncidium.
Can an orchid thrive in indoor light?
Yes, you can place orchid pots on the windowsill in your house to absorb indirect sunlight for at least 6-8 hours everyday. For artificial lights, they need more time for 12-14 hours.
How to tell if my orchid is getting enough light?
If the orchid receives enough light, its leaves will be bright green, lush, and thick. Besides, the flowers still bloom regularly and have vibrant colors.