Many growers face some problems with providing the right amount of light for their indoor plants. If you’re wondering what are the Monstera light needs, you’re in good company. It’s a fine balance!
Too much sunlight is just as damaging to Monasteras as too little light. Additionally, the quality of the light affects the well-being of these plants significantly.
Monsteras are native to the tropical parts of South America, where they thrive in the understory beneath thick canopies. At that level, they receive filtered bright light, for a fair amount of hours each day.
It’s highly recommended to replicate these conditions indoors to keep the Monstera vivacious and lush.
Monsteras need 6-8 hours of filtered bright light daily to maintain a healthy lush appearance.
The Swiss Cheese plant wouldn’t complain if you extend that exposure to 12 hours, on occasion. Tropical plants usually have a friendly relationship with the sun. On the condition that the sunlight is indirect.
If Monsteras get less light, in terms of the intensity or the exposure time, they start showing signs of displeasure. The leaves become yellowish, droopy, and sickly.
We all visualize Monsteras as large plants with thick leathery leaves. Their green color is incredibly deep, and their signature holes are all in place.
Under low lights, the Monstera would have none of these features!
Monsteras survive indoors, but they need a minimum amount of exposure to light. If they’re denied this important resource, they fail to create the energy needed for their growth and sustenance.
The signs of insufficient light include the following.
- The stems become thin and leggy. They overstretch themselves in search of more light.
- The leaves lose their broadness and waxy appearance.
- The dark green pigment fades till it turns into a yellowish shade.
- Brown necrotic patches start appearing in the leaves.
- The soil seems to be perpetually wet, as the water intake slows down.
- The holes and slits disappear, and the leaves look different from the typical Swiss Cheese form.
- If the plant receives light from only one side, it would look better than the darker side.
Being a shade plant that grows nicely indoors, doesn’t mean that Monsteras can survive in the total absence of sunlight.
Monsteras favor indirect or filtered bright light. It’s what they originally had in their tropical homeland, and it’s what makes them thrive.
It’s not too surprising that a large plant with broad leaves like Monstera needs plentiful resources to grow and appear healthy. Sunlight is one of the primary resources that these plants need for proper development.
You can use artificial grow lights to augment insufficient natural light, but it’s hard for Monsteras to survive solely on these lights.
Besides, plants require alternating periods of light and darkness, which allows these plants to function naturally. It’s also worth noting that these times change depending on the seasons, and that drives different growth stages.
This could be difficult with artificial lights unless you have an immaculately planned lighting system. Adding timers and smart control units to grow lights needs a hefty budget!
Considering all that, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Monsteras do need sunlight, but with the right conditions.
Direct sunlight is harmful to Monsteras. Especially in summer, when the day is longer, and the light intensity is at its peak.
Monsteras are incapable of utilizing all that light energy, and they end up damaged. The leaves often get dark spots or burned edges, which is a clear sign to move the plant to another location.
In the US, Canada, North Africa, and Europe, a window facing northeast is the best location for Monstera plants. Light coming from the north or east is just as favorable.
The Monstera would get a few hours of soft direct sunlight early in the morning. But the light would be indirect for the rest of the day.
On the other hand, windows facing the south or west get direct sunlight throughout the day, which ends up burning the Monstera leaves.
Countries in the Southern Hemisphere should reverse that arrangement to get optimal lighting for their indoor shade plants, including Monsteras.
In theory, you can grow any plant in 100% artificial light. In practice, it’s quite costly and complicated to do so!
Plants have biological rhythms just like humans. They operate in cycles of day and night, as well as in seasonal periods that drive their development. Natural light keeps the plants healthy and energized.
To mimic the day/night cycles with artificial light, you’d need to install sophisticated control systems that vary light intensity according to a given schedule.
Additionally, if you’re often out of town, then you’d need to communicate with this lighting system via a smartphone and remote adjustment units.
Selecting a grow light that matches your plant’s requirements is important. But there are other factors that you should keep in mind.
Grow lights should be out of the way. As for the optimal distance from the plant:
- The grow lights should be at least 12 inches away from your plant to avoid burning the leaves.
- If you’re using incandescent bulbs, then the minimum distance jumps to 24 inches. These light bulbs emit a lot of heat and intense light.
- Light intensity decreases exponentially as you go further away from the plant, so every extra inch matters.
If you have plenty of potted plants, you need a stand-alone grow light with multiple branches or a ceiling pendant with multiple bulbs.
If you only need to augment the light around one Monstera, then a single fixture should be sufficient.
Indoor plants generally respond well to grow lights in the red or blue spectrum. It gives them focused energy and increases the green pigment in their foliage.
However, the purplish light from that type of bulb makes any room appear odd. It’s also hard to work in such lighting. Using a full-spectrum bulb keeps the room bright and fully usable.
You can select a pricey set of grow lights with automated controllers or settle for a manual light bulb that you have to turn on and off. Both options are available, and the final decision often depends on your budget.
Monsteras have broad waxy leaves to collect and utilize filtered sunlight. They’re adapted to moderately bright light, and only if it falls indirectly on the leaves.
Intense light is too much of a good thing for Monsteras. It has a surplus of energy that these plants aren’t capable of handling.
In addition, direct sunlight elevates the ambient temperature, which could also affect the plant negatively.
Monsteras start looking droopy and exhausted if they are facing a large window, or if grow lights are too close to their leaves. Next, greyish-brown patches start appearing on the leaves or around the edges.
The best thing to do when that happens is to change the location of the Monstera. Also, if you’re using grow lights, then you’d need to increase the distance between the plant and the light source.
Monstera responds to light in a manner that’s similar to sunflowers. It looks for the light source and moves towards it.
In its native lands, the Monstera doesn’t get full access to sunlight, as it grows in the lower parts of the rainforest. The canopy of the thick tall trees hogs most of the sunlight and leaves only a scattered amount for the dwellers of the understory.
Monstera plants adapted to the situation well by phototropism, which is moving their stems toward the light. They can grow vertically to around 60 feet high, and horizontally as needed. They support themselves with vine-like stems attached to the nearest tree bark to carry out these calculated extensions.
Thus, if you place your Monstera in a room with a single light source, it would focus all of its growth in that direction. This includes increasing the concentration of chlorophyll cells in the leaves closest to the sunlight.
After some time, the side closest to the window would look much healthier than the opposite side. This isn’t an appealing look. It’s best then to rotate the Monstera every other week to keep the light exposure relatively constant on all sides.
If that’s not possible, you can supplement the natural light with a secondary grow light on the other side.
Monsteras are known as resilient plants that aren’t too demanding or hard to care for. Well, the truth is slightly different than that!
Caring for a Monstera and keeping it vivacious takes some work and more than a rudimentary experience with shade plants.
The lighting needs of Monsteras are just as particular as their irrigation, fertilization, soil, temperature, and humidity requirements. Everything needs to be done in moderation and in just the right amount. Otherwise, the plant would show clear signs of distress.
As a tropical plant that grows in thick rainforests, Monsteras are happiest when they receive bright filtered light. They also favor long exposure times of 6-8 hours per day.
A large curtained window facing north or east is the perfect spot for a Monstera. But if that’s not available, you can combine moderate natural light with a suitable grow light. If you can provide that environment, your houseplant would be as picturesque and vivacious as you wish it to be.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.