by Matt Gibson
Ready to learn all about how to grow and care for pothos, also known as devil’s ivy? If you are looking for an easy to grow houseplant that gives your home a tropical feel, pothos is an excellent pick. It is super easy to grow, and only requires very minimal maintenance and care.
It tolerates low light environments, but will grow faster in medium to low light locations. Some varieties enjoy higher light exposure than others, but overall, they do not seem to be bothered by low light situations, other than slower growth. They will also tolerate an occasional missed watering and generally only need to be watered once every seven to ten days.
Pothos are plants that will trail if placed in a hanging basket, or wind themselves around a trellis or any other support you offer them. They are lovely in containers, and do not need to be repotted very often. With newer varieties offering many beautiful cultivars with variegated leaves and bright colors, there’s plenty of reasons to fall in love with Pothos.
About Pothos (Devil’s Ivy, Epipremnum aureum, Scindapsus aureum)
Pothos, aside from being nearly the perfect houseplant, is also a figure in ancient greek mythology. Pothos, along with his brothers Eros and Himeros, were known as the Erotes, or the gods of longing, yearning, and desire. The child of Aphrodite and Ares, Pothos was considered the god of passionate longing.
Varieties of Pothos
The most popular variety of pothos is golden pothos, which has large mid green leaves and yellow spots and decoration. If grown in high indirect light, more yellow will emerge in the leaves, and leaves will grow up to 12 inches large.
Other cool looking varieties of pothos include Marble Queen Pothos, which has a marble-like texture of green and yellow, Neon Pothos, who’s bright green leaves will attract any eye and enjoys medium to high indirect light. Jade Pothos is probably the best for low light situations as it has solid green leaves with no variegation.
Growing Conditions for Pothos
Pothos is such a common houseplant because of the ease with which it flourishes in a variety of conditions. It will happily grow outdoors in shade or partial shade or indoors if provided with bright indirect light. Pothos also excels in low light conditions or bathrooms and offices where there is no natural sunlight. In the absence of natural sunlight, pothos needs 12 to 14 hours per day of artificial light to thrive.
Pothos really isn’t picky about the soil it grows in and can happily grow strong in gravelly or otherwise poor soil as long as it gets sufficient drainage and the soil isn’t kept too wet. In fact, as a houseplant, pothos is sometimes grown in water without any soil at all in the container. A pothos can live a normal lifespan (five to 10 years) in water as long as you provide it with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Follow the package directions for dosing quantity and timelines.
Care of Pothos
Provide pothos with adequate sunlight that isn’t too overwhelmingly bright and direct. Indoors, this means bright indirect light, like an east-facing windowsill or the light in the interior of a room that’s lit by a bright window. Outdoors, it flourishes in shade to partial shade. Use normal potting soil as a medium for pothos, unless you are growing it as a houseplant in water, in which case, don’t forget to fertilize the plant so it gets some nutrition.
Watering adequately without overwatering is necessary to avoid root rot. Allow the soil your pothos is planted in to dry out down to half the container depth between waterings. Simply stick your finger into the soil once or twice a week to monitor the hydration levels. If you’re growing pothos in a container with water and no soil, don’t forget to refresh the water and clean the container as needed.
How to Propagate Pothos
One of the things that makes pothos such a popular plant is the ease with which it is propagated. You can cut a four-to-six-inch piece off a healthy pothos plant to start a new container or give to a friend, and the fast-growing pothos won’t be too set back by the removal. In fact, trimming a pothos plant can help it to grow more bushy and full, as we’ll discuss in the next section on pruning.
First, sterilize your shears. Your cutting of four to six inches should be taken just above a leaf node and should contain at least four leaves and two nodes (small brown bumps on the stem). Remove the leaf closest to the bottom of your cutting, and either plant in soil in the container where the plant will grow or place into water if that is how your plant will grow.
It can be difficult to get a pothos plant accustomed to one medium once they’re used to the other, so it’s best to decide early instead of swapping a pothos growing in water to a container with soil or rooting one in water then transplanting into soil. If you’re growing in a container with soil, select a container that’s at least two inches wider than either the plant’s root ball or its previous container and about 12 inches deep. Planting your pothos cutting is as simple as poking a hole in the soil with your finger, dropping the cutting in, and gently firming the soil around it. Water a pothos immediately after planting.
