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October 11, 2017

Pothos Plant Care Guide: Growing Information and Tips

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Epipremnum aureum is a trailing, leafy vine that can reach lengths of up to 40 feet in tropical jungles. Its genus name is derived from the Greek words epi (meaning upon) and premnon (meaning a trunk) in reference to its growing on tree trunks.

Indoors, the pothos plant usually confines itself to about six to 10 feet. Its leaves are bright and waxy with a noteworthy pointed heart shape, and are often green or variegated in white, yellow, or pale green. It is rare for them to flower or produce berries, especially indoors, but certain varieties can have tiny, petal-less white flowers that feature small berries.

pothos in vase

Also called devil’s ivy, pothos can be grown in hanging baskets or as a potted plant on a desk. They are excellent at helping to purify the air and tolerant of fluorescent light, making them a popular choice for office environments. These plants can also help cleanse the air when grown in your home or office, as well.

Pothos Plant Overview

Most of us, or at least those of us without a green thumb, prefer sturdy house plants that require minimal attention. Well, we’re in luck. The pothos plant is attractive as well as notoriously hardy, earning a reputation as the easiest houseplant to grow. While they are native to the understory forest in the Solomon Islands, pothos are able to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions outside of their natural tropical habitat.    

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Not only can a pothos plant enliven your space with color and texture, pothos rank highly on the list of plants that help purify the air. Additionally, they increase humidity and replace carbon dioxide with oxygen.

But though the blooms are relatively easy to grow, they have proven to be temperamental with weather and sunlight, so be wary when first starting out.

Types of Pothos

While you may find hybrids, there are a few cultivars of Epipremnum aureum that are most popularly grown as houseplants. The most popular is aureum or golden pothos, which is found on many bookshelves and plant hangers throughout the world. Read on to learn more about a few of the most common pothos hybrids.

Neon Pothos

Though you won’t find neon pothos at a nightclub, you’ll still admire it for its attention-grabbing neon-like leaves. Compared to other members of the pothos family, leaves on the neon pothos are a brighter and more vibrant green, and at times can almost appear to be growing yellow. 

neon pothos in water

Satin Pothos AKA Silver Pothos

The satin pothos is called such because its dark green leaves are splashed with a silvery gray coloring, giving it a satin-like sheen. The leaves of the satin pothos are also large and heart-shaped, making it a popular addition to house plant nurseries. To keep the unique variegation on satin pothos leaves, leave the plant in bright, indirect light. 

satin pothos

Epipremnum Aureum AKA Golden Pothos 

As you may guess by its name, the leaves of golden pothos are variegated in golden-yellow. Golden pothos is native to the Solomon Islands and some parts of southeast Asia. Since pothos that grow in low light conditions tend to not feature the yellow variegation, you may wish to provide your golden pothos with one or two hours of moderate sunlight.  

golden pothos in vase

Marble Queen

Marble queen is the most popular cultivar, and very slow-growing. It is highly variegated with foliage that tends to be more white than green. Since the marble queen is harder to care for than golden pothos, they are less popular. However, its slow growth makes it perfect if you have limited space.

marble queen pothos

How to Propagate Pothos

Pothos often top lists of the easiest plants to propagate because of their resilience and ability to grow in both ample and little light. Propagating starts with a small plant cutting — and can end with an entirely new, big pothos plant! 

propagate pothos

Water propagation:

Water is the most popular propagation method, because it is relatively easy and looks unique and beautiful throughout the process. Water propagation follows these steps: 

  1. Cut a 4 to 6-inch pothos stem off of your plant, making sure your cutting has four or more leaves

  2. Place the cut ends of your cut stems in water, using a clear vase or jar like a glass bottle, jam jar or other glass container 

  3. Place the jar in a bright area, but not direct sunlight

  4. About a month after roots begin to grow from the cuttings, plant them in soil 

Be careful not to leave your cuttings in water too long. As pothos cutting acclimate to the water, it will become harder for them to grow when planted back in soil. 

Root propagation:

For those who don’t want to fuss with glass jars, root propagation is a way to immediately plant your cuttings into soil. Propagate pothos in soil by completing the following steps:

  1. Cut a 4 to 6-inch pothos stem off of your plant, making sure your cutting has four or more leaves

  2. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone

  3. Plant the cutting in a mixture of half peat moss and half perlite or sand, or a well-draining potting soil

  4. Keep the cuttings out of direct sunlight until they begin to bloom

Pothos Plant Care Tips

Even though pothos are ridiculously easy to care for, we’ll give you a few tips to keep your plant healthy and happy. Like all plants, it requires light, water, and proper air circulation to grow.

