If you want to brighten up your home with lush, green plants, this is important Think how much light you need. Different plants thrive in different conditions so you can’t cram everything out of the same window and hope for the best. Instead, you should assess each plant’s specific needs and find a spot with just enough light to keep them happy.
Determining how much light a given point is receiving is harder than it sounds, especially if the recommendations in your Google results don’t make sense right away. What is “bright indirect light” anyway? If it’s indirect, how can it be light? Do I need a light meter to find out or what?
Fortunately not. As a plant scientist Christopher Satch explained in this video from the Digg YouTube channelWith the “shadow trick” you can easily determine the lighting conditions in your home:
To try it out for yourself, simply place your hand between your plant and its light source, then look at the shade. (If there isn’t a surface to cast shadow on, hold a piece of paper right in front of the plant and place your hand a few inches in front of it.) Its clarity and shape give you an idea of how strong or weak those are Light is at this point:
- Dark with a clear, distinct border: Bright light
- Out of focus at the edges: Medium or indirect light
- No shadow at all: Dimmed light
Once you have a general idea of the quality of light in different areas of your home, you can stop worrying about whether your plants are getting enough sun and focus on what really matters: Resist the urge for excess water. (And buy more plants, of course.)
This article was originally published on January 25, 2017 and was updated on April 15, 2021 to reflect Lifehacker’s current style guidelines.