Keep stems trimmed somewhat short to keep foliage full along the full length of the stem. You can prune to control the length or to encourage new and bushier growth. Cutting back stems by just a few nodes will also encourage new top growth. Cut off long stem ends and propagate them back into your pot to rejuvenate the plant, or transplant into a brand new pot either to expand your houseplant entourage or to give away as a gift.
Always clean your shears or other tool before you begin working to avoid spreading diseases in your garden. Make cuttings just above a leaf node for the neatest look. You can also trim away any leaves or foliage that has died or is discolored. If stems start to get bare, cut them down to about four inches from ground level, then watch them sprout back up with full leaf coverage.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Pothos
Pothos can develop root rot if you overwater it, and this can come on surprisingly quick, so be sure to keep your watering down to once every seven to ten days, or when the soil has completely dried out to at least half the container depth in between waterings. If you begin to notice yellowing of the leaves, this is a sign of overwatering.
Signs of root rot include brown, slimy roots, soft spots on the plant, and a foul odor. If you detect root rot, you’ll need to treat the plant to avoid its spread. Remove the plant from the container where it’s growing, and rinse the roots out under clear running water. Use clean, sterilized shears to cut away any discolored roots and parts of the plant that show signs of disease. Then clean and sterilize your shears again before removing one half to one third of the leaves of the plant. Removing the leaves will help encourage the plant to focus on healing the root system to support its current growth. Repot the treated pothos with fresh soil, and address the overwatering issue to prevent contracting root rot again.
Pothos can occasionally be troubled by mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. A diluted neem oil spray will help as a deterrent, but if you notice tiny creatures on the underside of your pothos leaves early enough, a light spraying of the leaves in the sink is usually all it takes to knock these pests off and put an end to the problem. Severe infestations could call for insecticidal soap or spray to keep pests at bay. You can make a homemade spray with neem oil out of one liter of warm water, one teaspoon neem oil, and four or five drops of dish soap.
Common Questions and Answers About Pothos
Are pothos fast growing?
Pothos are fast-growing plants that can add up to a foot to their length during the growing period between December and May. When cared for well, they can reach 20-40 feet tall and three to six feet wide, living an average of five to 10 years.
Can pothos climb?
Pothos are twining plants and the small houseplants do not climb on their own. In the wild, pothos plants grow to sizes that easily climb trees or walls, but pothos grown as houseplants are juveniles and do not reach mature size. However, you can train an indoor pothos to climb or position them in a climbing formation, and because they don’t have the clinging parts of climbing plants, they won’t damage your walls or furniture. You can encourage pothos to grow vertically with thin wooden stakes and affix to walls using Command hooks or picture hangers (some of which use double-sided tape and don’t even require making a hole in the wall). You can even use twine or string to tie the branches of your pothos plant to fixtures or furniture.
Can pothos grow underwater?
Pothos roots can live underwater, so the plant can be grown in water, but the foliage will not live underwater if submerged.
Can I grow pothos in water?
Yes, you can grow pothos in water instead of soil—if you provide sunlight and use a liquid fertilizer to give it nutrition. You can even use tap water. Choose a liquid all-purpose fertilizer and follow the instructions it provides. Take the time to refresh the water and clean out the container as needed.
Can pothos live in water forever?
If sufficient sunlight and nutrients from liquid fertilizer are provided, pothos can live in water for a normal lifespan (which averages five to 10 years).
Can pothos survive without sunlight?
Pothos can survive in low light conditions, under flourescent lights in offices or homes, and other situations that don’t provide sunlight. However, the plant prefers bright indirect light when grown indoors and shade to partial shade when grown outdoors. Low light can reduce the color variation on species of pothos that have more than one color. In the absence of natural light, 12 to 14 hours per day of artificial light will substitute.
Does pothos flower?
Most pothos grown as houseplants will never produce flowers, but in the wild where plants can exceed 35 feet tall, pothos does flower. That’s because our pothos houseplants are juveniles; mature pothos can have leaves up to two feet long. The flower is not particularly showy and consists of a pale, leafy, cup-shaped spathe surrounding a spiky spadix, which is covered in tiny flowers.
