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Do Orchids Need Direct Sunlight?

Do orchids need direct sunlight? Orchids like all plants do need light to grow. But do they need direct sunlight? Let’s find out.

Do Orchids Need Direct Sunlight?

Most orchids are tropical but they are understory plants. Some grow on trees and some are vines that climb on tree trunks.

These are epiphytic orchids and they are the most common type most people will have.

A less common orchid is the terrestrial orchid that grows in leaf litter on the forest floor.

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Do Orchids Need Direct Sunlight?

No orchids do not need direct sunlight. While they can tolerate the sun for short periods of time too much direct sunlight will harm them and burn their leaves.

So although these tropical areas do receive bright sunlight most orchids grow lower down and are partially shaded.

Orchids prefer bright indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn their leaves so it should be avoided.

Orchid Light Needs

However, some orchids do like more light than others.

For example, phalaenopsis orchids like low light and are the most common ones you will find at your supermarket.

But some orchids like vanda orchids like much brighter light and can tolerate some sunlight.

Most orchids grow in areas close to the equator where day and night are fairly even. So your orchid will need about 12 hours of light a day.

Where Should I Keep My Orchids?

Orchids in a window with indirect lightA good place to keep orchids is in an east or north window where they will get good light but no or very little direct sunlight.

If you decide to keep them in a south or west-facing window you will want to have curtains or blinds to help limit direct sunlight.

Orchids do love humidity so a bathroom can be an excellent place to keep them if there is a window letting enough light in the room.

Lighting For Orchids Indoors

While you can use natural light to grow orchids that does not mean artificial lighting for orchids indoors can not be used.

Fluorescent tubes have been used to grow orchids successfully for many years. Here is an older article that is helpful: https://www.aos.org/orchids/additional-resources/growing-under-lights.aspx

Today LED grow lights can provide a light spectrum very close to natural sunlight.

They use less electricity and give off less heat than fluorescent lights

Many LED lights are dimmable allowing you to adjust light levels without raising or lowering a light.

Benefits Of Using Artificial Light For Orchids

The obvious benefit to using artificial light is that you can keep your orchids anywhere even if there are no windows or other light sources.

Orchids naturally receive 12-14 hours of light a day. In northern climates, winter light levels will be much lower.

So using artificial lighting will be beneficial for your orchids.

If you are using a dimmable LED light you also have control over the light levels themselves.

If you want to be more precise you can purchase a light meter to measure and adjust how much light your plants are getting.

Here is a chart that can guide you. It gives the light levels in micromoles using a par meter.

They can be expensive to buy but there are free apps you can use with a smartphone to measure PAR.

PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation which measures only the light plants can actually use for photosynthesis.

Light Ranges For Orchids And Other Houseplants

How To Tell If Your Orchid Has Enough Light

So how do you know if your orchids are getting enough light? Here is an easy way to tell without a light meter.

An easy way to tell how much light your orchid is getting is by using your hand to make a shadow.

If the shadow your hand makes is very fuzzy or lacks shape they need more light.

If the shadow is very clear and distinct they are getting too much light.

When you can see a shadow with a clear outline but without sharp edges, they are getting the right amount of light.

keeping orchids in a window

If you just got your orchid it will probably need to be repotted. Here is an article that will show you an easy way to grow your new orchid.

Semi Hydroponic Orchids How To Easily Grow Orchids – Hydroponic Orchids

Do Orchids Need Direct Sunlight Final Thoughts

So as we can see orchids vary in their light requirements. Orchids are a diverse group of plants from many thousands of different species.

Some like brighter light than others but most orchids do not need direct sunlight.

While some tolerate small amounts of sunlight most will be harmed by it.

Vanda orchids are one type of orchid that likes very bright light but it is the exception rather than the rule.

Most commonly phalaenopsis commonly called moth orchids are what you will find at most garden centers or supermarkets. They will not tolerate much sunlight at all.

So if you have orchids your best bet is an east window where plants may get a bit of sun. Low light orchids will do fine even in a north window.

South or west windows will provide too much direct sunlight for most orchids. However, you can use curtains to help filter the light.

You might try using shade cloth as another option. It is available with different opacity levels and is often used in greenhouses.

The best option is to use some artificial lighting for your orchids. This will allow you to place orchids anywhere you want inside your home.

So I hope you will enjoy your orchids and give them the right amount of light.

They are beautiful houseplants. They do need a bit of extra care but once they flower I think you will agree they are worth the effort.

Read more: Are Orchids Hard To Take Care Of? Easy Growth Formula

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