How to Grow and Care for Pothos
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 can be planted indoors throughout the entire year and will grow quickly, often adding between 12 to 18 inches of length in a month. Be aware that this plant is toxic to pets.
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 that have only have fluorescent lighting, making it an excellent option for offices and dorm rooms.
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 ligt. Moving them to brighter conditions usually restores the variegation. Suddenly pale-looking leaves mean the plant is receiving too much sun.
Pothos plants thrive in ordinary, well-draining potting soil. Pothos is quite tolerant of soil pH, and it can thrive in a range of conditions, from neutral to acidic.
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, so 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.
Pothos plants are not heavy feeders. But because 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.
Pothos is easily propagated from stem cuttings.
- 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.
- Remove the lowest leaf from the stem (you don't need to remove the other leaves).
- Place the stem in a vase or jar of water, but do not let the remaining leaves touch the water.
- 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.
Put the pot in a spot with bright indirect light and keep the soil moist but not wet.
Common Pests and Diseases
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.