Lighting And Houseplant Display

It is not difficult to learn how to make the most of your plants by using artificial and natural light to show them off.

Indoor plants are seen as often in the evening by artificial light as they are by natural daylight, and if some thought is given to the positioning of the light source exciting effects can easily be created.

Experimenting with light Plug in an easily transported desk light near your plant. Place it first at one side of the plant, then in front, and then behind, shining it down from above and upwards from below to see the very different effects you can create.

When you have decided obacklighting plantn the effect you prefer, it is not essential to wire in a special light in this position. You can use a sphere or half-moon shape light (the kind often seen in botnrooms) below a („ass table, or as a back light. One spotlight, or two on a stand, can be used as side lighting.

Experiment with what you already have, plugged in to a nearby socket. However, don’t position an incandescent light that uses a standard light bulb closer than about 90cm (3ft) to the leaves. This form of lighting will scorch the plant.

Back lighting

This creates a halo effect, highlighting both leaf shapes and the shape of the plant itself. Used effectively here in a fireplace, it could also show off plants in an alcove.

Light for growth

The use of lighting allows you to grow plants in areas where they would not normally survive. Fluorescent tubes produce more light per watt and less heat than incandescent bulbs; or you can use special grow lights. Here a fluorescent tube shows off plants to advantage.

Light from below

Lighting from below enhances containers and plants. Here light also comes from behind the table to produce a silhouette effect.

Top lighting

This is a particularly good way of lighting plants, as it adds clarity to leaf and flower colours. Note how the container recedes into the background.

With dramatic lighting a plant can be the focal point in a room, changing the mood.Lighting And Houseplant Display

Using natural light

The natural light that enters your house through the windows creates special highlights, so consider its decorative potential when positioning plants.

Plants on a windowsill receive strong back lighting, and feathery- leafed plants are shown off effectively.

The light in a window is constantly changing as the sun moves. Watch the effect on plants and move them accordingly.

  • Place a clip-on-spot on one shelf, shining it down to highlight a group of plants below.
  • Arrange a group of small flowering plants with fruit in a large bowl and place it directly below a pendant light above a dining table.
  • Light focussed on plants in front of a mirror will add sparkle. Don’t shine the light towards the mirror; this just causes unattractive glare.
  • Put glass shelves across a window (not a south-facing one where the sun could scorch the leaves) to create effective plant backlighting.
  • Make a green arrangement — a foliage plant, green apples, grasses and seed heads. Position it at one side of the window where the light will reflect and play on it.
  • Highlight plants under a dormer window where they will enjoy the light.


  • A white wall will reflect light and create a good background.
  • To grow plants in artificial light only
  • you will need to keep the tube on for around 12-14 hours for foliage plants, 16-18 for flowering plants.
  • In winter use artificial light to compensate for the lack of daylight. Turn on for about 5-6 hours every evening.

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