Monstera Light Needs (Requirements Fully Explained)

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One of the essential conditions you need to meet when growing Monstera indoors is to give in an adequate amount of optimal lighting.

Light plays a significant role in the growth of the Monstera. Light is necessary for chlorophyll production in angiosperms (flowering plants). Additionally, light is absorbed by the Monstera and converted to chemical energy, which is then used to produce food (starch) in the plant.

Hence, it would be best to give your Monstera the optimal lighting to grow a healthy plant.

Before moving on to the details, we first need to know the types of light you give your Monstera.


Types of Light for Monstera

The types of light you can give your Monstera differ based on the intensity of the light. The different types of light are mentioned below:

1.       Low Light

Low light conditions refer to the amount of natural sunlight that indoor plants receive, usually early morning or late evening. Low light levels do not offer enough light to fulfill Monstera light needs.

2.       Medium Light

Medium light refers to the sun’s rays that fall on the plant, but the light does not come directly from the sun; instead, it bounces off surfaces to reach the plant.

3.      Bright Indirect Light

Bright indirect light refers to a vigorous intensity of the sun’s rays that do not come directly from the sun but passes through window planes or bounce off surfaces.

4.       Bright Direct Sunlight

Bright direct sunlight means exactly as it sounds, where the plant receives strong light directly from the sun.


What Kind of Light Does Monstera Need?

Now that we know the types of light there are, we need to know the kind that would be best for the growth of Monstera.

Monstera needs bright indirect light from the sun or an artificial source.

Monstera plants are tropical plants accustomed to low-light environments ceiled with large trees and leaves. As a tropical plant, the only light Monstera gets in rainforests is the bright filtered light that comes through the leaves above and falls on the forest floor where the Monstera and other plants are.

Hence, Monstera had evolved themselves to be able to thrive in bright indirect light. Due to more chlorophyll, some Monstera with darker leaves can also survive in higher light levels.

However, direct light from the sun can be harmful to the Monstera and can result in brown leaves due to burning, cause increased water loss, which will result in drooping leaves, and, eventually, death of the Monstera plant.

The trick to knowing what kind of light you can place your Monstera in is to look at the leaves. If the leaves are lighter in color, they do not have a lot of chlorophyll and require low light, especially for variegated Monstera.


How Much Light Does a Monstera Need?

The amount of light that the Monstera requires can be measured in two ways: duration and intensity. Both intensity and time play an essential role in Monstera’s growth.


One way of knowing how much light to give your Monstera is to count the hours it is placed in the direct morning sun or artificial lights.

Monstera prefers bright indirect sunlight to bright light, but too little light can be a problem and result in stunted growth, so a couple of hours isn’t enough for a Monstera. Similarly, too much sunlight can be a problem, too, so 20 hours would be more than the required duration.

Generally, ten to twelve hours of indirect bright light is good for the Monstera. Moreover, you can place the Monstera in direct gentle light in the early hours of the day for around six hours to provide enough light for healthy growth.


While bright natural light is best for a Monstera, you can grow them as indoor plants with artificial lighting. The trick is to know the intensity of the light they need.

Monstera generally requires around four thousand lux during their growth periods and at least one thousand lux for maintenance.

The intensity of the bright light can be measured in either lumen (lm) or illuminance (lux or footcandles).

Direct sunlight is around 12,000 footcandles which is too much sunlight for Monstera. Bright indirect light is approximately two thousand to five thousand foot candles, the amount required by a Monstera.


What if Monstera Receives Too Much light?

Too much direct sunlight or too much indirect sunlight can be harmful to the Monstera plant. Below are some effects you can expect to see if a Monstera receives too much sun.

·       Browning Leaves: Too much sun can start to burn or scald the leaves, turning them brown and crispy on the edges. The leaves will lose their ability to photosynthesize and produce food, resulting in the death of the plant.

