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Spider Plant Light Requirements (How Much Light Does It Need)

I love how my spider plants brighten the ambiance in any room in my home since they can tolerate a wide range of light levels. But your spider plant will thrive best when it gets optimum light. In this article, you’ll find out more about spider plant light requirements.

Spider plants require 8-10 hours of medium to bright, indirect sunlight. For the most part, that means you should place it in front of an east-facing window. Ensure it receives part shade during the day if you park it near a west or south-facing window.

Keep reading to discover if your spider plant is getting too little, too much, or just enough light. Don’t forget to check my handy tips on how to ensure optimal light for your spider plant.

Can Spider Plants Live in Low Light?

Spider plants are beloved by newbies and life-long gardeners. And with good reason. They’re not only super easy to grow and incredibly adaptable but also tolerant of most light levels.

In fact, spider plants are one of the few go-to houseplants that can tolerate low-light, along with snake plants, ferns, lucky bamboo, and golden pothos.

However, spider plants will do best in medium to bright, indirect light. Don’t expect to see it thrive in a dark spot. It’ll experience slow growth and may fail to put out its showy spiderettes or plantlets.

In addition, low light conditions may worsen the adverse effects of overwatering, drafts, disease infestation, and nutrient deficiencies.

How Much Light My Spider Plant Is Getting

Your eyes aren’t equipped to accurately tell the brightness of the light. In other words, you can’t simply say a spot receives low light, medium light, or bright light by just looking at it.

That’s why I recommend using any of the following easy methods:

[1] The Hand Shadow Test

The hand shadow test is called the simple method for a good reason – it easy to carry out and won’t cost you a dime. It’s exactly how it sounds — using the strength of the shadow cast by your hand to determine the intensity of light hitting a specific area.

  1. First, choose a spot in your room where you intend to place your spider plant
  2. At around noon, when the sun is shining the brightest, position your hand about 12 inches (30 cm) directly up above the spot. You can lay a white sheet of paper for better results.
  3. Look at the shadow cast by your hand.

If you see a crisp, high-contrast, and well-defined hand shadow, that’s a bright spot.

Medium-light will cast a recognizable hand shadow that’s a little bit fuzzy, blurred, or hazy.

Low light will produce a shadow that’s faint with a blurred outline. You can barely see it.

You must not forget that the hand shadow test is the least precise method. It’ll give you a rough estimate of the light’s brightness. If you’re interested in a more accurate method, keep reading.

[2] Using a Lux Meter

For precise measurement of how much light your spider plant is getting, you’ll want to use a light meter. I find that a mid-range lux meter is perfect for the job. At the price, you’ll also get more bang for your money.

Simply walk around your target room with your light meter. Start with the most obvious spots, such as near windows, skylights, doors, etc. You will get a numerical LUX reading, which tells you the intensity or brightness of the light of a particular space.

There are a few conversions you need to keep in mind when working with a lux meter, such as:

  • 1 lux = .0929 foot-candle (FC)
  • 1 lux = 1 lumen per sq-m

Luckily, most light meters, including Dr Meter, allow you to effortlessly switch between LUX and FC modes with a simple press of a button.

So, how do you interpret the lux meter reading?

  • Low light is generally somewhere in the 25-100 FC range
  • Medium-light is between 100 FC and 500 FC
  • High bright light is often between 500 FC and 1000 FC
  • Direct sunlight often delivers a reading of above 1000 FC

(Source: University of Florida).

As a general rule, you should never park any of your houseplants, spider plants included, in any spot with a light reading below 25 FC.

[3] Using the Direction your Window is Facing

If you’re looking for a more practical way to determine how much light your spider plant gets, consider the direction the nearest window is facing.

The sun rises in the east, so east-facing windows get the mild morning sunlight. On the other hand, west-facing windows normally get most of the hot direct afternoon sunlight.

The US sits in the Northern Hemisphere, so the sun traverses the southern part of the sky. In saying so, southern exposure is the sunniest or brightest. The other way around is true for north-facing windows.

To recap:

  • East-facing windows – Your spider plant will enjoy bright, indirect sunlight here
  • South-facing windows – They deliver the most bright, direct sunlight
  • West-facing windows – Get bright, direct sunlight mostly in the afternoon
  • North-facing windows – Receive low light.

