How Much Light Do Aglaonema Plants Need? (Essential Guide)

There’s little not to love about the Aglaonema genus with massive leaves in a spectacular range of colors and patterns. Commonly known as Chinese Evergreens, these plants are houseplant favorites and are only growing in popularity. In this guide, we’ll cover an essential aspect of care – lighting. You’ll find everything you need to know about Aglaonema light requirements, as well as the signs they show when the lighting isn’t quite right.

How Much Light Do Aglaonema Plants Need? (Essential Guide)

How Much Light do Aglaonema Plants Need? – The Essentials

Like most houseplants hailing from tropical forests, Chinese Evergreens grow best in bright indirect light for most of the day. These plants can tolerate low light quite well – particularly cultivars with darker green leaves that indicate higher chlorophyll content. Keep out of the direct sun to avoid burning the foliage.

The Importance of Sunlight for Agalonema Plants

The Importance of Sunlight for Agalonema Plants

Without sunlight, we would have no plants and by extension, no life on earth. To say it is vital to plant health is almost an understatement. That is thanks to an essential process known as photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is the process used by plants to make their own energy or ‘food’ for survival. Using light from the sun, along with carbon dioxide and water drawn up through the roots or leaves from the air, the plant produces this food and expels oxygen into the air.

Without sunlight, almost all plants will eventually die. However, too much can also be a bad thing. Like humans, some plants that are not accustomed to direct sunlight and can burn, displaying brown crisped patches that will never turn green again.

Sunlight and Houseplants

When it comes to indoor plants vs. outdoor plants, lighting requirements are not quite equal. While outdoor plants are usually labeled as full sun or partial shade, indoor plants have bright indirect light, moderate light, or low light.

These differences occur because of the differences in light quality indoors and out. Indoor light is generally of a lower intensity, especially in places far away from windows or in north-facing rooms. It is also often filtered by curtains and the objects around our homes.

Due to these differences, what you see referred to as bright indirect light is roughly equal to dappled or partial shade outdoors. Moderate light is further away from bright windows, and low light is found in front of north-facing windows or in areas far away from windows or obstructed by other objects in your home.

If you really want to get technical, you can measure the light levels in your home with a light meter. You can also download light meter apps on your smartphone that detect the light levels (albeit with a margin of error). Then, use this guide to determine the level of light in your home:

  • Bright indirect light: 1,000–2,000 foot-candles
  • Medium-light: 250–1,000 foot-candles
  • Low light: 50–250 foot-candles
  • No light: Below 50 foot-candles

Lighting Conditions In Aglaonema Native Habitats

Lighting Conditions In Aglaonema Native Habitats

Most types of Aglaonema are native to, you guessed it, Asia. In their native habitats, they are found along rainforest floors in tropical zones. This gives them an appreciation for warmer temperatures and high humidity and is also what allows them to grow so well in our homes.

Residing under tree canopies, they are accustomed to filtered light, largely found in dappled shade in their native habitats. They are never exposed to harsh direct sun, protected by the tall trees above them.

Indoors, this translates to bright indirect light, found close to east or west-facing windows or through a shielded south-facing window. As a general rule of thumb, the more of the sky your plant can ‘see’ from its perspective (you may have to bend to test this for yourself), the more light it will receive during the day. For more, see our in-depth guide to the best locations for Aglaonema plants in the home.

Signs Your Aglaonema Plant is Receiving Too Much Light

An Aglaonema exposed to too much direct light will quickly display several problems.

The first is browning leaves. Large patches of brown will appear on the sides of the plant closest to the light source. They will also have a crispy texture, completely dried out by intense UV rays.

Other leaves may also start to brown at the tips due to a lack of moisture. In higher light areas, the soil dries out far quicker and robs the leaves of moisture, causing them to slowly change color and wilt.

Eventually, the stems will start to flop over, and the entire plant will turn brown. From this point, the plants are tough to revive, so it’s far better to catch this problem early than deal with the aftermath later on.

Signs your Aglaonema Plant isn’t Receiving Enough Light

Signs your Aglaonema Plant isn’t Receiving Enough Light

Chinese Evergreens can also let you know when they are unhappy with the light levels they are receiving. There are many signs of this problem, usually starting in the leaves.

Although yellowing leaves are usually caused by overwatering, they can also be caused by a lack of light in addition to common aglaonema bugs, pests, and diseases. This will usually start with older or lower leaves first, slowly spreading if conditions are not resolved.

You may also notice the large leaves leaning and shifting toward the nearest light source, making the plant look slightly unbalanced. This could also be the cause if there is a more potent light source from one direction, causing the plant to turn its leaves to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

Overall stunted growth is another sign of a lack of light, linking back to the photosynthesis issue. Plants use the food or energy created by photosynthesis to fuel growth. When there is not enough light, the plant cannot grow any bigger and relies on whatever stores it has before stopping growth completely. Regular fertilizing can provide some assistance here.

Lack of light can also lead to other issues like overwatering. As less evaporation occurs, the roots sit in water for too long, causing them to rot. Root rot causes yellowing leaves, wilting, and may end up killing the plant if the issue continues to spread.

The Best Light Exposure for Aglaonema Plants Indoors

The Best Light Exposure for Aglaonema Plants Indoors

The more indirect light you can give your Chinese Evergreen, the better. This is especially true for cultivars with lighter-colored leaves as they generally absorb less energy from the sun, meaning they need more light to keep themselves going.

Aim for an area with as much bright indirect light as possible. These are areas in front of east or west-facing windows, or even certain south-facing windows if filtered by a sheer curtain. Avoid all direct sun to stop the large leaves from burning and drying out.

These plants can handle moderate to low light quite well. However, they will grow very slowly and may become duller in color. If you only have low light areas available, choose a large and established plant to start with plenty of leaves to absorb as much of the available sunlight as possible.

Aglaonema Plant Light Requirements FAQs:

Can Aglaonema plants live in low light?

Chinese Evergreens handle low light quite well when compared to some other houseplants. However, that does not mean they will grow their best in these conditions. Aim for bright indirect light for the strongest growth, or at least moderate light if available.

Can Aglaonema plants take full sun?

The large leaves of these plants are very sensitive to excessive sunlight. Avoid direct light, especially in midday and the afternoon when sunlight is most intense. An hour or two of gentle, direct morning sun shouldn’t do too much damage, but anything beyond that will likely result in sunburn.

What kind of light do Aglaonema plants need?

Bright indirect light or filtered sunlight is the goal for these plants. They will also grow sufficiently in moderate to low light, but not to their full potential.

Will Aglaonema plants live happily indoors?

Aglaonemas come from tropical rainforests, like many other houseplants. This means they are accustomed to lower light conditions, warm temperatures, and high humidity, much like the conditions that are found or can be recreated with ease inside our homes.

How do you know if your Aglaonema Plant is getting enough light?

Happy Aglaonema plants will continue to produce new leaves in the growing seasons of spring and summer, growing larger over time. The leaves will retain their sharp colors and patterns without any browning or wilting. A plant with enough light should be continually growing and developing, indicating it is happy in its current position.

Wrap Up

Much like other houseplants, Aglaonema or Chinese Evergreens are happy in a range of lighting conditions indoors. As long as they are kept out of the path of direct sunlight, they should look good in most areas of your home but will perform their best in brighter spots.

If you’re looking to add your next Aglaonema plant to your collection, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering Chinese Evergreens nationwide.

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