What Does “Bright Indirect Light” Actually Mean?
It wouldn’t be a pothos light requirements article if we didn’t talk about the notorious term “bright indirect sunlight”, right? What exactly does bright indirect light mean and how can you ensure that your pothos plant gets the right amount of light?
First let’s talk about “bright light”. Have you ever walked into a room and you don’t need to turn on a light to see or do anything? That’s what I call bright light. If you are in a room and you have the blind or curtains open and it’s somewhat bright but then you go to do a specific task and you have to turn a light on in order to see, that is not bright light. I experience this in my apartment in the living room and kitchen window that faces north. This window also has a patio out front, so the view of the sky is very obstructed. This does not give off good light for my plants to thrive. This is what I would call very low light. Gratefully, I have two windows that face west 🙂
Now let’s talk about “indirect light”. Indirect light refers to when a plant is receiving light but you cannot physically see the sun’s rays on the leaves of the plant. It also refers to when something is directly between the sun and the plant. I’ll talk about this more in detail later on.
So, what are some examples of “bright, indirect light” in your home? We’ll have to look at what type of windows you have in your home.
Finding the Best Lighting In Your Home for Pothos
Lighting is everything when it comes to keeping your pothos plant healthy and thriving. As I discussed earlier, pothos require bright indirect light in order to grow and thrive. But how do you find the best lighting in your home for your pothos?
There are several factors to consider when determining the best location for your pothos plant, including direction, distance, diffusion, and sky view.
The direction of the window in relation to the sun can greatly affect the amount and intensity of light that your pothos receives. Here’s a breakdown of how each direction can impact your pothos:
These windows receive the least amount of light, assuming you are in the northern hemisphere. The light is consistent and evenly distributed throughout the day. North-facing windows can be okay for pothos, but they won’t grow as fast as other window options.
These windows receive bright morning light but are shaded from the intense afternoon sun, making them a good option for pothos. For the best pothos growth, it would be best if these could receive artificial lighting in the afternoon/evening.
These windows receive the most intense bright light, which can be too much for pothos during the summer, at least. However, during the winter south-facing windows are great for pothos. If you have a south-facing window, place your pothos a few feet away from the window or use sheer curtains to filter the light in the summer. In the winter, put them up close to the windows for optimal lighting.
These windows receive intense afternoon sun. West-facing window are a good option for pothos, however they may need to be diffused, which I’ll talk about soon.
The distance between your pothos and the window can also affect the amount and intensity of light it receives. If your pothos is too far from the window, it may not get enough light. On the other hand, if it’s too close to the window, it may get too much direct sunlight depending on the window’s face. A good rule of thumb is to keep your pothos about 1-3 feet away from the window.
Diffusion is when there is an object between the sun and your pothos. This can include a window, a sheer curtain, or blinds. All of these things will limit the light intensity the pothos receives from the sun, and therefore help to not burn the plant.
The view of the sky from the window can also impact the amount of light your pothos receives. If there are obstructions, such as an awning above the window, trees, or buildings blocking the view of the sky, it can reduce the amount of light that your pothos gets. Try to find a window with a clear view of the sky to provide the best possible lighting conditions for your pothos.
How to Measure the Light In Your Home
Knowing about direction, distance, diffusion, and sky view is essential, but you still might be wondering how much light does my home receive. The best way to measure the natural light in your home is by using a light meter or a light meter app. These both will measure the light intensity.
On any light meter app you download or light meter you purchase, there will be two ways to measure light levels, and that’s foot-candles and lux. Foot-candles are a measurement of light intensity in the Imperial system, and they are commonly used in the United States. Lux is a metric unit of measurement used in most other countries. Both measurements are valid for measuring the light levels in your home, so use whichever system you prefer.
Aim for a reading of around 200-400 foot candles or 2,152-4,305 lux to provide the ideal lighting conditions for your pothos. If your pothos is receiving less light than this, consider moving it to a brighter location or supplementing the natural light with artificial grow lights if this is your only spot for your plant. If it’s receiving more light than this, you may need to move it further away from the light source or use light-filtering curtains. But you still need to understand that your pothos will tell you what it needs, like more light. Very slow growth=more light. Brown leaves=less light.
Artificial Grow Lights vs. Natural Sunlight
There are two options when it comes to providing light for your pothos plant, natural sunlight or artificial grow lights. Nothing can beat natural sunlight, this is the light pothos receives in its native environment and one that will give it a full spectrum of light onto the plant. Grow lights are the next best thing and are great for people who don’t have access to windows facing all the directions.
