So – you want to display your beautiful Monstera in the corner of your home office, but you are not quite sure whether this space meets your plant’s light requirements.
Monstera varieties, like most ornamental plants, require a sufficient amount of light to ensure healthy growth. But just how much light do Monsteras need?
Monsteras like bright, indirect sunlight to thrive – and there are plenty of good reasons your tropical plants prefer these lighting conditions. All of these are discussed in detail in this guide, so keep reading!
The importance of light for plant growth
Sunlight is the key energy source for all living things on earth. For plants, it plays a vital role in photosynthesis, which is the process that converts light energy to food.
As most of us probably learned in elementary science, plants perform photosynthesis by using water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight to make glucose, a form of sugar that all plants need to grow. A lack of any of these ingredients can inhibit photosynthesis and compromise a plant’s growth.
Thus, It is very important to ensure that your plants get sufficient light to thrive – and your Monstera is no exception. The light does not always have to come from the sun; if you live in a tiny apartment with limited access to bright sunlight, your indoor garden can benefit from artificial lights as well. This makes artificial grow lights a convenient option for many growers who live in condo-style units.
How much light do Monsteras need?
Now, here comes the tricky part – how much light does a Monstera plant need?
The most common mistake of novice gardeners is to leave their houseplants outdoors to bathe under the scorching heat of the sun. While it is true that plants need sunlight to grow, the intense heat of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can also be harmful to their leaves and can lead to sunburn.
Conversely, placing your plants in a shady area will not be beneficial, either! As previously mentioned, our household evergreens need some light exposure to keep their foliage green and lush.
So, for the best growth, we can conclude that most houseplants like Monsteras require bright but diffused sunlight. The filtered light should reach the foliage to ensure even growth, and should be bright enough but not so hot that it burns the leaves.
To test the strength of the sunlight coming through your windows, simply put your hand or arm between your plant and the light source. If your skin feels hot, then it is probably too hot for your plant as well. The shadow of your hand should also not be too dense; otherwise, the light might be too bright for the plant. If, on the other hand, the shadow looks extremely faint, then the light may be too low.
You should also consider the factors listed below if you want to achieve the right lighting conditions:
1. Orientation of the windows
One way to easily determine the intensity of the light is through the orientation of your windows. Before choosing a location for your houseplants, keep in mind that:
- North-facing windows tend to receive less direct sunlight, making them the ideal location for plants that thrive in low light conditions.
- East-facing windows provide bright but gentle sunlight. This is best if your plants prefer indirect sunlight.
- South-facing windows provide the most sunlight in the morning, which can be a bit intense for most houseplants.
- West-facing windows also receive bright, direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon, which can put your plants at risk of sunburn.
Overall, east-facing windows are the ideal location for your Monstera plants. South-facing windows might also work, but hang a curtain to filter the intense light.
2. Bright, indirect sunlight
As mentioned before, indirect sunlight can be achieved by passing the light through a medium, such as a curtain, the leaves of a tree, or shade from a window. This means that the sun’s ultraviolet rays should not hit the plant’s leaves directly – the light should pass through or bounce off another surface before reaching the foliage.
What makes indirect sunlight ideal for your Monstera is that it provides diffused light without the intense heat. Remember that these tropical evergreens thrive under a rainforest canopy in their natural habitat, where they enjoy only indirect light. Hence, by providing indirect sunlight exposure, you are emulating the conditions of their natural habitat.
Lastly, keep in mind that the intensity of indirect sunlight is around 1,000 to 2,000 foot candles (10,000 to 20,000 lux). You might want to use this as a reference if you opt for grow lights (which will be discussed later). A light meter like Dr. Meter 1330B should help you figure out the exact light measurement indoors and avoid the frustrating guesswork.
3. Hours of light exposure
Monstera plants require about eight to twelve hours of light exposure per day. Unfortunately, a lot of growers tend to overestimate what their plants are getting – your Monstera may be receiving fewer hours of light than you assume.
If you are in doubt, check your plant a few times a day to know whether it is receiving continuous light. Move it a bit if you notice the sun’s light moving away from it. Then, add up the total hours of light exposure to check whether it is receiving the minimum eight hours per day.
Can you grow a Monstera in low light conditions?
Monsteras are extremely hardy, which means they can survive in any corner of your home with poor lighting conditions. But, like most houseplants, you cannot grow a beautiful, healthy Monstera without the right amount of light.
