Do Pothos Need Sunlight?

Pothos is found in almost every house for the numerous benefits that it dispenses. It is considered to be one of the most common and advantageous houseplants that is available. It is pocket-friendly, does not consume much energy or time, and is quite forgiving.

Although it offers specific requirements that are supposed to be met, if you do not strictly follow the time considerations, it does not punish you. Instead, it has the capability to adapt to whatever surroundings you decide to place in. 

Given its special status in the botany era, a question can pop up in the heads of many people, “do pothos need sunlight”? For one, let us believe that it doesn’t, then what is the source of ultimate food and energy for this plant? 

In the preceding article, we would be familiarizing you with those as mentioned earlier and more such related concepts. We hope our research assists you in growing the perfect pothos for your backyard. 

Also Read: Why Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?

What is Pothos?

Let us begin our search by inheriting a general insight about the pothos plant. What is it, and what does it primarily demand, both indoors and outdoors. Scientifically known as Epipremnumaureum, the pothos plant is native to the tropical jungles and is known for achieving maximum heights of up to 40 feet at its native place.

However, if you decide to grow your pothos plants indoors, then do not forget that they would not extend beyond the height of about 6 to 10 feet. Remember how we talked about the super adapting ability of the pothos. 

Usually, you would not detect the presence of berries or flowers on the plant, but yes, you can expect the leaves to develop into a heart shape, with leaves varying in their colors, ranging from yellow to pale green to lush green. 

They are preferred indoors than outdoors, mainly because of their capacity to filter and purify the air in the surrounding in which they are placed. In addition, they do not have substantial light requirements as such. 

You can take your favorite basket or pot to grow these plants, as they are significant in inheriting residential or office environments as soon as they are placed in. 

Also Read: Best Potting Mix for Pothos

How Much Sunlight Do Pothos Need?

We know by this time your mind must be flooded with questions like “how much sunlight do pothos need and can pothos be in direct sunlight or not” but do not worry. In the following sections, you would get the solution to everything you are searching for.

We have heard people claiming that pothos is a low-light tolerant plant, but that still doesn’t answer our question regarding the quantities of sunlight that the pothos wants.  Pothos, as a plant, does not do well in very high or meager light conditions.

So, how much light does it require ideally? Experts say that the moderate amount of light necessary for the pothos to grow ranges between 12 to 14 hours if the light is indirect. On the other hand, direct sunlight exposure should not surpass the time limitations of 3 to 4 hours only. 

While some people advise avoiding exposure to direct sunlight to the pothos, it is suggested that if you keep them outdoors, you provide them with some partial shade. 

It is also important to do proper research about the type of pothos you are bringing home. If the analysis revealed that it is golden pothos, then remember that they are known as golden for a reason: their golden-yellow leaves. Golden pothos is native to some parts of southeast Asia and the Solomon Islands, and therefore they do well with one to two hours of sunlight. This exposure should be moderate, that is, somewhere between direct and indirect lights. 

Must Read: How Much Light Do Jade Plants Need?

Tracking the sunlight intake of your pothos plant 

After you have made all the essential requirements for your plant to receive the perfect amount of sunlight, it is important to observe and get feedback to know if your reservations are bearing fruit or not.

We have empirically searched for some of the most popular tests that would appropriately tell you if your pothos is getting what it wants.

The Hand Shadow Test

The hand shadow test is a low-cost and tech-friendly solution to your needs that excels in giving reliable results. Note that noontime is preferred for acquiring the most accurate results. Follow the steps to implement the test: 

  1. Pick up your pothos plant and keep it somewhere else till the test is completed.
  2. Cover the empty spot with a thin white sheet.
  3. Measure a spot about 12 inches (30 cm or 1 foot) above the paper. Place your hand at that height directly above the paper.
  4. After placing your hand there, evenly spread each and every finger of your hand to its full strength.
  5. Lastly, observe the shadow cast by your hand on the paper.
  6. The casted shadow can differ in its intensity, and that is what is vital to know the amount of light your plant gets.

If the casted shadow is well-defined, bright, and spotlessly clear, then your plant is getting maximum sunlight. In case of indirect light, stay put the plant there. On the contrary, direct sunlight of such heavy intensity can be disturbing for your plant.

Similarly, if the shadow is blurry or merely visible, relocate the plant and test for sunlight again. 

