While there are dozens of reasons to love philodendrons, chief among these is their ease of care. Indeed, these beauties are so tolerant of varying conditions they’re perfect for even the most lackadaisical plant parent.
Or, alternatively, they can be great for those who love to invest in plants but don’t have an ideal growing environment.
But while they are considered unfussy, you can still provide an ‘ultimate’ light level for your philodendron that will see it reach its full potential. And much of this is equipping yourself with the knowledge to do so by understanding precisely what a philodendron’s light needs are.
In this article, I’ll take you through exactly that. I’ll unpack how much light your philodendron needs, where to position it in your home, and what to do if you feel it isn’t receiving enough sun. Ready? Let’s jump right in.
What are my philodendron’s light needs?
Philodendrons enjoy 6 to 8 hours of medium to bright, indirect light daily. Direct sunlight can harm their leaves, causing drooping and wilt. This is because philodendrons are adapted to filtered light in their natural environment, which they receive through the canopy of larger plants and trees.
As mentioned, philodendrons are delightfully low maintenance when it comes to their care needs. And for the most part, they are ideal for homes that don’t receive a ton of natural light. But even so, they still require a fair bit of sun to thrive, or you may notice that your philodendron growth rate slows.
With this in mind, a philodendron’s light requirements can be simply put as 6 to 8 hours of bright or medium light every day. A little less is okay, too, provided it isn’t all dark all the time. Too much, on the other hand, can also be harmful, as philodendrons’ delicate leaves are prone to sunburn.
To best understand a philodendron’s light needs, is to look at its natural environment. Hailing from the islands of French Polynesia and its surrounds, this family of beautiful plants is accustomed to growing in the shadow of larger trees, where the light it receives is always filtered by the branches above it.
And while it’s impossible to perfectly emulate that type of setting in your home, the closest you will get is to try and mimic filtered light by keeping it out of direct sun rays. If this is impossible, you may want to consider investing in blinds that you can partially close. Conversely, you can set up a makeshift shade cloth.
Do philodendrons need a lot of light?
Compared to other plants, philodendrons don’t technically require a lot of light. They are incredibly robust and can also survive and grow in low-light conditions. However, a fair bit of sun benefits their health, and they will only really thrive if they have access to light daily.
Philodendrons have a reputation for being able to grow in darker places and spaces. However, this isn’t strictly true. Yes, they might not perish if they don’t see sunlight every day. However, they also won’t grow at their standard rate and may begin to suffer ill health over extended periods.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you provide your philodendrons with as much medium to bright light as possible. Most philodendron enthusiasts opt to place their plants close to sunny windows or in spaces that are bright for most of the day.
Of course, light is not the only factor that affects their overall wellbeing. They also require, just as importantly, sufficient warmth and humidity, plenty of nutrients, and hydration, to keep them going.
Biologically, it is the compendium of all these care aspects that will determine how well they can process light in the first place.
Indeed, the sun is responsible for setting photosynthesis into action. The reactions produced during this process help your philodendrons transport water through their root systems, feeding the plant with nutrients and converting energy into growth.
Can philodendrons tolerate direct sunlight?
Philodendrons don’t do well with direct sunlight as it can burn their leaves, which causes them to wilt and drop. In winter, a small amount of sun for a short period of time can be a beneficial health boost, but harsh summer sun, especially at midday or in the afternoon (or through glass), can be harmful.
Many species in the plant world love a full day of direct sunlight, but the philodendron family definitely doesn’t. As previously mentioned, this is mainly to do with their natural tropical environment, where they are more accustomed to growing in semi-shade with lots of humidity.
The biggest concern with direct sunlight for philodendrons is sunburn. Signs that your philodendron isn’t loving harsh rays include wilting and yellow or brown spots on your philodendron’s leaves.
And although sunburn isn’t fatal, affected leaves won’t recover and will need to be pruned – or will eventually fall by themselves. Another ailment to look out for is dehydration.
Fortunately, preventing access to direct sunlight is easy enough and generally comes down to positioning. I wouldn’t recommend placing your philodendrons on a windowsill, for example, but a few feet back from a window is just fine.
If you have the opposite problem to sunniness, and your home isn’t receiving much light at all, you can supplement your philodendron’s needs with grow lights. Let’s look at exactly how this works and which type of light is best suited.
What’s the best grow light for philodendron?
The best grow lights for philodendrons are medium luminosity, between 2500 to 10000 lux. If you’re unsure what this means, conduct a little research online or pop by your local nursery or garden center, where the relevant personnel will be able to guide you.
If you’re worried that your philodendron isn’t receiving enough light or you’ve noticed a significant decline in the philodendron’s growth rate, it may be time to invest in a grow light. This is a supplemental light that artificially mimics the sun. They’re available in different luminosities, but the best light for a philodendron is one of medium strength.
Many prospective plant lovers have put off purchasing greenery because they live in a space unsuitable for plants, which is a pity! Indeed, a lack of sunlight shouldn’t be a deterrent when there are plenty of products on the market to help you tackle this exact issue.
