All About Light and Water for Houseplants
- what’s the right amount for your plants -

Posted on June 8, 2020

All About Light and Water for Houseplants
Welcome! You have arrived at The best single resource for information and inspiration on houseplants and succulents. Here you can find detailed information to help you succeed in selecting and caring for your houseplants. Happy Indoor Gardening!

Lighting for Houseplants

North-facing windows get no direct sunlight. They’re best for plants requiring low light or medium light. Plants in a north window may grow better if provided with some supplemental artificial light.
Houseplant Light North Window
East-facing windows get morning sun until around midday. They’re great for low-light level plants and some medium-light plants, especially those that can’t take the heat or brightness of a southern or western exposure. Medium-light lovers should be no further than one foot from the window.
Houseplant Light East Window
South-facing windows get the most light, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. They’re a perfect place for plants that love the sun. Houseplants like cacti and succulents that need lots of light should be within a foot of a south-facing window.
Houseplant Light South Window
West facing windows don’t get as many hours of sun as a southern exposure, but they do get the sun at the end of the day, when the temperatures are warmest. A west-facing window is good for high- and medium-light loving plants.
Houseplant Light West Window
If you place your plant in the appropriate light location but start seeing signs that your plant isn’t thriving, here are some things you should check:
  • Is there anything blocking light coming in the room, such as a shade or curtains?
  • Is your plant the correct distance from the window?
  • Is it a small plant shaded by a larger plant next to it?
  • Is there a tree, awning, or building outside the window that is blocking the light?


When to Water Houseplants

When to water your plant has a lot to do with what type of container it’s growing in. Here are three of the most common scenarios for potted plants:

Container with drainage holes set in a saucer:

  • Water when top 1-2 inches (3-5cm) of soil is dry.
  • Apply water until it runs out the drainage hole at bottom of pot. Discard any water left standing in the saucer.

A plain plastic pot with drainage placed inside a decorative container:

  • Water when top 1-2 inches (3-5cm) of soil is dry.
  • Water soil until water runs out the bottom of the pot.
  • Lift the inner pot from its decorative container, pour out excess water, and return pot to the container.

A pot with no drainage holes:

  • Use caution when watering. It’s better to underwater at first until you are familiar with your plant’s water needs.
  • Feel the top 1-2 inches (3-5cm) of soil with your finger, if it’s dry your plant is ready for a drink.
  • It may be best to apply water in small amounts, more frequently.

Signs that your plant is too dry:

The soil surface looks dry.
The soil surface feels dry.
Lift the pot - a plant with dry soil will be easier to lift than a wet plant.
Plant leaves drooping or wilting.
Foliage color looks pale or yellowing.
Slight curling of leaves.
Leaf tips turning brown and crispy.
Plant dropping leaves and flowers.

Signs that your plant is too wet:

Leaf tips turn brown to black.
Lower leaves turning yellow.
Base of plant is mushy.
Soil has a foul smell resulting from root rot.
The soil surface is still wet days after watering.
Mold or mildew growing on the soil surface.
Container has no drainage holes.

How to Increase Humidity

Some houseplants, such as ferns, bromeliads and orchids – just to name a few - thrive in humid conditions. Here are some tips for increasing humidity:
  • Spray-mist the foliage with water once or twice a day.
  • Keep plants away from heating vents.
  • Place plants on a tray of pebbles covered with water.
  • Place plant in a humid room like a bathroom.

Care Tips for Popular Houseplants

Click on each plant to learn more:
Aglaonema - Chinese evergreen
Alocasia - Elephant Ear
Aloe houseplant
Anthurium, Flamingo Flower

Arrowhead Plant - Syngonium podophyllum

Calathea houseplant


Dieffenbachia - Dumb cane
Arrowhead PlantCalatheaCrotonDieffenbachia


Indoor fern

Ficus - Fiddle Leaf Fig

Holiday cactus - Schlumbergera
DracaenaFernFiddle Leaf FigHoliday Cactus

Hedera helix - indoor ivy plant

Crassula ovata - Jade plant

Pachira - Money tree

IvyJadeMoney TreeMonstera

Parlor Palm - Chamaedorea elegans

Peace lily - Spathiphyllum


Parlor PalmPeace LilyPeperomiaPhilodendron

Pilea - friendship plant

Ponytail palm


Maranta - prayer plant
PileaPonytail PalmPothosPrayer Plant

Rubber plant

Sansevieria, snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue


Chlorophytum - spider plant
Rubber PlantSansevieriaScheffleraSpider Plant

Senecio - string of pearls

Tradescantia - wandering Jew

Zamioculcas - ZZ plant
String of PearlsWandering JewZZ Plant

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