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6 Signs Monstera Needs More Light (With Solutions)

Monstera deliciosa, also known as the Swiss cheese plant, is one of my favorite houseplants because it can grow in light conditions.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how to add a touch of exotic flair to your home or office, this is the plant for you.

Monstera plants do better in bright environments, but how much light do they need?

Most Monstera deliciosa species require 8 to 10 hours of bright but filtered or indirect light per day. Limit direct sunlight exposure to 1-2 hours per day, as too much sun will cause leaves to sunburn and turn pale. A dramatic loss of variegation indicates a lack of light.

What Is The Best Light For Monstera?

From Panama in Central America to Mexico, Monstera can thrive in a wide range of light conditions thanks to its adapted photoperiodicity.

As a result, your Monstera will thrive in any environment, whether dim as an office corner or as bright as a patio.

Even so, the best light for Monstera is bright but indirect. Your plant’s growth will be hindered in low-light indoor settings, but it will be able to survive.

However, the leaves will be smaller, and the plant’s growth will generally be slow.

Worse yet, you risk losing the lovely perforations on your Monstera’s leaves that you’ve grown to love and admire.

Your Swiss cheese plant will not produce fruit or bloom in low-light conditions.

It’s not much better the other way round. Excessive direct sunlight will scorch the leaves, causing them to develop large brown patches.

Variegated Monstera leaves scorched by the sun will lose their variegation and turn white or bleached.

Bottom line:  If you want your Monstera to flourish and bear large, showy leaves, make sure it receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

It works best near an east-facing window. You can also take it outside for a few hours in the early spring.

How Many Hours of Sunlight Do You Need for Monstera?

A monstera plant can grow to be two feet wide indoors. However, they require a large amount of sunlight and other resources to maintain this growth.

More than 8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for your Monstera.

However, it can withstand partial shade and direct sunlight for three and six hours per day. 

How much sunlight your Monstera needs depends on the particular variety or cultivar you own.

The quality of the light is another factor that influences this number.

In the middle of summer, an hour of indirect sunlight has a more significant impact than about two hours of direct sunlight in the winter.

Similarly, in the afternoon, an hour of sunlight from a south or west-facing window is more potent than the exact duration of light from a north or east-facing window.

Variegated monstera varieties, such as Albo Variegata or Thai Constellation Monstera deliciosa, have a lower concentration of green pigments (chlorophyll) on variegations than non-variegated varieties.

However, chlorophyll is required to convert sunlight into usable energy.

In other words, these variegated cultivars rely heavily on the green parts of the foliage to make up the difference.

So they require more hours of sunlight than their non-variegated counterparts do.

If they don’t get enough light, they’ll lose their variegation to house more chlorophyll and maximize photosynthesis.

If you have a Monstera deliciosa variegated, give it at least 10 hours of direct sunlight each day.

How Much Direct Sunlight Can A Monstera Have?

A monstera plant can have 1 to 2 hours of direct sunlight. Outside, however, it can thrive in a partially shaded spot with 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Leaf scorch can result from overexposure to direct sunlight.

The leaves will burn if your Monstera is exposed to the hot midday sun. First, leaves turn brown, crispy, and dry out at the tips and edges.

There will be significant, dry, and brown blotches in the foliage. Sun-scalded leaves may turn white or bleached due to prolonged exposure to the sun.

Their ability to photosynthesize will eventually diminish, resulting in stunted growth.

Does Variegated Monstera Need More Light?

As previously stated, variegated monstera plants require more light to compensate for their lower levels of chlorophyll.

They typically require 10-12 hours of sunlight per day, about two to four hours more than standard monstera varieties.

If you don’t give your variegated Monstera enough light, it will respond by removing the variegation in favor of green leaves.

So your Monstera’s cream or yellow variegation will be removed to better use the light for photosynthesis.

Additionally, low light can lead to leggy growth, yellowing of leaves, and more nominal growth of younger leaves.

In addition, the foliage will be devoid of the distinctive holes and perforations that give monsteras their exotic appearance.

Can Monstera Tolerate the Morning Sun?

The scorching rays of the afternoon sun are less intense in the morning.

