When caring for orchids one of the essential requirements of an orchid that you should meet is to provide adequate light. You can provide natural or artificial light for your orchids. In fact, providing light to your orchid tells the lighting of the natural habitat in tropical forests where the lighting is soft enough. Therefore, an orchid should be exposed to direct light.
The light requirement for each type of orchid may differ. You should keep this in mind especially if you care for different types of orchids. You can group the orchids according to their light requirement. This will make it easier for you to provide the best lighting for everyone in your orchids with the best results.
Based on light requirement, orchids can be grouped into 3 intensity categories, namely the low, moderate and high light intensity orchids. The low light intensity orchids include the paphiopedilums and phalaenopsis, while the high light intensity orchids include cattleyas and miltonias. Other varieties of moderate light intensity orchids include orchids oncidiums, dendrobiums, vanda and brassavola
The light measure is common when caring for orchids foot candle, abbreviate with fc. It is actually an old standard British measure that describes the projected light intensity with a standardized candle over an area of 1 square foot placed at one foot length. Another measure that is more developed than the lux, abbreviated by lx, which is the international standard system unit for lighting. You can choose your favorite one, since light meters use both measures.
Using natural sunlight
You can measure light intensity by using a light meter. From experience we know that the maximum intensity of sunlight occurs at noon, on a bright cloudless day where the level of outside light is around 10,000 fc. This is a very bright light. By comparison, the average supermarket lighting we consider to be bright enough is only 200 – 300 fc measured using a light meter. This is far from the need of an orchid.
To be able to grow healthily with wonderful flowers, the following are the light requirements:
- Light-low orchids require a minimum of 1,000 fc and a maximum of 1,500 fc
- Moderate light orchids require a minimum of 1,500 fc and a maximum of 3,000 fc
- High-light orchids require a minimum of 3,000 fc and a maximum of 4,500 fc
When placing your orchid on a particular spot of your home or office always check the light intensity and use the scheme above to provide the right intensity. It is common good practice to use low intensity morning light to avoid burning with the higher intensity evening light by placing your orchid at a window facing east.
Using artificial light
Artificial light can be used when there is a lack of sunlight, especially during winter or cloudy weather. This is called partial artificial lighting, which is the combination of sunlight and artificial lighting. If you use artificial light in the presence of natural sunlight, artificial light will not be very important. So use them alternately.
You can also use full artificial light only under one condition. That is to guarantee the use of the required light quality. Avoid using regular incandescent lamps, as they produce a lot of heat that can burn your orchid. Fluorescent lamps are a better choice because they are able to cover a wider area with flat lighting and produce less heat compared to the amount of light produced. Also fluorescent lamps are quite cheap and efficient.
Your orchid grows best under full artificial light using a combination of artificial light sources that combine to create a spectrum similar to sunlight. The best exposure time for an orchid for artificial light is 14 – 16 hours a day. Fully artificial lights will give you benefits, i.e. irrigation and other orchid care techniques more regularly, since there are no cloudy days that you have to worry about