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House Plants/Light level definitions


Hello Will,

I am confused by the generic tags that come with most indoor plants, the tags that vaguely state tropical plants do best in medium to high light. How bright is medium light? High light? Thanks for shedding light on the subject!


Hi Michaela,

You are not the only one left in the dark by those generic plant tags! They are often quite worthless and sometimes misleading. They are designed to sell plants, not provide information.

Most indoor plants can be put generally into one of three light categories - low, medium and high. However, a generic tag that does not identify the plant by species cannot be relied upon to provide the right category. So the first step is to determine the plant species and then find out which light category it properly belongs in.

The low/medium/high categories are somewhat vague and overlap considerably, so there is no rigid definition for them. Below is my best effort to bring some clarity to these terms.

High light plants must have some direct sunlight for at least several hours per day and bright indirect light for the rest of the day. South and west facing windows are the best locations for these plants.

Medium light plants must have bright indirect light all day long and can often tolerate a couple of hours of direct sunlight. East and north facing windows are the favored locations for these plants.

Low light plants must be protected from direct sunlight at all times. They thrive in bright indirect light, but will often tolerate minimum light levels. These plants prefer locations close to a north window or away from an east, west, or south facing window where they are protected from the direct rays of the sun.

If you would lie even more information about light for plants, send an email request for my article on light to my address below.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and nomination for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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