Calathea Light Requirements: A Complete Guide 2024

Adding a Calathea to your home or workspace brings not only vitality but also an element of elegance and refinement. Known for their big green leaves, which come in different shapes and sizes, these tropical beauties can spruce up any place they occupy. Nevertheless, like all living entities, these spectacular leafy wonders necessitate proper care to flourish, starting with the right lighting conditions.

Choosing the right light for your Calathea can be tricky, but with the right knowledge, you can make sure your plant keeps healthy and lively. In this “Calathea Light Requirements: A Complete Guide 2024” blog post, we’ll explore the kind of light needed by a Calathea plant so that it can stay healthy, and lush.

What are the light requirements for Calathea plants?

There are 3 important factors to make sure that your Calathea gets the right amount of light such as duration, intensity, and quality.

Light duration for Calathea plants

Calathea plants need bright but indirect light and shouldn’t get direct sun. The ideal light duration for Calathea plants is 12-14 hours per, but it’s important to remember that light gets less during winter time. Provide approximately 16 hours of light per day if artificial lights are the only light source. A Calathea does well near an east or window facing west. While not as intense as direct sun, these windows do get morning or afternoon sun. A Calathea plant can also be placed under a plant light. Plant lights mimic sunlight, which is useful during the winter when there’s not enough sunlight.

It’s also crucial to give your Calathea plant at least 8 hours of dark hours daily to let them breathe, which is how they use the energy made during photosynthesis to grow. In addition to the duration of light, it’s key to balance it out with other care requirements such as the right watering, moisture, and feeding.

Light intensity for Calathea plants

Light intensity plays a big role in the growth and health of Calathea plants. While these plants need enough light, it’s important that they are not exposed to direct sun as it can scorch the plant’s soft leaves, leading to a loss of the lovely patterns they are known for.

Calathea plants benefit from direct, bright light. The ideal level of light amount is 10,000 lux, or 1,000 foot-candles. You can use a light gauge to check this amount of illumination. If you don’t have one, you can use the simple way of holding your palm approximately 6 inches away from the plant’s leaves. If your hand is clearly visible, your Calathea is getting enough light. On the contrary, if your hand is not visible, you need to move the plant to make sure it gets more light.

Placement is key when considering the light needs of your Calathea. Windows facing east or west are excellent options because they receive morning or afternoon sun, which is not as strong as midday sun. This helps to avoid possible leaf burns. If your home doesn’t provide enough natural light, especially during the winter months, consider using a plant light to supplement.

A common misunderstanding is that Calatheas should be placed near a window facing south. While this direction generally provides bright light, it can often be too harsh for Calatheas, leading to hurting the leaves. Therefore, it’s best to avoid this location for your plant.

A good practice to follow is to make sure your Calathea is some distance away from any direct lights. Regularly turning your plant can also contribute to equal light, helping even growth and allowing all its leaves to benefit from the light. Always remember, providing the correct quantity and quality of light for your Calathea is vital for its food-making process and overall energy creation for healthy growth.

light for calathea

Light quality for Calathea plants

When it comes to the quality of light, light with more red helps to promote good food-making. Light with more blue supports bright color changes on the leaves of the plant.

Therefore, it is recommended that a mix of these two light spectrums should be provided to ensure optimal growth and coloration for your Calathea plant.

You can sometimes use window films to protect your plant from the sun’s rays. They won’t block the red and blue light that the plant needs, just the harmful rays.

Also, it’s crucial to adjust the brightness of light for your plant, making sure it isn’t too harsh or inadequate. Ideally, your Monstera should be exposed to bright, indirect light. If natural light conditions are not ideal, consider using artificial light to keep the best light for your plant’s growth and health.

With the right setup, you can make sure that your Calathea plant gets all of the essential light it needs for growth and vitality.

The best light for calathea? Recommendations and Tips

Calathea plants are loved for their cool leaf designs and their unique look, but just like any other plant, they have specific light needs.

Ideal Lighting for Calathea

The best light for a calathea plant is light without direct sun. This can be done by placing the plant in an area where it gets lots of light but is shielded from the strong sun. Putting a calathea in direct sunlight can make its leaves burnt, causing brown spots.

No Natural Light? Consider Grow Lights

If your living space doesn’t give you the chance of light without direct sun, don’t sweat it! Grow lights are a great option. These lights are made to copy natural sunlight, making them awesome for indoor plants, including calatheas.

Top Grow Lights for Calathea Plants:

1. GE Grow Light Bulbs:

  • Fits into a standard light socket.
  • Emits a full spectrum of light conducive for plant growth.
  • Budget-friendly choice.

2. Sansi LED Grow Light Bulb:

  • Affordable and offers a full light spectrum.
  • Energy-efficient, ensuring you save on your electricity bill over time.

