The Q&A Archives: Measuring Proper Lighting

Question: I have just moved into an apartment with three different views as well as different light levels. I want to purchase many different plants for the windows, but I want to make sure the plants match the lighting available. My question is: What is the best and simpliest way to test the light (ultraviolet) levels for the different areas?

Answer: There are two ways to check the lighting. One is to use a light meter intended for photographic work and measure the foot candles. Another is to try out a few plants and see where they do best. Generally plants requiring high light will do well in a southern or weatern window, moderate light in an eastern window and lower light in a north window. (The amount of reflective surfaces in the room will also make a difference to the light levels, for instance white walls will reflect more than dark walls.) Remember too that light patterns change throughout the day as well as from season to season so there is no "absolute" measurement when using natural light. Luckily, most plants are fairly adaptable given a little time to adjust to their new location, so some trial and error isn't as risky as you might think. Enjoy your new plants!

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