What Happens If Your Pothos Gets Too Much Sun?

If you’re concerned about your pothos getting too much sunlight then you’re not alone.

Too much sunlight on a pothos usually causes symptoms like sun scorch and can cause the leaves to become pale, turn brown and crispy or curl up.

As a pothos owner, this was one of the first concerns I had about my pothos and in this guide, I’ll share my experience and some tips for keeping your pothos happy and free from sunlight damage.

When Is A Pothos Receiving Too Much Sunlight?

Pothos thrive in bright, indirect sunlight as they are native to jungle areas in southeastern Asia where they grow underneath the jungle canopy.

If your pothos is receiving multiple hours of intense direct sunlight each day then this is too much and can cause several issues. These include changing color of the leaves, as well as sun scorch which kills affected leaves.

To keep your pothos free from sunlight damage choose an area with bright indirect sunlight rather than direct.

What Are The Symptoms Of Too Much Sunlight On A Pothos?

Here are the key symptoms of too much sunlight on a pothos.

Sun Scorch

Sun scorch is the most common symptom of excess sunlight on pothos plants.

Sun scorch is a condition where the leaves dry out and become burnt due to a lack of hydration, and is quite easy to spot. Leaves affected by sun scorch develop yellow irregular spots that are usually brown in the centre.

If you want more examples of sun-scorched leaves this article has a good variety.

Pale Leaves

Too much sunlight can also fade out the colors of the leaves and make them paler.

This happens because the excess sunlight stops the leaves from photosynthesising efficiently.

Wilting/Curling Leaves

Leaves that are damaged by sun scorch or star to turn pale will typically also wilt or curl as they start to die.

If the soil is also underwatered they will turn crispy and brown very quickly during this process.

Can A Pothos Recover From Sun Damage?

The leaves that have been affected by sun damage will slowly die and need to be trimmed, but the plant itself can survive most of the time and go on to grow many new leaves.

It’s only in very severe cases of pothos’ receiving too much sunlight that the whole plant will die, and this usually coincides with underwatering as well.

This can happen if the plant is receiving extended hours of intense direct sunlight every day over the course of months, and it requires neglect on the owner’s behalf in terms of ignoring symptoms like sun scorch, the leaves changing color and the soil drying out.

If you have a pothos that has been affected by sun damage simply follow the steps below to start the process of recovery.

How To Recover A Pothos From Sun Damage

If you notice the symptoms relatively quickly it’s easy to recover a pothos from sun damage, just follow the steps below.

Move Location

Location is everything when it comes to protecting a pothos from sunlight.

Avoid areas directly next to windows that receive direct sunlight and opt for set-back positions in these rooms instead. If you want more ideas for areas with bright, indirect sunlight in the home check out this article by bobvila.com.

Trim Affected Leaves

Once you’ve moved your pothos to a more suitable location it’s time to trim any leaves that have died.

According to research, plants can absorb nutrients from dying leaves but this usually only applies to leaves that die due to age (also known as senescent leaves). In my own experience, I’ve never noticed a difference between removing my pothos leaves when they turn yellow entirely vs partially, but the choice is up to you.

A yellow leaf on a pothos
An example of a yellow leaf on my golden pothos that would be removed

Check The Soil

After trimming the leaves, it’s time to check the soil.

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can dry out soil quite quickly, so you’ll need to check if it has become too dry. If the surface of the soil looks dry and cracked, then it’s a good indication that it is underwatered.

Another way to check is to look at the top few inches of soil – if this is dry then it will need to be watered.
In this case, water until the top few inches of soil are moist.

If the soil is severely underwatered then bottom watering is a better idea. To do this, remove your pothos from its pot and place it into a sink filled with a few inches of water and leave it in there for half an hour to an hour.

This will allow the roots to absorb water from below and is a much better method for watering a severely underwatered plant.

Monitor Progress

Now your pothos is in a better location, watered properly and trimmed you simply need to keep an eye on it over the next few weeks to monitor the progress.

Signs of healthy growth include lots of new leaf development and growth of existing leaves. You should also notice that your pothos increases in length,


Do Different Types Of Pothos Require More Sunlight?

Pretty much every type of pothos will thrive in bright indirect sunlight, but there are varieties that have more variegation that does have a bigger requirement for sunlight than others.

This is because variegated areas on the leaf lack chlorophyll, which is green in color. If variegated types of pothos, such as the golden pothos, aren’t given enough sunlight the variegated areas on the leaves will turn green to boost the amount of chlorophyll to counteract the sunlight deficiency.

I actually noticed this effect on my golden pothos. When I first purchased the plant it has lots of variegation, but since I have kept it in a relatively shaded area it has lost quite a lot of variegation on the leaves.

What Happens If A Pothos Isn’t Receiving Enough Sunlight?

If your pothos isn’t receiving enough sunlight it will grow at a much slower rate and may even stop producing any new leaves.

Pothos may not require much sunlight, but it is still crucial for photosynthesis which promotes overall growth.

Pothos in very shaded areas is also more susceptible to overwatering which can lead to root rot and eventually lead to death.

Photo of author

About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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