If we asked you to name a trailing houseplant that was virtually indestructible, what would your first thought be? The chances are, you’re picturing Epipremnum Aureum, more commonly known as the pothos plant.
Pothos is a great plant for beginners since it adapts well to a range of light levels, watering regimes and humidity conditions. Seasoned indoor gardeners also love it for its rapid growth and visual impact. Either way, everyone benefits when you have this plant in your home because it’s one of the best air purifiers there is.
Even If you’re looking for something different, this is the plant for you. Over the last few years, many new cultivars have become available. Read on for everything you need to know about pothos plant care.
One of pothos’ many household names is devil’s Ivy. It earned this nickname because it’s almost impossible to kill. That should be reassuring news for any gardener.
Whatever you call it, this is a jungle plant that will adapt very well to a range of conditions indoors. Ideally, you want to give it a few hours of bright, indirect sun every day. It’s best to water it every 7 – 10 days, waiting until the top of the pot has dried before you give it a good soaking. It’s not fussy when it comes to soil and fertilizer either, as any all-purpose potting mix or plant food will encourage it to grow even faster.
Golden Pothos House Plant Care Tips for 2021
This plant will be happiest if you let the top two inches of soil dry out completely before you water it. When watering day does come around, soak the soil evenly and as completely as you can without leaving the plant standing in water. This plant won’t do well with a dribble of water every few days.
Pothos tolerates being underwatered and will dry out almost completely before the leaves start to droop. In fact, if the foliage looks floppy, it’s as close to an emergency as this plant will get. If your plant’s leaves start to turn yellow, it’s a sign that it’s been overwatered, but it should recover well.
We’ll give you a bonus tip about watering too, from someone who’s grown these plants for years. Always remember that soil which has dried out is very lightweight and long, mature vines are very heavy.
When you’re checking a dry plant, be very careful that you don’t cause it to overbalance and fall off a shelf. You’ll be vacuuming the couch for days if it does (though your indestructible plant will, of course, survive).
Bright, direct light will harm a pothos plant but, otherwise, it’ll grow fast in almost any level of light. Find it a spot where it’s out of the afternoon sun and you won’t go far wrong.
You do need to give some thought to the variety you have before you choose its home. The neon and variegated varieties require more light to maintain their color. Only the dark green parts of the leaf photosynthesize, so your plant can’t afford to make the lighter patches unless it’s getting plenty of energy from the sun.
In nature, Epipremnum is used to higher humidity than you’ll find in most homes but, happily, it also adapts well to life inside. If you’re misting your other plants, give this one a spray too. Keeping it near other house plants also keeps the humidity at a higher level, but these aren’t essential tasks in terms of pothos plant care.
The only thing likely to upset your plant is trailing from a shelf directly over a heater. As long as you can avoid this, it’ll do just fine.
Plant Food and Soil
This plant isn’t fussy when it comes to soil and food. As long as it’s in a rich, well-draining potting mix, it’ll grow well. Although other waxy rainforest plants require extra sand or perlite in their pots, this plant doesn’t need it.
Feeding your pothos isn’t essential either. If you want to give it some encouragement, an NPK balanced all-purpose fertilizer will do the job nicely, but we think you’ll find that it grows incredibly fast even without extra food.
Additional Pothos Care Tips
The instructions above will help you to get your new plant settled at home. We’ve also brought together some tips for your second year together, when it starts to outgrow its pot and invade your entire living room.
Because it’s a vine, it’s not always obvious when a pothos has grown too big for its pot. When it’s dry, you’ll be able to lift it up and check the root ball to see if it’s become pot bound.
If you do need to repot your pothos, choose a pot that’s only an inch or two larger than the old one. Be careful not to damage the roots. You might find that the plant’s growth stalls for 2 – 4 weeks after repotting, but it’ll soon recover and give you some new leaves.
You should prune your plant when the vines hit the floor or the roof, or when it starts to climb the walls, as there’s a chance that the nodes could damage your plaster.