·       Excessive Water Loss: Due to the increase in bright light, the temperature around the Monstera will increase, causing the loss of water by transpiration to increase. This results in wilting of the Monstera.

·       Moisture Loss: Not only does too much light dry out the plant from the inside, but it also dries out the soil and the air around it. The Monstera requires humidity levels above 50% to thrive, which is impossible in bright direct light.


What if Monstera Receives Too Little Light?

Monstera plants are delicate and require optimal conditions for growth; anything above or below can be harmful. You can tell how much light does a monstera need based on the state of the Monstera.

Sunlight is a requirement for the growth of the plant, without which the plant will suffer adverse effects. Below are some effects you can expect to indicate that your Monstera needs more light:

·       Elongated Stems: Monstera grows their stems towards the light as a conditioned response. If it receives too little light, the Monstera will experience long stems (leggy growth) where the stem stretches outwards without generating new leaves.

·       Weak Aerial Roots: Aerial roots area  f\defining characteristic of Monstera that anchor the plant to a tree or moss pole and absorb nutrients and moisture from the air. In the absence of adequate light, the aerial roots grow weak and cannot keep the Monstera attached and growing.

·       Small Leaves: As the plant grows, new leaves mature in the presence of light. However, in cases where they do not receive optimal lighting, the leaves stop growing, resulting in the plant growing small green leaves.

·       Lower Rate of Variegation: Variegation in the Monstera occurs due to a genetic mutation that results in the absence of chlorophyll in some parts of the leaf. The plant adapts and produces more green leaves to cope with lower light levels, resulting in a lower quantity of variegated leaves.

·       Stunted Growth: Low light equals low food and a low growth rate. This is true for all other plants and not just Monstera. Slow growth is expected in the winter as Monstera do not grow during the period, but if your Monstera shows slow growth during summer and spring, it might be due to low light levels.

·       Fewer Fenestrations: Fenestration refers to the holes in Monstera leaves, earning them the name of the Swiss cheese plant. These fenestrations develop as the leaf matures. However, low lighting can hinder the growth of the leaves, resulting in fewer fenestrations to develop.


Important Facts About Monstera Light Requirements

Now that you know what kind of light the Monstera needs, what amount of light it needs, what happens if it gets too much bright light, and what happens if it gets too little light, there are some facts about monstera light requirements you need to be aware of.


Direct Light vs. Indirect Light

This might seem easy to differentiate, but many people tend to get it wrong, resulting in their Monstera not getting the proper lighting.

Direct sunlight is light that falls uninterrupted onto the leaves of the plant. You can achieve this by placing the Monstera in sunlight out in the garden. More often than not, this is damaging to the Monstera plant.

Indirect light is light broken or diffused before it reaches the plant or if the plant does not get prolonged light exposure.

Indirect light is best for the Monstera as it is what the plant is accustomed to as a rainforest plant, where the giant trees canopy the plants.


Light Requirements for Different Monstera

The Monstera genus consists of 49 species, all with their requirements. While these species generally share their light conditions, you must make specific tweaks. Below are some common types of indoor Monstera and their light needs.

1.       Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa is one of the most common Monstera plants found indoors. The deliciosa plant does well in filtered light for around five to six hours daily and can survive in low light conditions. However, low light can result in stunted growth of the plant.


2.       Mini Monstera

The mini Monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) is a distant cousin of the Monstera deliciosa, and as its name suggests, it’s the smaller version of the deliciosa.

Mini Monstera does well in low indirect light, and too much light can cause the leaves to burn.

3.       Monstera adansonii

Monstera adansonii is more sensitive to light conditions than other Monsteras and does well in less than six hours of bright indirect light.

The adansonii plant does exceptionally well in the early few hours of sunlight. Alternatively, you can place it a few feet away from a western or southern window.

4.       Variegated Monstera

Variegated Monstera has less chlorophyll in its leaves and requires more extended light periods to make sufficient food.

