Whether you’re looking for your first houseplant or your twelfth, the Pothos is an excellent choice. It’s easy to maintain, beautifully cascades over its pot, and purifies the surrounding air. Pothos care starts with preparation, and this guide will teach you all you need to grow this low-maintenance flora!
What is a Pothos?
Epipremnum aureum, also known as Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Marble Queen, or Golden Pothos, is a flowering plant species belonging to the family Araceae. Technically it is a vine, which makes it suitable for hanging pots and plant stands. There are two cultivars (varieties): Golden Pothos and Marble Queen.
The Golden Pothos (or Devil’s Ivy) has yellowish, variegated leaves. Variegation refers to alternating patches or stripes of color. Marble Queen plants are highly variegated, giving their leaves a streaked appearance which earned the cultivar its name. Both plants have heart-shaped leaves.
Epipremnum aureum originated in Moorea, one of French Polynesia’s Society Islands. Since it was discovered in 1880, the plant has spread across the world and can now be found in the wild of many tropical countries.
The species was initially called Pothos aureus, but it has since been reassigned several times as it’s been studied. Though the plant’s current official name does not include “Pothos,” it is still referred to as such.
Is a Pothos Easy to Care For?
Several indoor plants could be contenders as the easiest to care for, including the Aglaonema and the Jade Plant. Though, the Pothos is arguably the lowest maintenance species of them all. They thrive in low-light conditions while resisting disease and pests.
Since these plants prefer that their soil dries between waterings and don’t need too much light, it’s harder to kill a Pothos than keep it alive! Those who care for a Pothos describe it as a species that thrives on neglect because doting on this plant could be harmful to its health.
Easy houseplants are a fantastic option for busy or forgetful folks who want to bring some greenery into the home. The danger with plants that don’t need much is that it’s easier to overwhelm them. Excessive watering and direct sunlight may damage this species more quickly than others.
Can You Grow a Pothos Plant Indoors and Outdoors?
Pothos can be grown anywhere, but they typically fare better indoors. This is because Pothos plants tolerate low light much better than direct sunlight. If you keep this species outside, make sure it is placed in a shaded area.
The Pothos likes bright, indirect light whenever possible. Some plants can enjoy a few hours basking in the sun before they need to be taken inside or shaded, but not the Epipremnum aureum. Though it may be tempting to let your plant catch some rays, direct sunlight could burn and discolor the foliage.
The best conditions for this species’ outdoor growth can be found using the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) plant hardiness zoning chart. The chart splits the U.S. into zones based on average annual temperature. Zones 10-11 will have the best luck growing Pothos outside.
What Are the Benefits of a Pothos?
The most notable benefit of Pothos is its air-purifying properties. Epipremnum aureum can scrub toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from its surrounding environment. NASA is a big fan of Golden Pothos for just this reason, and they’ve conducted numerous studies on its air-purifying benefits.
Pothos can also eliminate foul odor in the air as it cleanses its area. It releases a high amount of oxygen throughout the day, making it the ideal choice for those with breathing troubles such as asthma. The Pothos can also alleviate eye strain caused by extended exposure to blue-light emitting screens.
Humans are trichromats, meaning we see three primary colors (red, green, and blue). Green is in the middle of this spectrum in terms of intensity, meaning it is soothing and easily seen in nature. The closer a shade is to true, natural green, the easier it is on our eyes. Resting our eyes on the Pothos’s deep green leaves can help them recover after a long period of staring at digital light.
How to Care for a Pothos
Place your Epipremnum aureum in a room with low light conditions. We recommend a room with some exposure to natural lighting without getting too much intense sunshine. With the proper light exposure, watering habits, soil, and attention, these plants can last 5-10 years.
Choosing the Right Soil
Epipremnum aureum can be grown in virtually any type of potting soil, whether nutrient-rich or poor. It can even be grown in water with the right liquid nutrients added. A well-draining potting mix is always a safe bet with this versatile species.
The Pothos will adapt to whichever medium it is grown in. So, while it is capable of growing in water, this doesn’t mean it can take constant watering if grown in soil. Likewise, cuttings from a plant developed in water will not do well if suddenly transferred to fresh potting soil.
Finding the Right Pot
Epipremnum aureum can be placed in a hanging pot, plant stand, water-filled vase, or standard pot. If you choose to grow this plant in soil, we recommend a container that is one to two inches wider than your Pothos’s root ball. Additionally, it should have drainage holes that prevent water accumulation.