Place your spider plant on an east-facing window sill. Alternatively, put it near a west or south-facing window with drapery or a sheer curtain to filter the light.

How Many Hours of Light Do Spider Plants Need?

Your spider plant will do best if it receives between 6 and 10 hours of bright but not direct natural sunlight. The stripes of white or yellow on the leaves will become more striking and beautiful when it gets enough light.

Exposure to direct sunlight should be limited to under 5 hours. If it sits in too much light for long, the leaves will become sunburned and develop brown spots. The leaf tips will also become browned.

Where Should You Place a Spider Plant?

Spider plants are native to South and West African tropical forests where they grow under the tree canopies. As such, they are accustomed to partial shade and bright, indirect light.

You should try to emulate these light conditions in your home. A spider plant can be kept in the bedroom, living room, bathroom, and even in balconies/patios. The trick is to pick a spot with moderate to bright, indirect light.

It will also be happy to see shade for some part of the day. But avoid overexposure to too much direct sunlight. The leaves will wilt, crisp up, and turn brown in the tips & edges.

More often than not, your spider plant will do well in front of an east-facing window. This way, it’ll soak up as much of the soft-hitting morning sunlight as possible. At the same time, your spider plant will not endure the brunt of the scorching afternoon sun.

You can also place your spider plant five to six feet away from a window facing west or south. Just make sure it has a drape or sheer curtain so that your plant can get bright filtered light.

Signs That Your Spider Plant Isn’t Getting Enough Light

Spider plants are exceptionally tolerant of low light, so most symptoms of light shortage are mild. In some indoor cases, the signs are so subtle that you may not even notice them.

Even so, the following signs may tell you that your spider plant isn’t receiving enough medium to bright light.

[1] Soil Not Drying Out for Weeks

This is a no-brainer sign. After all, light plays a big role in the drying out of your plant’s potting soil. The soil will dry out faster in bright light as it facilitates healthy uptake of water, plus speeds up the loss of moisture from the soil through evaporation.

The general rule of thumb is to use your finger to test moisture level after every four to five days. The top 2-3” must feel a bit dry to your fingers before you can consider watering your plant again.

However, if the soil remains moist or wet for weeks, your spider plant may be in a low-light spot. If you don’t move it to a brighter spot, or continue watering, you’ll increase the risk of root rot.

Your spider plant may be in trouble if your nose picks up a rotting smell from the soil, instead of the pleasant earthy musk. Dig it up and you’ll probably find some rusty brown or black, mushy roots.

[2] Leaning Towards Light Sources

Like every plant, spider plants do need light to photosynthesize and grow healthily. They will do everything to get enough light for their growth and energy needs. That’s why the leaves or entire plant may start leaning towards any light source if it isn’t getting enough.

You have no choice but to move your plant to a brighter area. Don’t make the transition sudden. If it’s in a dark corner, relocate it near an east-facing window.

[3] Abnormal Leaf Color

When your spider plant receives good light, the arching, grasslike leaves will be lush green. Variegated varieties will have prominent white or yellow stripes.

However, when it isn’t getting enough light, the leaves may begin to turn yellow. The new and tender leaves are the first to go yellow followed by the rest of the plant.

The leaves may also appear pale or washed out. That’s because leaves will start to lose their green pigmentation (chlorophyll) in a dark area.

Variegated spider plants may experience loss of their yellow or white strips. Instead, they will go solid green when the light shortage becomes prolonged.

[4] Producing Small Leaves

Healthy spider plants usually produce medium-large, long leaves. They may even sprout some spiderettes or plantlets under the right light and temperature conditions.

So, if new leaves on your spider plant are thin, small, and underwhelming, your plant may not be getting enough light. These smaller leaves are usually pale, leggy, or floppy.

[5] Drooping Leaves

Don’t be surprised if your spider plant leaves start drooping in extremely low light. Wilting is usually a result of overwatering, root rot, or generally sickly look due to critical light shortage.

The leaves typically turn pale or lose variegation before slightly wilting and then drooping. If you don’t rectify the underlying issues associated with low light, your plant may collapse.

Prune away all drooping foliage. They’ll likely not revive. If too little light and overwatering has led to root rot, you’ll want to cut back diseased roots and treat the remaining with fungicide. Finally, repot using fresh potting soil.