Lux Meter

An easier and hassle-free alternative involves using a lux meter. A lux meter would definitely sound like an expensive option to some. But, if you do not want it for professional reasons, then you can conveniently score an average quality lux meter without creating any havoc in your budget.

You can either purchase a multi-purpose lux meter that allows you to measure air pressure, temperature, light, and humidity, all in one, or you can go for a meter that only focuses on the light measurements, as you desire. 

  1. If you decide to use a lux meter, know that it requires at least 5000 to 21,500 lux of light daily for twelve to fourteen hours. This range indicates that your pothos plant is receiving a moderate amount of light, which is adequate.
  2. At their lowest, pothos can tolerate about 3200 lux of light per day. It would thrive still.
  3. If you use artificial light to meet the lighting requirements of your pothos plant, then make sure that the light intensity remains consistent above 5000 lux each day, 12 hours a day ideally. 

Also Read: How to Get Rid of Cutworms in the Garden?

These Signs Indicate an Absence of Sunlight

Leggy Growth

Leggy growth indicates several things. But, if we narrow our discussion down to the pothos plant, then we know that a leggy growth is a necessary sign that tells us about the lack of sunlight that the pothos receives. 

Leggy growth means that the stems increase in their size more than it is required for them, in a dire need to expose the plant body to sunlight, something that is not reaching the plant automatically. 

Extended Internodes

As you might expect, extended internodes are a sign of minimal sunlight received by your plant. When the internodes or stems extend themselves, it is because they find a way to reach sunlight on their own. 

This happens because their light requirements are not adequately met by us. 

Untimely leaning

Leaning towards the direction of sunlight is not a feature unique to the sunflowers, the pothos plant does it too.

When the plant does not receive the desired amount of light, it starts to lean towards the sunlight for absorbing more than it is receiving. It is a sign that warns you about relocating the plant position immediately. Note that this behavior is not only limited to sunlight but to any and every light source available in the surroundings, whether direct or indirect, artificial, or natural. 

Production of small leaves

Observe the growth of your pothos leaves. Is it small for a long time? Check other requirements, namely water, soil, and fertilizer. If everything else is right in place, then the reason why your plant is producing small and underwhelming new leaves can be attributed to the low amount of light.

If you are keeping your plant devoid of enough light for a long time, then it hampers its ability to make proper food and energy for its living. 

Absence of new growth

Observe your plant growth in cold weather conditions, and you will know what we are talking about. In winters, when the plant receives a little amount of sunlight, it goes dormant, producing almost nothing. The same thing happens when you devoid the plant of light. It becomes impossible for the plant to carry out its natural processes and initiate any novel growth. 

Unusual leaf color  

Ask anyone and they will tell you the ideal color for a money plant. They are known for their bushy and lush green-colored leaves. However, if you notice your plant changing its color to yellow, brown, or even white, then the only reason can be an insufficient amount of sunlight.

Another case of low light can be the presence of yellow spots or brownish patches on the leaf. If you witness these conditions, relocate them as soon as you can. 

Dropping leaves

Have you observed the leaves of your plant drooping down recently? Can you list a few reasons for this? While a common reason can be overwatering the plants, another reason is receiving low light from the sources. 

If your plant receives low light, the leaves start to droop down immensely. To avoid this, face your plant towards the east if kept close to the window. 

Also Read: Why Is My Jade Plant Losing Leaves?

Can Pothos Grow without Sunlight?

We know that pothos are available commercially by many names like golden pothos, hunter’s robe, devil’s ivy, ivy arum, money plant, and taro vine. You’d be surprised to know that the name devil’s ivy actually indicates the fact that pothos can be grown without sunlight as well, in the dark, while it would still thrive.

Given the fact that most people grow indoors, in their bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, or even offices, it would be safe to assume that the plant can quickly grow without an exquisite need fr sunlight. Moreover, it is also known to purify the air from the harmful gas of carbon monoxide. All it requires is some regular pruning services and an adequate amount of water. These needs allow the plant to be healthy, luscious and fully grown. 

Some people still prefer to pave out ways for some bright and indirect light to reach the green leaves, and it is not a problem until the leaves start to turn really pale. Pale leaves of the pothos plant mean that your plant is getting unnecessarily vast amounts of light. 


Now, we know that pothos don’t demand much sunlight from their surroundings and can function well in low-light conditions. If you wish to know what else your pothos plant desires, check out our other guides for taking good care and maintenance of your pothos plant.