Pothos Plant Care & Growing Guide – Houseplants


Updated: 23 Oct, 2023

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The Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is an indigenous tropical vine originating from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. However, it is most commonly recognized for its graceful drapery along shelves and desks. Often chosen as a houseplant, the Pothos displays distinctive, heart-shaped leaves in shades of vibrant green, occasionally adorned with variegations of white, yellow, or light green.

With straightforward maintenance, Pothos plants can thrive for many years, displaying remarkable adaptability to varying light levels, soil compositions, and moisture levels. Their growth rate is notably rapid, even when cultivated indoors, often extending by 12 to 18 inches per month. It’s important to note that Pothos plants can be harmful to pets.

Read also: How to Grow and Care for Arrowhead Plant (Complete Guide)

Common NamePothos, Golden Pothos, Devil’s Vine, Devil’s Ivy
Botanical NameEpipremnum aureum
FamilyAraceae
Plant TypeVine
Mature Size20–40 ft. long, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull sun, partial shade
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHNeutral to slightly acidic
Bloom TimeRarely flowers
Flower ColorGold/Yellow, Purple/Lavender
Hardiness Zones10–12 (USDA)
Native AreasAsia
ToxicityToxic to dogs and cats

What is Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)?

A Pothos plant, scientifically known as Epipremnum aureum, is a tropical vine native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. It is a popular houseplant known for its attractive trailing vines. The plant is characterized by its heart-shaped leaves, which can be solid green or variegated with white, yellow, or pale green markings.

Pothos plants are widely cultivated for their aesthetic appeal and adaptability to various indoor environments. They are relatively low-maintenance plants, making them a popular choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Pothos plants are toxic to pets if ingested.

Pothos Care

Caring for Pothos is straightforward. This easy-to-maintain plant flourishes in bright, indirect light, although it can also prosper in low-light environments. It is adaptable to both standard houseplant potting mix and a well-draining aroid mix with ample aeration. It’s crucial to let the soil completely dry out between watering sessions. Additionally, providing balanced houseplant fertilizer on a monthly basis throughout the spring and summer seasons is recommended.

Due to its ability to thrive in low-light conditions, including spaces illuminated solely by fluorescent lighting, Pothos is an excellent choice for enhancing the ambiance of offices and dormitories.

Light:
Pothos thrives in both sunlit and shaded environments, but it’s important to monitor for excessive exposure to either. When cultivated indoors, it favors bright yet indirect light. Variegated varieties may lose their distinctive leaf patterns and revert to entirely green foliage if light levels are insufficient. Relocating them to brighter conditions often restores their variegation. Pale-looking leaves indicate that the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight.

Soil:
Pothos plants flourish in standard, well-draining potting soil, which can lean towards the drier or even more coarse side. They thrive within a soil pH range of 6.1 to 6.8, showcasing resilience to conditions from neutral to slightly acidic.

Water:
Allow the soil of your Pothos plant to thoroughly dry out between watering sessions. Continuous exposure to damp soil may lead to root rot. Black spots on the leaves or sudden wilting signal that the soil has been overly moistened. The plant itself will indicate when it requires water, typically by showing signs of drooping. However, it’s advisable not to wait until the leaves start to shrivel, as this may result in some leaf loss. Dry, brown edges suggest that the plant has been deprived of water for too long.

Temperature and Humidity:
Maintain Pothos plants in environments consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees. While they prosper in high humidity, they also exhibit remarkable tolerance to lower humidity levels. To augment humidity, consider placing the plant in naturally humid areas like bathrooms or group it with other tropical houseplants to create a more humid microclimate.

Fertilizer:
While not particularly demanding in terms of nutrients, Pothos plants can benefit from periodic fertilization during the growing season. Administer a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month throughout spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing during the winter dormant period.

Lifespan:
Pothos plants typically live for an average of five to ten years, but with proper care, these robust houseplants can extend their lifespan considerably. Providing the right environmental conditions and basic maintenance practices can significantly enhance their longevity.

Types of Pothos

Pothos hybrids exhibit a diverse range of leaf variegations, featuring patches of white, yellow, or light green amidst the prevailing deep green foliage. Some strains boast uniformly light green leaves. Highly recommended pothos varieties include:

‘Marble Queen’: This variety showcases an exceptionally captivating white-and-green variegated pattern. It necessitates a higher light intensity compared to most pothos to maintain its distinct coloring.

‘Pearls and Jade’: A vigorous climber, this varietal displays a striking combination of white and green. Instead of striping, the colors of gray, green, and white are prominently featured around the edges of the leaves.

‘Neon’: With its vibrant chartreuse hue, this pothos variety requires less light and is an excellent choice for adding brightness to darker areas in your home.

‘Silver Satin’: This strain is characterized by thick, gray-green leaves adorned with silver markings. It exhibits remarkable tolerance to drought and low-light conditions.

Type of Pot to Use for Pothos

Pothos plants flourish in various pot materials, including plastic, ceramic, metal, and terra cotta, as long as there are ample drainage holes at the base. When repotting, ensure that the new pot is only slightly larger, with a maximum of two inches in added width and depth compared to the plant’s root ball. After watering, meticulously check drip trays, saucers, and cache pots to prevent any excess water accumulation. Opting for a terra cotta pot can be advantageous for pothos situated in low-light environments, as it aids in moisture dispersion, mitigating the risk of overwatering.

Given its trailing vines, pothos naturally complements hanging baskets or macramé planters. Additionally, cultivating pothos in water is viable, provided the vessel is nonporous and leak-resistant.