[6] No New Growth

While spider plants can tolerate low light, they will not experience their robust growth. If you don’t see new leaves, shoots, or plantlets when they should be appearing, then low light may be to blame.

You must not forget that spider plants may naturally slow growth during the winter months. However, if your spider plant stays dormant or inactive when spring and summer weather arrives, then you’ll want to review its light conditions.

How to Provide More Light

-Best Location for Snake Plants

It’s worth mentioning again that your spider plant will thrive in medium to bright, indirect light. The best location is where these light conditions are met, most often in front of an east-facing window. Make sure the spot is warm and draft-free, ensuring that temp stay above 50°F (10°C).

You can also nestle your spider plant in a room with south or west-facing windows. It’s important that you don’t place it directly on the window sill. More importantly, the windows must be lightly curtained to ensure filtered light reaches your spider plant.

Moreover, you can grow your spider plants outdoors as perennials in USDA zones 9-11. Again, your plants must be able to get some shade part of the day, limiting exposure to direct sunlight to 5 hours.

-Get a Grow Light & Put Plants Wherever You Like!

Sometimes houseplant lighting is affected by factors like season. Your spider plant may not get enough natural light in winter.

Thankfully, grow lights can be a great solution. Aid your spider plant to thrive using grow lights. They’ll help your plant photosynthesize and remain healthy, so it can fight off potential pests and diseases.

Ideally, you should use LED grow lights. They’re energy-efficient, stylish, and built to last. They also provide both blue and red rays of the light spectrum.

LED grow lights are good in helping keep active growth. This is especially important if you want them to produce offshoots that you can use for propagation.

When you use LED grow lights, ensure that your plant is illuminated for at least 12 hours each for optimum variegation and lush foliage.

Signs That Your Spider Plant Is Getting Too Much Light

[1] Wilting During the Hottest Hours of the Day

Too much light accelerates the loss of moisture from both the leaves and the soil. If your plant is losing more moisture than it can take up from the roots, this can result in loss of turgor pressure. In the hottest time of the day, the leaves will show signs of underwatering, including dry, crispy, and wilting leaves.

Wilting may be accompanied by other symptoms like curled up leaves that show signs of sunburns or scorching. Note that wilting may also result from overwatering, low humidity, disease, or salt build-up in the soil due to chlorine or over-fertilizing.

[2] Leaves Curling

Healthy spider plants have slightly arched leaves. But, when they’re exposed to too much light, heat will lead to excessive moisture loss and tissue damage. As such, the leaves will start to curl up or inwards.

The leaf curling will become more prominent if the air is draft or dry. Wrinkling is another symptom that often goes hand in hand with the curling of leaves. Make sure it gets bright, indirect light and temperatures stay in the 70-90°F (21-32°C) range.

[3] Brown Leaf Edges or Tips

Heat resulting from excessive light may damage leaf tissue and sunburn the leaves. This will often manifest in the form of browned tips or edges of the leaves. If this continues for long, the entire leaves will sunburn, dry, and turn brown.

[4] Drooping Leaves

Because the leaves are losing too much moisture due to excessive light, they will not only wilt but also droop. If this happens, soak-water your spider plant for at least fifteen minutes. Make sure to drain excess water.

[5] Yellowing and Thickening of New Growth

If you see new offshoots and leaves are unusually thick and yellowing, your spider plant may be receiving too much light. This is a response in order to withstand sunburn.

Yellowing of leaves usually happens in tandem with wilting, drooping, and browned leaf edges. The new growth may also appear bleached, paled, or browned. You may also see translucent spots on the new leaves.

[6] Extra Flaky and Dry Soil

When your spider plant is subjected to excessive light, the soil will obviously dry out quicker. Depending on drainage capacity, it may also become compact and dusty. If the top three-inch of the soil are bone-dry, then soak watering for 15+ minutes should do the trick.

How to Ensure Optimum Light for Spider Plant

-Light Duration

As we’ve stated above, you should provide your spider plant with 8-10 hours of medium to bright, indirect natural light every day.

-Light Intensity

Spider plants will do best in medium to bright, indirect light. For best results, keep the light intensity in the 100-1000 FC range.

Final Words

Your spider plant needs around eight hours of medium to bright, indirect light daily. For the most part, this means that you should place it in front of an east-facing window. Avoid too much direct sunlight, as it will scorch the leaves and brown the leaf edges.