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How Much Light Do Pothos Need? (+All Other Lighting Questions)

As a novice houseplant owner, I was really excited to get pothos for my office desk. Little did I know about the lighting requirements of pothos. Soon my pothos was leggy and had few yellow leaves.

I decided to find out the cause and found out that my office desk was not receiving enough light for the plant to survive. So, If you are here to learn all about how much light do pothos need and whether you have the perfect spot for them or not, then keep reading.

Pothos can be grown in a wide range of light, but bright indirect sunlight for 10-12 hours a day would be ideal for the plants to thrive. If your pothos doesn’t receive enough lighting, it will become leggy and will grow slowly. At the same time, direct sunlight can burn the leaves. So, make sure you choose an appropriate spot.

Although pothos is really easy to care for and can thrive in a wide range of conditions, providing adequate lighting will make all the difference in the growth of the plant.

So, let’s dive into pothos’ lighting requirements and learn all about it without further delay.



Importance of adequate lighting

Lighting is one of the essential requirements of any houseplants. Let’s go back in time and learn some basics of what does a plant use light for?

Plants use a process called photosynthesis, where they use carbon dioxide, water, and light to produce food or energy. You remember the process, right? The same process is applicable for pothos and other houseplants as well.

Pothos need enough light to produce adequate energy for the plants to grow. If the pothos plant does not get enough sunlight, you may see the plant getting leggy and extending towards the light source. In some cases, you may also see stunted growth and die back.

Also read: How fast do pothos grow?

What kind of light do pothos need?

Being a tropical plant, pothos can handle a wide range of lighting conditions. However, they actually thrive in bright, indirect sunlight.

If the plant doesn’t receive enough sunlight, its growth rate would be affected, and they may not grow up to their full potential.

However, the opposite holds true as well.

If your pothos receives too much light or direct sunlight, then its leaves may burn, and the plant may not grow that well. Thus, finding out the correct balance is the key to healthy, lush growth.

Summer vs. Winter lighting needs

Mostly all houseplants grow and thrive during the summer or warm months and stay dormant during the winter or colder months.

While the daylight during the summer lasts longer, plants produce enough energy to support new growth.

However, during the dormant phase, the plants receive less light during the day as the days are smaller, and thus the plant will adjust to the phase and stay dormant while storing enough energy for its survival.

New hobbyists often start panicking when they see their pothos are not growing during the winter. While this may be a cause for concern for some but that is totally normal for the plant.

You may not notice anything on the plant’s surface, they are actually working a lot behind the scene. Pothos and other houseplants store energy during the winter for survival and use the surplus during the spring for rapid growth.



Direct vs. Indirect lighting

If you are a novice houseplant owner, you might have come across the term direct and indirect lighting. But what do they mean, and how are they different from each other?

The difference is simple and straightforward.

If the spot where you are placing your plant receives direct sunlight with no filter or impede, then it is direct sunlight.

Whereas, if the spot gets filtered sunlight, then it is indirect light.

For example:- A place at your south-window sill without any curtains would be direct light. Whereas, a spot 1-2 feet apart from the window where a sheer curtain covers the window would be an indirect light spot.

Best place for pothos plant

Lighting requirement

The best place for your pothos would be towards the central part of the home where they can receive moderate indirect sunlight.

A spot 3-5 feet from the window would be ideal as the lighting conditions are perfect for the pothos to thrive.

The placement of the plant will also depend upon the location you live in. If you live in the northern hemisphere, placing the plant near a south-facing window would be ideal.

Although they also do equally well in the east-west facing window.

However, if you live in the southern hemisphere, placing your pothos near an east-facing window would be ideal.

Please note: You must not keep the plant at a spot that received direct sunlight. Bright direct light can burn the leaves of your plant and also impact the growth of the plant.

Also read: Where to keep pothos at home? A complete guide

Effect of too much light

Both inadequate lighting and excess lighting could be hazardous to your pothos. But how would you know if your plant got too much light?

If your pothos is receiving too much light, then you might see yellow or brown leaves. Droopy leaves, dry and flaky soil are some other signs of overexposure to sunlight.

Make sure you move the plant to a moderate lighting location if you see any of these signs.

Although the leaves’ damage could not be fixed by changing the location, you can prevent further damage to the plant by changing its spot.

If you don’t want to play with the location, you can also add a blind or sheer curtain to filter the light.

Trimming the damaged leaves with a clipper would help the plant grow rapidly as the plant can focus all its energy on new growth.

Effect of low light

Although pothos is considered a low light plant, they don’t do well in extremely low lighting conditions.

Your plant may not die, but they will not proliferate either. If you notice your pothos plants are getting leggy, the leaves are getting smaller, or the foliage looks weak, then it clearly indicates that your plant is not receiving enough lighting.

In the absence of adequate lighting conditions, the plants need to store energy for survival and growth of foliage towards the light source, which will in turn affect the development of your plant.

You can quickly fix this issue by moving your pothos to a location where it gets bright indirect light.

Can pothos grow in low light?

Pothos can grow in low lighting conditions, but the rate of growth will be slower.

Pothos need good lighting for at least 10-12 hours a day to thrive. In the absence of the same, your plant may struggle to grow rapidly.

You can still see slow, stunted growth, but you must not expect much from your plant.

What if I have no windows in the room?

If you live in a place with no windows, it might be a challenging situation for you.

Pothos need an adequate amount of light to produce energy, which is required for rapid growth. In the absence of light, they may not grow at all. Thus, we need to find a solution.

If the room receives some natural light, then the best bet would be to supplement the light with an indoor grow light.

That might sound expensive when you first think about it, but in reality, it isn’t much if you pick the right one.

There are many options available out there, but I personally love these amazing SANSI 15W LED Grow Light Bulb, which I got from amazon.

They are available in a standard E26 base, which can be used in almost all the lamps or light fixtures you already have.

I have used these with many other plants, including Monstera and Calathea, and the bulb exceeded my expectation.

Can pothos survive without sunlight?

Yes, pothos can survive without direct sunlight. In fact, the leaves of your pothos may burn in direct sunlight.

It is best to keep them in indirect bright light for healthy growth.

Even in there are extremely low lighting conditions, you can still grow pothos provided you add some grow light in the room, and the room receives at least a few hours of sunlight for the plants to grow.

How many hours of light do pothos need?

Pothos need 10-12 hours of light to thrive. Although the plant can adjust to lower lighting hours during the winter, that will lead to slower growth.

If you want your pothos to thrive, make sure they receive enough lighting throughout the day.

Final thoughts

I know all this information might be a little overwhelming for you. You can try making an adjustment at a time and see how it works out.

Pothos are lovely and easy to grow plants. They can grow in almost every condition. However, for the plants to proliferate, you need to provide them with the right basics and that includes good lighting as well.

Too much light and you will end up with scorched leaves and too little light and your pothos will become leggy and droopy.

Thus, make sure you understand the signs your plant gives you and provide it with adequate care needed.

Also read: Why is my pothos dying?


Source: Plant Lighting Aspects for Plant Growth in Controlled EnvironmentsLighting Indoor HouseplantsEffects of growth under different light spectraInfluence of light intensity on growth

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