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How Much Light Do Pothos Need

Learn the ideal lighting conditions, including the signs of too much and too little light for a thriving Pothos.

Neon Pothos plant

How Much Light Does Your Pothos Need?

Pothos, a cherished indoor plant, is popular among plant enthusiasts and beginners for its low-maintenance nature and delightful array of varieties. Originating from the lush tropical forests of Southeast Asia, the Pothos plant has evolved to thrive in various lighting conditions.

So, how much sun do Pothos need to thrive?

The Pothos likes its light just right, not too light and not too dark. In the plant's language, "just right" means bright, indirect sunlight. Think of a window where the sun's rays don't directly touch the leaves; this is where you'll find bright, indirect light.

If your window receives direct sunlight in the morning for a few hours, your Pothos will appreciate it. Just be careful of the intense afternoon sun, which can be harmful to your Pothos.

Ideally, your Pothos should enjoy around 9 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily to thrive. If it receives too much light, it may stretch towards the nearest light source, resulting in leggy, weak growth.

Here's a handy piece of advice to keep in mind: Different Pothos varieties may have different light preferences. Variegated Pothos, for example, thrives in bright light conditions. On the other hand, all-green Pothos, such as the Jade and Neon Pothos, can tolerate low-light conditions.

How to Tell if Your Pothos is Getting Too Much Light

Pothos plants are generally a breeze to care for, but one aspect that can cause them trouble is too much light.

The simplest way to tell if your Pothos is receiving too much direct sunlight is to look at their leaves. When your Pothos is receiving more light than it can handle, its foliage will start showing signs of distress.

Some signs you may notice are:

  1. Wilting and drooping leaves during the hottest hours: The most obvious sign that your Pothos plant is receiving too much direct light is wilting and drooping leaves, which may also curl away from the light source. This response could also be a result of overheating or underwatering as intense sunlight prompts your plant to use water more rapidly during photosynthesis.

  2. Brown leaf edges or tips: Excessive light is a common culprit for brown leaf edges or tips in pothos. Don't dismiss other possible causes like root rot, salt buildup, low temperatures, dry soil, or over-fertilization.

  3. Brown spots: Prolonged exposure to intense light can result in brown spots on pothos leaves. These spots often begin as small, pale, or translucent areas before developing into larger, brown blotches.

  4. Yellowing leaves: In more extreme cases, your Pothos may suffer from sun scorch. Yellowing is frequently accompanied by wilting, drooping, or brown spots, particularly when the light is too intense and burns the leaves.

  5. Compact and stunted growth: Sunburned Pothos can become too stressed to photosynthesize properly, leading to compact and stunted growth.

What to Do if Your Pothos Is Getting Too Much Light

First and foremost, the key fix is to get your Pothos out of direct sunlight. Once it's shielded from the sun's harsh rays, it should start recovering. But, you don't need to banish it to a dark corner. Simply ensure it doesn't receive any direct sunlight for the next 2-4 weeks.

Now, about those sunburned leaves. If a leaf is completely dead, you can snip it off. But, if a leaf is still partially healthy, it can continue to perform photosynthesis, so there's no rush to remove it.

However, if the sunburned leaves are bothering you for aesthetic reasons, it's okay to trim them off. Just remember to do so sparingly and only if necessary.

How to Tell if Your Pothos Needs More Light

While the Pothos plant is known for being a low-light plant, it still needs a fair share of sunshine to thrive and carry out photosynthesis. If your Pothos plant isn't receiving enough light, it will let you know with the following signs:

  1. Stunted and leggy growth: Slow growth is a telltale sign that your Pothos isn't getting sufficient bright, indirect light. You'll notice that the stems tend to stretch toward a light source and the leaves are sparse and smaller. The gaps between leaves can grow longer as your Pothos desperately reaches for more light, creating that "leggy" appearance.

  2. Smaller leaves: If your Pothos is sporting undersized new leaves, insufficient light is likely the culprit. Light is essential for photosynthesis and energy production. Inadequate light results in small leaves and elongated gaps between them.

  3. Fading variegation: If you own a variegated Pothos plant, insufficient light can cause it to revert to plain green. Those vibrant patterns aren't as efficient for photosynthesis, so when your plant lacks light, it stops producing them.

