Orchid Lighting

Getting Orchid Lighting Right

Proper orchid lighting is one of the most important elements of caring for orchids and can greatly affect the health of your orchid plant. The amount and kind of light that it receives will affect flowering and growth. The amount of light the orchid plant needs will also vary with the species that your orchid is.

Most orchids are found within the tropical areas of the globe. Both day and night are roughly equal near the equator. Orchids generally grow in wooded areas and often on trees or their branches. Orchid lighting in these areas is strong but diffuse. These areas are brightly lit but are a mixture of sun and shade throughout the day.

Taking a clue from nature, it can be seen that although orchids require bright light, they rarely get prolonged direct sun, which can harm them. They also need about 12 hours of light daily. Natural light can be a limiting factor in the home. In Northern climates there is much less light in the winter and definitely not 12 hours worth.

It is common to place orchids in an east window to provide weaker morning sun and avoid the damaging afternoon sun, but again the amount of light they receive can be a limiting factor. A combination of natural and supplemental orchid lighting may be the best solution.

Orchid Lighting Requirements Vary By Type

In order to figure out how much shade and sun your specific orchid species will need, you will need to find out about your particular orchid type. If you can purchase your orchid from a nursery or specialty store where the staff is knowledgeable about orchids, so much the better. This is a great way to get information on your orchid.

Research Your Orchid Lighting Requirements Before You Buy

You could also look up information about your orchid online. Even better is to do some research in advance of buying anything. This will help give you an idea which species of orchid would be best for your situation before you purchase it.

Some types of orchids do thrive on receiving a lot of sun. While other species of orchid plants will wilt if they don’t get mostly shade. Among orchid growers there are two different terms you will run across to distinguish which orchids like what kind of light. They are hard and soft. Soft growing orchids refers to the group that thrives in shady conditions. Hard growing orchids thrive in sunny conditions. 

Typically an orchid that requires soft or shady growing conditions will offer their owners the enjoyment of a healthy and thriving plant, but the blooms will be small and infrequent. On the other hand, orchids that are grown in hard or sunny conditions will produce many blooms, but not much plant. The leaves on such a plant may also be yellow and stunted.

Supplemental Orchid Lighting

As mentioned before, one way of ensuring that your orchid lighting needs are met is to use a grow light. You can purchase a grow light and a timer and give your orchids the correct amounts of both light and darkness. I need to clarify the term grow light. To some this is a fluorescent fixture with special plant bulbs in it. However in some circles, particularly with many greenhouse growers a grow light refers to metal halide lights.

Orchid LightingGrow lights or metal halides are expensive to buy and run compared to fluorescent. But the quality of light they produce is far superior. This is the closest we can come to natural sunlight. As such they are the choice of most serious orchid growers. However they may be too strong for some softies. Also they are probably too bright to use in some locations inside your home.

 It is also possible to use fluorescent light to offer your orchids a light source that is not too strong for them. Generally fluorescent orchid lights are cheaper to buy and run. There are many specialty plant lights available for them to simulate specific growing conditions but even standard white tubes will work fine. This type of lighting is probably best for soft orchids and for most home situations.

For years it was thought that orchids could only be successfully grown by experienced horticulturists in a greenhouse. But providing proper orchid lighting is really simple. Combining natural light with supplemental orchid lights will insure your orchids get their lighting needs met.

Orchids can now be grown by even the most inexperienced growers. Along with natural sunlight, a grow light or fluorescent lights and an  understanding of your orchid’s needs, you can have an amazing orchid plant that will give you gorgeous, full blooms throughout it’s blooming season by providing proper orchid lighting.