Potting and Repotting Pothos

As time passes, your Pothos plant may outgrow its current pot. When you observe drooping leaves, regardless of how much or how frequently you water, it’s a clear indication that the roots have likely filled the pot, leaving no room for further growth. Check for roots emerging from the drainage holes of the pot, or gently lift the plant from its container to inspect the root system.

Once the plant has reached this stage, consider transplanting it into a container that is one or two sizes larger in both diameter and depth. Utilize fresh potting soil and ensure thorough watering after the repotting process to aid the plant’s recovery. Ideally, wait until the spring or summer months, when the plant is in an active growth phase, for optimal results during repotting.

Propagating Pothos

You have the option of purchasing mature pothos from a plant shop, but propagating pothos yourself using stem cuttings is a straightforward process. Pothos cuttings thrive in water during the initial stages of propagation. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Employ a sterile, sharp-cutting tool to select a healthy stem with a minimum of three leaves. Cut it at an angle, approximately half an inch to an inch below the lowest leaf.
  • Remove the lowest leaf from the stem, leaving the other leaves intact.
  • Place the stem in a vase or jar filled with water, ensuring that the remaining leaves do not touch the water.
  • Once the cutting has produced new roots, typically several inches long, which may take a few weeks, promptly transfer it into a pot with potting soil. This allows it to establish a robust root system.
  • Position the pot in an area with bright, indirect light, and maintain the soil’s moisture levels, ensuring it is consistently moist but not overly saturated.

Common Pothos Problems

Even robust and easy-to-care-for pothos plants can face typical houseplant challenges, including pests, diseases, and other issues. Here are some indicators to be mindful of:

Yellowing Leaves

While the occasional yellow leaf is normal, especially if the plant is producing new growth, widespread or sudden yellowing is a cause for concern. This may be attributed to root rot from overwatering or a bacterial or fungal infection.

Browning Leaves

Brown leaves on a pothos plant are unsightly and signify an underlying issue. This could be due to insufficient light or excessive watering. If the brown leaves are dry and brittle, it may indicate underwatering or a lack of humidity.

Drooping Leaves

When pothos leaves droop or wilt, it’s a clear sign of plant stress, often caused by inadequate watering. Provide thorough watering and monitor the soil’s moisture levels to prevent prolonged dryness. Drooping leaves may also indicate that the plant has outgrown its current pot or is affected by a plant disease.

Common Pests

While generally resistant to pests, pothos can occasionally fall victim to mealybugs. Gently remove them using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Alternatively, neem oil or insecticidal soap can be used to manage infestations.

How to Revive Pothos

If you notice your pothos displaying signs of drooping, wilting, or overall poor health, provide it with some basic care. Start by trimming away any dead or damaged foliage. Next, check the moisture level of the soil and water if necessary. If you’ve been watering frequently and the soil feels overly damp, allow it to dry out completely. If it’s been a few years since you last refreshed the soil, or if the plant seems confined in its current pot, consider repotting it into a slightly larger container with fresh soil.

If you have concerns about the plant’s survival, take a few cuttings from its healthy growth to propagate into new plants. Additionally, when repotting, you can introduce rooted pothos cuttings to help promote fuller growth.

Are Pothos Poisonous?

Pothos plants are considered toxic to both cats and dogs, as well as humans. However, it’s important to note that ingestion of this plant is typically not lethal. The roots, leaves, and stems of pothos contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation to the skin, mouth, and digestive tract.

How do I care for a Pothos plant?

Pothos is a low-maintenance plant. It thrives in a variety of light conditions, from low to bright indirect light. It prefers well-draining soil and requires moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Can Pothos plants be grown in water?

Yes, Pothos can be propagated in water. Simply place a cutting with a node in a container of water, and roots will eventually develop. However, for long-term health, it’s recommended to transfer them to soil.

Are there different varieties of Pothos?

Yes, there are several popular varieties of Pothos, including the Golden Pothos (with yellow variegation), Marble Queen (white variegation), and Neon Pothos (bright green leaves). Each has its own unique appearance.

Is Pothos safe for pets?

No, Pothos plants are toxic to pets if ingested. It’s advisable to keep them out of reach of animals.

How fast does a Pothos plant grow?

Pothos are fast-growing plants, especially in optimal conditions. They can add between 12 to 18 inches of length in a month.

Can Pothos plants be placed in low light conditions?

Yes, Pothos is known for its adaptability and can thrive in low-light environments. However, it may grow more slowly compared to when exposed to brighter light.

How do I propagate a Pothos plant?

Pothos can be easily propagated through stem cuttings. Simply snip a healthy stem with at least one leaf and a node, and place it in water or directly in soil.

Conclusion

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a versatile and popular houseplant known for its trailing vines and distinctive heart-shaped leaves. Originating from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, it has become a beloved addition to indoor gardens worldwide. With its adaptability to various light, soil, and moisture conditions, Pothos proves to be a resilient and low-maintenance choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.

While its vibrant green foliage is a beautiful addition to any space, it’s important to note that Pothos plants can be harmful to pets if ingested. Taking precautions to keep them out of reach of animals is essential for a safe and enjoyable indoor gardening experience.


Mary Lloyster

Mary Lloyster

Mary, the ultimate oracle of indoor gardening! With years of experience and a flourishing indoor expo, Mary has become our go-to expert for all things related to house plants and indoor gardening. Despite her background in Political Science, Mary has discovered a delightful way to blend her full-time job with a touch of relaxation through indoor gardening. Now, she eagerly shares her wisdom and experiences with our readers on a daily basis. If you have any inquiries about house plants, indoor gardening techniques, or caring tips, don't hesitate to leave a comment for Mary in the designated section below!

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