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Do Pothos Like Direct Sunlight?

Pothos are tough plants with a good tolerance towards all kinds of growing conditions but waver slightly in direct sunlight. 

Also, have you noticed that the Pothos beside your window looks much happier than the ones in your bathroom?

Pothos plants do not like direct sunlight. Heavily bright and unfiltered lights are too harsh for the Pothos plant. They prefer to grow in bright indirect light. It is best to place your Pothos in the east-facing window for best results.
pothos like direct sunlight
A Healthy Pothos Hanging By A Window

In this article, you will discover all about giving your Pothos the best possible light conditions.

And do you want to figure out and fix light issues that might be limiting the growth of your Pothos? Well, let us dive in without further ado!

Signs Pothos Might Be Receiving Excessively Bright and Direct Light

If you have placed your Pothos outdoors in the scorching heat, they are receiving too much light.

However, sometimes even indoor lighting can be too harsh for the Pothos.

Let us find out the signs that will tell us if your Pothos is receiving too much light.

1. Discolored Leaves

Scorched leaves are the first and foremost visible sign of Pothos suffering from direct sunlight.

  • The leaves turn yellow and wilt: It is not unnatural for heat to completely dry out your Pothos so that the leaves appear yellow.
  • Brown leaves: If you leave your Pothos under direct sun for an extended period, the foliage is bound to get burnt and fried.

However, there are other reasons for Pothos turning brown too.

browning or scorched leaves of pothos
Scorched Pothos

2. The Plant is Wilted and Weak

Weak, wilted foliage may appear like the Pothos is dying, but do not worry; a few hours of direct sunlight does cause wilting. And you can quickly bring it back to life.

If the leaves appear to be limp and floppy, it is due to excessive dehydration.

Bring the Pothos inside and give them some water. It will revive in a few hours.

3. Stopped Producing Vines

If your Pothos plant suddenly stops producing vines and looks dense, blame the sun (or yourself for placing them outdoors).

The heat stress prohibits the plant from making food and hence becomes stunted.

Signs Pothos Might Not Be Getting Enough Light

It is pretty easy to tell if your Pothos is getting enough sunlight or if it requires more.

Below, you will find a few of the easily detectable signs of Pothos seeking more light.

1. Inclined Towards The Source Of Light

I remember placing a Pothos plant right beside my bed in a dark corner. And within a few weeks, all the leaves, including the vines, were moving toward my light bulb.

Well, it looked aesthetic, but I was not fair to my Pothos.

If Pothos plants are placed in dark spots, they tend to lean towards any light source they can find around.

The leaves can make 360 degrees turn and face the light source to gather light for food production.

This phenomenon is a survival instinct for the plants. Lucky for us, they are temporary.

If you place them beside a bright window for a few days, they will return to their actual shape and lean appropriately.

2. Smaller Leaves At The Top Of The Plant

Light is a vital ingredient to healthy and happy leaves. A good lighting condition can give you big and shiny Pothos leaves.

Likewise, bad lighting conditions will provide you with small and limp leaves.

It is only natural for your Pothos to produce smaller new leaves as they cannot manufacture enough food without adequate light.

Poorly lit positioning affects photosynthesis and the transpiration process. Therefore, it makes your Pothos look dehydrated.

3. Leggy Appearing Pothos With Extended Internodes

Leggy Pothos plants have extended internodes and elongated stems. The stem gets thin and long in search of more light.

They will start to expand their stems and leaves to reach out for any light source available for photosynthesis.

Instead of looking bushy and complete, your Pothos starts looking stringy and sluggish, with vining stems growing further apart.

You will also notice that the leaves are sparse and small in size. They begin to lose luster and develop white streaks.

The leggy look cannot be corrected even if you place them in a bright spot. However, new leaves will start to look less leggy, and the distance between new internodes will shorten.

4. Discolored and Frail-Looking Leaves

The Pothos leaves slowly start getting discolored and lose their waxy appearance. Inappropriate lighting conditions will be visible through the color of the foliage.

