Pothos Care

Today we thought we’d profile a plant that’s often listed as a beginner houseplant. The easy-care pothos plant(Epipremnum aureum), sometimes known as devil’s ivy, is a tropical vining plant that nearly everyone will recognize. Far from being a basic, boring houseplant the pothos comes in many varieties from beautifully variegated pearls and jade to the bright and happy neon.

I have to confess to being biased: I love pothos. I may have a pothos problem. I have five neon, three jade, two golden, a marble queen, and a pearls and jade. I encourage everyone to cover every available surface in their house with pothos, which is almost too easy to do.

Pothos can tolerate low light situations with ease, but if you want the best color and a thriving plant, a lot of bright indirect light is what you want. For example, the neon pothos will become very dull in a dark spot but when they get enough bright indirect light their chartreuse color really pops. It’s also best to keep the highly variegated varieties (like marble queen) in a bright spot, otherwise you may find your plant putting out fully green leaves as it tries to produce more chlorophyll. If you notice the leaves becoming pale, chances are your plant is getting too much direct light.

You can use nearly any kind of potting mix for pothos, as long as it drains well. As always, examine the pot you use to make certain it has adequate drainage. Give your pothos a good soak and let it dry out a little between watering; about once a week does it for mine. If you under water them the older leaves will yellow and drop off, but on the whole pothos tend to bounce back quickly. 

One of the neat features of pothos is that you can choose to do away with potting mix entirely, and simply grow a pothos in water. This is especially good if you forget to water your plants regularly! All you need is a few pothos cuttings, the container of your choosing, water, and the occasional dose of fertilizer. What could be easier?

You can let the pothos vines trail or attach them to a trellis or moss pole for a different look. I tend to leave mine trailing and just give them a trim when they become too lanky. Trim them now and then and you’ll have a fuller, more compact plant – and since they’re so easy to propagate in water, you may end up with more plants than you really need! 

They thrive in normal household temperatures, between about 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or about 15 to 26 degrees Celsius. You can put your pothos outside for the summer if you live in a colder climate, but remember to bring them back inside if there's going to be a cold snap.

If you have pets or small children, it’s best to keep pothos out of their reach. As with most of the plants we love to keep, pothos have toxic properties and shouldn’t be nibbled by curious creatures. It’s unlikely to be fatal but will cause some irritation and vomiting if ingested.

Pothos are often mistaken for or mislabeled as philodendron. There are vining philodendrons that look very similar, and luckily they are similarly easy-going. If you’ve accidentally ended up with a philodendron instead of a pothos (or vice versa), it’s no big deal – and now you have an excuse to go shopping for another plant!

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