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Like most house plants, Pilea needs water and light to thrive. Light is essential for the process of photosynthesis as a source of energy, helping plants manufacture food for growth and survival.
So, how much sun does a Pilea need? In general, a Pilea plant needs less than 2 hours of sunlight. Pilea plant does well in dappled sunlight with shade through an upper canopy all day and deep shade, preferably less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight (Source: North Carolina State University)
Remember, when your Pilea absorbs light from where it is, it can grow faster because of enhanced energy. However, the type of light also affects your plant’s well-being, with Pilea thriving in bright indirect light rather than direct light.
If you have planted Pilea in your house, you may not change your house’s orientation to increase indirect sunlight on the plant leaves, but there are practical things you can do to help houseplants thrive.
In this piece, I will discuss Pilea’s light requirements and the best indoor light you can use if your house has limited indirect light. This information will help your Pilea thrive, not simply survive, so join in this journey and I will keep it lit!
If you are interested in exploring Pilea plant watering requirements, discover how often you should water a Pilea.
How Much Sun Does a Pilea Need?
When the Pilea plant grows in the wild, how much indirect sunlight do you think it receives? Generally, the plant thrives with approximately 12 to 16 hours of light; the same is true when you have planted it in the house. It is noteworthy that Pilea loves bright light; however, it does not perform well with direct sunlight because the leaves are susceptible to sunburn.
During the cold winter, when your house rarely receives sunlight, you may need to invest in additional light sources like grow light to supplement their needs.
Besides reading this article, I would advise you to join houseplants forums and see the suggestions your neighbors offer that have helped their plants thrive.
As you give your Pilea plant tons of bright light, you must ensure that direct sun rays do not hit the leaves, even for a short while.
What is Indirect Light?
You are probably wondering what indirect light needed by Pilea is. It is the light from the sun that hits an object or a surface before reaching your plant’s leaves. Indirect light does not cause sunburn on your plants.
If you see light rays on the floor near the window where your dog or pet lies to feel the warmth, do not place your Pilea pot in this location because it has direct sunlight.
If you doubt whether the plant is in direct or indirect light, place your hand or an object between the window and the plant and examine the resulting shadow. For example, if you see a shadow with intricate lines, the plant is accessing direct sun rays; however, if the shadow has soft edges, the area is getting indirect sunlight, and your Pilea plant will do well in the position.
How does direct sunlight affect Pilea plants? We know that direct sunlight can result in skin sunburn in humans. Similarly, if direct sunlight hits Pilea’s leave, it causes sunburn, with the symptoms being pale yellow spots on the edges of the leaves.
The severity of the marks can vary depending on the time it took in the direct sun. If it was for a brief moment, the yellow spots might vanish over time; however, if the plant took a long time in the direct sun, the yellow areas may always be visible on the leaves.
The beauty of plants is that when you move them to a more conducive environment, they will generate spotless new leaves.
Pilea Light Requirements
Depending on their wild growing conditions, different houseplants have different light level requirements. Some plants thrive in bright sunny areas, while others love low-light locations. Pilea falls somewhere in the middle, but the best position to place the plant is in the west or east-facing window.
If your window is east-facing, the sun will shine through it from early to mid-morning. The light exposure is mild during this time and is a perfect fit for Pilea peperomioides.
The west-facing window often utilizes the late afternoon and evening sunlight; however, sometimes, the sun can be a little in the evening, making the west-facing window second best for the Pilea plant.
The south and north-facing windows have limited light penetration; therefore, these windows are unsuitable for most house plants. However, if your windows are north and south-facing, you may consider investing in a table grow light to grow your Pilea plant there.
Another factor that determines Pilea’s light requirement is whether the light is filtered or not. Pilea plants do not love direct sunlight on their leaves since it can cause leaf burn. You can use sheer curtains on the window, thus preventing direct sunlight from directly shining on the plant.
Signs Showing Your Pilea Is Not Getting Adequate Light
You will see signs indicating that your Pilea plant is not absorbing enough sunlight, especially those on the north and south-facing windows or during winter.
You can remedy the situation by moving the plant to sunnier areas in the house or incorporating artificial light. But what are the signs of inadequate light for a Pilea plant?
1- Long legs with brittle stems
If you see your plant becoming leggy, you know it is not getting adequate sunlight. Lack of enough sunlight prompts the plant to grow tall as it stretches to reach light sources. In science, they call this etiolation.
A Pilea plant that lacks access to adequate light will have elongated droopy stems with sparely distributed leaves rather than the round shape we’ve come to love. The lack of bright, indirect light changes how this plant grows and utilizes the limited light available.
2- Small Leaves
Healthy Pilea plants often have large round leaves, but with little light, they produce small leaves.
All the energy is expended on stretching to gather light in a dimly lit area, leaving limited energy to develop the leaves.
3- Cupped Leaves
Although curling or cupping leaves may be a sign of overwatering, it could also indicate low light levels. If you are not overwatering your Pilea plant but see curling or cupping leaves, your Pilea plant may need more light.
In a bid to maximize the leaf surface area that can collect sunlight for photosynthesis, the plant curves its leaves.
4- Slow Growth
Pilea grows faster during the warmest months, while the plant goes dormant in the coldest seasons.
This plant experiences slow growth because limited light slows down the process of photosynthesis. So, if you see a plant not growing as you wished during winter, worry not; the plant is dormant.
However, if it is summer or spring and your Pilea plant is still experiencing stunted growth, it could signify the plant needs more lighting.
Best Indoor Lights For Pilea Plant
If your house lacks adequate lighting or it is during winter, you may need to invest in artificial lighting to feed your house plants.
You can use the four primary artificial lights to enhance plant growth, including fluorescent, incandescent, high-intensity, and light-emitting diodes.
1- Incandescent lights
Incandescent lights are not ideal for your Pilea plant since they are rich in red light but poor in blue light. Furthermore, they generate too much heat that can scorch Pilea’s leaves, but if you place them far away, you will reduce the light available for the plants.
Incandescent bulbs are also inefficient in generating light. Their lifespan of 1,000 hours is 10 times less than fluorescent tubes.
2- Fluorescent Tubes
They are considered one of the best artificial sources of light for house Pilea plants. This is because they efficiently convert electric energy into light than incandescent sources, making them less expensive to run.
Additionally, fluorescent tubes produce little heat that the Pilea plant can comfortably accommodate, and since they are available in different sizes and shapes, you can easily use them.
3- High-Intensity or Gas Discharge (HID) Lights
These lights are often used in greenhouses when you need supplementary light for the plants. This is because they can convert electric energy into light faster than incandescent sources and have a longer lifespan.
Nevertheless, high-Intensity lights emit lots of heat that may not be ideal for the Pilea plant. Furthermore, you may need lots of these lights, which makes them expensive to install for a few house plants. Finally, high-Intensity lights are unavailable in small wattages, making them unrealistic for home usage.
4- Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
These lighting options are extremely energy efficient and have long lives. You can customize them to produce the desired wavelengths for your Pilea plants.
Since light-emitting diodes emit little heat and do not require reflectors or ballasts, you can install them for your house plants during winter. You may have to pay more for LEDs than fluorescent tubes, but the cost is worth it.
Therefore, you can use fluorescent or LEDs to provide light to your house Pilea plants when natural light is limited.
Pilea plants need bright indirect lights to thrive in your house. You can get adequate lighting for your plants by placing them on the west or east-facing windows.
However, you want to remember that Pilea leaves are delicate and do not enjoy direct sunlight; therefore, ensure the windows have sheer curtains, or the plants are at a distance to absorb only indirect light.