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Is Your Orchid Getting the Light It Needs?

September 28, 2012

Proper Orchid LightingTo thrive, Phalaenopsis orchids need plenty of bright but indirect light. Overexposure to direct sunlight can damage delicate orchid leaves, causing dehydration and sunburn which can result in premature bloom drop. During the summer, a sheer curtain creates enough of a buffer to prevent sun damage; but these hardy orchids will also thrive if displayed in the interior of a bright room or under the bright artificial light common in most office settings. 

Give your Orchid a View 

If you want to display your Phalaenopsis orchid on a windowsill, north and west-facing windows are best as they provide the least direct sun exposure. However, you may want to keep an eye on orchids displayed on western exposures on sunny summer afternoons when the mid-afternoon sun blazes in the western sky for long hours. Shorter winter days solve this problem but can have the opposite effect of not providing Phalaenopsis orchids with enough light for optimal growth. 

The Human Eye vs. The Orchid 

Experiments have shown that plants and humans evaluate light differently. The human eye seems to assess total light while it is light intensity that matters to plants. In an interesting experiment that compared human evaluations of light quality to actual scientific measurements, humans perceived a room to be nearly as bright in the middle of the room as next to a window. However, scientific measurement showed that light intensity actually dropped off rather rapidly as you moved farther away from the light source. For orchid owners the lesson would seem to be: if your orchid isn’t thriving, try moving it closer to a light source, especially in the winter. 

If you’re interested in more tips about lighting, watch one of our orchid care videos here