The Sunshine Debate: Do Pothos Like Direct Sunlight? (With Tips)

Have you just got your hands on a beautiful pothos and want to make sure you treat it right? Or do you suspect that your plant is unhappy in its current place? Both questions boil down to providing the appropriate amount of sunshine. Below I’ll shed light on what happens to pothos in direct sunlight or too little light, so you can find out where you went wrong with its care.

Pothos Key Facts

Pothos Facts

Pothos, also known by its scientific name Epipremnum aureum, is a popular and easy-to-care-for houseplant. It also goes by the names golden pothos, money plant, hunter’s rove, or devil’s ivy, and belongs to the Araceae family, which includes other familiar greens like peace lilies and monsteras. The plant is native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific but has since become naturalized in many tropical regions worldwide.

The pothos plant is known for its glossy, heart-shaped leaves that grow on long, trailing vines. The leaves are typically green with variegated white or yellow patterns, although there are also all-green varieties available. If you’re on the hunt for a special variety of this family, the Harlequin pothos surely won’t disappoint you! While the plant does not typically produce flowers when grown indoors, it may produce small, white spadix flowers in its natural habitat.

This greenery grows quite large if given the right conditions, with vines reaching up to 30 feet (9 meters) in length in some cases. However, when grown as a houseplant, it usually remains much smaller, averaging around 6-8 feet (about 2-2.5 meters) in length.

One of the best things about pothos plants is that they are incredibly versatile when it comes to growing conditions. They are commonly kept indoors as houseplants but also enjoy the outdoors in warmer climates. They are not picky about soils either, which makes them incredibly easy to maintain even for total beginners without any prior experience in horticulture.

Do Pothos Need Direct Sunlight?

Pothos Need Direct Sunlight

Ideally, pothos are keen on bright, indirect sunlight, but they can also withstand low light conditions. They’re not big fans of scorching sunrays that may burn their foliage and bring about discoloration. So, if you want your pot-dweller to flourish, I recommend placing it in a spot where it receives at least some natural light every day.

In terms of the number of hours of sunlight, pothos plants are not that finicky. They can do well with as little as four hours of light per day, but they’ll also be fine with up to 12 hours. As long as they’re not exposed to direct sun for extended periods, they’ll thrive.

And, if you’re worried about not having enough space or sunlight in your home, don’t fret! The devil’s ivy is very adaptable and doesn’t mind partial shade. Therefore, if you have a location in your home with some natural light, it will be happy and healthy.

Symptoms of Pothos Getting Too Little Light

Symptoms of Low light
  1. Dull leaves: These plants typically have shiny, vibrant leaves. But if they’re not getting enough sunlight, their foliage may start to look dull and lackluster and even develop yellow spots.
  2. Leaf drop: Another clear sign that your leafy friend is suffering from sun deficiency is the dropping of leaves. This is the plant’s way of conserving energy, as it can’t produce enough food without sufficient light.
  3. Stunted growth: Pothos are known for their fast growth, but if they’re deprived of nurturing sunrays, growth slows down or completely stops. You might notice that the plant looks smaller than it used to or that new leaves aren’t sprouting.
  4. Leggy stems: In an attempt to reach for more sunlight, your pothos will eventually begin to grow long, spindly stems. These stems will be thinner than usual, and the leaves on them can be smaller as well.
  5. Pests and diseases: Finally, if your houseplant doesn’t receive enough sun, chances are it becomes more susceptible to pests and diseases. This is because weak, stressed greenery is more vulnerable to attack.
  6. Damp soil: Is the potting mix still wet after one week since the last watering session? This is a clear indicator of the water not being able to evaporate from the soil. Plus, a plant that cannot drink enough means that it’s not photosynthesizing properly. A mix that doesn’t dry out for weeks also attracts fungal diseases and root rot.

What Ultimately Happens To Pothos In Direct Sunlight

Symptoms of Direct sunlight
  1. Yellowing and brown patches: When a devil’s ivy is exposed to too much direct sunshine, the foliage will start to turn yellow and develop brown spots. This is due to the excess sunlight causing the leaves to burn and become damaged. They might also become brittle, dry, and more prone to breakage.
  2. Wilting and drooping: Burning light leads to the soil drying out too quickly, leading to dehydration. The most common aftermaths of this phenomenon are wilting and drooping. If left untreated, the damage potentially spreads to the roots, resulting in the deterioration or death of the plant.
  3. Loss of vividity: Pothos in direct sunlight are prone to losing the brilliant green color of their foliage. Paleness is a sign that the greenery loses chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis and the generation of energy.
  4. Leaf loss: It’s possible that the plant begins to strip its leaves altogether. This occurrence is due to stress, which induces the dropping of leaves as a survival mechanism.

Ideal Spots For Your Pothos At Home

Pothos at Home

Can pothos be in direct sunlight at all? Well, you probably won’t notice the warnings right away, as your pot-dweller tries to adjust for a while even to extreme circumstances. However, it will finally give in and become a burn victim because in its natural habitat, it’s used to living coiled up on trees under their protective crowns. So, to give your leafy companion the best lighting conditions, you want to place it in a sunny location with filtered light.

For example, a north-facing window or a few feet away from an east or west-facing window would be perfect. In case you have a south-facing window, just pay attention to moving the pothos about 10 feet (3 meters) toward the center of the room to save it from the harsh rays. Additionally, a sheer curtain might come in handy to offer extra protection.

Do you want to get a bit more creative? Try placing your greenery on a bookshelf near a window or hanging it in a macrame plant hanger by a sunlit balcony. You can also brighten up the appearance of your home office if you put the plant on your desk or side table.

Pro Tip: Remember to rotate the green every once in a while, to ensure even growth and avoid any leaning towards the light source.


Remember, taking care of a pothos is easy and rewarding, even for those without a green thumb. And when it comes to light, the key is finding the right balance. So, to answer the burning question: do pothos like direct sunlight? The answer is no. But don’t worry, the devil’s ivy is a sturdy and adaptable survivor that finds its way to happiness in a variety of lighting conditions. Just find a bright spot with filtered light, and your leafy friend will live a healthy life. So go ahead and bring some greenery into your home and enjoy the benefits of having a thriving and beautiful plant by your side!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can pothos handle a south-facing window?

Generally, pothos can survive south-facing windows with some precautions made beforehand. Don’t place it directly on the windowsill. Put it about 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters) away from the light source and make sure your window has at least a pair of sheer curtains on.

How do I know if my pothos needs sun?

Although pothos can tolerate low light conditions, if its leaves start to lose their variegation or show a washed-out color, it might be a clear-cut signal that the plant needs more light. Other symptoms may include smaller leaf size and slowed-down development.

Can pothos grow without sunlight?

Pothos cannot grow without any sunlight at all, as they require some form of light to carry out photosynthesis, which is crucial for their growth and survival. Artificial light sources can be used to supplement or replace natural sunlight in scarce light conditions.

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