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How Much Sun Do Pothos Need?

Pothos, whose common names include devil’s ivy and golden Pothos, are popular tropical plants that are easy to care for but need between 10 and 12 hours of indirect light daily to thrive.

Pothos plants are known for being very easy to care for. Their adaptability makes them the perfect houseplants for almost anyone. These 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Can Pothos Handle Direct Sunlight?

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:

  • Wilting or curling leaves

  • Yellow leaves

  • Brown spots

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.

Cate Kowalsky, Plant Expert at DaHing Plants

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.

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.

How To Know If Your Pothos Is Getting Enough Sun

There are a few signs to look for that tell you your Pothos plant is not getting enough light. Some of these signs include:

  • Weakening foliage

  • Yellowing leaves

  • Slow (or no) growth

  • Variegation losing its contrast

If you notice any of these signs in your Pothos plant, you may want to try putting it in a different location. Try moving it to a south-facing window or in a hanging basket to get it closer to a window

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.

  • 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.

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