To start, I’ll always recommend investing in philodendrons because they’re so unfussy and easy to care for. And even in the darkest, coldest homes, you can successfully maintain them with the assistance of a grow light.
With your grow light in tow, all that’s left to do is plug it in and turn it on. Your philodendrons will be thriving in no time, with none of the risks of leaf burn, overexposure, or underexposure to the sun.
What color grow light is best for philodendrons?
Because of their robust natures, philodendrons will be perfectly happy with a full spectrum grow light that ticks all the boxes of the color cycle. However, if you want to be more specific for vegetative growth, look for a blue or blue-red spectrum light, which is proven to advance new foliage development.
How do I know if my philodendron needs more light?
Signs that your philodendron needs more light include slowed growth, leggy growth, and leaf discoloration through the leaves turning yellow or brown. Any of the above symptoms can be easily remedied by changing up your growing environment and providing additional light.
These plants are great communicators and will have no problem telling you if their needs are not being met. When it comes to light specifically, the most significant signs are in their growth patterns, with a lack of light almost always resulting in slow, sparse growth.
If you’re unsure what to look out for, leggy growth means stems with fewer, smaller leaves spaced further apart than usual. This happens when your plant isn’t getting enough solar energy to convert water and nutrients into new growth.
Over time, leaves may also start to discolor. And while there are various reasons why a philodendron’s leaves may turn yellow or brown, light deficiency will be consistent across almost all your philodendron’s leaves and not restricted to just one or two.
Similarly, you may notice your philodendron’s leaves curling, which should be fairly consistent across all the foliage, not just a couple of them.
In the following section, we’ll briefly explore how to remedy light deficiency.
What to do if my philodendron needs more light
If you’ve noticed, through slowed or leggy growth, that your philodendron needs additional sun, the best thing you can do for it is to move it to a better light source or invest in a medium-spectrum grow light. Over time it will recover with no lasting damage done.
Once again, the philodendron family’s hardiness is its saving grace when it comes to lighting issues. So, even if your plant has taken a bit of a knock, you can help it recover by simply adjusting its growing environment to have better access to the sun.
This may mean placing it closer to a window or other light source or purchasing a grow light that you run for a few hours each day. Either way, a few weeks into better lighting conditions will see an overall improvement in your philodendron’s health and wellbeing.
Keep in mind: If your philodendron has become discolored, you may need to embark on some trimming of your philodendron to get rid of any dead or damaged leaves that use unnecessary energy.
This may mean a sparse-looking plant for a while, but at the end of the day, it’s the best thing for it so that it can focus its energy on new growth instead.
Where should I put my philodendron?
The best place for a philodendron is close to a window that receives 6 to 8 hours of medium to bright but indirect light daily. It should be offset by a few feet so that your philodendron’s leaves don’t burn, but close enough so that it isn’t in the shade.
Almost all plants require light to grow, so it makes sense to keep your houseplants as close to a light source as possible. That said, while philodendrons need some light, they are a bit of a unicorn in that they can survive quite well in lower light conditions, with medium light being their preference.
Indeed, there is no need for them to be bathed in sunlight all day. Contrarily, anywhere close to a semi-sunny window is fine, or even just in a bright room.
If you’d like to keep your philodendrons in a bathroom (for example) where the humidity is great, but the light is not ideal, I’d definitely go for a window seat or, conversely, invest in a grow light.
Related: 6 Easy Steps to Make Your Philodendron Fuller and Bushier
What window should a philodendron go in?
When it comes to philodendrons, I always recommend placing them in East- or South-facing windows, where they have the best access to the morning light. This is because morning light is softer and often less harsh than afternoon light, which can place strain on a philodendron’s delicate leaves or make it too hot overall.
Even so, you should still place your philodendrons a few feet away from a window, so they aren’t in direct line of sun rays but instead in indirect light.
Can philodendrons grow in shade?
Philodendrons can grow in low-light conditions, but full permanent shade is not advisable, as your plant will likely experience slow or leggy growth. It’s better if they have access to medium light for some or all of the day. That said, low light won’t necessarily kill them either, but it also depends on your philodendron variety.
You’ve likely heard the rumors that philodendrons can grow in shade, which is partially true. They are very hardy, and many varieties do just fine in low light, although they don’t grow at their usual pace nor become as leafy. This is why it’s advisable to keep them close to a daily light source.
Of course, this also varies from cultivar to cultivar. Many philodendrons are variegated, meaning entire sections of their leaves lack any chlorophyll for energy production. In these cases, your plant will require more light to supplement the deficits it may experience from those sections of its foliage.
You may also be interested in: 10 Causes Of Your Philodendron Not Growing (+ How to Fix It)
Which philodendron is best in low light?
The best philodendrons for low light are those that are entirely green in color, as they’re best equipped to maintain their energy usage irrespective of their lighting conditions. On the other hand, philodendrons that are variegated tend to do better with bright or medium light.
In the shade, you may notice that they start to lose some of their colors, or even suffer wilting or yellowing. In either case, it’s time to supplement their light or move them to a brighter spot.