How Much Light Do Orchids Need?

Orchids have one of the largest plant families comprising of 20,000 orchid species. This is more than all mammal species in the world. Quite a significant number of orchids are terrestrially making them relatively easy to grow at home. Light is essential when growing orchids since this will determine whether the orchids will flower or not.

Adequate light will have the orchids produce flowers rather fast. But, how much light do orchids need?

Orchid species suitable to grow at home

As much as there are over 20,000 species of orchids not all are suitable to grow at home. Most people shy off from growing orchids since they are delicate. One wrong move and you might wake up to a dead plant.

To successfully grow orchids you have to replicate their natural habitat. Here are some of the orchid species suitable to grow at home or in the office.


This is one of the most famous orchid species owing to the fact that it is readily available and highly adaptive. Phalaenopsis also known as moth orchids flower all year round and are ideal for beginners.


This one is long and slender with over 100 varieties of dendrobiums to choose from and given the fact that they are easy to grow this will suit you even as a beginner.


This species requires relatively more light and there are 113 species to choose from.


Thrive in relatively low light but easy to grow hence making it ideal for beginners.

Onadium orchids

Onadium orchids are characterized by small and clustered beautiful flowers that are delicately attached. Not suitable for beginners given the high-intensity care required.

Cymbidium orchids

Have waxy flowers and thrive well in cold environments. Requires more light ideally a minimum of 8hrs of light.

How to check how much light our orchids are getting?

What makes orchids such delicate plants is due to the fact that everything has to be as its natural environment. When it comes to lighting you have to hit the balance and provide just enough light, not too much and nothing less! As much as you should know, how much light do orchids need, you should also be in a position to check how much light the orchids are getting. But, how do you go about it?

  • Measuring the amount of shadow that will fall on the leaves of the orchids. This is done by holding your hand a few feet from the orchids. A shadow should form on the leaves; if it happens to be a dark shadow then the orchids are getting too much light.
  • Alternatively, you can use a lux meter which is an instrument specifically designed to measure the amount of light received. Lux measures light intensity in lumens per square meter. An ideal measurement should be 10700-16000 lux.

Effects of too much light on orchids

Different orchid species react differently to too much light. Some species have the leaves turn pale then yellowish. With prolonged exposure to light, the leaves may turn brown or even start wilting.

Effects of low light on orchids

Low light is difficult to detect since the orchids will appear healthy. The leaves won’t wilt, instead, they turn dark green in attempts to form more chlorophyll that will maximize the absorption of the little light available. Overall, the orchid will look healthy but it won’t produce any new flowers. Inadequate light delays flowering or the orchid might never bloom at all.

What do you after discovering that your orchids are not getting enough light? You should proceed with caution since moving orchids from low light to high-intensity light might kill them. Ideally, you should transfer the orchids to an area with moderate light before relocating to high light intensity.

How much light do orchids need?

Orchids are highly adaptive plants and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. They can also be grown using natural sunlight or artificial lights depending on where stationed.

If you choose to rely on the sun, the orchid should be stationed in an area with adequate light. Ideally, this should be near a window. Different orchid species vary when it comes the amount of light required. Orchids that require more light should be placed on southern windows while those with average light requirements should be placed near western or eastern windows.

The orchid can be stationed in the living room, bathroom, office, bedroom or dining room as long as there is adequate light.

Can orchids grow in artificial light

We haven’t yet fully answered the question of how much light do orchids need without discussing growing orchids with artificial light.

LED Lights

If you know a thing or two about artificial lights of which I know you do then the term LED lights is not new to you. Orchids can grow under LED lights as long as the temperatures are light. Most LED lights are known to overheat if not regulated this might cause problems. A full spectrum light is recommended with a minimum of 10-12hrs of light every 24hrs.

High-Intensity Discharge

There are those who argue that HID lighting is rather way too bright for growing orchids. This is not the case; orchids can be grown under HID lights only that the exposure time will be a maximum of 10hrs in a day. The lights should not be too close to the orchid. Well, unless you want it to have burn spots on the leaves.


Fluorescent lack the red and blue spectrum hence not recommended for growing orchids


So, how much light do orchids need?

It is my hope that we have answered this question to your satisfaction given in mind that lighting is one of the most challenging aspects when growing orchids indoors. 

Photo by Maira.