If you own variegated Pothos, they will slowly start reverting to a whole green leaf as the chlorophyll begins to spread in variegated areas to maximize food production.

And this change is irreversible. The variegations will be lost forever!

Variegated Pothos
Healthy Variegated Pothos Leaves

5. Excessive Number of Leaves Dropping

Have you noticed a few healthy leaves turning yellow and dropping all of a sudden?

It is usual for mature leaves at the bottom of the plant to drop occasionally. However, if the leaves on top are falling out, do not wait for your Pothos to be naked!

Pothos tend to drop their leaves as a sign of stress due to inadequate food production.

When the plant cannot produce enough food in the absence of light, it starts dropping the leaves to reduce food consumption.

Overwatering could be another reason for droopy and detached leaves, but if your soil is mostly dry, it is definitely due to low light!

6. New Growth is Delayed or Absent

Your Pothos might be surviving in the dark basement with little to no light, given their tolerant nature. However, do not mistake survival for health.

Pothos are trailing plants, but if your Pothos is not producing any trails, that’s your clue! Your Pothos is stunted.

Typically, a healthy Pothos in an indoor setting produces at least one fresh leaf in a week. Also, it is typical for Pothos to stop growing in winter as they go dormant.

However, they crave light if growth is delayed or absent in summer or spring.

7. Leaves Develop Brown Edges and Tips

Pothos leaves (especially the edges and tips) start turning brown and crispy without adequate light. Also, the brown patches develop a yellow outline.

Brown edges are common signs of various problems such as underwatering, fungal infections, sunburns, and excessive fertilization.

However, if none of these are responsible, it is low lights!

8. Damp Soil For Weeks

If you watered your Pothos a week ago, and the potting soil is still damp, it indicates a lack of evaporation. But that’s not the only explanation.

Your plant not absorbing much water means it is not photosynthesizing, so you have wet soil even after weeks!

And how long can we expect the Pothos to survive in damp soil? If not for lack of food, fungal infection, and root rot will kill them soon enough!

Who would have thought that lack of appropriate light could have such implications, right?

Pothos Like Direct Sunlight
A Healthy Pothos Trail

Lighting Conditions To See Healthy Growth in Pothos

Your Pothos will thank you with beautiful and shiny foliage on receiving 12 to 14 hours of medium-indirect light.

As I said, Pothos plants are very tolerant; although they do not like direct sunlight, they will endure for about 3 to 4 hours. More than this could be bad for the plant.

And if you are using artificial fluorescent light for the dark corners of your living space, keep it lit for at least 12 hours. The light intensity should be between 5,000 to 21,500 lux.

It was late December, and I had placed my Pothos a few meters away from my window to ensure it received some indirect light.

However, I did not see any growth. I wondered if it was a lighting issue, researched, and found my answers.

Pothos, like every other plant, behave differently depending upon the seasons.

Their growth is dormant in winter, and they go towards energy preservation mode. Hence, it is pervasive for Pothos to appear stunted in winter despite receiving adequate light.

Just wait for the spring to blossom and watch them thrive throughout the summer.

Type of PothosPreferred Lighting Conditions
Jade PothosBright to low light, shady spots
Marble QueenBright indirect light
Golden PothosLow light
Neon PothosSemi-bright and filtered light
Manjula PothosBright indirect light
Glacier PothosBright to low light

Providing Accurate Lighting Conditions for Pothos

By now, we know how important it is to give Pothos a good amount of indirect light for healthy growth.

Now, let us find out how to give Pothos accurate lighting.

1. Give Them Sun Exposure Now and Then

If you have time, it is best to line up all your Pothos beside your window for about 2-3 hours of indirect sunlight every day.

Furthermore, the morning sun is the best as it is not too harsh. However, if you don’t have enough time in the morning, evening sunlight works just as well.

Hanging Pothos tends to lose a bushy appearance as light does not reach the top. Make sure to hang them on a bright spot.

pothos like direct sunlight
Pothos beside a bright window

2. East-Facing Windows Are The Best for Pothos

You might be wondering why east-facing windows are the best for Pothos.

That is because east-facing windows get very smooth and tender sunlight in the morning.

