Pothos plants are known for being very easy to care for. Their adaptability makes them a popular houseplant. These tropical plants prefer bright indirect light but can also live in a variety of light conditions, including lower light.
"Pothos plants are incredibly hardy plants: I've seen these guys survive drought, root rot, pests, and curious kids pulling on the vines," explains Cate Kowalsky, Plant Expert at DaHaing Plants. "They love to grow and explore their surroundings, and can handle most any environment."
How Many Hours Of Sun Do Pothos Need?
Pothos plants, commonly known as Devil’s Ivy or by the latin name, Epipremnum aureum, need 10-12 hours of bright indirect light daily. However, because they are resilient and adaptable, they can survive in medium-light or even low-light conditions.
Pothos can tolerate some direct sun, but harsh, intense sunlight for prolonged periods can damage their leaves. Ideally, placing your pothos 5-10 feet away from a south-facing window gives them enough light and the distance stops them from being exposed to direct light from the south-facing window.
Near a north or west-facing window is also a good option, as these directions provide bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. However, if these windows are not available, you can also use sheer curtains or blinds to filter the sunlight and protect your plant from intense rays.
As with all plants, Pothos use photosynthesis for “food” to grow. Because they need sunlight to do this, Pothos growing in little light may produce new growth slower than others. Plants in low light conditions compensate by producing more chloroplasts, causing the leaves to become greener and lose some of their variegations, especially in heavily variegated varieties like satin Pothos and silver Ann.
In addition to the classic Devil’s Ivy with its heart-shaped leaves, there are a few different cultivars of the pothos plant and each will have its own light requirements. Some popular cultivars include:
Do Pothos Need To Be By A Window?
Because Pothos grow well in a variety of light conditions, they do not necessarily need to be placed by a window. However, for optimal growing conditions, they should be placed 5-10 feet away from a south-facing window, or near a west-facing window.
Not only do they do well in natural light, but they can also grow under fluorescent lights, making them a great plant for an office or commercial building. Not all plants can grow under artificial lighting or grow lights, which is one of the reasons why Pothos have become so popular as indoor plants.
How To Know If Your Pothos Is Getting Enough Sun
Even in rooms lacking bright natural light, pothos can adapt to lower light conditions and continue growing, though at a more leisurely speed, so these resilient plants are well-suited for spots receiving only moderate or low light.
However, extended time in dim conditions may cause pothos to become leggy, so occasional exposure to brighter light is beneficial to maintain their overall health.
Here are a few signs to look for that tell you your Pothos plant is not getting enough light. Some of these signs include:
Slow (or no) growth
Variegation losing its contrast
If you notice any of these signs in your Pothos plant, a change of location may be needed, whether to a sunnier window or hanging the plant nearer a light source.
One of the most common signs of insufficient light is the plant's leaves turning pale or yellowish. This discoloration occurs because the plant is not receiving enough light to produce chlorophyll, which gives leaves their vibrant green color.
Slow (or no) growth
A pothos lacking sunlight may also exhibit stunted growth. If you notice that your pothos isn't producing new leaves or that existing leaves are smaller in size, it's a clear indication that the plant needs more light exposure. In such cases, consider moving your pothos to a brighter location or providing supplementary artificial light to ensure its proper growth.
Variegation losing its contrast
The variegation on leaves is one of the main reasons houseplant enthusiasts love pothos plants, especially the golden pothos. However, insufficient lighting can cause the leaves to lose their eye-catching variegation.
Pothos plants can respond to low-light conditions by shifting its energy away from developing their famous variegated hues. Instead, it focuses on expanding the plain green portions of the leaves, which are better equipped to perform photosynthesis to make the most of the available light.
The increase in chloroplast-rich green leaf surface area allows the pothos to maximize light capture and energy production. So while the transformation to all-green leaves may disappoint you aestheticlaly, it's a sign of the pothos' remarkable ability to adapt when its needs aren't being met, showing the pothos is far more dynamic than its reputation as a resilient low-maintenance houseplant would suggest.
Can Pothos Handle Direct Sunlight?
Though Pothos like bright light, it should generally come from indirect exposure and not direct light.
"To put your pothos full, direct sunlight, make sure you know what kind of light you're giving. Morning light is much less harsh than the light we get in the afternoon, so if you want a "set it and forget it" kind of plant, throw your Pothos in that morning sun. If your only choice is direct afternoon sun, keep it to 4 hours a day, at the max," says Kowalsky.