So, how can you tell if your Monstera is not getting enough light? Your tropical evergreen will usually display these signs if it is light-deprived:
1. Slow growth
Photosynthesis is an essential process for plants to grow and produce lush, green leaves. However, the opposite could happen if your Monstera does not receive adequate light – it will not perform photosynthesis and its growth will slow down.
Most varieties of Monstera are fast-growing. For example, Monstera deliciosa and Monstera Adansonii can grow up to two feet per year under proper growing conditions. These plants can also grow new leaves every four to six weeks during spring and summer.
So, if your plant does not show signs of growth, you are probably not providing it with adequate light.
2. Leaves have brown spots and turn yellow
Leaf discoloration is often a visual indicator that your plant is sitting in wet soil. A lack of sunlight exposure combined with overwatering is often the culprit, as both these factors can prevent the soil from drying out as quickly as it should.
Monstera plants have delicate root systems which can easily rot in poorly draining soil. When the roots are compromised, your plant will start to struggle with nutrient uptake, and this becomes visible in the leaves.
Is your Monstera looking floppy or leggy? Then the low light situation indoors might be the reason.
Plants naturally adapt to their environment to survive, and if they are not receiving enough light, their natural response is to produce elongated, leggy stems to reach for the nearest light source.
Legginess in Monsteras often leads to an untidy, spindly appearance: the stems will look bare with fewer leaves, and your plant may start falling over. To prevent such floppy, leggy growth, you need to ensure that your Monstera receives the right amount of indirect sunlight. You can also add a moss pole to support it while it grows.
Can you grow a Monstera in direct sunlight?
Monsteras are tropical plants and do not need full sunlight to thrive. Too much sunlight can actually burn their leaves, especially during the hot summer months when temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These vines prefer warm, humid air within a range of 60 to 90° Fahrenheit.
Some symptoms of sunburn you need to watch out for are the following:
- Too much sun exposure often causes oxidative damage to plants’ chlorophyll. For this reason, your Monstera’s leaves might begin to look pale, yellow, dull and washed out.
- The scorching heat of the sun can cause your plant to lose too much moisture too quickly, in which case it will also lose its turgidity, causing it to droop or wilt.
- The plant’s leaves may curl as it tries to protect itself from the intense heat while minimizing water loss.
- The sun’s ultraviolet rays and elevated temperatures can turn the leaves crispy and brown, especially on the tips and edges.
The benefits of artificial grow lights
Sometimes, it can be tricky to achieve the optimal lighting conditions for growing tropical houseplants. Your Monsteras need a sufficient amount of light to grow to their full potential, which can be difficult to provide if you are growing your plants indoors. It is difficult to emulate the conditions of their native habitat with regard to humidity, temperature, and lighting conditions.
Thankfully, some devices can help us grow our ornamental plants beautifully, even inside an apartment.
If you are a plant lover and cannot seem to find a perfect spot in your home to grow your Monstera, do not lose heart. You can use artificial grow lights instead to ensure that these tropical vines receive sufficient light indoors.
Unlike sunlight, artificial grow lights are available for your plants no matter the season! No need to worry about finding an ideal location for bright, indirect sunlight – you can place your plant in any corner of your home as long as the grow lights are turned on.
So, can you grow healthy, beautiful Monsteras with artificial grow lights? Definitely, yes! These are some of the benefits:
- Your houseplants grow faster since they do not need to rely on the sun for energy.
- The light spectrum is already optimized for your plant’s growth.
- You can grow your Monstera in any climate.
- You can easily control the amount of light your plants receive.
With so many different grow lights on the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. We highly recommend LED grow lights like GE and GHodec, since these are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan. The other options are HID grow lights, plasma grow lights, CFL grow lights, and halogen lights. So do a bit of research and choose the one that meets your gardening needs!
If you want to keep your Monstera healthy and beautiful year-round, you need to provide the right lighting conditions for it. Do not leave it in a dark corner of a room or outside in the bright sunlight! Instead, choose an appropriate location such as an east-facing window to ensure that it receives enough light without getting burned.
Grow lights are also a good option for plant owners who live in homes or apartments without lots of natural sunlight. Consider this option and you, too, can be the proud owner of a lush and gorgeous Monstera!
Image: istockphoto.com / Marina Gorevaya