So you’ve found the perfect corner of your lounge room or home office to display your new Monstera in all its glorious Swiss Cheese-ness. But while your chosen spot may be a home decor dream, it’s important to also ensure that it covers everything you need to meet your Monstera’s light requirements.
That is, how much light your Monstera needs to not only survive, but thrive, is a key consideration for where in your home your houseplant should end up. After all, not enough light and it won’t reach its full potential. But too much light can see your plant really start to suffer.
This is why, when it comes to positioning and growing a full, lush Monstera, light needs to be one of the main things you keep in mind. So keep reading to find out how you can know if your Monstera is getting enough light, how to measure this and how to know if your Monstera is getting too much…before it accidentally does.
Monstera light requirements
Monsteras thrive on the forest floor of tropical rainforests. Their large leaves have adapted to absorb light even when the light conditions are low, but they do still require some light to grow. This means that, as houseplants, Monsteras prefer bright, indirect light and suffer from direct sun.
Both the intensity and duration of the light your Monstera receives each day is important. Intensity refers to how strong the light is, while the duration refers to the length of time your Monstera plant is exposed to light.
Choosing the perfect location for your Monstera requires some knowledge of light. While the human eye isn’t always the best judge of the amount of light an area receives, there are some easy ways to assess the intensity of light in the area. Assessing the duration of light is a bit easier, but that can be deceiving, too.
1. Bright, indirect light
There are a few ways to determine whether your Monstera’s light requirements are being met in terms of the intensity of the light it’s receiving in a particular spot:
Use a Light Meter
These handy tools will do all the work for you. Light meters are designed to measure the amount of light in an area and are commonly used by photographers. They typically measure the intensity of the light in foot candles.
According to the University of Florida, a reading between 25 and 100 foot candles indicates low light conditions, between 100 and 500 foot candles denotes medium light and 500 to 1000 foot candles is high-intensity light. A reading over 1000 foot candles is direct sunlight.
Monsteras prefer a range between 100 and 500 foot candles, but some varieties may thrive at a lower or higher light intensity.
Use the Shadow Test
This method is quick and easy and doesn’t require any equipment other than your hands.
- Spread your fingers and hold your hand about 12 inches from the plant between your Monstera plant and the light source.
- Observe the shadow cast by your hand. If the shadow is light-colored with fuzzy outlines your Monstera plant is receiving medium light and will likely thrive in the location. Shadows that are dense with clearly defined edges indicate the light is too bright for your Monstera. Likewise, very faint or no shadow signifies low light conditions and may be too dark for your Monstera plant.
- Aim for a location that casts a shadow that is light-colored with fuzzy or soft edges.
2. Careful window positioning
The orientation of your windows can be used as a guide to determine the intensity of light your Monstera receives. But bear in mind that the light intensity does change with the changing seasons, too. Because the sun is lower in the sky during the fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere, light from your windows will be less intense during that time.
- Northern windows. Northern windows provide gentle light with no direct sunlight. They are typically well suited for plants that thrive in low to medium light. Your Monstera plant will likely need to be placed close to the window if you intend to rely on the light from a northern window for your Monstera plant.
- Eastern windows. Eastern windows receive bright morning light, but the rays are gentle and typically do not cause issues with sunburning your Monstera or scalding the leaves of your plants. Your Monstera plant can likely tolerate some direct sun from an eastern window and will enjoy the lingering light throughout the day.
- Southern windows. Southern windows provide a lot of sun for most of the day. The rays near the window are likely too intense for your Monstera plant, unless it is shaded by trees or other structures. However, your Monstera plant will thrive if it is placed several feet from the window and provided with protection (like sheer curtains) from the direct sun.
- Western windows. Western windows receive intense sunlight in the afternoon, especially during the summer. While a room with a western window may provide wonderful light for a Monstera placed across the room, placing your Monstera near a western window is an invitation for disaster.
If you are growing your Monstera plant in a room with a western window, place it in an area out of direct light or provide sheer curtains to diffuse the sun’s rays.
2. Five to twelve hours of sunlight per day
The duration of light your Monstera receives – that is, how many hours your Monstera plant receives light – is also critical when considering whether your Monstera’s light requirements are being met.
Like light intensity, light duration can be misleading or deceiving because most of us are not adept at judging how long our plants are actually exposed to good lighting. It is easy to assume that because your Monstera plant is getting light during part of the day that all is well. This isn’t entirely true.
Monstera plants need between 5 and 12 hours of sunlight a day, depending on the variety. While many Monstera plants will survive on 5 or 6 hours of sunlight a day, they will thrive with 8 to 12 hours of light.
Here’s how to determine the duration of the light your Monstera receives.
- Jot down the time light hits your plant in the morning.
- Check the plant every hour and note whether it is still receiving light.
- Calculate the number of hours of daylight your Monstera has received by the end of the day.
