How to Grow and Care for Pothos

This low-maintenance houseplant is easy to grow and propagate

closeup of a pothos plant

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, has pointed, heart-shaped green leaves that are sometimes variegated with white, yellow, or pale green striations. Pothos is a good indoor plant year-round and will grow quickly, often adding between 12 to 18 inches of length in a month. Be aware that pothos plants are toxic to pets.

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 slightly acidic
Bloom Time Rarely flowers
Flower Color Gold/Yellow, Purple/Lavender
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA)
Native Areas South Pacific
Toxicity All parts of this plant are toxic to dogs and cats
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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 tangled mess.

While pothos likes bright, indirect light, it can also thrive in low-light areas or those with only fluorescent lighting, making it an excellent option for 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

Pothos likes sun or shade, but you need to watch if it's in too much of either one. When grown indoors, pothos prefers bright but indirect light. Variegated plants sometimes lose their leaf pattern and revert to all-green foliage if they don't receive enough light. Moving them to brighter conditions usually restores the variegation. Suddenly pale-looking leaves mean the plant is receiving too much sun.

Soil

Pothos plants thrive in ordinary, well-draining potting soil that can be on the dry side or even rocky. Pothos thrives in a soil pH ranging from 6.1 to 6.8 on the scale. It is tolerant of a range of conditions, from neutral to slightly 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 indicate when it needs water. When it starts to droop, it needs water. However, don’t wait until the leaves start to shrivel or the plant 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 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, pothos plants like high humidity. You can increase humidity 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 in low humidity environments, so there's no need to invest in a humidifier.

Fertilizer

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

Types of Pothos

Pothos hybrids have been developed with many different types of leaf variegation, with white, yellow, or light green patches interrupting the predominant deep green leaves. Some cultivars have solid light green leaves. Some recommended pothos varieties include:

  • 'Marble Queen': A varietal with an exceptionally attractive white-and-green variegated pattern. It requires more light than most pothos to maintain its unique coloring.
  • 'Pearls and Jade': This varietal is an avid white and green climber, but instead of striping, the colors of grey, green and white show boldly around the perimeter of the leaves.
  • 'Neon': A bright chartreuse variety, this pothos need less light and is great for brightening up a dark area in your home.
  • '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 how often you water them, drooping is a sure sign that roots have probably filled the pot and there is no room to grow. Carefully lift the plant out of its pot and check to see if this is the problem. You might be able to see roots growing out of the drainage holes. When the plant has reached this stage, you can re-pot it into a container that is one or two sizes larger in diameter and depth and filled with fresh potting soil.

Propagating Pothos

Pothos propagation is easy when it's done using stem cuttings. Pothos cuttings like to propagate in water at first. Here are the steps to take:

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

Common Pests

Pothos is usually pest-free. However, the plant can occasionally become infested with mealybugs. A simple insecticidal soap controls 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?

    Pothos plant care is very easy and they're fairly tolerant of neglect and growing environments that are not totally ideal. In fact, pothos is called devil's ivy because it's nearly impossible to kill.

  • How fast does pothos grow?

    Pothos is a quick-growing houseplant with the potential to add over a foot of length in one month.

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

    Pothos and philodendrons 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
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  1. Golden Pothos. Animal Poison Control Center.

  2. POTHOS (EPIPREMNUM AUREUM) DISEASES: IDENTIFICATION AND CONTROL IN COMMERCIAL GREENHOUSE PRODUCTION. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

  3. Epipremnum aureum. Missouri Botanical Garden.