Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day Light Needs of Plants

Pull Your Plants Back from the Window


If you find it hot near a south-facing window on a sunny day, imagine your houseplants’ distress! Source: Claire Tourigny, from the book Les 1500 trucs du jardinier paresseux.

In spring, the light in front of a south- or west-facing window becomes more intense and abundant daily and also starts to extend beyond what our houseplants, which are tropical plants accustomed to no more than about 12 hours of daily sunshine, receive in their native lands. And behind a wall of glass, there isn’t much air circulation. Thus, heat can easily increase to a point where the plants are harmed.

With the return of spring, therefore, it’s wise to keep an eye any houseplants you place near sunny windows. When you notice any sign of distress, like leaves wilting, curling or turning pale on one side only, the one closest to the window, it’s time to react.

There are several ways of coping with this overly intense light and resulting heat. You can move them back from south- or west-facing windows or place them in rooms where the light is less intense. Or simply draw a sheer curtain between the plants and the sun during the hottest hours of the day.

A simple change that makes for happier houseplants!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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