Use clean, sharp scissors or shears to prune the vines and consider propagating the trimmings. If you cut them so that each piece has 3 or 4 leaves and a couple of nodes, you can propagate a new plant. The nodes are the woody protrusions between the leaves that help the vines to grip and which will grow into roots when they need to.
You can place your cuttings either in a glass of water or directly into potting soil. Soon they’ll take off and you’ll have a whole new plant to take care of or give to a friend.
Epipremnum is fairly resistant to pests, but you should still keep an eye out for mealybugs and scales. These pests will leave a residue on the leaves which you can clean away with a soft cloth and alcohol.
If you do have an infestation, the long vines can make it difficult to get rid of all of the bugs. It might even be necessary to prune the vines at this point so that the job is more manageable.
If you’re worried about pests, another option is a sticky trap that should catch them before they get to the leaves. With luck, this will save you from having to wash hundreds of leaves.
This plant is very easy to care for, very easy to cultivate, and very difficult to kill. Unfortunately, it’s also poisonous. All parts of the pothos are toxic to humans and animals because, like many rainforest plants, they’re full of calcium oxalates.
If the plant is consumed, it causes irritation and an upset stomach. Some people are also sensitive to the sap and can have an allergic reaction after pruning the vines. While it’s unlikely to do lasting damage, you should take any family member who manages to eat this plant to the appropriate doctor or vet.
Varieties of Pothos Plant
This plant became popular very quickly when the craze for indoor gardening started. As the years have gone on, more and more exotic varieties of the plant have become available to satisfy our need for unique indoor plants.
The golden pothos is the most common and affordable variety. It has heart-shaped, dark green leaves that develop splashes of yellow if it gets enough light. The jessenia and marble queen varieties have a similar irregular pattern on their leaves, but there’s not such a contrast in color.
The neon pothos is currently very popular. Its new leaves are chartreuse yellow, though they do tend to darken in low light conditions, especially as the plant matures.
The pearls and jade pothos is an eye-catching variety with smaller leaves. Its foliage has bold patches of dark green and white. Of all the cultivars available, this is the most striking and graphic.
Where can I buy pothos plant?
You can expect to pick up a pothos from a garden center with a good selection of houseplants. However, you’ll probably find that the ones they have for sale don’t have any vines, as it’s much harder for the store to transport and display trailing plants. It’s more common to find one that’s been trained to grow up a moss pole.
If you’re looking for one of the more exotic varieties, you’ll have more luck looking online for a specialist grower. Again, it might not be trailing when it arrives at your home but, within a month or two, it should have grown a good few inches.
How can I make it fuller?
Young plants can sometimes look a little sparse because they’re only growing one or two vines. Once they grow to a good 3 feet in length (which could take less than 3 months), new vines will start to grow from the bottom of the plant.
If you really want your plant to fill out, trim it back a little to encourage it to put its energy into new growth. Another option is to replant the cuttings back in the pot so that you get a thicker cluster of plants.
Mist my golden pothos?
Misting your plant will emulate its natural habitat. Moisture also discourages some of the pests which could attack your plant. Although this plant adapts well to a range of conditions inside, if you’ve got other, more sensitive plants that need high humidity, give your pothos a mist as well.
Of course, you should also take your plant’s position into account when you decide whether or not to mist. Because it trails, many people like to place it on a bookshelf. It should go without saying, but please don’t mist your books along with your house plants.
Why has my cutting died?
As we’ve already said, this is one of the easiest houseplants to propagate. You can put the cuttings in soil or in water and, as long as they have a node or two, they should be growing new leaves within 6 weeks.
The one thing that can upset a pothos cutting is a change of scene. Often, they will die if they’re started off in water before being transferred to soil. If a cutting goes into water first, it’s far better to keep it there. You can actually grow a very large, strong plant without ever reaching for the soil and many people prefer to grow them this way.
Pothos really is a plant for everybody. There are very few homes that it won’t thrive in, and everybody loves the interest and contrast that a trailing plant can bring to a collection.
Aside from remembering to water it, your biggest task is going to be keeping it in check. Even in the space of a single growing season, it can grow six feet and start to creep up the walls.
So treat yourself or get one for a friend. You’re certainly not going to regret it.