How to Care for a Pothos

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! Today you can find it growing wild in most tropical regions of the world; it’s considered an invasive weed in some places. Indoors it usually only grows to about 6 feet. 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. 

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.

Marble Queen is similar to Golden Pothos, but has even more splashes of cream and gold.

Pearls & Jade looks exactly like what you’re probably picturing from its name. It has dark green leaves with bright white splashes. This variety grows more slowly than the others. 

The most unique variety of Pothos is the Cebu Blue. It has arrow-shaped leaves that are a dark, greenish-blue. 

Golden Pothos

Satin Pothos is not a true Pothos (it’s scientific name is Scindapsus pictus), but it is a close relative and requires the same care. It has large, dark green leaves with silver splashes. I finally got my hands on one of these babies at Lepley & Co.’s grand opening at Northside Marketplace, and I couldn’t be happier with it!

Satin Pothos from Lepley & Co

How To Care For A Pothos

Potting & Soil

The first step in taking good care of any houseplant is putting it the right pot and with the right soil.

You want to find a pot that is just the right size for your plant – just slightly larger than its root system. If it’s in a pot that is too large, the soil will be too soggy after you water it and the roots could rot. If it’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.

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 material to promote good drainage like pearlite, water retainers like coco coir or peat moss, and organic material like compost, wood bark, or worm castings for nutrients. 

The root system of this Satin Pothos hadn’t yet filled the container I bought it in, so I used a pot that was about the same size.

Light

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. They’ll tolerate lower light, but they will not grow as quickly and they might get stretched out looking for more. 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.

Water

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 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 are native to hot, humid environments, so make sure they’re 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 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.

This Golden Pothos wasn’t getting enough light, so it looks sad. See how the stems are sparce and leggy?
I trimmed up the leggy Golden Pothos and rooted the cuttings in water for 10 days. Check out all those roots!
After the cuttings had rooted, I replanted them back into the original pot with the rest of the plant I had cut them from. I moved the plant into a sunnier spot. Look how happy she is!

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?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum

https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/91403/Epipremnum-aureum/Details

Published by Emily Anderson

Freelance Writer. Beer Drinker. Plant Lover.

3 thoughts on “How to Care for a Pothos

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