Does pothos grow faster in water or soil?
When cared for properly, pothos grown in soil grows faster than pothos grown in water. In both cases, to grow their best, plants will need nutrition from their potting soil or a liquid fertilizer as well as exposure to sunlight, although pothos tolerates low light conditions very well.
Do pothos like small pots?
Pothos can grow quite happily in pots that are smaller than those other houseplants need. To be perfectly sized for a pothos plant, a container should be no more than two inches wider than the previous container or the plant’s root ball. Ten inches of depth is plenty for a pothos plant. Optimally, repot pothos plants in the spring. Leaves that droop despite having plenty of hydration can point to the need for repotting.
Do pothos plants need light?
Pothos plants can tolerate a broad range of lighting conditions, from low light to bright indirect light, as long as they do not receive too much direct sunlight. It is common to grow pothos in bathrooms or offices that have artificial light and not sunlight.
Do pothos need to be repotted?
Pothos don’t need to be repotted as often as other plants; a good rule of thumb is to repot pothos every two to three years. If leaves droop despite providing the plant with plenty of water, it may be rootbound and need a larger container. The new container should be no more than two inches wider than the previous container or the root ball of your pothos as well as at least 10 inches deep. It’s best to perform repotting in the spring.
How do I know if my pothos has root rot?
Pothos can be prone to root rot, which causes wilting foliage, slimy brown roots, and leaves that turn yellow or otherwise grow duller in color. Root rot can be accompanied by an unpleasant odor. To treat, remove the plant from the soil and wash the roots clean under running water. Cut away any roots that show signs of disease, then sanitize your shears with rubbing alcohol and remove one third to half of the plant’s leaves to encourage the root system to bounce back. Plant with fresh soil. You can refer to our article on stem and root rot for more information.
How do I know when my pothos needs water?
Allow the soil of your pothos to dry out completely between waterings. You will notice the foliage begins to droop when the plant begins to need water, which is the perfect time to provide it with water. Don’t let things progress until leaves are shriveling and turning brown, though. It’s best to stick a finger into the soil once or twice a week to check moisture levels, and water when the soil is dry at least halfway down from the surface. Overwatering can lead to root rot and eventually cause the death of the plant.
How do you fertilize pothos?
For pothos growing in water, use any all-purpose liquid fertilizer, and follow the directions given on the package. For pothos growing in soil, choose 19-16-12 fertilizer, and use according to the directions provided by the manufacturer.
How do you pinch pothos?
Untrimmed, pothos vines will grow long and spindly, but if the vines are pinched or pruned back, the pothos plant will grow to be bushier and fuller. Either clean your hands or use clean, sanitized shears. Every few weeks during the growing season, which is from December to May, remove the tips of the shoots of new growth. As needed, trim off any dead, diseased, or otherwise damaged foliage by cutting just above a leaf node. If the pothos plant is overgrown, you may remove lots of long, spidery vines to refresh the plant and encourage it to grow in a more compact shape. If your pothos is severely overgrown, leave at least four inches of each vine growing above the surface of the soil when you prune it back.
How do you plant pothos?
Provide pothos with ordinary potting soil. You’ll also need a container about 10 inches deep and at least two inches wider than the root ball or the plant’s previous container. If working from a cutting instead of an entire plant, you can choose to root it in water before planting it in the container filled with potting soil, but this is not necessary. Some gardeners also report that pothos are difficult to switch from water to soil and vice versa once they’ve grown accustomed to one or the other. Water pothos after covering the root ball with potting soil and check once or twice a week by dipping your finger into the soil. When it’s moist halfway down the container, provide with more water. Place in a location that, if indoors, gets indirect, bright light, and if outdoors, is in shade to partial shade.
How do you propagate pothos in water?
Take a cutting from just above a leaf node that’s at least four to six inches long, with four or more leaves and at least two leaf nodes. Remove the leaf closest to the root end, and place that it a container full of water. Refresh the water and clean the container as needed, and the pothos will grow in the water without soil as long as you provide it with liquid fertilizer. Use any all-purpose liquid fertilizer according to the instructions on the container. Be advised that once a cutting is propagated in water, it may have difficulty getting used to the adjustment of soil. You can plant cuttings directly into containers with soil if you plan to grow them there.
