How Much Light Does A Pothos Need?
What Are Pothos Sunlight Requirement

Pothos plants, with their lush and vibrant foliage, have become a beloved choice for indoor plant enthusiasts. Like most plants, they require proper care and attention to thrive and maintain their beauty. One crucial aspect of their care is providing them with the right amount of light. Too little or too much light can significantly impact their growth and appearance. In this blog post, we will delve into the topic of “how much sunlight your pothos require”, uncovering the ideal conditions to ensure their lush and healthy foliage.

Pothos plants require bright, indirect light for 12-14 hours each day to thrive. Placing them in east-facing windows or doors is ideal. Direct sunlight should be limited to 3-4 hours daily to avoid bleached-out and sunburned leaves. Insufficient or excessive light can cause stress and affect the appearance of the plant. It is important to provide the perfect amount of light for lush and healthy foliage.

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    Ways to Check How Much Light Pothos Is Getting

    To accurately measure the sunlight in your outdoor garden, it is relatively easy. However, when it comes to the light inside your home, it is often more subtle and cannot be solely determined by your eyes.For more dependable outcomes, utilize the following two widely-used techniques to assess the light intensity reaching your pothos plant:

    Hand Shadow Test

    This Test is a cost-free, low-tech option that can help determine the light conditions for your pothos plant. Instead of your hand, you can use a pronged stick or any suitable object.Step #1. Prepare the spot: Place a white sheet of paper where your pothos is located.

    Step #2. Position your hand: Hold your hand about 1 ft. (12 inches or 30 cm) directly above the paper. For accuracy, perform the test around noon.

    Step #3. Spread your fingers: Ensure your fingers are wide and evenly spaced.

    Step #4. Observe the shadow: Examine the shadow cast by your hand on the paper. What do you observe?

    Bright light: If you see a clear and well-defined shadow, it indicates that the spot receives bright light. If it’s indirect light, it’s suitable for your pothos. However, direct bright light might be excessive, so consider relocating the plant.

    Medium-light: A spot that receives medium light will produce a fuzzy or blurred but still recognizable shadow of a hand.

    Low light: In a dimly lit spot, the shadow will be faint or non-existent. It’s not ideal for your pothos to be placed in such conditions.

    Use Lux meter

    Utilize a lux meter to precisely measure the brightness of light. A reasonably priced lux meter should be obtainable without spending too much. This is an ideal solution for those who struggle with providing adequate lighting for their plants.If, like me, you have multiple houseplants to care for, consider investing in a multi-purpose lux meter to get the most value for your money. Imagine having a meter that can not only measure light, but also temperature, humidity, and air pressure – truly versatile!

    Lux, measured in lumens per square meter, is the scientific unit used to gauge the intensity or brightness of light that falls onto a surface.

    To ensure your pothos plant thrives, it should receive a light intensity of 5,000-21,500 lux for 12-14 hours each day. This falls within the medium-light range, making east-facing windows an excellent choice. Alternatively, placing it a few feet away from a west- or south-facing window works as well.

    However, pothos stock plants require a higher light intensity of around 53,800 lux (equivalent to 5,000 foot candles) to truly thrive. While they can tolerate direct sunlight for 3-4 hours, it’s best to avoid this to prevent sunburn.

    On the other end of the light spectrum, pothos plants can tolerate much lower light levels, well below 3,200 lux. Keep in mind that their vining stems may become elongated, unhealthy, and weak in such conditions.

    For optimal growth, I always seek out an indoor area that provides bright, indirect light of approximately 8,000-16,000 lux. This strategy works well during both the spring and summer months.

    How many hours do photos require light?

    To provide optimal conditions for your pothos, ensure they receive approximately 12-14 hours of medium-light daily. They can withstand 3-4 hours of direct sunlight, but be aware of potential issues such as discoloration, wilting, and sunburn. If artificial lighting is used, maintain a consistent light intensity of at least 5,000 lux for a minimum of 12 hours.