3. Spider Farmer SF1000 LED Grow Light:

  • A more premium choice, but offers powerful and efficient lighting.
  • Suitable for avid plant lovers or those with larger indoor gardens.

Tips for Using Grow Lights

  • Ensure compatibility: Before purchasing a grow light, confirm it fits your existing sockets.
  • Duration: Aim for at least 12 hours of light exposure daily for your calathea. Adjustments may be needed based on your plant’s health and growth.
  • Distance matters: The proximity of the light to the plant can influence its growth. Monitor your calathea and adjust the light’s distance if necessary.

By understanding your calathea’s lighting needs and providing the right amount of light—whether naturally or through grow lights—you can ensure its vibrant growth and health.

Understanding Calathea Lighting Needs

Natural Lighting Conditions

Calathea plants thrive in natural light from north- or east-facing windows, where the sun’s rays are softer and spread throughout the day. It’s crucial to watch and adjust the light exposure your plant gets based on its reaction.

Yellowing or browning leaves may mean that your Calathea is getting too much light. If this happens, move your plant to a spot with less direct sun, and soon enough, its radiant foliage should recover.

Artificial Lighting Conditions

Calatheas thrive under bright yet indirect light, which extends to artificial light conditions. Put any artificial light sources at a reasonable distance from the plant – around two feet – to prevent direct exposure.

For the best results, pick an artificial light that mimics natural daylight. Full-spectrum lighting is the most suitable choice as it covers the widest range of light wavelengths beneficial for your plant.

Keep in mind, though, that Calatheas, while needing bright light, can react badly to harsh sunlight or overly bright artificial lights. Signs of stress, like leaf yellowing or wilting, may mean you need to adjust the light intensity.

When relying on artificial lighting, aim to give your Calathea 12-14 hours of light daily. This approach makes sure that the plant gets enough energy to support strong and healthy growth.

artificial light for calathea

How To Recognize Signs Of Inadequate Lighting And Receiving Too Much Light

Not Enough Light

Good lighting is essential for healthy Calathea plants. Poorly lit plants may become dormant, lose their vibrant coloration, or develop brown patches on their leaves. How can you tell if your Calathea isn’t getting enough light?

There are signs of inadequate lighting for a Calathea:

  1. A pale or washed-out appearance in the leaves. Without enough light, the bright colors of Calathea foliage can fade. The plants may also get skinny and leggy as they try to reach for more light.
  2. Brown patches on the leaves. These spots are caused by too much exposure to sunlight or other harsh stuff like strong drafts. If the brown spots appear on just one side of the leaves, it’s probably because that specific area is getting more light than the rest.
  3. Yellowing or dropping leaves. When a plant is not getting enough light, it will start to shed its foliage. This could mean that your Calathea needs to be moved to a brighter spot.

If you’re worried that your Calathea isn’t getting enough light, it’s crucial to do something as quick as you can. Move the plant to a brighter spot and think about getting plant lights if natural sunlight isn’t around.

Receiving Too Much Light

If your Calathea is getting too much light:

  • The leaves will start to turn yellow or brown.
  • New leaves may come out lighter than the ones before them, showing that they’re getting hit with higher levels of light.
  • Another possible sign of getting too much light is leaf scorching – when the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight, the edges can become scorched and discolored.

    If you think your Calathea’s getting too much light, it’s crucial to move it away from any direct light and out of windowsills or other areas where sun exposure may be too intense.

Related: Calathea Leaves Curling: What You Should Know

Figuring Out How Much Light Calatheas Need

Choosing the right spot for the Calathea plant

When picking the right spot for your Calathea plant, you should consider its light needs.

Ideally, put it in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight. Too much light can make the leaves turn color and wither, so make sure to find a space with non-direct light instead.

If you can, try to keep your Calathea in an area with windows facing east or south for the most consistent light. You shouldn’t leave it on your patio at noon either.

The Calathea can be placed, though, by leaving at least 4-6 feet between the plant and the window. Your plant will be protected from direct light.

Also, keep your plant away from drafts and air vents, as these can dry out the plant too quickly.

Lastly, make sure your Calathea isn’t in a spot that gets nighttime lights, as this could mess with its normal growth cycle.

Depending on the type of Calathea, you can put it on the table, bookshelf, or in the bathroom to spruce up your home.

Using artificial light sources for Calathea

If your Calathea plant isn’t getting enough natural light, you can make up for the lack of light with fake lights. Here are some tips for using artificial lighting on Calathea plants:

  1. Choose the right bulb: Full-spectrum LED grow lights are the best for indoor plants like Calathea. They give off a range of wavelengths that look like real sunlight and provide the light plants need to grow.
  2. Put the lights in the right spot: Put the plant lights 6-12 inches above the plants and adjust the height as the plants grow. Make sure the light is reaching the whole plant, including the lower leaves.
  3. Time the lights right: The best light duration for Calathea plants is 12-14 hours per day, but they also need 8 hours of darkness for breathing. A timer can be used to automate the lighting schedule and make sure your plants get the right amount of light and darkness each day.
  4. Monitor the temperature: Because fake lights give off heat, it’s important to watch the temperature around the plant to avoid overheating. Consider using a fan to help with airflow and cool down the temperature if the temperature goes above 80°F.

