Pothos Lighting Needs: How Much Light Do Pothos Require

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The pothos plant, Epipremnum aurum, is a very showy, easy-to-grow tropical plant.

It is grown as a container plant for use indoors. In the extreme southern parts of the United States, pothos can grow outdoors.

Pothos Lighting NeedsPin

Pothos tolerates various conditions and forgives mistakes making it a perfect beginner plant. But, the pothos has some special light requirements if you want it to look its best.

In nature, the pothos plant grows in forests and receives only moderate amounts of light through the trees.

In your home, it will be happiest if it receives only partial light. However, too much or too little light will affect its growth, appearance, and health.

What Are The Basic Light Needs Of The Pothos Plant?

In its natural habitat in French Polynesia, a plant growing along the side of a tree, allows the pothos to climb as a sort of trellis.

It receives light only through the forest canopy of leaves. This sort of lighting effect is called “dappled light.”

In a home, pothos plants are often used in hanging baskets. It is very unlikely that you can give the plant something like the lighting of a Tahitian forest.

Instead, you should try to give pothos plants indirect but bright sunlight. The morning sun from an east-facing window is ideal for the plant.

A north-facing window will give only indirect light and might also serve to reduce the amount of exposure the plant receives.

A pothos plant receiving light from a north-facing window might grow more slowly.

Also, in the winter, you might want to move the plant away from the window so that it is not exposed to cold and place it where it might have more light during the short winter days.

A west-facing window will expose the plant to the afternoon sun, which may be too bright and harsh.

Similarly, a south-facing window will give the plant bright, direct light all day, which could burn the leaves from over-exposure.

How Long Should A Pothos Plant Be Exposed To Light Each Day?

If your pothos plant is getting good, indirect light, it will do well even if it receives 10 or 12 hours of light each day.

Day and night are of equal length in the tropics near the equator.

How Can I Tell If My Pothos Plant Is Getting Too Much Light?

If your pothos plant receives too much or too intense light, you will quickly see signs of distress in the leaves.

Leaves might start to curl inwards, a survival mechanism in many plants. The plant curls its leaf to reduce its surface exposure to the sun and prevent burning.

A pothos receiving too much light may also begin to droop and wilt, as its leaves are over-exposed at the height of the day.

The leaves will become sunburned if the plant receives too much light for a prolonged period.

The leaves and parts of the plant most exposed to the sun may turn brown.

A new plant propagated from a cutting is especially delicate and susceptible to burning.

Eventually, the growth of the plant might be affected. 

If you find your pothos plant receiving too much sun, you might try moving the plant to a different part of the house or putting a light curtain over the window to reduce the amount of light the plant receives.

How Can I Tell If My Pothos Plant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light?

All plants need a certain amount of light for photosynthesis. So while your pothos plant can get by with less light than many plants, it needs to have some light to make the food that keeps it alive.

To determine if your pothos plant isn’t getting enough light, you might start by looking at the leaf nodes, where leaves emerge from branches or stems.

If they are spaced further apart than before, the plant isn’t getting enough light. Also, look at the leaves.

The leaves on a healthy pothos plant can be quite large. Those on a plant that wants more light will be smaller.

Many pothos plants have variegated leaves. However, if a variegated pothos plant has insufficient light, its leaves may lose their white or yellow variegation and turn a solid green color.

If the plant faces extreme conditions, it may stop growing or developing leaves. It may drop its leaves as well.

Finally, it may refuse to take water through its roots, as photosynthesis begins to fail altogether. The soil will remain damp and not dry out after watering in this case.

If your pothos plant exhibits any of these symptoms, you simply need to move it to a window where it receives more light.

You might also want to prune it if leaves have started to die or fall off.

Can My Pothos Plant Tolerate Artificial Light?

Many plants dislike artificial light and do not thrive in it. However, Pothos plants tolerate it remarkably well, so they can be grown in an office setting or interior room and develop quite happily.

Pothos plants grow well with fluorescent lights. While many growers prefer horticultural greenhouse lights, these can be expensive and aren’t always available in an office or business setting.

An ordinary full spectrum or cool white tube works just as well and is more common.

If you are setting up such a light in your home, then ordinary fluorescent light bulbs are also less expensive.

A pothos plant can also take light from an ordinary light bulb, whether an incandescent bulb or one of the newer sorts.

However, all such light bulbs put out heat to a greater or lesser extent, so be sure to keep the light bulb away from close contact with the plant, as the heat could actually damage it.

Be sure to turn the lights off every night. Your pothos plant, like many plants, needs a period of darkness as part of its natural cycle.

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