How to Care for Pothos Plants

Golden pothos or Epipremnum aureum on white table in the living
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Botanical Name
Epipremnum aureum
Plant Type
Sun Exposure

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Growing Pothos: Watering, Light, Propagation, and Pests

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Pothos (also called Devil’s Ivy) is an easy-to-grow, no-fuss houseplant with shiny, heart-shaped leaves and a vining nature perfect for baskets or draped on shelves. It’s also easy to propagate more plants for yourself, your family, and your friends! Learn more.

About Pothos

Pothos gets its other common name—Devil’s Ivy—thanks to its vigorous growth and penchant for returning to life even in the worst conditions! It’s the perfect beginner houseplant as it’s not picky about its soil and thrives in both indirect, bright light and low light. 

Native to tropical French Polynesian islands in the South Pacific, pothos can now be found throughout the world. In the wild, pothos can achieve surprisingly huge sizes, with leaves reaching lengths of more than a foot. In the home, however, it tends to stay much smaller: mature heart-shaped leaves typically range from 4 to 8 inches, and the vine rarely reaches more than a couple dozen feet in ideal conditions.

Note: Pothos is considered an invasive species in some parts of the United States. Never plant them outdoors, especially in areas with mild winters. 

Are Pothos Plants Poisonous?

Yes. Despite being a very popular houseplant, pothos are mildly toxic. All parts of the plant contain a substance called calcium oxalate, which are microscopic crystals that act as a contact irritant. Ingestion of pothos can cause swelling and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, as well as intestinal discomfort and indigestion.

Due to its toxicity, this plant should be grown with caution around curious pets and small children.


Potting Pothos Plants

  • Choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. Pothos plants do not like to sit in wet soil; their roots will rot.
  • Plant pothos in a general well-draining potting mix (or a soilless mix). If you have it on hand, feel free to mix in a few handfuls of perlite or coco coir to increase the drainage capacity of your potting mix.
  • Pothos does well in a hanging basket to show off the vines or in a regular pot on a plant stand. They can be allowed to grow up walls, though their aerial roots—which they use to attach themselves to surfaces like trees or other vertical structures—can strip paint, so keep an eye on where their vines are growing.

pothos houseplant in pot


How to Care for Pothos Plants

  • Keep pothos plants in a warm location; room temperature is ideal. If exposed to regular drafts or colder temperatures, the plant’s growth can be affected. 
  • Place pothos in bright, indirect light. They will tolerate low light but will not grow as vigorously and may lose some or all of the variegation in their leaves.
  • Only water when the soil feels dry. Pothos do not like wet soil; leaves will begin to yellow.
  • Apply a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer about once a month during the spring and summer. 
  • Cut back vines just above a leaf to make the plant bushier. 
  • The large, waxy leaves can gather dust; gently wipe them periodically.
  • Remove any rotted or dead stems and any spotted leaves. 

How to Propagate Pothos Plants

Pothos are very easy to propagate, making them a lovely houseplant to share with family, friends, and neighbors. Alternatively, keep all the offspring to yourself and turn your home into a pothos jungle—we won’t judge!

To propagate, follow these steps:

  • Locate a healthy-looking vine to take a cutting from. Leaves should be bright and healthy, and should not be wilted.
  • Make a stem cutting. The ideal stem cutting will be 4-6 inches in length and have 2-3 leaves on it. Cut the vine just below a root node (i.e., the spot on the vine where aerial roots grow out of). 
  • Once you have your cutting, place the cut end in either a small pot of potting soil or a clear glass of water. Pothos can be grown in water or soil, but be aware that cuttings can be finicky if they are transferred from water to soil, so be attentive to your new plant if you make the switch.
  • After a few weeks, you should start to see roots (in water) or observe that the plant can support itself (in soil). 

Learn more about how to propagate pothos!

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  • Spider mites and mealybugs occasionally become a problem.
  • Root rot can occur when the plant is overwatered, or the soil doesn’t drain well. Leaves will turn yellow, and growth will be stunted.
About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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