    Signs of Inadequate Light for Pothos

    When your pothos does not receive enough light, it exhibits noticeable signs such as extended internodes or leggy growth. The stems and foliage of the plant elongate, as if trying to reach for more sunlight. Vining stems may also grow further apart, resulting in a lackluster and untidy appearance. The leaves become sparse and lose their healthy, vibrant look. Internodes, which are the spaces between leaves, become more pronounced and contribute to the unattractive appearance caused by insufficient lighting.

    Lean towards the main light source

    In low light conditions, pothos plants tend to lean towards the main light source, such as a door, window, or bulb. This can result in the leaves facing the brighter light to maximize light absorption. Sometimes, the whole plant may shift sideways to align with the light source, causing the side facing the light to have more vibrancy and foliage. However, the side facing away from the light may appear less vibrant with sparse foliage. This natural growth instinct indicates the need to relocate the pothos to a well-lit area. To temporarily address the leaning, you can rotate the pothos 180 degrees to expose the other side.

    New growing small leaves

    If your pothos is producing small and unsatisfying new leaves, it is likely due to low light conditions. Light is essential for your plant’s overall well-being and development. It is necessary for photosynthesis and transpiration, which are responsible for your plant’s food production and energy. Insufficient light results in a lack of energy and resources for your pothos to generate fully-grown foliage, causing the production of small leaves. In addition, you may also observe elongated spaces between the leaves.

    Stunted growth

    Pothos plants can tolerate low light, but they may not thrive in these conditions. If your pothos isn’t receiving enough light, you may notice little to no growth for extended periods of time. This lack of growth is due to the plant not getting enough light to produce the energy it needs for growth. During colder months, pothos plants may become inactive or fully dormant. However, if the winter season is over and you still don’t see any signs of growth, it is a clear indication that more light is needed. Light is essential for photosynthesis, which is crucial for plant growth.

    Variegation disappears from leaves

    Abnormal leaf color can occur in pothos plants when they are exposed to low light conditions. The leaves may lose their glossy variegations of white, gold, or pink, depending on the variety. In extreme cases of light changes, pothos leaves can turn yellow and develop watery spots that eventually become brown blotches.

    A clear indication of low light in pothos is when the variegation disappears and the foliage reverts back to its original green color. This means that the vibrant pops of color are lost. This change in leaf color is due to the plant’s photosynthesis process. When light conditions are not favorable, the chlorophyll, which is responsible for photosynthesis and gives leaves their green color, is spread to the variegated areas.

    Insufficient light

    When plants like pothos receive insufficient light, their leaves and tips may turn brown. You might also notice yellow halos surrounding the brown patches. There are many possible reasons for browning leaves on pothos, such as sunburn, humidity levels, temperature stress, transplant shock, overwatering, underwatering, and salt buildup. It is important to eliminate these factors as possible causes before moving on.

    Leaves turn yellow or start shedding

    Pothos plants have a tendency to turn yellow and shed leaves when they are under stress, often due to low light conditions. This is their way of reducing their workload and conserving energy.If you suspect that low light is the main cause, you might observe that the soil remains damp for extended periods. Eventually, the leaves will wilt and drop off.

    Leaves start drooping

    However, it’s important not to jump to conclusions too quickly. There are other possible reasons for leaf dropping, such as overwatering, exposure to cold drafts, or diseases. Since overwatering is a common issue with pothos plants, be sure to check for signs such as dying leaf tips, brown/yellow spots on leaves, and, of course, excessively moist soil.

    Prolong wet or dry soil in the pot

    Soil can remain wet for extended periods of time due to a lack of evaporation. While evaporation does play a part, a significant amount of moisture in the soil is actually absorbed by the pothos plant from the potting mix. It’s important to understand that water is essential for photosynthesis. Pothos plants utilize light, carbon dioxide, and water to produce energy. When a pothos plant doesn’t receive adequate light, photosynthesis is hindered.

