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The amount of sunlight your plant needs is specific to the type of plant you have. Understanding the natural environment that your plant comes from is a good first step in understanding how much light it needs.
Plants that are native to arid climates and deserts such as the palm or cactus are happy with an intense amount of light. But there are also plants that prefer the darker areas of your home. These are plants that are used to living in the shadows, for example under the canopy of tall trees in tropical rain forests. Plants that like shadowy spots should not be put in front of windows, even those that are not south facing. Seasons also play a large role with summer months giving off much brighter light. When you've got plants that don't mind being in brighter spots in winter, keep a close eye on them in summer as you may have to move them. We can typically divide the needs of plants in three categories:
When were looking at plants that can take direct sunlight we are looking at types of plants that don't mind being in the full sun. The typical set of plants that qualify for this are plants that you would find in the desert. Do keep in mind that even these plants are grown in nurseries and are not exposed to such bright conditions as you would find in the desert. When bringing cacti or palms home, you will have to let them get used to the brighter spots of your home.
This is where we find the majority of plants. The partial shaded areas of your home are usually plentiful. Any position with an occasional ray of direct sunlight but mostly shade qualifies. Typically these spots are about 3 to 5 metres from your windows. Species such as the Spathiphyllum, Anthurium and Dracaena typically thrive in these conditions.
There are only a few plants that thrive under low light conditions. Plants need light to survive and no plant will survive under conditions where absolutely no light is present. Rooms without windows such as basements or garages but also bathrooms are places where you'll have to try hard to raise plants. There are a few exceptions. The Rhapsis palm is an example and there are a few other palm and cacti that actually don't mind being in the shade all the time. If you do end up wanting a green friend in a very dark spot, try artificial lighting instead. You'll need some pretty bright lights but it's not impossible!