If you are looking for a lush and easy-to-grow houseplant, consider a philodendron. A philodendron needs basic things to thrive- and does particularly well indoors.
With over 500 species of philodendron plants widely available, there is one for everybody.
Whether you prefer climbing vines or bushy non-climbers, philodendrons are resilient and forgiving – great for beginners or those without a green thumb!
Philodendron Light Requirements
A philodendron does best in indirect or medium to bright filtered light. These plants are susceptible to burning, so do not place your plant in direct or extreme sunlight as it can damage the foliage. This plant particularly likes some shelter and shade during the hottest part of summer afternoons, too.
The Right Light for Philodendrons
Generally, philodendrons do best in partial and indirect sunlight. Consider their native climate in the tropics.
Yes, they get sun, but it is filtered by the foliage and canopies of all the trees and plants surrounding them. Try to replicate this in the home, but make sure that there is adequate airflow to maintain a healthy, hardy philodendron plant.
Some issues related to inadequate or improper light include the following:
If you notice that your plant is leggy, or long and sparse, it could be a sign that it is not getting enough light.
The plant is not able to photosynthesize properly, which causes thin growth with gaps between the leaves. Legginess also is a sign that your plant’s reaching and grasping for more sun.
Is your philodendron leaning? This could also indicate that it needs more light.
This leaning is a sign of the plant reaching and looking for the sun.
When a plant does not get enough sunlight, it can become weak. This may manifest in the leaves growing much smaller than usual.
Philodendrons are noted for their large, green leaves, so smaller leaves could be a sign of an issue, probably a lack of light.
Low light doesn’t usually kill a philodendron, but it will impact its growth rate and cause slower growth than normal.
While these plants don’t typically grow a lot during the winter months, if you notice a lack of growth during warmer seasons, it may require more light than it is getting.
Other Lighting Needs
Since the philodendron is a tropical plant, try to mimic its natural environment for optimal results and growth with sunlight, warmth, and humidity, when possible.
When it comes down to lighting, there are some distinctions to be aware of that contribute to lush and hardy philodendron plants.
Test your philodendron’s light source with your own light meter. This will tell you exactly how bright the lights inside your home are.
Be wary of comparing your light levels to those recommended for commercial greenhouses as the measurements are percentages through shade cloth, which you likely are not using.
Measure the light for your plant where the plant will naturally be, but not when the sun is out and shining directly or indirectly on your plant.
Compare readings at different times during the day, as well as during varied weather conditions, to find a median light intensity reading.
The species of philodendron also affects the right light for optimal growth. For instance, climbing vine varieties like Heart Leaf and brasil tolerate 2-3 hours of direct sun, while others do not have this tolerance.
As for non-climbers, like moonlight, imperial red, pink princess, are also able to tolerate this level of sunlight. Selecting the wrong environment for your Philodendron and lighting conditions could result in leggy or sparse plants.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Light
It is important to remember that the shadiest area outside your home is still going to get more light than the most illuminated area inside your home.
If your home’s lighting is shady or too filtered, you may need to augment it with some grow lamps to help your plants thrive and prosper. You will not be able to fully mimic the conditions outside indoors unless you use lights of some kind.
Indirect vs. Filtered Light
Many confuse indirect and filtered light as being the same thing, but there are distinctions. Filtered light is a situation where something, like a curtain or screen, is blocking or filtering the light from the light source.
Indirect light is when the light from the light source hits something else before landing on you- or in this case, your plant. In this instance, there is no direct route from the sun to your philodendron.
The light is indirectly hitting your plant by bouncing from another surface, object, or area.
Philodendrons can thrive with both indirect and filtered light, though direct light can cause yellowing of the foliage.
If you notice that your plant is not as lush or full as it should be, it may need a more intense light source.
Frequently Asked Questions about Philodendron Light Requirements
What kind of light does a philodendron need?
A philodendron prefers filtered or indirect light. Too much sun can burn the plant, and too little light can cause the philodendron’s foliage to discolor and turn yellow.
How do you propagate a philodendron in water?
To propagate in water, cut a three-inch cutting, removing any leaves that would fall below your waterline. Stick the stem in the water and watch for roots to grow. These can be simply stuck in fresh potting soil, or another plant’s pot, after further growth.
Why do philodendrons turn yellow?
Philodendron plants often turn yellow when they are not getting enough light. The solution is simple- place in a sunnier locale. Another cause of yellowing is root rot, which is caused by overwatering and the roots of the plant sitting in too much moisture.
Can a philodendron thrive outdoors?
Philodendrons grow well indoors and out, as long as they are in moderate conditions that are not too hot or too cold. They require sunlight- either filtered or indirect- wherever you decide to cultivate them.
Philodendrons are a great plant when you don’t want a lot of maintenance or fuss. These plants do have specific lighting requirements which help them become hardy, healthy plants- indoors or out!
Use these tips to determine the right light, and other conditions, to help your philodendron thrive.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.