Can Pothos Survive Without Light? The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Plant Care

Did you know that pothos plants are one of the most sought-after indoor plants around the globe? They are cherished for their beautiful foliage and ability to thrive in various lighting conditions. However, many plant enthusiasts often wonder, can pothos survive without light? In this blog post, we will shed some light on this intriguing question and provide valuable insights into the world of pothos plants and their care.

We’ll discuss the importance of light for pothos, their adaptability to low light environments, and how to care for them under such conditions. Additionally, we will explore artificial lighting options for pothos and the signs that indicate when your plant may need more light. By the end of this post, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how light affects pothos and how to ensure their optimal growth, keeping in mind the question, “can pothos survive without light?”

Key Takeaways

  • Pothos plants require light to survive, but can tolerate low light conditions.

  • Artificial lighting solutions such as fluorescent and LED lights provide balanced output of red and blue wavelengths for pothos growth in the absence of natural sunlight.

  • Signs like leggy growth or pale leaves indicate that your pothos may need more light. Pruning stems and relocating it to an area with more indirect sunlight are effective ways to promote healthy growth.

Can Pothos Truly Survive Without Light?

Pothos plants, native to the islands of French Polynesia, have spread their charm throughout tropical forests around the world. They are well-known for their ability to endure low light conditions, making them a popular choice among tropical plants, such as low light indoor plants like the peace lily, the prayer plant, and the snake plant. However, bear in mind that although pothos tolerate low light, they cannot survive without any form of illumination. They require some form of light, be it natural or artificial, to achieve optimal growth as an indoor plant.

In their natural habitat, pothos typically receive filtered sunlight through tree canopies, often characterized as dappled sunlight. This is similar to the light conditions experienced by other indoor plants like spider plant and snake plants. Although pothos can’t thrive in complete darkness, they can adapt to low light conditions, with some alterations to their growth patterns and leaf appearance.

The Importance of Light for Pothos

Light plays a pivotal role in pothos’ photosynthesis and overall well-being, with bright indirect light being the most favourable condition. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy to fuel their growth and development. Without light, pothos wouldn’t be able to generate the energy required to thrive.

Direct sunlight could scorch the large leaves of pothos plants, so they do not require direct light for survival. They thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, and can even manage without sunlight for short periods. Filtered light from an east-facing window is also suitable. This makes them suitable companions for other indoor plants that prefer indirect light, such as spider plants and snake plants.

How Long Can Pothos Last in Darkness?

Pothos can survive short periods of darkness, but extended periods without light will lead to stunted growth and eventual decline. They can endure in complete darkness for a period of 4 to 20 days, depending on the amount of light they typically receive. Prolonged darkness can cause the following issues:

  • The leaves may lose their variegation

  • Growth may slow down

  • Stems may stretch

  • Leaves may droop or wilt

To avoid exposing your pothos to too much light, occasional exposure to brighter light is necessary. During winter, when the intensity of light decreases, consider moving your pothos to a brighter spot or supplementing with artificial light sources. This will help your pothos maintain its beautiful foliage and continue growing healthily.

Adapting Pothos to Low Light Environments

Pothos can adapt to low light environments, but growth may be slower and leaves may change in size and color. Their high degree of shade tolerance enables them to thrive in dappled shade and indirect sunlight, making them suitable for rooms with few windows or insufficient natural light. However, even in low light conditions, there will be some changes in their growth patterns and leaf appearance.

We will review how pothos plants modify their growth patterns and leaves when situated in conditions of low light. Understanding these changes will help you provide the best care for your pothos, ensuring that it remains healthy and vibrant even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Growth Patterns in Low Light

In low light, pothos may grow more slowly and have longer gaps between leaves. This is because they are trying to maximize their exposure to the limited light available, leading to a leggy appearance with fewer leaves on the stems. However, pothos can still survive and grow in low light environments, although their growth rate and leaf size may be reduced.

For accelerating pothos growth, think about moving the plant to an area with sufficient, indirect light and regularly prune the plant. This will help your pothos maintain its health and vibrancy even when light conditions are less than ideal.

Leaf Changes in Low Light

Leaves may become smaller and less vibrant in color when pothos is grown in low light conditions. The size of the leaves may be reduced in comparison to when exposed to brighter light. Additionally, the leaves may display a paler or whitish hue due to the absence of sunlight.

If your pothos plant exhibits these leaf changes, it might be a sign that it needs more light. Try moving your plant to a brighter area with indirect sunlight to help it regain its natural, vibrant green color and maintain its overall health.

Caring for Pothos in Low Light Conditions

Proper care for pothos in low light includes adjusting watering frequency and using appropriate soil and fertilizer. Since pothos plants in low light conditions require less water than those in brighter light, it is crucial to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

We will examine the distinct watering needs and soil and fertilizer requirements for pothos plants in low light situations. By providing the appropriate care, you can ensure that your pothos remains healthy and vibrant even when exposed to limited light.

Watering Requirements

Water pothos less frequently in low light conditions to prevent root rot. When grown in low light environments, it is suggested to let the soil dry almost completely through the pot before watering. However, ensure that the plant is not left in a dry state for an extended period.