    As a result, less water is utilized by the plant, resulting in reduced moisture absorption from the soil. Consequently, the soil remains wet for weeks, which can lead to various issues, most notably root rot.

    How to Provide More Light

    To provide more light for your pothos, try positioning it closer to a window or door. This means placing it on or near a sunny door, window, or skylight. The orientation of your window will determine how much light your pothos receives.

    North facing window

    For windows facing north, which don’t get a lot of light, you can hang your pothos on or near these windows without worrying about sunburns.

    East-facing window

    The best spot for your pothos is by an east-facing window. This allows your plant to receive gentle morning sunlight, ensuring it gets bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day.

    South-facing windows

    South-facing windows provide consistent sunlight. If you place your pothos very close to the window, the direct sunlight can be harmful. Instead, position your plant a couple of feet away from the window to receive consistent, bright, indirect light.

    West-facing windows

    Avoid placing your pothos near west-facing windows, as they receive the strongest sun rays in the afternoon. It’s better to keep your pothos a bit away from these windows.

    If you don’t have the time to move your plant around during the day, consider placing your pothos near an east-facing window or a few feet away from a south-facing window. This will ensure your pothos receive ample light.

    Invest in Grow lights

    Enhance the growth of your pothos by using a grow light. With a grow light, you no longer have to worry about the availability of sunlight and its intensity. Instead, you can provide your pothos with the necessary 10-12 hours of optimal light regardless of the season.By using a timer, you can easily ensure that your pothos receives the precise amount of light it needs. For the best results, keep the grow lights on for 12-14 or even more hours. In fact, if you want to encourage your pothos to bloom or flower, increase the exposure time to 16-18 hours.

    To get the most out of your grow lights, keep them positioned around 6-12 inches above your pothos. This proximity will ensure effective light absorption and promote healthy growth.

    When choosing the type of grow lights, opt for LEDs over fluorescent bulbs. LEDs have several advantages such as durability, lasting five times longer than fluorescent bulbs, and using only half the electricity. Additionally, LEDs are safer as they do not shatter.

    Signs of Excessive Light for Your Pothos

    Wilting of leaves

    One of the telltale signs that your pothos is receiving too much light is wilting, which typically occurs during the hottest hours of the day, typically between noon and 4 pm. In addition to wilting, the leaves may also become limp, droopy, and develop dry brown spots. However, it’s important to consider other potential causes of wilting, such as underwatering, root rot, aging, and fertilizer burn.

    Leaves curling

    When the lighting conditions are perfect, pothos leaves are flat and face the light source. However, if the leaves extend or curl away from the light source, it indicates excessive light. Pothos thrives in temperatures between 65ºF (18°C) and 85ºF (29°C). When exposed to temperatures above 90ºF (32°C), pothos experience temperature stress. This stress is usually visible through curled, wrinkled, or drooping leaves.

    Leaves tips and edges turning brown

    Excessive light is a primary cause of browning on the edges and tips of pothos leaves. However, it is important to consider other potential factors. Brown leaf tips and edges can also be caused by root rot, salt accumulation, low temperatures, dry soil, and over-fertilization.

    Brown spot on leaves

    Prolonged exposure to excessive light can cause brown spots to appear on the leaves of your pothos plant. Initially, these spots are small and may appear tan, pale, or translucent, but they eventually develop into large, brown blotches. Nevertheless, brown spots are a frequent issue for pothos plants and can be attributed to several factors. The presence of brown spots may indicate overwatering or underwatering, excessive use of fertilizer, accumulation of salt, exposure to chemicals, hot air, low humidity, or even transplant shock.

    Yellowing and thickening of the leaves

    The new growth of plants can display yellowing and thickening. This can occur alongside wilting, drooping, or the development of brown leaf spots. Yellowing can happen when the leaves are exposed to excessive heat, causing them to burn or scorch. As a result, the leaves may also become bleached out. Additionally, sunburned pothos plants can experience shock, which hinders their ability to photosynthesize. This can lead to compact and stunted growth.

