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Monstera Light Needs – Full Guide

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The broad, dark green, holey leaves of the Monstera plant are becoming more and more popular. Plant lovers everywhere are falling in love with the unique look of the Swiss Cheese Plant.

With this newfound love, come plenty of questions, like how much light does the Monstera species require? These leafy tropicals need between 8 to 12 hours of light to stay healthy and grow those large, fenestrated leaves.

They don’t need direct sunlight though, it needs to be bright, indirect light for the best growth. Keep reading as we go over everything light and Monstera related like how much is too much, and what happens if they don’t get enough light?

Where The Wild Monsteras Are

Wild monstera plants with sun shinning on them
Wild monstera plants with sun shinning on them

If you were to go traipsing through the tropical rainforests in South and Central America, you might happen across some wild Monstera Deliciosa plants. You might not quite recognize them though, because in the wild they get rather large and climb up other trees.

When they start out, they don’t have the unique holes or splits in the leaves. Instead, they are small, somewhat heart shaped, and resemble shingle plants. It’s not until later that they start growing aerial roots and have leaves with holes.

You may even see long, green fruits growing off larger plants. These plants can produce fruit in the home, but it is quite difficult and takes about a decade to see it.

How Much Light Do They Get In The Wild?

In the dense rainforests, Monstera plants don’t get full, direct sunlight. The tropical trees in these forests grow very tall, thick canopies that only allow dappled light through. Monstera plants—depending on subspecies—can reach heights of nearly 60 or more feet tall.

This still isn’t high enough to poke through the canopy, so these plants have developed evolutionary traits to make the best use of the little light they actually get. It’s thought that the splits and holes in the leaves allow the plant to get more sunlight, and also let some light filter down to the lower leaves.

At home, we want to try and replicate these conditions as closely as possible. Several hours of direct, full sunlight can harm the plant, and so can too little light.

How To Replicate Monstera Lighting Needs

Monstera plant near a large window with light shining on it
Monstera plant near a large window with light shining on it

Ideally, a Monstera would like to get about one to two hours of morning, direct light, but no more. For the rest of the day, they like dappled, indirect sunlight. It still likes it bright, but the intense, direct rays of afternoon sunlight are just too strong for these plants.

If you have a window that faces east and gets early morning light, but then receives indirect light the rest of the day, this would be ideal for Monstera plants.

West or south facing windows can be utilized, but you’ll have to position the plant so that it’s not directly in the sun. If this is the only place you can provide the light needed, you can put up sheer curtains to help reduce the intensity. They filter the light, but will still allow plenty of indirect light in.

Be Sure To Rotate Your Plants

House plants will lean toward the light or windows. In the case of Monstera plants they don’t only stretch toward the light source, but the leaves on the “dark side” will no longer grow holes.

To prevent this lopsided growth, as you probably already know, be sure to rotate your plants regularly. Give them a 180 degree turn every few days to make sure the entire plant gets enough light.

What About Grow Lights?

Maybe you have an apartment that’s constantly shaded by other skyscrapers, or you’re surrounded by trees and just don’t get enough light for your Monstera. Don’t worry, you can get a grow light for your plant.

DOMMIA Dimmable Full Spectrum Grow Light is a full spectrum grow light that can be dimmed as needed. You can also use the timer function, which is great as Monstera plants shouldn’t get more than 12 hours of light a day.

If the light is too intense, or too low, the desired fenestrations on the foliage will slowly disappear.

Placing the grow light directly overhead means you probably won’t have to turn the plant all the time. You’ll only have to adjust the height of the grow light as the plant gets taller.

Indications Your Monstera Isn’t Getting Enough Light

Your Monstera can tell you it’s not getting enough light through subtle indications. It will grow slowly, the leaves will change, and the water in the pot may hang around a bit too long. Keep an eye on your plant and if you notice the following indications, increase the light.

Minimal Or Stopped Growth

Monstera plants can grow fairly fast. Typically they will grow about one to two feet per year, so if they suddenly stop growing, too little light could be the problem.

There are other factors that affect growth rate such as the season and becoming root bound. Like most other plants, Monsteras slow down growth and may stop altogether when the days get shorter, and the temps drop.

When it gets root bound and no longer has room for the roots to grow, growth can slow as well. But assuming there isn’t a problem with the roots and winter is still months away, slow, stunted growth could be attributed to too little light.

Add a grow light, or place it closer to a brighter window without placing it directly in the sun and see if it starts pumping out leaves once again.

Solid Leaf Growth

Young Monstera plants will grow solid leaves with no holes. As it matures the new leaves should start showing the telltale splits and holes you expect.

Low light levels can cause the plant to grow more leaves without these fenestrations. If your plant started out with Swiss cheese looking leaves and then began producing solid leaves, you might want to try increasing the light.

It’s Growing Tiny Leaves

When they are mature, Monstera plants can produce leaves that are one to two feet wide and are even longer. If your plant suddenly reverts back to a childhood state and produces very small leaves, it could be telling you it wants more sunlight.

The growth will slow, and it will only produce small, immature leaves when it doesn’t get enough light.

The Soil Stays Moist

If you’re using a properly aerated soil, you shouldn’t have to worry that much about overwatering and root rot. Once you get your watering routine established you may notice that you don’t have to water it quite as often.

This could be due to low light levels. Not only does bright light help to dry the soil, but it makes the plant grow faster and use more water. If you find your plant not using as much water, you might want to think about moving it to a brighter corner of the room.

