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Monstera are extremely hardy and easy to grow, and they can grow in low light. They can’t, however, grow in NO light, and they won’t thrive in low light.
But they probably won’t die either.
One of the most important things to remember about keeping plants in low light is that all other environmental factors have to be perfect if you want them to grow:
- Excellent humidity, preferably 65% or above
- Rain or filtered water
- Perfect fertilising regimen
- Plant leaves are dusted regularly (probably weekly, as dark areas tend to get dustier)
- Well-draining soil mix (it’ll be more susceptible to root rot if it’s kept in a dark room)
Monstera deliciosa are a dream for new plant parents.
- be tolerant of low light
There’s also a very big chance that they’ll get thrips at some point, but they’ll handle a mild infestation happily. Just keep them away from your other plants, and always have neem oil handy.
However they can probably only deal with one of two of these issues here (and Monstera can fall foul of a LOT of issues), and one of the easiest ways to ensure your Monstera stays super healthy is to give it plenty of light.
What do I mean by low light?
Typically when we talk about low light and house plants, we’re still talking about a decent amount of light.
Windowless bathrooms are NOT suitable for plants unless you have grow lights set up. Neither is that dark corner that gets direct light for twenty minutes at dawn.
I wouldn’t put a plant in a spot that I couldn’t read in without turning on a light unless I added another light source. You might be able to get away with darker, but it’s a good rule of thumb to follow.
Monstera will do ok in this kind of light, but you won’t be able to grow those big, beautiful fenestrated leaves that they’re famous for.
The growth will be leggy and small, and generally a bit…sad. Like this:
Can you see how the leaves are drooping?
What happens is that the Monstera petioles get too long, and the leaves weigh them down. This is damaging to the plant in itself, but it can cause the petioles to snap under the weight of the leaves.
Can Monstera live in low light?
If fact, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles that rank Monstera as being king of the lowlight plants but it’s a bit of a fallacy.
These magazines are trying to show us what we want, but the fact remains that plants need light to survive. And not only that but giving your plant as much light as it requires will make your job as its caretaker so much easier.
Remember that these are the same people that told you that snake plants can live in low light.
Snake plants have evolved to live in harsh, arid desert environments. They can survive in dark spots because they’re survivors. Fill the dark areas of your home with books, and let your plants have some light.
Monsteras have big leaves, which enables them to make the most of any light they do have access to. The large surface area allows for maximum photosynthesis, and the dark leaves absorb, rather than reflect, the light.
But they can still only absorb as much light as is available to them, and in windowless rooms, they’re unlikely to even get enough to maintain the leaves they already have, never mind growing new ones.
If you’re after a low-light-loving plant, go for an Aglaonema, Calathea, or fern.
What light is best for monstera?
More is more for Monstera.
As I mentioned in this article about keeping Monstera outside, if you acclimate them properly, then Monstera will thrive outside.
You may need to shade them from really bright light though – the ones in the wild get sunburned (not that they care) – especially if you haven’t acclimated it properly, or you live somewhere super hot.
In their natural habitat, Monsteras use their aerial roots to climb trees so that they can reach the light.
The more light they have, the bigger their leaves will grow. In order to filter light through to the leaves below, they develop holes and splits in their leaves.
If they live in low light, they’ll never have the need to grow fenestrated leaves.
This is also true for Monstera adansonii – if you don’t give them enough light, they won’t develop super holey leaves.
The more light you give your Monstera, the bigger (and the faster) it’ll grow.
How to help a Monstera living in low light
Grow lights can make a world of difference but can be tricky to fit Monstera under – I find that it works best to use a hanging light/lamp and use a grow bulb.
Regular lamps can work as supplemental lighting, but again, you’re unlikely to convince your Monstera to develop mature leaves.
You’re going to need decent grow lights to actually grow (rather than maintain) a Monstera, so avoid those cheapy Amazon ones.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid grow lights that connect to power via a USB – they won’t have the wattage to produce enough light.
If you have medium light and your Monstera is growing but you want it to grow more, a cheap grow light might be ok.
Increase your humidity
When people ask me how to grow their plant faster, I always give them the trinity: light, warmth humidity.
We don’t have light, so the other two are more important.
To keep your Monstera alive in low light, you’re going to need to make sure your humidity game is on point.
In fact, misting can cause infections to spread more quickly – plants don’t like getting wet leaves.
Pebble trays just don’t work
You need to keep an eye on your humidity using a hygrometer, and if it’s lower than 50% and you only have the option to keep your plant in low light, then get a humidifier. Check out my recommended gear page for the products I recommend.
A common recommendation for increasing humidity is grouping plants together so they can reabsorb transpired water.
I do NOT recommend this for plants living in low light because low light can increase the risk of pests (and makes them harder to fight off) and the closer your plants are together, the quicker pests will spread.
