About Orchid Lights, Sunlight and Artificial Light

When caring for orchids one of the essential orchid needs that you should attend to is providing sufficient light. You can provide your orchids with either natural sunlight or artificial light. As a matter of fact, providing light to your orchid simulates the lighting of the natural habitat in tropical forests where the illumination is quite soft. Thus, exposing an orchid to direct light should be avoided.

The light requirement for each orchid type might differ. You should keep this in mind especially if you care for several types of orchids. You can group the orchids according to their light requirement. This will make it easier for you to provide best lighting to all you're your orchids with best results.

Based on light requirement, orchids can be grouped into 3 intensity categories, which is the low, moderate and the high light intensity orchids. The low light intensity orchids include the paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis, while the high light intensity orchids include cattleyas and miltonias. The other types included in the moderate light intensity orchids are the oncidiums, dendrobiums, vanda and brassavola orchids

The common light measure in the caring for orchids is the foot-candle , abbreviate by fc . It is actually an old British standard measure which describes the projected light intensity by a standard candle over an area of ​​1 square foot placed at a distance of one foot. Another more advanced measure is the lux , abbreviated by lx , which is the international standard system unit for illumination. You can choose which one you like, since light-meters use both measures.

Using natural sunlight

You can measure light intensity by using a light-meter. By experience we know the maximum intensity of sunlight occurs at noon, on a bright on cloudless summer day where the outdoors light level will be approximately 10,000 fc. This is a very bright light. As comparison, the average supermarket illumination which we consider as bright enough is only 200 – 300 fc measured using a light-meter. This is far from the requirement of an orchid.

To be able to grow healthy with amazing flowers, the light requirements are as follow:

  • Low-light orchids require a minimum of 1,000 fc and maximum 1,500 fc
  • Moderate-light orchids require a minimum of 1,500 fc and maximum of 3,000 fc
  • High-light orchids require a minimum of 3,000 fc and maximum of 4,500 fc

When placing your orchid on a certain spot of your house or office always check the light intensity and use the above scheme to provide the correct intensity. The good common practice is to make use of the low intensity morning light to avoid them to get burned by the higher intensity afternoon light by placing your orchid at an eastern facing window

Using artificial light

Artificial light can be used when there is a lack of sunlight, especially during winters or cloudy weather. This is called partly artificial lighting, which is the combination of sunlight and artificial lighting. If you use artificial light in the presence of natural sunlight, the artificial light will not significantly matter. So use them alternately.

You can also completely use artificial light but under one condition. That is to guarantee the use of the required light quality. Avoid using regular incandescent lamps, since they produce a lot of heat which may burn your orchid. Fluorescent lamps is a better choice because they are able to cover a wider area with even illumination and produce less heat relatively compared to the produced amount of light. Beside that fluorescent lamps are quite inexpensive and efficient.

Your orchid will grow best under complete artificial light using a combination of artificial light sources that go together with one another to create a spectrum similar to sunlight. The best exposure time of your orchid to artificial light is 14 – 16 hours in a day. Using artificial lights completely will give you some advantages, which is to do watering and other orchid care techniques more regularly, since there are no cloudy days that you need to worry