  4. Consistently wet soil: Healthy growth usually leads to moisture consumption, but a Pothos starved of light may not use as much water. If the top inch or two of the potting mix remains consistently wet after 5 or 6 days, it's a clear sign that your Pothos is in need of more sunlight.

  5. Yellow and brown leaves: Low light conditions can result in browning leaf tips and leaves, with yellow halos around brown patches. It's important to rule out other causes like sunburn, humidity, temperature stress, overwatering, etc.

Remember, while Pothos plants can survive in low-light conditions, they may not grow as much or look as vibrant without bright, indirect light.

What to Do if Your Pothos Isn't Getting Enough Light

The best fix for a Pothos lacking light is to move it to a spot that provides it with ample bright, indirect light. North and east-facing windows are the perfect sweet spot.

If you suspect that your Pothos plant isn't receiving enough natural light from your windows, consider using artificial lighting. Artificial light closely mimics natural light, making them a great choice.

Alternatively, you can also use white spectrum LED grow lights. Grow lights come in a variety of styles and types, and they can provide your Pothos with the light intensity it needs to thrive and flourish.

How to Find the Perfect Place For Your Pothos

As we mentioned earlier, Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light. But how do you figure out the best light at home for your Pothos? There are a few simple factors to consider...

Light Direction

The orientation of your window in relation to the sun significantly impacts the light intensity and amount your Pothos receives.

  • North-facing windows: These windows provide gentle, indirect sunlight, making them a great choice for Pothos. Your plant can be placed near or on a windowsill without the risk of sunburn.

  • East-facing windows: These windows offer bright morning light, another ideal spot for Pothos plants.

  • South-facing windows: These windows can offer too much sun, especially during the summer. Be sure to position your Pothos a few feet away or use sheer curtains to avoid intense sunlight.

  • West-facing windows: Near these windows is not an ideal spot for your Pothos plant as it provides strong afternoon sun.

Distance From Light Source

How close your Pothos is to the light also matters. Find a spot where your Pothos can bask in bright light, ideally in the range of 10,000–20,000 lux or 1,000–2,000 foot candles.

You can gauge the light level in a room by using a light meter or the simple hand shadow technique.

Here's how it works: Hold your hand approximately 12 inches above a sheet of white paper and observe the shadow cast by your hand in the natural room light.

A clear, sharp shadow means it's well-lit and possibly too strong for your Pothos. A slightly blurred, recognizable hand shadow suggests moderate lighting, bright enough for Pothos plants. No shadow at all means it's low light, which might not be enough for your Pothos to thrive.


Diffusion involves introducing an object between the sun and your Pothos, such as a window, sheer curtain, or blinds. These elements reduce the intensity of sunlight reaching your Pothos, helping to prevent sunburn and create the ideal lighting conditions.


Dry air can make plants more sensitive to direct sunlight, as intense light quickly dries out Pothos leaves. Having more moisture in the air provides a protective buffer.

Aim to maintain a humidity of around 50% for your Pothos. You should consider increasing it to 60-65% if the Pothos is in a very hot and bright location.

There are a few simple methods to boost your Pothos's humidity, such as using a humidifier or placing your Pothos near other tropical plants, which naturally increase the humidity.


Do pothos like direct sunlight?

No, Pothos don't do well in direct sunlight. While they do require bright light to thrive, direct sunlight can scorch and brown their leaves. The ideal light intensity for a Pothos plant is bright and indirect sunlight. Your Pothos should be placed in a location where it receives plenty of natural light but the sun's rays aren't directly touching its leaves.

What should I do if my room has no windows?

Windowless rooms may pose a bit of a challenge for a Pothos plant because it requires a good amount of bright light to thrive. If possible, place the Pothos in a different room with windows, or consider supplementing the lack of light in your room with grow lights. Grow lights can mimic natural sunlight relatively well, making them a smart choice for your Pothos plant.

How many hours of light do Pothos plants need?

Pothos plants need a minimum of six hours of daily sunlight to thrive, but they truly flourish with 10-12 hours of sunlight each day. North and east-facing windows are ideal for your Pothos since they typically receive around 6 hours of sunlight daily, assuming there are no obstructions.

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