In low light conditions, it is advisable to water your pothos every 1-2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. This will help maintain the plant’s health and reduce the risk of overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

Soil and Fertilizer Needs

Use well-draining soil and provide balanced fertilizer for pothos in low light environments. A combination of horticultural charcoal, peat moss, sphagnum moss, and coco coir can effectively retain moisture while providing the necessary conditions for growth in low light.

For pothos in low light conditions, it is recommended to fertilize them once per month during the spring and summer, using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Fertilizing should be avoided during the winter when the plant is dormant. This will help ensure the optimal growth and health of your pothos even in limited light conditions.

Artificial Lighting Solutions for Pothos

Artificial lighting can help pothos plants survive without natural sunlight, with options such as fluorescent lights and LED grow lights. These lighting solutions can provide the necessary light spectrum for photosynthesis, acting as a substitute for natural sunlight. In fact, many indoor plants, including pothos, can thrive under artificial lighting, making them ideal for spaces with limited access to natural light.

We will examine the advantages of utilizing fluorescent lights and LED grow lights for pothos plants. By understanding the advantages and limitations of these artificial light sources, you can provide the best possible care for your pothos plants in the absence of sunlight.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights can provide sufficient light for pothos plants in the absence of sunlight. They offer a balanced output of red and blue light, which is essential for plant growth. Fluorescent lights are also more energy-efficient than incandescent lights, consuming less electricity while still providing adequate light for the plants.

For optimal growth, it is recommended to position fluorescent lights 6 to 12 inches away from pothos plants. Cool white or full-spectrum fluorescent tubes should be used to provide ample light for the plants. An outlet timer can be utilized to regulate the level of light received by the plants.

LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights offer energy-efficient lighting solutions for pothos plants without access to natural light. They provide the necessary light spectrum for photosynthesis, enabling plants to grow with reduced energy requirements. LED grow lights are customizable and can provide the specific wavelengths of light that plants need for optimal development.

For optimal results, LED grow lights should be used for 12-14 hours daily. Recommended LED grow lights for pothos include the Sansi 15W and Ezorkas Dimmable Grow Light. By providing the right spectrum of light, LED grow lights can support the healthy growth of your pothos plants even in low light conditions.

Signs Your Pothos May Need More Light

Indications that your pothos may require more light include sparse growth and pale leaves. If you notice these signs in your pothos plant, it might be time to adjust the lighting conditions to ensure its optimal growth. It’s essential to monitor your pothos regularly and make necessary adjustments to its care to maintain its health and vibrancy.

We will examine the indications of sparse growth and pale leaves in pothos plants and how to remedy these issues. Knowing what to look for and how to respond will help you provide the best possible care for your pothos, ensuring that it remains healthy and vibrant even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Leggy Growth

Leggy growth with long gaps between leaves may indicate insufficient light for your pothos plant. This can result from a combination of low light and excessive fertilizer, leading to sparse foliage and an overall leggy appearance.

To address leggy growth in your pothos, consider the following steps:

  1. Use a sharp, sterilized blade to trim the leggy stems.

  2. Root the cuttings in soil to grow new vines.

  3. This will promote bushier growth and help your pothos regain its fullness and vibrancy.

Pale Leaves

Pale or yellowing leaves can be a sign that your pothos needs more light to thrive. This occurs when the plant is unable to generate enough chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green hue, due to insufficient light. As a result, the leaves may appear pale or yellowish.

To resolve this issue, try moving your pothos plant to a brighter area with indirect sunlight. This will help the leaves regain their natural, vibrant green color and ensure the overall health of your plant.


In conclusion, pothos plants are incredibly versatile and can adapt to various lighting conditions. Although they cannot survive in complete darkness, they can tolerate low light environments and maintain their health with proper care. By understanding the importance of light for pothos and adjusting their watering, soil, and fertilizer needs accordingly, you can ensure their optimal growth even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

Don’t let low light conditions hold you back from enjoying the beauty of pothos plants. With the right care and attention, your pothos will continue to thrive, adding life and color to your indoor spaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can pothos survive in bathroom with no light?

Pothos are a great choice for bathrooms with no light since they can tolerate lower light levels and irregular watering. They absorb water easily and are incredibly easy to care for, needing only water when the soil is completely dry.

Are there any plants that can survive without sunlight?

Mycoheterotrophic plants, Chinese evergreens, snake plants, ZZ plants and some species of ferns can all survive without direct sunlight. However, they may need an indirect source of energy such as through their host plant or nearby fungi.

How can I care for my pothos in low light conditions?

To care for your pothos in low light conditions, reduce your watering frequency, use a well-draining soil and provide balanced fertilizer.

What are some artificial lighting solutions for pothos plants?

Fluorescent and LED lights are both effective artificial lighting solutions for pothos plants when sunlight is unavailable.

What are the signs that my pothos needs more light?

Signs that your pothos needs more light include leggy growth with long gaps between leaves and pale or yellowing leaves.


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