Artificial light sources can be a good way to make up for your Calathea plant’s lack of light. To avoid hurting your plant, make sure you use the right type of bulb, put the lights in the right spot, time the lights right, and keep an eye on the temp.

Providing additional light in low-light conditions

Giving the right amount of light will make sure your Calathea plant gets all the nutrients it needs to do well and grow to its full potential.

Various methods to provide more light, such as:

  • Use the light from the window
  • Increase the brightness of the current lighting for Calathea plants
  • Use more lighting fixtures like Led grow lights

With a bit of extra effort, you can make sure your Calathea plant gets enough light for the best growth and development.

Don’t forget to turn the plant pot occasionally, as this will help all of the plant’s leaves get even light for the best results. Giving extra light for your Calathea plant is an easy yet effective way to make sure it can grow to its fullest potential.

Use filtered light for Calathea

The intense sunlight comes from the south and west. And it’s not always possible to put the Calathea plant near windows that face east or north. So, putting some space between the window and the plant is one solution if you have a window that gets hit with severe sunlight.

Place the Calathea in an area with light that’s been softened, like near a thin curtain, window stickers, or foldable paper screens that let some natural light in while blocking out any harsh sunlight.

It’s best to use thin curtains made of chiffon, linen, or lace. Make sure they don’t block the light.

Horizontal blinds are left open to a certain extent. They will also help give non-direct lighting for your Calathea.

Use filtered light for Calathea

Fix a Sun-Scorched Calathea

When Calathea is sunburned, you should move your plant to a place with no direct sunlight for a few weeks.

Cutting can be used to get rid of the brown and shriveled parts of the leaves, but healthy tissue should be left alone because it will continue to make food from sunlight and give your Calathea the energy it needs to make new leaves.

Cut back on the amount of fertilizer you’re giving your Calathea if the sunburn is severe enough to cause it to lose several leaves.

Within a few weeks, you should start to feel better, however, it may take longer if your Calathea has been badly hurt.

Tips for the Best Light Conditions for Calathea Plants

When looking after Calathea plants, it’s important to keep the light conditions as best as possible. Here are some tips to help you make sure your Calatheas get the right amount of light:

  1. Put your Calathea in a spot with non-direct sunlight or bright, filtered light. Stay away from direct sunlight, as this will burn the leaves.
  2. Keep your Calathea away from drafty windows or air vents that may cause changes in temperature and humidity.
  3. If you can’t provide enough natural light, think about installing LED or fluorescent plant lights to make up for your Calathea’s lack of light.
  4. Turn your Calathea every few weeks to make sure its leaves get even amounts of light.
  5. Make sure you keep a consistent watering calathea schedule and give enough humidity for your plant. This will help your Calathea absorb the light it needs to do well.

Calathea Light Requirements FAQs

Q: How much light does a Calathea need?

A: Calatheas dig bright, indirect light. The leaves will droop and get damaged if they get too much straight-up sun. For best results, stick ’em away from windows and in spots that get softened sunlight. Shoot for 6 to 8 hours minimum every day of nice, indirect light. Shift your Calathea to an area with more light if the leaves start to look faded or yellow. It’s time to move your plant back to a more shadowy spot if they turn black and crispy.

Q: Will Calathea survive in low light?

A: Calatheas can’t stand really low light. To grow, they need indirect, bright, and softened light. A Calathea’s leaves will turn pale and yellow if it doesn’t get enough light, and the plant might finally kick the bucket. Think about using extra fake light to make sure your Calathea gets enough light.

Q: What lights should be used for Calathea?

A: You can use fluorescent, or LED grow lights. These types of lighting give off less heat than other lights, making them safer and more energy-saving for your Calathea.

Q: How do I know if my Calathea is getting enough light?

A: If your Calathea is getting the right amount of light, its leaves should look bright and vibrant in color. Additionally, it should also be growing steadily and popping out new leaves regularly. If you notice that the leaves are fading or turning yellow, it’s a sign that your Calathea is not getting enough light and needs to be shifted to a brighter spot.


In conclusion, Monstera plants, despite their beauty and popularity, can easily get sunburned if exposed to too much sunlight. The appearance of symptoms such as yellowing leaves, brown patches, and other signs as discussed in this blog post of FamiPlants, mean you gotta act fast for Monstera sunburn. The key to reviving your sunburnt Monstera lies in proper care routines like managed light, watering, right temp maintenance, and feeding. Remember, the health of your Monstera is a testament to your skills as a plant parent and your ability to spot and react to the plant’s needs quickly.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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