You might know it as Devil’s Ivy, Ceylon Creeper, or Epipremnum aureum, but most people know it simply as Pothos. Pothos is one of the most beloved houseplants available here in the US, and for good reason. It’s easy to care for and propagate, it looks gorgeous hanging in a window or over a bookshelf, and it comes in many different varieties. It’s also generally disease and pest free.
Pothos is a vine with heart-shaped leaves that belongs to the Araceae family. It is native to the Society Islands in the South Pacific (think Bora Bora), where it can grow up to 66 feet long! (Indoors, it usually only grows to around 6 feet.) Today you can find it growing wild in most tropical regions of the world; it’s considered an invasive weed in some places. It’s on NASA’s list of air-purifying houseplants, but it is toxic when consumed, so be sure to keep it away from pets that like to nibble on leaves.
Epipremnum aureum is toxic to dogs and toxic to cats.ASPCA
Types of Pothos
The most common type of Epipremnum is the aureum, AKA Golden Pothos. This variety is bright green with splashes of cream and gold. The leaves of a Golden Pothos generally grow larger than the other varieties, but not as large as the Hawaiian.
Jade Pothos has a similar size and shape to Golden, but Jade’s leaves are solid green.
Hawaiian Pothos is a cultivar of Golden Pothos that has extra-large leaves.
Neon Pothos has bright, lemon/lime green leaves. Neon Pothos can also be found variegated.
Marble Queen has slightly more narrow leaves, and more splashes of cream and gold than Golden Pothos.
The Snow Queen variety of Pothos is shaped like Marble Queen but is mostly white with splashes of green.
Pearls & Jade Pothos has dark green leaves with bright white splashes. The white parts on a Pearls & Jade have green splashes in them. This variety grows more slowly than the others, and has a wider leaf.
Pothos N-Joy looks very similar to Pearls & Jade, except for the white parts of its leaves are completely white and do not have any green splashes.
One of the most unique varieties of Pothos is Cebu Blue. It has arrow-shaped leaves that are dark, greenish-blue.
Some more rare varieties of Pothos include Manjula, which has wide green & white leaves and a slight curl at the edges of the leaves, and Shangri-La, which has solid green leaves that grow curled and folded. Shangri-La Pothos can also be found variegated.
Sometimes, Scindapsus plants are included in the Pothos family. Scandapsus pictus is also known as Satin Pothos. These plants are close relatives to Pothos and require the same care. Satin Pothos has large, dark green leaves with silver splashes.
How To Care For A Pothos
Potting & Soil
The first step in taking good care of any houseplant is putting it in the right pot with the right soil.
You want to find a pot that is just the right size for your plant – just slightly larger than its current root system. If it’s in a pot that is too large, the soil will stay too wet after you water it and the roots could rot. If the pot’s too small, it will dry out too quickly and the plant will eat up all the nutrients in the soil too fast. Either way, your leaves could yellow and drop, and eventually, your plant will die.
Always use a pot that has at least one drainage hole in the bottom for excess water to escape.
Pothos plants don’t mind having their roots slightly bound in their pot. Repot only when the plant has outgrown the pot it’s in. You can tell it’s ready for an upgrade if you see roots coming through the drainage holes, or when it dries out immediately after watering.
Sometimes a Pothos will start turning yellow or dropping leaves if it’s too cramped in its pot. When you do give your Pothos a new pot, make sure it’s only 1 or 2 inches larger than its current one.
Pothos aren’t too picky about their soil, so any quality potting mix will do. If you’re making your own mix or repurposing some used soil, I recommend supplementing it with some inorganic materials that promote efficient drainage like pearlite, water retainers like coco coir or peat moss, and organic material like compost, wood bark, or worm castings for nutrients.
Pothos love bright, indirect light. They’ll grow very quickly under these conditions. Indoors, place them close to a window that gets bright sun for at least 6 hours a day. You can keep them outside in the summer, but their leaves will burn under too much direct sun.
Pothos will tolerate lower light, but they will not grow as quickly and they might get stretched out looking for more. Some variegated varieties will lose their variegation in low light.
Most people prefer their plants to be thick and full rather than leggy and thin, so the more indirect light, the better! These plants also do well under grow lights, so if you don’t have much natural light available, this is always an option.
Pothos are easy when it comes to watering. Like all houseplants, you want to make sure the water you’re using doesn’t have any harsh chemicals in it. This means using purified water from the store or using tap water that has been standing for 24 hours. Letting tap water stand in an open container allows chemicals like chlorine to naturally evaporate. I keep a few open gallon jugs so I always have water ready for my plants when they need it.
Drench your Pothos thoroughly when you water it, enough so that water is running from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Allow it to dry out completely before watering it again.
It’s important to pay attention to how dry your plant is and water accordingly, as opposed to watering on a schedule, especially somewhere like here in Ohio where the climate varies greatly throughout the year. Pothos will dry out faster and need to be watered more frequently during the long days of summer, and less when the days are shorter in the winter. If your Pothos is drying out immediately after you water it, it might be time for a new pot.
Remember that Pothos is native to hot, humid environments – make sure it’s not sitting too close to a super dry heating vent or a cold drafty window.
It’s not necessary to mist a Pothos for humidity unless it’s in an extremely dry environment.
How to Propagate a Pothos
My favorite part about the Pothos family is how easy they are to propagate and share! Pothos propagate easily in water. All you need to do is clip a piece of your plant off right below a node (the little lump in a stem where a leaf is growing from), pop it into a small glass of water, and put the glass in a sunny window. Roots will show up in just a few days!
Your cuttings can live indefinitely in water, but I like to plant them in the soil as soon as the roots are about 2 inches long. For the best results, plant a handful of cuttings in a single pot.
Propagating cuttings is a great way to revive stretched-out Pothos, too. You can cut a leggy stem at each node, let their roots grow in water, and then replant them back into the pot of the original plant. This will give you a bushier, fuller plant, and each cutting will grow a new vine.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to love a Pothos. They make great gifts for plant newbies and veterans alike. They’re easy to care for, even in Ohio! There is a wide variety of Pothos available, and they all add a lush, tropical vibe to whatever room they’re in. You can hang them up or let them climb. They grow quickly and overall, are very satisfying to own. What kind of Pothos are you going to look for on your next trip to the plant store?
Pothos on Wiki and Royal Horticulture Society
8 thoughts on “How to Care for a Pothos”
Heard of many plants. Interesting as this is a starter.
I think they make great starter plants! Do you have any Pothos?
no. As of now, keeping things simple till i move.
I was gifted two pothos after my neighbor’s wife passed away. They were hers and she was indescribably special. They thrive in the summer outdoors, and do well in the steamy bathroom during the cold months.
I read that spraying a plant with a mixture of lemon juice and mostly water will keep my cats from snacking on the leaves. I read that cats do not like citrus. Do you have any thoughts on this?
I’ve never heard of using lemon juice but it’s worth a shot! I know peppermint oil (Or Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap) diluted in water might have the same effect.
I’ve heard that coffee grounds are good for plants, is it true? The grounds left from my morning Italian mocha maker? TIA
Some plants like a more acidic soil and may benefit from some coffee grounds occasionally, but I would not recommend it!
I have two Pothos plants. Both are in windows and are over 30 years old! I repotted them about 6 years ago, using Miracle Grow soil, and that made them grow like crazy. I probably need to repot them again soon!
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