Orchid Light Levels

Autumn is a good time to check orchid light levels. As days grow shorter and the sun weakens, natural light levels fall sharply. Low light can prevent orchids from blooming. To compensate, growers in temperate latitudes should increase illumination during fall and winter. Your orchids will reward the extra care with strong growth and blooms.

  • Orchids need enough light to keep their leaves a light green color. Too little light can cause dark green or floppy leaves. Too much light can turn leaves yellow or cause burns. If leaf edges turn red, then the orchid is receiving the maximum exposure it can tolerate.
  • In autumn, increase light levels by slowly moving orchids into direct sun. Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Epidendrums, and Oncidiums can adjust to full sun. Even shade lovers, like Phals, Paphs, and Masdevallias, can tolerate winter sunshine. Move plants into sun gradually to prevent burns, taking two weeks to allow them to adjust. If leaves burn or turn yellow, move the plant back into shadier conditions.
  • If the sun isn’t cooperating, supplement with artificial lights. Fluorescent bulbs work well since they last a long time, use little electricity, and don’t get too hot. Keep leaves 6 – 12 inches (15 – 30 cm) from bulbs, but not so close that leaves or flowers burn. Just like natural light, increase artificial light gradually over two weeks.
  • Take advantage of white walls and other reflective surfaces to add brightness.
  • Always maintain high humidity. Air may dry quicker in brighter conditions.
  • In the tropics, the sun remains strong all year, so orchid growers in tropical areas don’t need to add light.
  • When spring returns, remember to move orchids back into the shade.

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2 Comments on “Orchid Light Levels”

  1. Daniela Conderman Says:

    Thanks…Extremely excellent info, I truly feel a lot a lot more orchid people need to read this.

  2. alisa brennan Says:

    Thanks for reminding me! I bring my plants inside and stick them undr lights for winter. I know they love the light and they continue to grow and bloom instead of stalling during winter. Pests can be a problem so that’s my first chore when inside. Thanks a lot for sharing!