How to Grow and Care for Pothos

pothos on a kitchen table

The Spruce / Kara Riley

In This Article

Pothos is arguably one of the easiest houseplants to grow, even if you're someone who forgets to water your plants often enough. This trailing vine, native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, boasts pointed, heart-shaped green leaves that are sometimes variegated with white, yellow, or pale green striations. Pothos can be planted or tended to indoors throughout the entire year and will grow quickly, often adding between 12 and 18 inches of length a month. Be careful if you have pets as pothos is toxic to animals.

Common Name Pothos, golden pothos, devil's vine, devil's ivy
Botanical Name Epipremnum aureum
Family Araceae
Plant Type Vine
Mature Size 20–40 ft. long, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time Does not flower
Flower Color Does not flower
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA)
Native Areas South Pacific
Toxicity Toxic to dogs and cats
1:41

Watch Now: How to Easily Grow and Care for Pothos

Pothos Care

Pothos vines do not cling to trellises and supports on their own (like ivy might), but they can be trained onto supports to give the appearance of twining. As indoor plants, it is common to see pothos specimens grow to 30 feet long, though most are kept at a much shorter, neater length. If you choose to let your pothos grow into a long vine, it can be secured on hooks to trail along walls and over window frames. Vines left to grow on their own can get very tangled, so shake them loose every now and then to keep them from becoming a mess.

While pothos likes bright, indirect light, it can also thrive in areas that don't get a lot of sunlight or only have fluorescent lighting, making it an excellent option for locations such as offices and dorm rooms.

pothos

The Spruce / Kara Riley

closeup of pothos leaf

The Spruce / Kara Riley

silver satin pothos

The Spruce / Melina Hammer 

variety of pothos

The Spruce / Jordan Provost

variety of pothos

The Spruce / Jordan Provost

pothos cuttings rooting in water

The Spruce / Kara Riley 

closeup of philodendron

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Light

When grown indoors, pothos prefers bright but indirect light. Variegated plants sometimes lose their leaf pattern and revert to all-green plants if they don't get enough light—moving them to brighter conditions usually restores the variegation. Suddenly paler-looking leaves mean the plant is getting too much sun.

Soil

Pothos plants thrive in ordinary, well-draining potting soil. Soil pH is also not of consequence to the plant, and it can thrive in a range of conditions, from neutral to acidic.

Water

A pothos plant likes to have its soil dry out completely between waterings. If left in continually damp soil, the plant's roots will rot. Black spots on the leaves (or the sudden collapse of the plant) indicate that the soil has been kept too wet. The plant will tell you when it needs water. When it starts to droop, it needs a good drink. However, don’t wait until the leaves start to shrivel or you will lose some leaves. Dry, brown edges mean the plant was kept dry for too long.

Temperature and Humidity

Pothos should be kept in temperatures that are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, though they most appreciate a common room temperature that hovers between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, pothos plants like high humidity, so you can increase the moisture in the air around the plant by keeping it in a typically humid area of the home, such as a kitchen or bathroom. Still, the plant is very tolerant and can thrive even where there is low humidity, so there's no need to invest in a space humidifier.

Fertilizer

Pothos plants are not heavy feeders. But since there are typically no nutrients in most potting soils, you can feed the plant monthly to bi-monthly with any balanced houseplant fertilizer to increase nutrition.

Types of Pothos

Many varieties of pothos have been developed with different types of leaf variegation, with white, yellow, or light green patches interrupting the predominant deep green. There are also cultivars with leaves that are solid light green. Some recommended pothos cultivars include:

  • "Marble Queen": A varietal with an exceptionally attractive white-and-green variegated pattern. It will need more light than most pothos to maintain its unique coloring.
  • "Pearls and Jade": This varietal is also white and green, but instead of striping, the colors show up in the form of small dots.
  • "Neon": A bright chartreuse variety, this pothos need less light and is great for darker spaces.
  • "Silver Satin": This varietal has thick gray-green leaves with silver splotches. It is very tolerant of drought and low-light conditions.

Potting and Repotting Pothos

Eventually, your pothos will become pot-bound. When the leaves droop, no matter how much or often you water them, that's a sure sign that the roots have probably filled the planter. Carefully lift the plant and check to see if this is the problem. You may even be able to see roots growing out of the drainage holes. When the plant has reached this stage, you can re-pot it in a container that is one or two sizes larger in diameter and depth and filled with fresh potting soil.

Propagating Pothos

Pothos is easily propagated simply by taking stem cuttings.

  1. Using a sterile, sharp cutting tool, cut a healthy stem with at least three leaves at an angle about a half-inch or inch below the lowest leaf.
  2. Remove the lowest leaf from the stem cutting (you don't need to remove the other leaves).
  3. Place the rooting in a vase or jar of water, but do not let the remaining leaves touch the water.
  4. Once the cutting in water has sprouted new roots that are several inches long, likely over the course of a few weeks, move it into a pot with potting soil as soon as possible so it can begin to get its nutrients.
  5. Put the pot in a spot with bright indirect light.

Common Pests

Pothos is usually pest-free. However, the plant can occasionally become infested with mealybugs. A simple insecticidal soap works against the pests, but the easiest method is to simply dab the insects with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.

FAQ
  • Is pothos easy to care for?

    Caring for a pothos plant is very easy and they're pretty tolerant of neglect and growing environments that are not totally ideal.

  • How fast does pothos grow?

    Pothos is a quick-growing houseplant, and can potentially add over a foot of length in one month.

  • What's the difference between pothos and philodendron plants?

    Pothos and philodendron are two common houseplants that look almost identical but they are two separate and distinct plants. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their leaves. Pothos plants have subtle heart-shaped leaves that are large, thick, textured, and waxy while philodendrons have more distinctive heart-shaped leaves that are thinner, softer, and smoother.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “17 Plants Poisonous to Pets.” Aspcapro.org. N.p., 17 June 2015. Web.