Orchid Care Light Requirements

Orchid care light requirements are the same at home as they are in nature. Most orchids prefer filtered indirect sunlight or bright shade. For the most part, we never want to place our orchids in direct sunlight. Many orchids in tropical and sub tropical regions, grow in filtered sunlight in non deciduous trees, shaded by the leaf canopy. However, depending on the species of orchid and also varieties within the species, the amount of orchid care light requirement can vary with some orchids requiring brighter conditions. We can make adjustments to take advantage of natural light and we can also provide supplemental growing light and many orchid growers devote an area of their house or apartment just to set up an indoor orchid grow room. If you are fortunate enough to have a conservatory, you can place your orchid in the shaded canopy of larger plants. 


To take advantage of natural daylight place your orchids near an east or southeast facing window in indirect light. In general, never place your orchid in direct sunlight, this will burn the leaves of your orchid and kill it. There are some exceptions to this rule, but as a general rule of thumb, stick to filtered light to bright shade, avoiding direct sunlight on the leaves of your orchids. A window with venetian blinds or linen shade is ideal. Phalaenopsis, Miltoniopsis,  Masdevallias, and some Paphiopedilums will do best in low light to bright shade conditions. Brassias, Cattleyas, Miltonias and Oncidiums like brighter indirect light conditions and Brassavolas, some Cattleyas and Vanda's can do best in very bright light conditions. 

Supplemental Indoor Grow Lighting

Supplemental indoor lighting opens up a lot more potential locations for our orchids. If you just have one or a few orchids, you can probably find a location near a window for your orchid. Supplemental indoor lighting becomes a factor for your orchid care light needs when you start to grow your collection of orchids and other plants. Although there are many lighting solution possibilities, the two most common and probably the best for orchids in most situations are compact flourescent lights (CFL) and light emitting diode light (LED). Led lights are becoming more popular and have made great advancements in recent years. 

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL)

Compact fluorescent light (CFL) are an energy saving light source designed to stay on for long periods of time. CFL light bulbs use approximately 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. CFL light bulbs come in different spectrums of light and is measured by degrees kelvin. This range can be measured by the bulb description and are graded as Daylight (5000k to 6500k), cool white/bright light (3500k to 4100k) and warm white/soft white (2700k to 3000k). For the most part we can use daylight bulbs for our orchid care light needs. However we can often get the best flowering results when we switch to a warm white/soft white bulb during our orchid's natural flower cycle period. This could get tricky and complicated if we have orchids that bloom at different times of the year. We can solve this by having a separate growing area where we bring our plants in bloom or going into bloom and the best location is the area of our house that we spend the most time in, so that we can enjoy beautiful decadent blooms all year round.  

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

By now you are probably familiar with light emitting diode light, better known by their acronym, LED lights. LED light is relatively new to plant growing. It became very popular with Cannabis growers in the past decade, and has made a lot of advancement in their short period of time on the market. LED lighting is a wonderful source for our orchid care light needs, although on the front end, the cost is relatively expensive. But when one considers the longevity of modern LED lighting panels, the long term cost is quite economical. The early versions of LED panels focused mainly on blue and red light which produced a purple light. For plant growing purposes this light is excellent, but for many people the purple color is bothersome to the senses, and it is also difficult to see the plants themselves without the aid of goggles made specifically for this purpose. Thankfully nowadays, modern full spectrum LED light mimics natural daylight as LED manufacturers have added in green light. LED panel fixtures are slim, compact and more pleasing to the eye and offer a variety of solutions for our orchid care light requirements. 

Which lighting fixture to buy? 

There are many LED lighting solutions and fixtures on the market today.  Choosing a lighting fixture panel is a matter of budget and aesthetics and most importantly the amount of light emitted from the light panel itself.  There measurement that we can look at is PAR, the amount of usable photosynthetically available light.  PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) in simple terms, is a measurement of light that defines the light spectrum that drives photosynthesis in plants. Between 400 and 700 nanometers is the range where light is Photosynthetically active. A higher PAR number does not necessarily mean that the fixture produces more light that is photosynthetically active because there are factors such as the ratio of red to green to blue light spectrum that are unaccounted for in the measurement of par.  There are many technical sources of information if you wish to understand PAR more, but for simplicity's sake, any fixture with a PAR between 450 and 600 will be suitable for our orchid care light requirements.  LED lighting is very versatile in terms of the variety of panels available, we are not confined to have a fixture horizontally overhead, we can also install panels vertically. LED panels can be placed relatively close to plants, but they do emit a small amount of heat, so keep a minimum of 30 inches between your plants and the light source. 

Orchid Care Light Requirements Summary

Remember that most orchids in nature live in filtered light in the canopy of trees. Avoid direct sunlight on our orchids and keep them in bright filtered light conditions. Use supplemental lighting for spaces that do not provide enough natural light or where we want to supplement the natural daylight conditions. Fluorescent and light emitting diode (LED) lights are ideal for most supplemental orchid care light requirements. If you are choosing fluorescent light, then daylight bulbs are the best in general all round bulb for our orchid care light needs, but warm white/soft white light bulbs are best when our orchid is in or nearing its natural bloom cycle. LED lights are very versatile, having made great improvements in the last decade, but are a little expensive on the front end. Choose a light with a par value between 450 and 600, as a general guideline. 

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