Orchid Care







How Much Light do Orchids Need?

Different types of orchids can be found growing everywhere from deep shade to full sun. The most commonly available orchids we grow at home need bright indirect light at a minimum, and in some case direct sunlight.

brassavola orchid
We photographed this Brassvola orchid is growing in dappled sunlight along a riverbank in  Belize.

* Most orchids, other than high-light orchids such as vandas, will suffer from leaf burn if exposed to direct sunlight for more than a few hours. The leaf temperatures heat up causing irreversible burn.

* Leaf burn can also be cause by moving a plant that has been indoors all winter into brighter sunlight outdoors, without giving it a chance to adapt gradually.

* Most orchids can tolerate more sunlight if there is a good air movement to keep the leaves cool. Remember brighter sunny weather often means higher temperatures. Good air movement is critical.

* Orchids that need direct sun, prefer dappled sunlight as they get in nature. In the northern hemisphere, several hours of dappled morning sunlight during on all but the hottest days of summer should be fine. Late afternoon sun, which is often combined with high temperatures, should be avoided.


The easiest way to tell if your orchids are getting enough light is to look at the leaves. Bluish-green or dark green soft foliage usually means insufficient light. At the other extreme yellow bleached foliage, or in the case of some orchids darker reddish mottling on leaves, can mean too much light. Note that this is different from yellowed leaves caused by lack of fertilizer or as seen on a generally unhealthy plant.

 In general, aim for foliage that is a light green in color. If your plant blooms well then that means it is probably getting optimal light. If your orchid does not bloom see our tips for getting your orchids to flower.

The type of foliage also give you a clue as to how much light an orchid can take. Lower light orchids often have thinner, or floppy leaves. Brighter light orchids have firm harder foliage, and in some cases such as the Brassvola pictured above, leaves are almost succulent.

It also helps if you find out what type of light your orchid needs before you buy it and be sure that you have the right conditions for it. You might want to see our recommendations for orchids to grow indoors on a windowsill

cool growing cymbidium

-like very bright light and some direct sun
e.g. cymbidiums(pictured), vandas, standard cattleyas, dendrobium (phalaenopsis type)


intemediate odontocidium intergenerics

-like bright light but no direct sun
e.g. oncidinae intergenerics(pictured), oncidiums, miniature cattleyas, phalaenopsis, phragmipediums


Pahiopedlilum orchid

- like bright indirect light
e.g. mottled-leaved paphiopedilums, jewel orchids, many angraecoids












 More orchids on our 
 houseplants blog

Quick Links:
-What to do when flowers fade
-Why won't my orchid bloom?
-How to buy orchids like a pro

-Can I grow orchids in low light?
-How do I water my orchids?

-Where can I buy orchids online?

Visit Our Other Sites:

-How to Grow Moth Orchids
-How to Grow Slipper Orchids