Plant Care 101: Ingredients your plant needs to thrive — Light

In the wild or in your home, plants need six common ingredients to thrive: light, water, humidity, warm temperatures, nutrients, and proper soil. The trick, however, is giving your plant the perfect balance of these ingredients — too little or too much will cause it harm. Luckily, here at Welltended we have you covered! We provide concise care instructions with each plant order, and detail its ideal growing conditions.

Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing each ingredient a plant needs to thrive, taking care to review the varying levels of each ingredient and signs that your plant is receiving too little or too much. After reading my series on plant ingredients, you too will have the expertise needed to ensure that your plant is Welltended.


Light allows your plant to make itself food through the process of photosynthesis. Essentially, plants combine water, carbon dioxide, and light to create the sugars that it consumes. All plants need light to survive, but the amount needed varies for each species (you probably know this intuitively; for instance, a cactus needs more light than a fern). Determining how much light your plant needs and placing it in a space that has the proper amount of exposure are essential first steps in plant care, and probably the very first thing to consider when you welcome a plant into your home.

Descriptions of the different levels of light are as follows.

Direct light: The sun shines directly on your houseplant, usually for three or more hours per day. In the direct light, the plant and the area around it becomes hot. Only desert adapted plant species (cacti or succulents) can tolerate the sun’s heat while pot bound. Direct exposure can occur in both South and West facing windows.

Indirect bright light: Bright light fills the room your plant is in for much of the day. The plant is only in the direct sun for a couple of hours and not during peak sun (usually around noon-2pm). While in the sun for much of the day, the area around the plant does not typically become hot. This type of light is suitable for nearly all indoor plants, except shade-loving species.

Indirect low light: Low levels of light reach the plant throughout the day. Either the room is filled with a dim light for much of the day, or the plant is positioned away from the window to reduce its exposure. Low light is best for shade-tolerant species such as ferns and orchids. Plants that need direct sunlight such as cacti won’t do as well in this lighting condition.

No light: Sorry, even at Welltended we have yet to figure out how to grow plants in complete darkness. If you have discovered how to do this please email You may be onto a major scientific breakthrough! (Using grow lights doesn’t count.)

Symptoms of light exposure

If your plant is not getting enough light, the most common sign is the yellowing and dropping of leaves, stunted leaf growth, elongated stems, and a dull-green color. If your plant is getting too much light, then its leaves will have singed tips, burned patches, or will be falling off (yikes!). If your plant is getting the correct amount of light, then it will be a rich, pleasing green color. And overall, you really need to get the plant’s full story; a lot of these symptoms can be for multiple causes, so context definitely matters.

That’s all for now, check back next week to learn about watering your plant! Until then, if you have any questions or comments please visit Welltended or write to me directly at


Dan Bruzzese, Plant Expert