Keep in mind that the duration of sunlight does not need to be consecutive hours. If your Monstera plant receives 2 or 3 hours of morning light and then experiences less light for a few hours during midday until sunlight shifts to another window before showering it with several hours of afternoon sun, that is fine, too.
The total number of hours your Monstera plant receives light is important.
Light requirements of Monstera varieties
Do variegated Monstera need more light?
Variegated Monstera plants need more light because the variegated portions of the leaves lack chlorophyll. Only the green portions of a variegated Monstera’s leaves contain the chlorophyll needed to perform photosynthesis. This genetic mutation makes it impossible for the variegated sections to use the energy from the sun to make energy for the plant.
Mini Monstera light requirements
The Mini Monstera prefers bright, indirect sunlight and thrives in an eastern window. This means that, much like other types of Monstera, too much light can burn this plant whereas not enough light will impact its rate of growth.
You may be surprised to learn that the Mini Monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) isn’t really a true Monstera, but it is a member of the same plant family. This climbing Monstera cousin is a tropical vine comes from South Asia and needs the same care as other Monstera plants.
Monstera Albo light requirements
Monstera Albo, one of the variegated Monstera varieties, needs a lot of bright light. But it cannot tolerate direct sunlight, especially from a western or southern window. Place Monstera Albo in a location that receives bright, filtered light all day.
If grown in low light conditions, Monstera Albo will lose its beautiful variegated foliage as the plant will try to compensate for the lack of light by growing more green leaves to aid in photosynthesis.
Monstera adansonii light requirements
Monstera adansonii does best in at least six hours of bright or filtered light. It will suffer from the direct afternoon sun but may thrive with a few hours of direct morning sun from an eastern window.
To soften the rays of the sun from western and southern windows, hang sheer curtains over the window to filter the light. Otherwise, move your Monstera adansonii plant several feet from the window, so it is out of harm’s way.
Can Monstera deliciosa live in low light?
Monstera deliciosa thrives in filtered or indirect light for at least 5 or 6 hours a day, but it can survive on less sun. However, low light conditions inhibit the growth of your plants and produce smaller and less showy leaves.
If you must grow your Monstera deliciosa plant in low light, consider supplementing the light with either fluorescent lights or a grow light.
Find out more about using a grow light for this plant, including our top pick for the best grow light for Monstera.
How do I know if my Monstera is getting enough light?
Making sure your Monstera plant is getting the right amount of light can be a little tricky, but your plant will give you plenty of clues if its light isn’t right. A Monstera plant that isn’t getting enough light will likely exhibit the following signs.
1. Slow, stunted growth
If your Monstera plant is growing slowly and appears stunted, the culprit is likely that your Monstera isn’t getting enough light. Without adequate light, your Monstera plant cannot produce energy through photosynthesis. To compensate for the lack of energy, plant growth will slow down.
This could also become evident in other ways relating to your houseplant’s growth. For example, if you’re wondering when your Monstera leaves will split because they haven’t done so yet, there’s a chance that an improper light situation is the cause of this.
But don’t confuse slowed growth in winter with signs of too little light. It is normal for Monstera growth to slow down in the winter as the plant rests. In addition, slow growth isn’t an automatic indicator that your Monstera’s light requirements aren’t being met. It can also be a sign of other issues, like if you have a root bound Monstera, so make sure you go through a process of elimination to find the true cause.
2. Leggy stems and vines
Plants automatically adapt to low light by producing elongated stems and leaves to reach for more light. Your Monstera plant is no exception. If you notice long stretches of bare stem between leaves, you may have a leggy Monstera on your hands and low light is likely the reason.
Stems or vines may also lean towards the light giving your Monstera plant a lopsided appearance. If your plant is starting to lean a bit, in addition to ensuring it’s getting adequate light, you may also want to consider adding a moss pole to your Monstera to give it the support it needs to stay upright.
3. Lack of variegation
Variegated Monstera plants depend on the green sections of the leaves to absorb sunlight and carry out photosynthesis. The variegated portions on the leaves lack chlorophyll and cannot make energy for the plant.
Variegated Monsteras react to low light by producing more green leaves to help with photosynthesis. Moving your Monstera plant to more light will restore the beautiful variegation in the leaves.
4. Yellowing Leaves
Monstera plants may respond to too little light with yellowing bottom leaves, but be aware that yellowed leaves can be a sign of too much water, too.
If you are sure you are practicing good watering techniques and overwatering your Monstera isn’t the cause of your Monstera leaves turning yellow, it is likely yellowed leaves are a sign your Monstera plant needs more light.
Is my Monstera getting too much light?
Too much light damages delicate Monstera leaves. The leaves may turn white from sun scald, become discolored or turn yellow and gradually become brown in direct sunlight. Plants in too much light also dry out quickly and may wilt in the hot afternoon sun.