    Tips to Ensure Optimum Light for Pothos

    To ensure optimum light for your pothos plant, it is important to consider both the duration and intensity of light. For optimal growth, provide your pothos with 12-14 hours of bright, indirect light every day. If the plant is kept outdoors, limit its exposure to direct sunlight to 3-4 hours per day.

    To achieve the right light intensity, it is recommended to use grow-lights that provide 8,000-16,000 lux for 14 hours daily. This will ensure that your pothos receives adequate light to thrive.

    In general, a medium-light condition of 5,000-21,500 lux for 12-14 hours daily is suitable for pothos. To achieve this, you can consider using LED grow lights or placing your plant on an east-facing window.

    It is important to be cautious of excessive light, as it can result in sunburned or bleached leaves. If you notice these signs, you should adjust the plant’s light exposure accordingly.

    On the other hand, insufficient light can lead to spindly growth with extended internodes, leggy growth, or leaning towards the light source. It is therefore important to provide adequate light to prevent these issues from occurring.

    Source Potho Production Guide (Central Florida Research and Education Center – Apopka)


    What are the sunlight requirements for Pothos?

    Pothos plants are known to be adaptable when it comes to light, making them a perfect choice for both beginners and seasoned plant enthusiasts. They generally prefer bright, indirect light, making them suitable for various locations in your home or office.

    How much sunlight does Pothos need?

    While Pothos can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, it thrives best in moderate to bright indirect light. Ideally, aim for around 4-6 hours of filtered sunlight per day to keep your Pothos happy. This ensures its foliage remains vibrant and prevents leggy growth.

    Can Pothos tolerate low light conditions?

    Absolutely! One of the remarkable characteristics of Pothos is its ability to adapt to low light conditions. Although it may not grow as quickly or produce as many leaves, Pothos can survive in areas with low natural light, such as dimly lit rooms or offices.

    Will Pothos thrive in direct sunlight?

    While Pothos can handle some direct sunlight, prolonged exposure to intense sunlight can be detrimental to its health. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, leading to browning or yellowing. It’s best to shield your Pothos from direct sunlight, especially during the peak afternoon hours.

    What is the ideal light exposure for Pothos?

    To provide the optimal light exposure for your Pothos, place it in a well-lit spot with bright, indirect light. This could be near a north or east-facing window that allows filtered sunlight throughout the day. Avoid placing your Pothos in areas with intense, hot afternoon sun.

    Will Pothos grow well in artificial light?

    Yes, Pothos is known for its adaptability and can grow well under artificial light. If you have limited access to natural light, you can use fluorescent or grow lights to supplement the natural light. Place the lights around 6-12 inches from the plant and keep them on for 10-12 hours a day.

    Can I keep Pothos in a room with limited natural light?

    Absolutely! Pothos can thrive in rooms with limited natural light, such as bathrooms or basements. As long as there is some ambient light or you supplement with artificial light, your Pothos will continue to grow happily.

    Is Pothos suitable for outdoor or indoor planting?

    Pothos is well-suited for both indoor and outdoor planting, depending on your climate. In tropical or subtropical regions, Pothos can be grown outdoors as a ground cover or in hanging baskets. In colder climates, it is best to keep Pothos as an indoor plant or move it indoors during the colder months.

    How much direct sunlight is too much for Pothos?

    Pothos, although adaptable, can suffer from too much direct sunlight. It is recommended to protect your Pothos from direct sunlight exposure, especially during the harsh midday sun. If your plant receives more than a few hours of direct sunlight, consider moving it to a location with filtered or indirect sunlight.

    Will Pothos survive in a windowless room?

    While Pothos can tolerate low light conditions, a completely windowless room might prove challenging for its survival. Pothos relies on some form of light to photosynthesize and grow. If you have a windowless room, provide ample artificial lighting or consider choosing a different plant that thrives in low light conditions.