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Do Pothos Like Direct Sunlight?

Pothos are tough plants with a good tolerance towards all kinds of growing conditions. Place it on a balcony swirling over the pillars or railing, and they will catch the attention of the passers-by.

Or, adorn your living room with trails of Pothos hanging from a bookshelf. You can also place them in your bathroom. They thrive almost everywhere!

The pothos is an excellent hanging plant. However, if you want the vines comes off the pot and trails, then read on to find out how to get your Pothos to trail faster!

Although they can brighten up all corners of your home, the placement can heavily impact their appearance and growth. And, it has all got to do with the lights!

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 (Source: Unsplash)

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

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. Click here to find out more.

Scorched Pothos (Source: Constança-Houzz)

2. The Plant is Wilted and Weak

Your Pothos might appear to be dying, but do not worry; a few hours of sun does cause wilting. However, 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 some water. It will revive in a few hours.

It is not too late for your Pothos. Check out this article I wrote about reviving a dying Pothos plant.

3. Stopped Producing Vines

If your Pothos plant suddenly stopped 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 towards 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 the 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 (Source: Unsplash)

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 with 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. And it is very typical for Pothos to stop growing in winters as they go dormant.

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

Do you want to find out more about why your Pothos might not be growing? Find out here.

7. Leaves Develop Brown Edges and Tips

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

Brown edges are common signs for 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, and 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 amount of light could have such implications, right?

Pothos Like Direct Sunlight
A Healthy Pothos Trail (Source: Pixabay)

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 in your living space, make sure you 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 receives some indirect light.

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

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

In winter, their growth is dormant, 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 season.

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

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

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 (Source: Unsplash)

2. East-Facing Windows Are The Best for Pothos

You might be wondering why east-facing windows are the best for pothos?

Well, 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, if you must, I suggest investing in an excellent fluorescent light.

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 ranges 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 rooms, 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 on a daily basis. If you tend to have a problem identifying the lighting requirements for your plants, better invest in a lux meter!

Your lux meter reading should generally be in between 5,000 – 21,000 lux of light for about 12-14 hours a day. This is an ideal light requirement for your pothos.

On the contrary, your pothos will certainly 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.

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

The Hand Shadow Test

If you do not want to invest in a lux meter, here’s a better and 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 the leaves of your Pothos to figure out if your plant is happy with its current lighting conditions. To sum it all up,

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

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


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 every day 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, make sure to give them adequate light.

Too little and too much light can both be a threat to your Pothos. In the hopes of getting long vines, please don’t burn the pretty leaves.

To sum it up, 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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