This is why if your Monstera plant starts drooping, it’s important to quickly eliminate whether too much light is the culprit. Keep reading to find out how you can determine that.
How to measure the light conditions of your Monstera
Measuring your Monstera plant’s light conditions includes assessing both the intensity and the duration of the light. The intensity of the light is generally referred to as a high, low or medium light. It may also be referred to as direct, indirect or filtered light.
Monsteras grow best in bright, indirect light. Indirect light means that the sun’s rays never shine directly on the plant. Filtered light means that something, like a sheer curtain or the foliage from trees outside the window, prevents the sun from shining directly on the plant.
- Use a light meter. Using a light meter is the most accurate way to determine whether your Monstera is receiving the most favorable light intensity. As mentioned above, they prefer a range between 100 and 500 foot candles.
- Do a shadow test. This involves using your hand to determine how clearly defined the shadow formed from your hand is, with the idea being that the sharper the line is, the brighter the light. Take a look at the section earlier on in this article to find out more.
- Check the window orientation. The orientation of the window nearest to your Monstera will have a big part to play in the intensity of the light it receives. Check out the section above on this to see which direction is best.
- Calculate the duration of light. The number of hours your Monstera receives light is as important as the intensity of the light. This is called the duration of light. Monsteras need at least 5 or 6 hours of light a day but do best with 8 to 12 hours of light. Measure the duration of light exposure by observing the plant throughout the day and noting when it receives light.
Can Monstera grow in shade?
Monsteras can grow in shade for portions of the day, but they do need indirect light from a window to keep them happy. Complete shade will kill your Monstera plants as they need sunlight for photosynthesis, the process of harnessing energy from the sun and converting it to usable energy for the plant.
Without sunlight, your Monstera will likely not survive. That said, you could try to meet your Monstera’s light requirements with artificial light if that’s absolutely needed, with a bit more information on that below.
Can Monstera grow in the dark?
Some Monsteras grow happily in low light conditions, but they cannot grow in the dark. Like other plants, Monstera plants need light in order to perform photosynthesis. Without it, your Monstera plant will not have the energy needed to grow.
Can Monstera be in bright light?
Monsteras love bright light as long as it is indirect or filtered. They cannot tolerate direct sunlight, as this can be too intense and may result in its leaves being burned. The Monstera will, however, happily soak up the light in a bright room.
Can I use artificial light for Monstera?
Artificial light from grow lights or fluorescent lights is a great way to supplement natural light for your Monstera plants. While it is technically possible to grow Monsteras with nothing but artificial light, it is always best if they receive some natural light, too.
What color light is best for Monstera?
Blue light is important for plant growth as the foliage can absorb blue light and make energy through photosynthesis. A combination of red and blue light is considered the best for grow lights as this helps to encourage growth and results in darker, healthier colors in your Monstera’s leaves and stems.
How many watts does a Monstera need?
The number of watts your grow or plant light needs for growing Monsteras depends on the size of the light (or lamp) and the distance from the plant. A larger watt bulb or lamp can be used further away from the Monstera plant while a lower watt bulb will need to be closer.
Check the instructions on grow lights you are considering buying to determine the appropriate distance and wattage for your plants.
What kind of sunlight does Monstera need?
Monsteras need bright light, but cannot tolerate direct sunlight. Place them several feet from a sunny window, or use sheer curtains on the window to filter the light to ensure your Monstera’s light requirements are met without its leaves getting burned from overly intense sun.
Is morning sun OK for Monstera?
Monsteras love morning light. Morning light from an eastern window provides gentle light for your Monstera plant. As long as your Monstera gets at least 5 or 6 hours of light, morning light is ideal.
However, just ensure that after its morning sun bath, you keep an eye on your Monstera later in the day to ensure that this soft morning sun doesn’t turn into harsh midday sun for your houseplant.
How do you know if your Monstera is getting too much sun?
Too much sun damages Monstera leaves so this will be the main indicator that your plant is receiving more light than it needs. Its leaves may turn white from sun scald or they may discolor and look sickly. Yellowing and browning leaves can also occur if your Monstera gets too much sun.
Take a look at our article on this for how to fix brown Monstera leaves if it starts to happen to your plant.
How many hours of light do Monstera need?
Monsteras need 5 to 6 hours of indirect light to survive, but their growth may be inhibited at that amount. Instead, most Monsteras thrive with 8 to 10 hours of light a day so this is the preferred amount that you should try to have for your Monstera.
Keep in mind though that the quality or intensity of the light is as important as the duration of light.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your specific plant to see how it’s going. For example, a Monstera plant exposed to low light for 8 to 10 hours a day may not do as well as one that receives bright filtered light for 5 or 6 hours. Use the health of your houseplant as your guide to determine if your Monstera’s light needs are being met.