Pothos: Care and Growing Guide for Epipremnum aureum


The pothos plant (Epipremnum aureum) is a beginner’s dream.  It’s almost indestructible and can cope with a range of growing conditions. A pothos is a great choice if you’re just starting your plant collection.

Pothos is known by various common names including devil’s ivy, golden pothos and Ceylon creeper. It is a native to southeast Asia.

This plant can bring some exotic charm to your home. Pothos plants have thick, waxy, evergreen heart-shaped leaves that can grow to be quite large and have a yellow splash. In the wild they climb up other trees using their aerial roots.

As an indoor plant they can be grown as a climber or as hanging plants. They can look quite spectacular hanging down the side of a bookcase or shelving unit.

Varieties include ‘Marble Queen’ which has white variegations on the leaf surface greater than seen in other pothos species. ‘Tricolor’ features shades of creamy white mixed with deep yellow and emerald greens.

The ease of pothos care and simple propagation from cuttings make these decorative houseplants incredibly popular among homeowners today.

When you’re shopping make sure that you’re buying a pothos. They look very similar to another popular houseplant Philodendron scandens (the heart-leaf philodendron) and are often mistaken for this plant.

Light requirements

Pothos prefer bright indirect or filtered sunlight but will also tolerate, part shaded and shaded areas. The only lighting conditions they do not like is direct sunlight for long periods or during the hottest parts of the day – this will lead to the leaves becoming discolored or burning.

This plant is well known for being able to tolerate low light conditions. Just be aware that whilst it will survive, it will not grow as quickly. Also, if you have a variegated variety, it may lose some of its white markings in low light.

Temperature and humidity requirements

The pothos is ideally suited to indoor temperatures with a preference for the range 59-75oF (15-24oC).

Although the pothos will certainly grow in low humidity environments, they really thrive when the humidity is a bit higher. Therefore, rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms can be good places for your plant. You can further increase the humidity by misting with water.

misting a pothos plant

Watering requirements

Water your pothos when the top inch of soil is dry, and make sure that you don’t overwater it! Avoid leaving your plant in wet soil for long periods, as this can lead to root rot.

To check whether you plant needs water, stick your finger in the soil to see if it’s damp – if it’s dry, you can water it. You may also notice that the leaves start to droop when it needs water.

Your plant will require less watering in winter compared to the spring and summer when it’s growing more actively.

Soil requirements

Your pothos will be happy growing in an all-purpose soil mix, which is easily obtainable from garden outlets or online.

This plant does not like to stay in soggy soil, so some houseplant parents choose to add a little perlite to the mixture to aid drainage.

You should repot your pothos about every 2-3  years or when you see signs that it’s outgrown its pot such as roots growing through pot holes, a deformed pot or roots showing on the surface. Spring is the best time of year to carry this out. Choose a pot that’s one size bigger and place the plant centrally in its new pot.

If you want to maintain the plant to a restricted area, repotting can be a good time to introduce a support for the plant to climb up, such as a moss pole. Eventually your plant will use its aerial roots to hold onto the pole.  You can give it a head start by fixing some stems gently to the pole.

Regularly misting the pole will increase the humidity around the plant, giving it an ideal growing microclimate. The photos of the 3 beauties below demonstrates how effective pole can be for this plant.

pothos plant care: 3 plants trained up moss poles

Special care

You may want to prune your pothos, as it can grow quite quickly. Simply take a clean pair of pruning scissors and cut off any overgrowth just above a leaf. This is best done in the spring and new growth will be encouraged.

If you want to achieve a bushier plant, pruning all around the plant will help to give it more shape.

You can feed monthly during spring and summer with a liquid general fertilizer. Do not feed in winter when the plant is in its resting phase.

If you’re growing as a trailing plant, such as on a shelving unit, bear in mind that it can become quite heavy. Make sure that you have a pot that’s heavy enough to keep it in place.

Propagating

Pothos is one of the easiest houseplants to propagate and share with friends. Once your plant has grown big enough, you can start creating brand-new plants by using cuttings. This is an ideal method if you have just been pruning a large plant.

Start by cutting a section of stem from the mother plant which has three or more leaves. Place it in water (a small vase or glass jar is perfect) and wait for about 3 weeks for new roots to develop. Once the roots are several inches long, you can transplant your baby plants into a small plant pot containing an all-purpose soil mix.

Pests & problems

Pothos are not known to have any special pests that blight them but they are susceptible to the common household plant pests, including mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects. To clear your plant of these critters you can dab away the problem with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap.

The most common diseases that affect pothos plants are root rot and leaf spot, both of which are caused by overwatering. It’s better to prevent this than deal with the aftermath! Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings for best results.

Toxicity

Although rarely fatal, pothos are classed as toxic to pets including cats and dogs. They contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause upset stomach, irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhea in pets. Be mindful of where you place your plants which should ideally be out of reach of pets. This is particularly important if you know that your 4-legged friends are inquisitive.

variegated pothos plant

Common questions about pothos care

Why has my pothos leaves gone yellow?

This may be due to a number of factors. It could be a sign that the plant is being overwatered. Wait until the top of the soil has dried out between waterings.

Other causes of yellow leaves are exposure to direct sunlight (this plant prefers indirect light or filtered sunlight) and simply the natural replacement of older leaves.

How can I make my pothos fuller?

You can give your pothos a bushier appearance by pruning the tips. You may also want to consider giving it a support to grow up such as a trellis.  This will allow you to shape the plant a little more easily.

Should I mist my pothos?

Pothos like a humid environment and a regular misting will give them the ideal conditions in which to thrive. Having said that, they are a very tolerant plant and many people grow them successfully without misting. So, if misting is difficult because your plant is near electrical equipment or you just don’t want the hassle, it’s not a big deal to not mist.

How often should you water a pothos?

You shouldn’t think of watering your plant to a schedule, such as every 5 days. A better way is to start understanding your plant’s needs and just water it when the top inch of soil is starting to go dry. You will need to water less in winter than in summer.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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