What light is best for pothos? 

Pothos do best in moderate indoor light, but can survive  in a variety of light conditions, including low light. Outdoors they can be grown in shade to partial shade. Wherever you decide to display your pothos, just be sure to avoid direct sunlight. 

A highly variegated pothos may lose its variegation when placed in low-light conditions. Since only the green parts of the leaves can make energy, the leaves will compensate for the lack of light by turning more green. Pale leaves that turn yellowish in color could indicate that your plant is getting too much light.

sunlight satin pothos

How often should I water my pothos? 

As a general rule, you should water a pothos once every week in warmer months and once every two weeks in colder months. Keep soil moist, but be careful not to overwater — pothos do best when their soil is allowed to dry out between waterings.

spraying pothos with water

If the leaves are wilting or turning brown, you should water the plant more often. If the leaves are yellow, you may be watering it too much. Excessive watering may cause root rot.

Do not allow your pothos to stand in water, unless it is a cutting started in water. Pothos can grow in water as well as soil, but they have a hard time switching from one growing medium to the other. A pothos plant started in soil will thrive best if continued to grow in soil, and vice versa.

Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow? 

Though it may seem that leaves would yellow because of underwatering, typically the opposite is true for the easygoing pothos plant. Typically, pothos leaves yellow because of improper soil moisture. In particular, overwatering. Only water the plant when the top 25% of its pot has dried out, and make sure water seeps out through a drainage hole. Never allow a pothos to have “wet feet,” or lingering wet soil in the bottom of the pot. 

Should I mist my pothos? 

As a rule of thumb, no. Pothos don’t typically require misting. To increase humidity around a pothos in the winter months, you’d be best to set the plant on a pebble tray. Misting the plant won’t help keep it adequately watered or in the proper humidity, and may even increase the risk of pest infestation on the plant. 

What temperature is best for pothos?

Pothos can tolerate moderate temperatures ranging from 55 – 85℉, however they are tropical plants and so prefer high humidity and temperatures of 70 – 90℉.

temperature pothos in window

What pests are attracted to pothos? 

The most common causes of problems with pothos are easy to fix, making it a great option for the first-time gardener. This houseplant has no serious insect or disease problems, although you might find mealybugs and scale making a home out of your greenery. You can use a cotton ball dipped in alcohol to kill the pests. Checking the plant weekly can prevent high infestations. Even then, you can simply rinse off the mealybugs or treat with a horticultural oil spray.

When should I repot my pothos? 

Though pothos are a resilient plant, their roots will eventually overtake the pot and begin to cause problems. If you notice your pothos leaves are drooping even though the plant is in the correct sunlight and receiving the correct amount of water, it might be time to repot. First, check to make sure root growth is the issue by carefully pulling the plant from the pot. If this is the case, transfer it to a container that is a few inches larger and fill it with fresh, well-draining soil. 

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Are pothos toxic?

Though rarely fatal, ingesting pothos can cause vomiting and irritation in pets and children. Parents and pet owners should take care to keep pothos plants out of reach of children — including the iconic hanging vines. 

toxicity cat behind pothos

What makes pothos toxic? 

Pothos contain calcium oxalate crystals in their stems and leaves, which are harmful to cats, dogs and children. These crystals can penetrate the soft tissue in the skin, mouth and throat, causing irritation. 

Though ingestion of pothos leaves and stems is rarely fatal, it’s a best practice to keep your plant out of your pet’s and children’s reach. 

Signs of pothos poisoning

 Pothos poisoning in pets and children will usually only escalate to discomfort and possible vomiting. Here are the symptoms to look out for if you suspect a child or pet has ingested a pothos. 

In kids: 

  • Burning or swelling of the mouth

  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

In pets: 

  • Drooling 

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Decreased appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Irritation of the eyes, mouth or lips

 

If you suspect your child has ingested pothos, call the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. If you suspect your pet has ingested pothos, contact their veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center

Pothos plants can be an excellent addition to your home or office. It has minimal requirements, and its ability to help you breathe happier is yet another advantage. Tough and versatile, pothos can grow horizontally across a mantelpiece, climb up a trellis, or trail from a hanging basket. Either way, it adds beauty, color, and benefits any environment.

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