Also, the intensity of light is very moderate throughout the day. A perfect fit for Pothos!

3. Get a Fluorescent Lamp for Dark Corners

It is best not to position your Pothos in a dark corner. However, I suggest investing in an excellent fluorescent light if you must.

After all, no one wants to be malnourished, neither you nor your Pothos.

Currently, LED grow lights are widespread in the plant market. They are even proven to yield better results than fluorescent ones.

More Specific Light Requirements

  • An optimal light requirement for good growth is 200 FC.
  • The minimum light requirement for maintenance is 100 FC.
  • A Pothos’ direct sun tolerance capacity is 3-4 hours of direct sunlight.
  • The best light levels for excellent growth and development range between 3000-5000 FC.
  • Shallow lights will be tolerated (as low as 50 FC), but the Pothos plant will go into survival mode.

Check How Much Sunlight Your Pothos Is Getting

Finally, it is time to check the amount of light your Pothos is getting.

If you have placed them in a dark corner or window-less room, chances are your Pothos is not getting the right amount of light.

And, if you have placed them outdoors or on the balcony, your Pothos could be getting too much light. Here’s how you can check accurately!

Lux Meter

A lux meter can precisely measure the intensity of light your Pothos is receiving daily.

If you tend to have a problem identifying the lighting requirements for your plants, you better invest in a lux meter!

Your lux meter reading should generally be between 5,000 – 21,000 lux of light for about 12-14 hours daily.

This is an ideal light requirement for your Pothos. On the contrary, your Pothos will tolerate something as low as 3,200 lux of light. 

And you can continue placing them in the same spot if you don’t mind stringy vines.

So, for best results, opt for a location that receives around 8,000- 16,000 lux of indirect light for most of the day.

The Hand Shadow Test

If you do not want to invest in a lux meter, here’s a better, more cost-friendly alternative! This test requires nothing but your hands or any other object, like a stick.

Step 1: Place a white sheet of paper just above your Pothos plant.

Step 2: Hold your hand (or a stick) about one foot above the paper. It is best to carry out this test at noon for accurate results.

Step 3: Spread your fingers wide apart and evenly.

Step 4: Evaluate the shadow cast by your hand on the sheet of paper.

Here is how you can analyze the hand shadow test:

Bright light: If the shadow s very clear and well-defined, your Pothos is getting bright light. If it’s filtered light, your Pothos is the happiest. If not, they might be getting too much direct light.

Medium-light: Is the shadow fuzzy and blurry? But can you still recognize your hand? Well, if so, this spot is getting the medium-intensity of light. Your Pothos will be considerably happy here.

Low light: If there is zero to a very faint shadow and your hand cannot be recognized at all, your Pothos is definitely not happy being placed there. Immediately relocate your Pothos from this low-light location.

Furthermore, you can check your Pothos’ leaves to determine if your plant is happy with its current lighting conditions. To sum it all up,

Too much light – Limp, wilted plant, dry foliage, yellow or brown leaves, and minimal or zero vining.

Too little light – Smaller leaves, extended internodes with a leggy appearance, white spots on leaves, excessive leaves dropping, and stunted plant.

From Editorial Team

It is easy for Pothos to recover from low light situations, but I cannot say the same for intense direct sunlight.

If you have placed your Pothos in a dark corner for months, do not rush and immediately place them beside a window. Your Pothos is not acclimated to bright light, and it might get a shock.

Slowly start by placing it in a well-lit area inside your house. Please place it in an east-facing window for not more than two hours daily for a week.

Make it four hours for the second week and six hours for the third. In this way, slowly introduce the Pothos to bright light.

Appropriate lighting is a prerequisite for healthy growth. If you want the Pothos of your dreams, give them adequate light.

Meanwhile, too little and too much light can both threaten your Pothos. In the hopes of getting long vines, please don’t burn the pretty leaves.

Excessive light leads to scorched leaves, and minimal light leads to droopy leaves. Leaves tell us everything we need to know about the health of our plants.

So, please pay attention to your Pothos’ leaves and give them the best life possible!

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