For the most part, monstera plants have gotten better at tolerating a wide range of lighting conditions.

The morning sun won’t harm your Monstera as long as you limit the time it spends in the sun to a few minutes at a time.

Your plant can tolerate direct sunlight in the morning as long as it is shaded by noon. It also helps if the weather is mild, such as in early spring or fall.

How Do I Know If My Monstera Is Getting Enough Light?

The appearance of your Monstera will quickly tell you if it is receiving enough light. The leaves, roots, stems, and the overall plant will show various symptoms if it gets insufficient or excessive sunlight.

Signs Your Monstera is Getting Too Much LightSigns Your Monstera Needs More Light
Leaves are bleached, pale, or whitishLeaves are darker, vibrant, and rich green
Variegation may become whitewashedVariegation turns green
Stunted growthLeggy growth (long petioles & small foliage)
Soil dries out quicklySoil takes longer to dry out
Leaf burnNo leaf burn
Leaves fenestrated as usualLeaves don’t fenestrate
The side facing light source scorchedMonstera leans towards the side facing the light source

Signs of Not Getting Enough Light

If your Monstera gets more light, it will grow faster and better. Conversely, inadequate lighting is a recipe for problems such as:

[1] Small Foliage

Monstera has heart-shaped leaves. Deep green and often split or perforated.

Without enough light, your plant’s leaves will be small and grow slowly. Your Monstera stays immature for months in low light, producing few or no leaves.

[2] Stunted Growth or No New Growth

Your Monstera will enter survival mode in low light. It will stop producing leaves as light conditions worsen.

Instead of growing, it maintains existing parts. It typically grows 1-2 feet per year. If the light is poor, you won’t see any growth.

[3] Lack of Perforations on Leaves

I think monstera plants’ splits and lacy holes add to their beauty. But, on the other hand, they look awkward and unappealing without perforations.

Unfortunately, your prized Monstera will suffer due to a lack of light. As a result, this evergreen climber’s Swiss cheese openings will disappear.

Your plant seals and splits to get more chlorophyll. This will increase photosynthesis light capture.

Only mature leaves have perforations. Poor light slows plant maturation and delays fenestrations.

[4] Loss of Variegation

I love variegated monstera varieties. I already own four of the most popular ones, namely:

  • Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Borsigiana‘ – This stunner wows my home with its pure white splotchy and blocky variegations.
  • Monstera deliciosa ‘Thai Constellation’ – Nothing looks more stunning than the splotchy galaxy-Esque variegation patterns of Thai constellations. Mine illuminates with variegations in shades of light yellow and creamy white.
  • Mint Monstera – I have a couple of these rare gems with white-green variegations
  • Monstera deliciosa ‘Marmorata’ – Call it “Aurea” or “Marmorata”, this variegated variety is the best one yet. The splotchy-patterned yellow variegations go well with the décor of my home.

Variegated beauties will not produce variegations in low light. Instead, they will have nearly all-green leaves to increase photosynthesis in less-than-ideal circumstances.

The leaves will appear vibrant and healthy on their own. But, then, they will become darker and more vibrant.

This is because monstera leaves try to increase chlorophyll production to make the most available light.

[5] Aerial Roots that are Poorly Developed

Aerial roots sprout from the stem at nodes along the Monstera’s branch, as on most other rainforest climbing evergreens.

They are designed to absorb water and nutrients from the moist air.

These aerial roots can also be used as a means of support and climbing in their natural habitats.

They aid your plant’s grip on moss-covered surfaces. However, insufficient light causes roots to be weak, preventing your plant from climbing.

[6] Leggy or Sparse Growth

Low light conditions will cause your Monstera to grow leggy. Not by chance, the stems lengthen to reach for more light.

So, your Monstera’s internodes will be longer, resulting in a sparse and leggy appearance.

Signs and Dangers of Getting Too Much Sunlight

Monsteras grow in filtered light at the bottom of their native rainforests. Therefore, excessive exposure to direct sunlight will result in an unsightly tan.

