If you're a houseplant newbie looking to start your collection with a forgiving species, you can't go wrong with popular pothos. These vining plants are easy to find, low-maintenance, and capable of growing in low light. Golden pothos, a yellow variegated variety, is one the most readily available species, but there are lots of its cultivars to choose from, including the Hawaiian pothos (Epipremnum aureum 'Hawaiian').
You might have to search more to source this less common cultivar, but it's worth the effort if you're a lover of pothos. It still sports the same glossy heart-shaped foliage as the golden pothos, but the variegation sets it apart. The large leaves feature lighter, creamier yellow flecks compared to the deeper yellow of the golden. Even when it turns darker in high light levels, it rarely reaches the deep yellow shades of the more common variety.
With its vining habit, you can pop this species on a shelf and let the leaves trail attractively or train it to climb up a trellis or pole. If you live in Hardiness Zones where pothos can survive outside year-round, it can become invasive if planted as a groundcover. However, studies show pothos is one of the most effective air-purifying houseplants. Just make sure you keep it out of reach of curious kitties and canines; pothos is toxic to pets.
|Common Name||Hawaiian Pothos|
|Botanical Name||Epipremnum aureum 'Hawaiian'|
|Mature Size||Up to 4 feet tall (with considerably longer trailing vines)|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, Partial shade|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Soil pH||Neutral, Acidic|
|Bloom Time||Rarely blooms|
|Hardiness Zones||10–12 (USDA), can be invasive|
|Native Area||South Pacific|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Hawaiian Pothos Care
Hawaiian pothos is notoriously hard to kill, so even brown-fingered houseplant enthusiasts can give this species a whirl. To see the best variegation offer bright conditions but not direct sunlight, watch out for overwatering, and shake out trailing vines frequently to prevent tangling and poor air circulation between the foliage.
A big bonus with the Hawaiian pothos is its ability to survive in various light conditions. It's a popular bathroom plant because of its ability to cope with shady spots. But to see the healthiest growth and impressive variegation, position your plant in an area that receives bright but indirect light. Too little light might make your plant turn back to a less attractive solid green, and bleached leaves can occur in direct sun.
While the Hawaiian pothos doesn't love prolonged exposure to direct sun, it does need slightly brighter conditions than the golden pothos to develop the best variegation.
Hawaiian pothos isn't fussy when it comes to potting soil, providing you pick something that is well-draining. Wet feet are a no-no for this plant. So, if you only have heavy potting soil, try adding some perlite, peat moss, or the more sustainable coco coir to improve the drainage. If all you have is a dry, rocky mix, your pothos shouldn't grumble.
Overwatering is the most common killer of Hawaiian pothos. These plants can handle a little neglect, but standing water leads to root rot. Allow the soil to dry out fully before watering. Don't check this by eye: stick your finger right into the soil to be sure, or use a moisture meter. If your plant's leaves start to droop, that tends to be a sign they are thirsty. If you wait too long, the glossy leaves might dry and brown along their edges.
Temperature and Humidity
Unless your house gets very cold in the winter months, your Hawaiian pothos should do just fine. They thrive in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit but survive in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
These tropical plants aren't fans of dry air, though. If you can't offer humidity levels of between 50 and 70 percent, invest in a humidifier or add a pebble tray filled with water under the plant.
If you pot your Hawaiian pothos in a potting mix rich in organic matter, it might manage fine as they aren't heavy feeders. But, if you want to ensure glossy foliage and rapid development, feeding the plant a couple of times a month during the growing season is worthwhile. Any balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength should work fine, or you could try a natural option, like a fish emulsion.
You won't have to get out the pruning shears with your Hawaiian pothos regularly. It's usually just a case of trimming these fast-growing plants if the vines are becoming too long for your space. Trim away yellowing or dead leaves to ensure all the energy and nutrients head to the healthy foliage.
Propagating Hawaiian Pothos
Pothos is the perfect plant to gift to friends and family. Not only can just about anyone care for them, but they are super easy to propagate from stem cuttings. To have the best chance of success, try following these steps in water or soil during the spring or summer:
- Take a cutting from a healthy stem using sterile and sharp scissors or shears. The cutting should have at least three leaves on it.
- Take off the leaf at the bottom of the stem to reveal an exposed node (the small bump which the aerial root grows from).
- Place the cutting in a clear, tall jar of fresh water or pot in a well-draining potting mix. Make sure you fully submerge the bottom node in the water or soil.
- Put the cutting in a warm spot where it will receive bright but indirect light.
- Change the water weekly or ensure the soil is moist but not soggy.
- Watch for new roots forming. Once they are a couple of inches long in the water, transfer the cutting to a pot filled with potting mix. You'll know the roots are forming in the soil if you gently tug on the stem and it doesn't budge easily.
Potting and Repotting Hawaiian Pothos
The fast-growing Hawaiian pothos won't appreciate its roots being squashed. So watch out for signs that it is pot-bound. These include roots starting to pop out of the drainage holes, foliage wilting regardless of whether you offer more water, or water passing straight through the potting mix without absorbing.
Pick a pot one or two sizes larger in diameter and depth. Make sure you fill it with fresh, nutrient-rich potting soil, too, rather than trying to recycle the old stuff, and take care not to disturb the roots of the plant. You might have to repot it as often as yearly with a healthy, mature plant.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Fortunately, your Hawaiian pothos is unlikely to be bothered by many pests. But, if you overwater or overfeed your plant, they can be prone to getting mealybug infestations. Thankfully, treating the plant with insecticidal soap or a biodegradable soapy water mixture tends to rid them of these pests.
Common Problems With Hawaiian Pothos
Hawaiian pothos might be one of the easiest houseplants to care for, but that doesn't mean they are immune to neglect. Spotting the early signs that you need to tweak your plant's care can help prevent premature expiry.
Before your plant succumbs to root rot due to overwatering, you might see black spots marring the fantastic foliage. It's a good indication it's time to let your plant dry out considerably.
While your Hawaiian pothos is somewhat drought tolerant and likes to dry out in between watering, you might see the tips and edges of the leaves browning and curling if it goes lengthy spells without irrigation.
Is Hawaiian pothos rare?
Getting hold of a Hawaiian pothos will be more tricky than finding a golden pothos. You might have to go to a specialist supplier rather than picking one up at a standard plant retailer. But they aren't so rare that they command premium prices. The biggest issue is making sure the plant isn't mislabeled. Mixing up juvenile varieties of golden pothos and its cultivars is easy.
Are golden pothos and Hawaiian pothos the same?
Hawaiian pothos is a cultivar of golden pothos. They share similar care requirements and appearances, but a savvy eye can spot the differences. The Hawaiian cultivar foliage tends to be larger and faster growing, and it can handle more sun and drier soil than the golden pothos. But, the lighter yellow, almost creamy, variegation on the Hawaiian pothos sets it apart most. The variegation on the golden pothos tends to be a deeper yellow hue.
How much light does Hawaiian pothos need?
Pothos species are known for their ability to handle low-light conditions. However, they tend to do best in bright but indirect light. The Hawaiian pothos is no exception, and, in fact, its variegation can look its best when it gets a little more bright light than the golden pothos.
Keep it in the pot - control your pothos. University of Florida Extension
Claudio, Luz. Planting Healthier Indoor Air. Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 119, no. 10, Oct. 2011, pp. a426–27.,doi: 10.1289/ehp.119-a426
‘Golden Pothos’. Pet Poison Helpline.