Consistently moist soil can quickly cause root rot in Monstera plants since they are very prone to this affliction. If you notice this, quickly find out what the problem is so root rot doesn’t set in.

You Have A Leggy Plant

Long, stemmed plants can look very unappealing, especially when you are trying to grow something with foliage as interesting as Monstera plants. Legginess is a sign the plants aren’t getting enough light.

They will stretch out trying to reach the light and make them look sickly and spindly. You can trim them back a little bit to reduce the leggy look, but if the light situation isn’t fixed, they will just continue to grow long and lanky.

Your Monstera Has Small Aerial Roots

You may think this isn’t a bad thing. Those aerial roots can get overwhelming at times and need to be trimmed all the time. Small, inconsequential aerial roots may not be an immediate cause of concern, but it means it’s not getting enough light.

Again, this is a sign the plant is regressing and reverting back to its adolescent form because of insufficient light. Young Monstera plants use their leaves to climb, and only grow aerial roots when it’s older.

So, while fewer aerial roots may initially be a nice benefit, you’ll eventually get less growth overall, and smaller, filled in foliage. Increase the amount of light to get your Monstera back on track.

Signs Your Monstera Deliciosa Is Getting Too Much Light

Young Monstera plant in white concrete pot
Young Monstera plant in white concrete pot

Just like too little light, too much light can affect your plant as well. Only with too much or too intense light, damage can be greater and quite severe on these plants. Let’s look at the symptoms of too much light.

Slow, Stunted Growth

Just like when the plant doesn’t get enough light and slows the growth rate, the same can happen when Monstera plants get too much light.

They will try to minimize the damage and stop growing. But if the sunlight is too bright and intense, more damage could happen to the plant.

Wilted And Droopy Monstera

With too much light, water could become an issue, and heat could get too intense. Both of these issues can cause your Monstera to wilt.

Monstera plants like it warm, but if the temps reach over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, they can get droopy and become damaged. Direct, intense sunlight can increase the temperature to dangerous levels.

Having to water your plant more often because it’s getting wilted could be an indication that it’s getting too much sunlight and/or heat.

Brown, Crispy, Or Curled Leaves

When Monstera plants are exposed to intense afternoon or evening sunlight, the bright rays and increased heat can permanently damage the foliage. You may notice small brown spots at first.

These won’t go away and may only spread. You may also see the edges of the leaves turn brown, curl up, and/or get dry and brittle.

Too much light and heat will cause the leaves to lose too much moisture too fast, this is what causes the brown, crunchy leaves.

The Leaves Look Like They Were Bleached

Sometimes the foliage will turn yellow and even white as the chlorophyll is drained from the leaves. Sunlight can bleach the leaves to a light green, yellow, gray, or white, and then they will turn brown and crispy.

This is an extreme amount of sunlight, but during the hottest days of summer, or if you live in an arid, hot environment this can happen quickly. It can also happen if you place your plants outside in direct sunlight.

Sun Scorch Or Leaf Scald

Much like bleached foliage, sun scorch or leaf scald will appear very similar. Part or all of your plant’s leaves will suddenly appear bleached or turn yellow and wilted. Eventually, the leaves damaged by sun scorch will turn brown and die off.

How To Fix Light Levels

By checking your plants throughout the day you can see if they are getting direct sunlight or not enough. In the case of too much light, move them out of the direct rays, but make sure they still get bright light.

Sheer curtains will help if you have to keep your plants on the windowsill and they are getting too much light.

When your plants are showing signs of too little light, move them to a brighter room, or closer to a bright window. Some rooms, especially if they are painted a dark color or have dark wallpaper or paneling might not get enough indirect light for these plants.

In these cases, you may need to get a grow light to add some extra—not too intense—light.

When Monstera plants are getting too much light, it’s essential to move them to less intense areas quickly, but if your plant isn’t getting enough light, moving it directly to a bright room may shock it.

In this case, you may have to slowly integrate it to brighter situations. Place it in the brighter area for half a day, several days in a row before leaving it in its new home permanently. This will minimize shock and subsequent damage.

Trim The Damaged Areas

When Monstera leaves get damaged by too much light, there usually isn’t any saving them and they will need to be trimmed off. Pale green leaves might come back if the light situation is fixed, but bleached, brown, crispy leaves will never come back. They just need to be cut off.


Can a Monstera survive in low light?

Monstera plants can survive in low light settings, but they won’t grow very well. Ideally, they need 8 to 10 hours of bright, indirect light for best growth. Too low light will cause stunted growth, solid leaves, and leggy growth.

Should I put my Monstera by a window?

You can place Monstera plants in or near east facing windows without a problem. North facing windows may not provide enough light, and west or southern facing windows might be too intense for Monstera plants unless they are placed out of the direct light.

Can Monstera live in an office with no windows?

An office setting with no windows may be the ideal place for Monstera plants to thrive. Offices usually have plenty of bright, artificial light for 8 to 12 hours a day which can be great for these plants. If the growth is slow, and the plant doesn’t produce leaves with fenestrations, it may need more light.

Monstera Light Wrap Up

Monstera plants may sound like finicky plants, but once you have the lighting (and watering) down, these plants take little care and can last for decades. They come from rainforests and live below the canopy, so replicating these conditions will give them the best chance at survival.

They need about 10 hours of bright, indirect light per day. An eastern facing window is best, but you can use a western or southern facing light as long as the plant isn’t placed directly in the sun’s light.

When you first get your plant, pay attention throughout the day to see what kind of light it gets and adjust as needed. You can also get a grow light to help especially if there just isn’t enough light in your home.

More Monstera plant guides