Sunburned Monstera

In addition, leaf scorch will occur on the exposed leaves. Look out for the following signs and dangers of too much direct sunlight:

  • Leaf browning – The increased sunlight exposure dried out the soil faster and scorched the foliage. The leaves will turn brown entirely or develop large, brown blotches or sunburn marks.
  • Crisping up of leaves – The surfaces of the scorched leaves will feel dry and crispy
  • Leaf scald – The delicate foliage of a monstera is built to receive bright, filtered sunlight. The leaves will become scalded. They appear white or look pale, losing their capacity to photosynthesize.
  • Leaf curling, shriveling, or wrinkling – Increased loss of moisture from the leaves will cause them to curl up or new leaves not open.
  • Bleached foliage – The leaves of a monstera that gets too much sunlight will appear whitewashed. They will look light green, grayish, whitish, or pale. The leaves closest to the window or light source may turn yellowish as chlorophyll becomes degraded.
  • Drooping and wilting – Expect your plant to wilt as it loses more water through evaporation due to excessive heat from light. Loss of turgor pressure follows, leading to drooping.
  • Stunted or slowed growth – Chlorophyll degradation and other effects of light damage will naturally slow down the growth of your Monstera.

Can Monstera Grow in Shade?

Absolutely. Monstera can grow in the shade or low-light conditions. That is not to say that your plant will thrive in direct sunlight.

As with all tropicals, your Monstera requires a lot of light to produce beautiful variegated foliage and develop fenestrations.

However, most Monstera deliciosa plants will thrive in partial shade with 3-6 hours of direct sunlight.

Therefore, you can move your potted monstera plants outside in the spring, but provide shade if the sun becomes too bright before noon.

As indoor plants, put them near an east, west, or south-facing window with lots of light. Always filter or indirect sunlight!

Where Should I Place My Monstera Plant Indoors?

Monstera prefers bright, indirect, or filtered sunlight. A west or east-facing window is ideal.

Placing your Monstera in the middle of the room or far from the window won’t allow optimal growth.

A north-facing window doesn’t let enough light in to grow plants.

South-facing windows let in too much sun. Instead, use a sheer curtain to block the sun.

Monstera plants are highly adaptable. While ideal lighting conditions will help your plant thrive, it can also tolerate less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Interestingly, too much light might help your Monstera at first since the extra light energy will help it bloom more often.

However, direct sunlight will eventually harm your plant. How far your plant is from the window affects its light conditions.

For example, a south-facing windowsill gets ten times as light as 2 or 3 feet away.

Simply placing your Monstera near a window may be all you need to adjust its light conditions.

However, it is essential to note that you can place your Monstera in direct sunlight during the winter.

How to Measure the Light Conditions of Your Monstera

You can use various methods to measure how much light your Monstera is getting.

First, check the light on a sunny day to see if your Monstera is in the right spot.

Here are a couple of tried-and-true ways to measure monstera light:

(1) Hand Shadow Test

It is easiest to measure the length and intensity of the hand shadow cast by the light falling on your plant.

  • Begin by placing your hand about 12″ above the location of your Monstera.
  • Attempt to cast a shadow on your plant’s foliage.
  • Ideally, a black, well-defined shadow should form on the leaves of your Monstera. This indicates that the light is bright at that particular location.
  • Low-light conditions indicate an irregular, faint shadow, which is not ideal for your Monstera. Bring your Monstera closer to the window until the shadow cast on the leaves is clearly defined.

(2) Using Lux Meter

Investing in a quality lux meter is a worthwhile investment for any gardener.

You can scout out the best spots to shoot using the device, which measures the light conditions and provides incredibly accurate readings.

A good lux meter isn’t expensive (Check the latest price on Amazon here). It measures light hitting a surface, and the readings are presented in lumens/ square meter (= 1 lux)

Ideally, monstera plants should receive around 10,700 – 27,000 lux (1,000 – 2,500 FC) for between 8 and 10 hours per day for optimal growth

Are Artificial Grow Lights Good for Monstera?

Artificial grow lights can do a great job on monsteras. LEDs are preferred but don’t position them too close to your Monstera.

The ideal range is 10,700 – 27,000 lux (1,000 – 2,500 FC) of artificial light for 8-10 hours per day.

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