Remember my north-facing window in my living room that I was talking about earlier? That measured 25 foot candles, definitely not enough light for a pothos. If I were to add a grow light there, then I could make it a happy home for a pothos!
If you don’t have access to a suitable window or your home doesn’t get enough natural light, you can use artificial grow lights to supplement your pothos’ light intake. Grow lights are designed to provide the specific spectrum of light that plants need to grow, and they can be adjusted to provide the ideal intensity and duration of light. When using grow lights for houseplants, you want to leave them on for as long as the days in summer. I like to keep them on for 12 hours, usually from 8 am – 8 pm or 9 am – 9 pm. I also like to look at my pothos a week or so after they’ve been under a grow light to see how they are doing, and to see if the light is too much or too little and adjust the schedule from there.
Summer Lighting vs Winter Lighting
The amount and intensity of light that your pothos plant needs will vary depending on the season. During the summer months when days are longer and brighter, your pothos may require more frequent watering and will naturally receive more light. During winter months when days are shorter and darker, your pothos may require less frequent watering and will receive less light.
During the summer, east, south, or west facing windows will be the best windows to put your pothos, but you may have to move it a couple of feet away from the window so it doesn’t receive direct sunlight.
During the winter, you will need to most likely move your pothos plant to a window where it gets more light, such as a south or west window. This will help to provide it with as much light as possible.
Use a light meter to determine the ideal amount of light for your pothos during the different seasons and expect to move your houseplants during the seasons so it can receive the best light possible.
Is Your Pothos Getting Enough Light?
If you’re wondering if your Devil’s Ivy is getting enough light, it probably isn’t. Check out these five signs your pothos isn’t receiving enough light:
- Leaf color: Pale or yellow leaves may be a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough light. A pothos that’s receiving enough light will be a vibrant green color.
- Leaf size: If your pothos has smaller leaves than when you purchased it, it may be a sign that it needs more light.
- Leaf spacing: If your pothos has a lot of spacing between their leaves, it’s a sign that the plant needs more light. You may have heard of this as being a “leggy” plant.
- Growth rate: Pothos plants that get enough light will grow quickly and vigorously. If your pothos is growing slowly or not at all, it’s probably not getting enough light.
- Leaf orientation: If your pothos is growing in a direction away from the light, this is a sign that it’s not getting enough light as pothos plants naturally grow towards the light.
If you notice any of these signs in your pothos plant, it’s time to give your pothos more light! If you can’t find a good window, get some grow lights to help it out.
Is Your Pothos Getting Too Much Light?
As mentioned earlier, diffusion is needed to avoid your plant getting too much sunlight and is actually already happening in your houseplants from windows. So usually getting too much sunlight doesn’t happen, it’s having your plant not get enough where it can be a problem.
However, it definitely is still possible to get too much light, so I definitely wanted to touch on it, but as for me living in Wisconsin, it’s not a problem at all! If your pothos is getting too much sun, you will see brown spots on the leaves. This is how you know to move your pothos a few feet back from the window or use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light even more. Trim away the brown leaves as soon as you notice, as these will not revert back to green leaves.
How Many Hours Per Day of Sunlight Do Pothos Need?
One of the most common questions is how many hours per day pothos needs to be exposed to light. The answer can vary depending on the specific type of pothos you have and the intensity of the light it’s receiving.
Pothos plants require at least six hours of sunlight per day to thrive, but 10-12 hours per day is optimal. This is why east and west windows are good for pothos, as they both should receive about 6 hours of sunlight per day as long as there are no obstructions. A few pothos varieties can tolerate low light conditions and can do well with as little as four hours of natural light per day or can be good in northern windows.
Remember that the amount of light your pothos needs can vary depending on the time of year. During the winter months when the days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky, you may need to provide your pothos with grow lights to make up for the lack of natural light.
Can Pothos Grow in Low Light?
Pothos plants are known for being relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for. One of the characteristics that makes pothos so adaptable is their ability to tolerate a range of lighting conditions.
While pothos plants will put out the most growth in bright indirect light, they can still survive and even thrive in low light conditions. In fact, some pothos varieties such as golden pothos, hawaiian pothos, and cebu blue pothos are specifically bred to tolerate low light environments.
A few consequences of growing pothos in low light conditions is slow growth and smaller leaves than their bright light counterparts.
Make sure to keep the pothos soil moist but not waterlogged, as overwatering can be a problem in low light conditions as it’s harder for the soil to dry out which can then cause root rot.
In summary, each home and space is different so investing in a moisture meter will help you understand what lighting situation you have in your home and you can make the best decision on where to place your pothos. Remember to aim for a 200-400 FC or 2,000-4,000 lux rating.