What Is Indirect Sunlight – Is It Important?

If you’ve ever been thinking about what indirect sunlight is, don’t fret that you’re not all own.

To explain it in the most simple terms, indirect sunlight is light that is blocked by a medium (such as windows or the leaves of trees) or sunlight that is reflecting off the surface.

Here are some suggestions of the best places to put plants that require indirect sunlight:

  • A window facing east.
  • A south-facing window which is shaded by trees or structures throughout the day.
  • In a room that is away from windows in a room with a south-facing view

You may be thinking what are the most suitable spots to get indirect sun. If you think about the species of plants which require indirect sunlight consider their natural surroundings.

Except for some succulents and cacti the majority of houseplants that are commercially available are found naturally on the rainforest floor.

If you consider these conditions, you will realize that the sun is mostly blocked by the foliage which the trees produce. The canopy blocks out the majority of direct sunlight and absorbs the heat and leaves forests with indirect light.

This is the reason it is best to put a plant that requires indirect sunlight in windows facing south that are shaded by trees or structures during the daytime.

The reason the most suitable location for a plant which requires indirect sunlight is an east-facing window because it will receive a dose of sunshine first thing early in the day.

As the sun goes away it will be able to provide sufficient light, but they’ll reflect off the surrounding surfaces, instead of shining directly onto the leaves throughout the day.

If you do not have a window facing east then place your plants farther back within a space which receives a lot of sunlight all day long from windows facing west or south. The room will be filled with light, but it’s also true that all this will reflect as indirect sunlight.

view from white room with office set up near window sunlight

Does light coming through windows direct to the sun?

You should be able to understand what indirect sunlight actually is. However, if you fall in love with the latest houseplant you have in your growing indoor garden, and you discover the label for care says direct sunlight, what should you do?

The first thought is to place the plant on the window. However, you must remove the plant immediately since light that shines through windows can be considered to be considered to be direct sunlight.

The reason is because the light that enters through your windows is diffused and then changes direction through a process known as “refraction”. When this happens, the brightness of the sunlight decreases and, in turn indirect light is produced.

It may appear as if your gorgeous new plant is illuminated but it’s not getting the amount of light it requires.

It’s a bit confusing since it is obvious that window sills are the ideal place to plant plants that require direct sunlight.

However, even the sun is constantly shining through the windows, your plants will only receive about 50 percent of the direct sunlight they would receive if they were located outside.

Of of course, in the case that of houseplants the outside plant isn’t an alternative. How can you ensure that you’re providing them the most sunshine, no matter if that means that some of it gets lost due to filters and reflections?

It’s all about place. There’s an old saying in gardening that says “right plant, right place” and it applies to houseplants too. Simply put, provide the plant the best environment that it can and it will flourish.

In this regard, plants that require direct sunlight should be placed on a windowsill facing south. It is still possible to be able to reduce some sunlight’s intensity however, it will be more that any window you could provide.

If you do not have a south-facing window or a west-facing window, a west-facing one is the next best choice. This will provide you with the greatest amount of light at midday.

This will also provide your plants a prolonged exposure to warm temperatures since the sun continues to shine in this direction right from midday until sunset.

In both instances it is also crucial to ensure that there aren’t as many obstacles to direct sunlight as you can. These could include things such as curtains, blinds, furniture, ornaments, or any other items that may hinder sunlight and cast shadows over your plants.

External barriers should also be considered, even though they are generally beyond your control. If you observe that the tree or the surrounding structure is producing shade, consider lifting the plant on an elevated platform to let in the most sunlight you can.

Certain plants can also be hanging from ceilings using special holders which allow you to place them in the most direct sunlight is possible.

Can a grow light be considered indirect sunlight?

If you reside in an area that is particularly shady and aren’t sure if you’ll be able to supply the plants you love with indirect light growing lights could be an ideal alternative.

Grow lights can be categorized as direct sunlight or indirect sunlight, based on the strength of the light as well as the settings you select. But, the majority of grow lights are best suited to plants that require indirect light since they don’t have the same intensity as direct sunlight.


That’s all you must be aware of about indirect sunlight. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to putting the plants under indirect light, there are three choices.

A window facing east is ideal. If that’s not possible then place the plants in a south-facing window which is shaded for part of the day. If none of these is feasible, you can place the plants further away from a room that is south-facing.

If none of these options is viable, you can consider an artificial grow light to give fake indirect light. It’s not as powerful like the actual thing, however your plants will be completely content.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)