How do you revive a pothos plant?
The best action to take will depend on what’s ailing your plant. If leaves are wilted and yellow, it’s probably been overwatered. If leaves are wilted but still green, the plant can probably use more water. You should check by sticking your finger into the soil once or twice per week, letting the soil dry about halfway through its depth before giving more water. Crisp brown leaves that appear burned mean the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight and should be moved to a more sheltered location. Dark, soft or slimy spots can point to root rot, which can be exacerbated by overwatering. To treat root rot, remove the plant from the soil and clean it under running water. Cut away any affected roots. Then sterilize your shears before cutting away one third to one half of the plant’s leaves to spur root system healing and regrowth. Plant the pothos with fresh soil. A plant that’s infested with aphids or mites can be treated with a homemade spray made of one liter of warm water, one teaspoon of neem oil, and four or five drops of dish soap.
How long does it take for pothos to root in water?
If you’re propagating a pothos cutting in water, it should start developing roots in about a month.
How often do you water a pothos plant?
It’s easy to overwater a pothos, which can lead to yellowing foliage or root rot. Allow soil to dry between waterings to about half the depth of the container. Check once or twice a week by sticking a finger into the soil.
How often should I repot my pothos?
Pothos don’t need replanting into new containers as often as some other houseplants. Repot pothos every two or three years, and use a container at least two inches wider than the root ball or the plant’s previous container and about 12 inches deep.
Is devil’s ivy good for indoors?
Pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, is an excellent plant for growing indoors because it doesn’t require frequent watering and flourishes in a variety of lighting conditions, including low light. The plant should thrive as long as it isn’t getting too much direct sunlight. If the plant receives no sunlight at all, 12 to 14 hours of artificial light will substitute.
Is pothos poisonous for children, dogs or cats?
Yes, pothos plants are toxic to humans and dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms last about a day and include drooling, difficulty swallowing, skin rashes and burning or irritation in the mouth, tongue, or lips. Though uncomfortable, ingestion is not normally fatal except when swelling restricts the airway. For human ingestion, contact the Poison Control Center at (800)222-1222. For pets, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA animal poison control hotline at (888)426-4435.
Should I mist my pothos?
Pothos do not need to be misted since it’s easy to overwater them and they are susceptible to root rot.
What do pothos flowers look like?
The pothos plants we keep as houseplants are juveniles that usually do not flower, but in wild habitats where these plants can grow until the leaves are two feet long and the plant exceeds 35 feet, they do produce flowers. The flower structure consists of a white leaf-like spathe that grows around a spiky spadix covered in tiny flowers.
Why are the leaves on my pothos plant turning yellow?
Yellow leaves normally point to overwatering. Make sure your pothos is drying out at least halfway through the soil depth before you water it again by dipping your finger into the soil once or twice a week to check. Plants too near to areas with cold drafts or heating elements can also develop yellowed leaves and just need to be relocated. However, if the leaves turning yellow are the plant’s oldest leaves near its base, this could be part of the normal aging process.
Why is pothos called devil’s ivy?
Pothos is called devil’s ivy because of its tendency to grow so prolifically that it’s hard to kill. Other names for pothos include hunter’s robe, money plant, silver vine, Solomon Islands vine, and taro vine. It is commonly confused with philodendron, which has more heart-shaped leaves.
Want to learn more about growing Pothos?
ambius covers A Peek Into the Pothos Plant
Espoma covers Grow Pothos Cutings in Water
Gardening Know How covers Poor Pothos Leaf Growth
SFGate Homeguides covers Tips for Growing Devil’s Ivy
In Defense of Plants covers A Pothos Story
Joy Us Garden covers Pothos Care
LA Times covers Poisonous Plants
the Bump covers Will Taking a Cutting Help if My Golden Pothos is Dying?
New York Post covers Popular Plants that Can Kill Your Plants
Plant Care Today covers Easy Care Pothos
Smart Garden Guide covers Growing Pothos Faster
Sunday Gardener covers How to Water Pothos Plants
University of Madison Wisconsin covers Pothos