Keep your Monstera warm
There is zero point in keeping the humidity up if your Monstera is cold. In fact, you’re putting it at risk of mold and mildew.
One of the benefits of using professional grow lights is that they kick out a fair bit of warmth as well as light, but if you don’t want to use grow lights, then you can use a heat mat.
You CAN keep Monstera near-ish a radiator, but you’ll need to be on top of keeping the humidity up. It really depends on your plant AND your radiator (i.e. how hot it is, air flow near it, how much it’s on) as to how well this will work.
Keep your Monstera clean
This is super important, not only to maximise the amount of light the leaves can absorb, but also to minimise pests.
If you’re keeping your Monstera in low light, then I strongly recommend that you dust your leaves weekly – I like to use a makeup eraser cloth because they’re super efficient wet and dry and they leave the leaves shiny without using any product.
You’ll also want to be washing the leaves monthly. Fill a spray bottle with water, and add in a drop of either castile soap or neem oil. Spray the plant down well, and then dry off the leaves with your cloth.
Keep your Monstera pest-free
I’m not sure if pests are attracted to dust, or if I’m not observing my dusty plants as often (hence why they’re so dusty) so the pests go unnoticed for a while, but there is definitely a correlation between increased dust and increased pests.
Monstera kept in low light don’t have as much energy as those kept in bright light (because they literally get their energy from light) so if they DO get pests, they’ll be harder to shake off and do more damage.
Prevention is definitely better than cure here.
Another option for pest control is beneficial bugs. It’s not something I’ve dabbled in too much, but you can buy little sachets of breeding colonies that you can hang on your plant’s petioles. Over time, the bugs will leave the bag and eat any pests.
If this creeps you out, I do understand, but they are TINY – much smaller than the pest they’re going to eat, which I find incredibly impressive.
Water your Monstera perfectly
Watering Monstera perfectly isn’t difficult, but you need to keep on top of it. I like using a moisture meter.
Check the soil every couple of days, and when it’s at about a two on your moisture meter, water it thoroughly, until water comes out of the drainage holes.
If you’re not fan of moisture meters, water it when it’s basically dry, but don’ wait until it’s bone dry.
This will take longer in dark spots, so don’t be tempted to water when the soil is still wet, just because it seems like its been ages since you watered. If it’s taking a while for your Monstera to dry out, then you need to add amendments like perlite to the soil to make it more free draining.
Feed your Monstera
Monstera won’t show that they’re hungry in their leaves, so you’ll need to keep track yourself. I like to fertilise mine every six weeks.
To prevent root burn, water your plant will clean water so that the soil is moist, and then water in some fertiliser.
Grow it up a pole
Growing a plant up won’t replace its need for light, but vining plants do grow bigger leaves if they’re grown vertically rather than left to hang. I assume because they think that they’re growing towards the sun, and don’t realise there’s a ceiling in the way.
Coir moss poles are cheap and easy to use, but the aerial roots will struggle to grip to it. I have a few other suggestions here.
What about keeping variegated monstera in low light?
I wouldn’t recommend keeping variegated Monstera in low light. They’re a little more delicate than regular green ones, and they’re super expensive. You’re going to want them to be growing as quickly as possible so you can chop and prop (and sell).
Keep an eye on variegated monstera. They burn in bright light but are even slower to grow than normal in low light.
I keep mine about seven feet back from a west-facing window and it’s still growly painfully slowly. To be fair, I’m happy as long as it doesn’t die.
Final thoughts on keeping Monstera in low light
I don’t advise keeping Monstera Deliciosa in low light, but you can do it.
They won’t thrive in low light, but their hardy nature means that they won’t die either. A lamp would do them the world of good.
I wouldn’t try to keep adansonii in anything less than bright indirect light, because they tend to only have two states of being: thriving or dying.
If you give Monstera deliciosa a lot of bright light, they grow much faster with bigger leaves, and are far less prone to pests.
2 thoughts on “Can Monstera live in low light?”
Amazing articles, I’ve been bitten by the houseplant bug and I’ve just purchased our first Mon.
It’s currently living in our bathroom (north window), about 50% humidity and the temp is dropping to 19C at night this week.
I think I might move it to the bedroom near (not too near) our south bay windows. It’ll be warmer in there too.
Thank you! Yeah. It’ll be totally fine where it is but you’ll notice faster (and bigger) growth if you move it. Mine gets moved all over the house in winter because it’s less fussy than other plants but I don’t want it to decline too much.
Monstera don’t seem to mind being moved (mine go in and out if doors a lot this time of year) at all, so feel free to keep moving it until you find the perfect spot. Other plants (ficus, I’m talking about you) are much happier to be left in one spot.