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How Much Light do Pothos Need?

Known as adaptable houseplants with a vining growth pattern, pothos prefers bright, indirect light, but will tolerate dimmer light conditions as well.

Resilient by nature and happy with minimal care, pothos plants are both beginner-friendly and low-maintenance plants.

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But if your aim is to offer these plants the best indoor conditions possible, I encourage you to read my article on the light requirements of pothos, so you can ensure your plant is thriving.

Does Pothos Need Direct Sunlight?

No, pothos plants don’t need direct sunlight to thrive. In fact, exposed to direct sunlight, there’s a high chance that the leaves of your plant will become bleached.

That said, a few hours of the gentle direct sun such as that available in the early morning or late afternoon will not be harmful for your pothos, but make sure this sort of sun exposure is within the range of 3 hours.

Strong direct sun during the day, even for a couple of hours, will scorch the gentle foliage of your plant.

Therefore, make sure your pothos plant gets bright, indirect light throughout the day. Some guides will mention 12 to 14 hours of light exposure, and I’ve also found that’s a good range to aim for.

As I mentioned, pothos plants will tolerate moderate to low light levels as well, although will do best with bright light.

Can Pothos Live Without Sunlight?

Pothos don’t need direct sunlight and they’ll get by even with moderate or low light conditions.

However, these are not plants for deep shade, so your pothos are not suitable for growing in dark corners of your home.

If you can’t provide enough natural light for your pothos, either because your home doesn’t get much natural light, or you’ve bought your pothos for an office, don’t worry. Pothos plants can do well even with artificial light.

Artificial grow lights such as LED lights can provide your indoor plants the light needed to grow and develop.

But normal fluorescent lights such as those available in offices can also be used as supplemental light for pothos plants.

Can Pothos Grow in Low Light?

Yes, pothos plants can and do adapt to dimmer light conditions. If that’s the case in your home, your pothos will grow, but not thrive.

That said, you can use artificial light sources to supplement natural light if you notice that your pothos is doing poorly with the amount of light it receives.

As long as your pothos receives light — even from artificial sources — it’s going to develop and grow normally.

Still, to maximize the amount of light your plant gets, without it being too much, there are a few strategies you can apply that I’m going to discuss below.

Where Should You Place Pothos Indoors?

The principle that should guide you in where to place your pothos indoors should be ‘anywhere near or close to a source of light’.

If you have a sunny window, place it near that window, but not as close so that the rays of the sun hit the plant directly. Direct sun will scorch the leaves, especially if the window is a south-facing window.

On the other extreme are north facing windows, which don’t get much light, so placing your pothos directly on the windowsill will not have any undesired effects, however, your pothos may need a bit more light than a north-facing window might offer.

West-facing windows aren’t ideal either because these windows will receive strong direct light most of the afternoon. That said, you can place your plant a couple of feet away from these windows.

East-facing windows seem to be the sweet spot for pothos plants. The direct morning light they’ll receive is gentle and the plant will be exposed to bright, indirect light for most of the afternoon.

Is Your Pothos Getting Enough Light?

If you’re still unsure whether your pothos is receiving the amount of light it needs, there are a few signs that indicate your plant may not be getting enough light. Here they are:

  • Leggy growth or etiolation — when your pothos don’t receive enough light, they’ll naturally stretch out in search of a light source or grow towards the light. This results in a lopsided growth, when the plant receives light on one side, but not the other. Or it could lead to stretched stems on either side, when there isn’t a clear source of light nearby.
  • Small leaves — With less energy to grow leaves and more energy focused in stretching out the stems, the plant will stop investing energy in growing leaves.
  • Slow growth — Known after their relatively fast growth, pothos plants that do not receive bright, indirect light will grow slowly or produce no new growth for months.
  • Changes in leaf color — Without enough light, some pothos varieties will produce a deeper shade of green and variegated varieties will completely lose their variegation.

Still, even with these drawbacks, pothos plants aren’t dependent on ample amounts of light to survive.

Your pothos can and will adapt to dimmer light conditions, it’s just that it will not grow as fast or produce as many leaves.

If you notice your pothos plant struggling or notice the signs I described above, try moving it to a different location. Give it a couple of weeks and if that doesn’t seem to be working, consider investing in an LED lamp or fluorescent grow lights.

Conclusion

Some plants are trickier to grow indoors than others. Luckily, the pothos isn’t one of the plants that will wither if moved indoors.

A pothos plant can thrive and exhibit excellent growth even when grown indoors. After all, this plant is one of the prime examples of trailing houseplants.

Although east-facing windows seem to be the best spot for a pothos plant, I place mine close to a south-facing window but not close enough for the rays of the sun to hit the plant directly.

In any event, your pothos will let you know if it’s getting too much or too little light. When exposed to too much light, its leaves will scorch. When it gets too little light, its stems will stretch, and leaves become smaller.

Posted in Pothos - Updated: November 8, 2021

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