If you want to accentuate this plant’s heart-shaped leaves, take advantage of its vine properties and place it in a hanging pot. The foliage will spill over the container and grow as much as you let them. Any liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants will be suitable for Pothos plants grown in water.
Watering Your Pothos Plant
Water your Epipremnum aureum every one to two weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Your environment plays a vital role in plant care. If your Pothos is exposed to continuous indirect sunlight, give it more water than a plant in a shaded area.
Similarly, an Epipremnum aureum in dry settings will require more hydration than if the vine was grown in a humid region. If you grow your Pothos in a vase of water, you won’t have to worry about conditions like root rot, but you will have to keep an eye out for algae.
Root rot is caused by overwatering. The roots don’t receive enough oxygen, and the plant may eventually give off a foul odor. For potted plants, ensure the soil has dried by sticking your index finger knuckle-deep. If you can’t feel moisture, water the plant.
Placement and Lighting
Lighting is one of the most crucial aspects of plant care. The Pothos requires bright, indirect light. If its green leaves turn yellow, it may be receiving too much light. Average indoor lighting is ideal for this species, though avoid window sills that are hit by direct light.
Humidity and Temperature
These plants love high humidity and temperatures between 60-80°F, though they can tolerate a wide range of conditions. If you live in an arid and dry region, you can still grow a healthy Pothos indoors or outside. They can put up with dry air quite well, though a water mister or humidifier can strengthen their roots and foliage even more.
These plants don’t flower until they reach roughly 40 feet in size. There is no specific method for getting your Pothos to flower except routine care and plenty of space to develop. Due to the size it must reach, you’ll have better luck with flowering foliage if you grow your Epipremnum aureum outside.
Pruning a Pothos Plant
If you want to shape or rearrange your Pothos’s foliage, you can! This species benefits from pruning — the act of cutting back a plant so that it grows back stronger — which is especially helpful for hanging Pothos. Take a vine you’d like to trim and cut it ¼ inch above the leaf, as this allows a new vine to grow.
Feeding Pothos Plants
Fertilize your Pothos once every three months to amplify the speed of its growth. We recommend fertilizers with 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous, and 20% potassium (commonly called a 20-20-20 fertilizer). Though, many find that the Pothos grows speedy enough without additional help!
Common Pothos Plant Issues
The most common issue for this plant is too much water. Pothos likes to sip, not chug its water. This means that it could still be working on its last drink when other species might be craving another round. If you continually water your Pothos, its roots will not get enough oxygen and start to decay.
Even if its roots don’t become oxygen-starved, excessive watering can also lead to a condition known as Pythium root rot. Pythium is a fungus-like parasitic microorganism that is harmful to plant growth. Other concerns include fungal diseases and bacterial leaf spot, which bacteria can cause.
How Do I Know if My Pothos is Dying?
A sure sign that something is off with your Pothos is yellowing leaves, but how do we know what they mean? The most common reasons for yellowed leaves in this species are dehydration and too much light. Another possible cause of discolored leaves is poor-quality fertilizer.
Root rot may give off a foul odor, but it can also show itself in other ways. If you keep watering your plant’s soil without the moisture sinking below the surface, your Pothos might be sitting in soggy soil. If its leaves fall off or show water spots with yellow halos on their undersides, the plant could be sick.
Are Pothos Plants Poisonous?
The Pothos plant is poisonous, though it is rarely fatal. It can cause gastrointestinal and oral irritation if ingested by humans or pets due to the calcium oxalates its leaves and vines contain. The crystalline shape of the oxalates causes them to be insoluble, damaging the tissues they come into contact with.
Even the sap that the leaves produce can induce nausea, so be sure to keep the plant in an area that children or animals can’t easily explore. Other symptoms Pothos plants can cause include:
- Difficulty swallowing.
If you or someone in your home ingests pieces of a Pothos, wash the area thoroughly with water and take them to a medical professional if symptoms persist.
Final Thoughts – Pothos Care
As one of the easiest plants to care for, every type of owner can enjoy the Pothos. Whether you keep it in an indoor, low-light room or a shaded garden, Epipremnum aureum’s long variegated leaves can brighten up any home. Rest your eyes, purify the air, and spruce up your living area in the process with the incredibly pliable Pothos!