However, they are susceptible to direct light and must be kept in the shade for healthy plant growth.


The Relationship between Light Duration and Intensity

Light intensity refers to how intense the light is, while duration refers o the time that light stays in contact with the plant. The required intensity that Monstera needs can change depending on the duration of the light, and the same is true the other way around.

The duration of light needed by the Monstera plant can change depending on how intense the light is. If the plant sits on the bright window pane, it will not require ten hours of light. Similarly, a plant near the southern and western windows will receive more light than a plant at a northern window.


How Seasons Affect Light

During the spring and summer, sunlight is more intense than in winter. This is because the sun is higher in the sky during the hotter months and lower during the colder season.

This is also one of the reasons why Monstera tends to grow slower during the winter.

Tips for Giving Your Monstera the Right Amount of Light

You can do certain things to ensure that your Monstera receives the right amount and type of light it needs for perfect growth. Below are some tips for giving your Monstera the right light.

1.      Using a Light Meter

A light meter is a handy tool for measuring the intensity of the light that your Monstera is receiving. The light meter measures light intensity in foot candles.

Below is a table of the light intensity (in foot candles) of different types of light.

Type of Light

The intensity of light (in Foot Candles)

Low Light

25 – 100

Medium Light

100 – 500

High-intensity Light

500 – 1000

Direct Sunlight

1000 and above


2.      The Shadow Test

The shadow test is an easy method of measuring light intensity for those who do not have a light meter.

To perform the shadow test, spread your fingers 12 inches above the plant, between the plant and the light source. Then, observe the shadow of your hand.

A low-intensity light will give a faint shadow or a barely visible shadow. A medium light will create a shadow with a fuzzy outline. The shadow will be dense and defined if the light is too bright.

3.      Choose the Right Window

One of the best ways to control how much sunlight and the type of light that your Monstera receives is by placing the Monstera near the right kind of window. Below are the different types of windows and their effects on the Monstera plant.

1.       North-facing Windows:  Windows facing the north provide gentle light. These windows are best for Monstera that do not tolerate direct sunlight, such as variegated Monstera. However, for Monstera to get an adequate amount of light, it needs to be placed as close to the window as possible.

2.       South-facing Windows: Windows facing the south provide a long period of direct sunlight that is too intense for a Monstera plant. Unless your south-facing window is covered with curtains or blinds, we do not recommend placing your Monstera near it.

3.       West-facing Windows: Windows facing the west provide strong sunlight during the evening and little to no light during the early hours. If your home has a west-facing window, place the Monstera a few feet away from the window.

4.       East-facing Windows: Windows facing the east provide bright sunlight in the early morning and low-intensity light during the evening, making them perfect for your Monstera plant.


Frequently Asked Questions

1.      How many foot candles does a Monstera need?

Generally, Monstera plants prefer a light intensity of 100 to 500-foot candles. However, how much light is needed by the plant depends on the type of plant. Some varieties, such as variegated Monstera, may require lower light intensity.

2.      Can I grow Monstera in the dark?

While Monstera does not prefer intense sunlight and is considered a low-light plant, it can not survive in the dark. All plants need to photosynthesize to make food and grow, which they can not do without light.

3.      What window should my Monstera be in?

The best window for your Monstera is the East facing window, which will provide your Monstera with enough sunlight so as not to burn the leaves and adequate amounts of indirect sunlight.

Alternatively, you can place the Monstera in a south-facing window covered with curtain blinds.


4.      Can my Monstera grow with indoor lighting?

If your home doesn’t have windows or your plant is not receiving enough sunlight, there is no need to worry. You can grow Monstera indoors using artificial light, such as blue light LED or a light-green light source. However, ensuring the right light intensity level for your Monstera is essential.

You can also use artificial grow lights. Grow lights can allow you to get the right light for your Monstera. Grow light is an artificial light that can be ordered online or bought at any plant shop. However, ensure the plant does not receive too much light from grow lights.