Orchid Care: Foot Candles Brought to Light

Author: Melanie Dearringer1 Comment

Care and Culture, Growing Indoors

Orchids can be classified into three different categories based on their lighting requirements: low, medium, and high light orchids. Knowing what type of light your orchid prefers and providing it is an important to maintaining a happy, healthy orchid. While many orchids can tolerate lighting outside their recommended ranges, it may be at the expense of the beautiful flowers they can produce. So how to do you know what group your orchid falls in? And what exactly does low, medium, and high light mean?

First, we need to understand what a foot candle is and how it is measured. A foot candle is a common way of calculating the intensity of light. Strictly speaking, it is the amount of light cast by a candle from 1 foot away. Below you will find the recommended range of foot candles for each category of orchid.

Note: Foot candles at the hottest part of a clear, sunny summer day can top 10000.

Foot Candle Light Level Chart

There are a couple of ways to measure foot candles. The first is with a light meter. While this method is as straightforward as it comes, it may require you to purchase a piece of equipment you don’t currently own. Another option is to use your camera to measure the light in your growing area. Most SLR cameras come with a built in light meter that, with a little instruction, will allow you to do just that. You simply need a capable camera, a plain white piece of paper, and this calculator. Following the instructions included with the calculator will give you a good approximation of foot candles in that area.

The chart below categorizes some of the more common orchid’s into their respective lighting groups.

Common Genus Light Levels

While it is helpful to understand and know what kind of light you are providing your orchid, you will always want to watch for your orchid’s cues. If your plant is receiving too much light, it can cause the leaves to become sunburnt. Alternatively, too little light can cause your orchid’s leaves to turn a dark green and hinder blooming. For more information about orchid leaves and what they mean, check out Learn to Speak Your Orchid’s Language.


American Orchid Society via http://www.aos.org/Default.aspx?id=222
Featured image photo credit: Rob-Wei via http://www.flickr.com/photos/rob-wei/9275565466/



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One response on “Orchid Care: Foot Candles Brought to Light”

  1. Finally an article that killed my doubt. Congratulations Melanie, sensational article.

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