A healthy and happy pothos will have bright, glossy leaves that grow close, every couple of inches on their vine.
Kowalsky warns that any longer than 4 hours a day in direct sunlight and you'll risk burning the foliage and you'll wind up with spindly, leggy growth. "A healthy and happy pothos will have bright, glossy leaves that grow close, every couple of inches on their vine," adds Kowalsky.
If your plant receives direct sunlight, limit the exposure to only a few hours a day, preferably in the morning or late afternoon. Too much sun can scorch the leaves, causing brown leaves or bleaching of the foliage.
Signs Your Pothos is Getting Too Much Sun
Pothos prefer indirect sunlight, and too much light can damage their foliage. You want to avoid placing them in direct sunlight for too long, as the Pothos leaves may become bleached or get a sunburn.
Some signs that your Pothos may be getting too much direct sunlight include:
Sunburnt Yellow leaves and Brown Spots
If your pothos is receiving too much sun, you may observe leaves turning brown or scorched. These burns can occur if the plant is placed directly in the path of unfiltered sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
Wilting or Curling Leaves
When the leaves are exposed to intense rays for extended periods, they can lose moisture rapidly through a process called transpiration. This excessive water loss can lead
Trimming away any affected leaves can also help redirect the plant's energy to new growth.
Loss of Variegation
A variegated pothos exposed to harshg light source will begin to lose the the contrast in its leaves. The elegant stripes, splotches, and feathering that adorn the leaves will turn lackluster and muted if they are directly hit by the sun’s rays for too long.
Don’t panic, though. Pothos are hardy plants and will regain any variegation once they’re moved to a spot with lower light intensity.
Regularly monitoring your pothos for signs of sun damage is essential for maintaining its health and vitality. By being attentive to the plant's needs and providing it with the right balance of light and shade, you can ensure that your pothos thrives and continues to beautify your space for years to come.
What If Your Pothos Still Isn’t Thriving?
If your Pothos is in ideal light conditions and doesn’t look happy, consider these plant care tips:
Water - Pothos like to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause root rot. Signs include yellow, droopy leaves, mushy brown spots, or a musty smell coming from the pot. At the same time, underwatering will cause Pothos to wilt and its leaves may get crispy brown tips. Leaves damaged by over- or underwatering will not grow back and must be pruned. Aim to water your Pothos every 7-14 days.
Temperature & Humidity - Pothos prefer indoor temperatures between 65-75 degrees and slightly higher than normal humidity. Try misting the leaves or using a humidifier to provide a more natural climate for your Pothos.
Soil - Pothos like well-draining soil that dries out between watering. Choose a potting mix with plenty of coarse organic matter and perlite or vermiculite to support drainage. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, place rocks in the bottom of the pot so the roots don’t sit in water.
What Is The Best Time Of Day For Sun Exposure For Pothos?
If your Pothos will be in direct sun, it is best to limit the amount of light to 3-4 hours in the mornings or late afternoons/evenings when the intensity is less harsh.
Your Pothos will happily live in indirect light all day long.
Where Should You Place a Pothos in Your Home?
Beyond sunlight, consider aesthetics when siting your pothos. Bookshelves, desks, and hanging baskets showcase these trailing beauties. For an instant pop of green, place pothos in plant stands or on windowsills. With the right spot, your pothos becomes a living work of art.
Can Pothos Survive in Low Light?
Pothos are known for their resilience and adaptability, making them excellent choices for low-light environments. While they won't grow as quickly or produce as many leaves in low light conditions, they are still capable of surviving and flourishing. Just be sure to allow for occasional exposure to brighter light, as prolonged periods of darkness can hinder their growth and overall health.
Can Pothos Grow in the Shade?
Though pothos tolerate shade, they need occasional bright light to flourish. Indoors, situate pothos near the brightest window available. Small, pale leaves signal a need for more light. To supplement, rearrange your pothos or add grow lights. Find the right balance of shade and brightness for lush growth even in low-light conditions.
Can Pothos Get Too Much Sun?
Though resilient, pothos leaves will burn if left to bake in direct sunlight. For lush growth without scorched foliage, give your pothos bright but filtered light. Situate it near an open window where sunlight is diffused. Watch for brown spots and crispy leaves, signs your pothos is getting too much sun. A quick move to a shadier spot will prevent further damage. With the right balance of bright indirect light, your adaptable pothos will thrive in its new home.
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