Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Pothos Plants
Pothos (also called Devil’s Ivy) is a tropical vine with shiny, heart-shaped leaves that often have gold, white, or yellow variegation. It is one of the easiest houseplants to grow! Here are some tips for caring for your pothos.
Native to tropical French Polynesian islands in the South Pacific, pothos can now be found throughout the world as an attractive, easy-to-care-for houseplant. Its vining nature makes it a great choice for use in hanging baskets, draped across shelves, or climbing up a wall.
Pothos gets its other common name—Devil’s Ivy—thanks to its vigorous growth and its penchant for bouncing back to life even in the worst conditions!
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 quite a bit smaller: mature leaves typically range in length from 4-8 inches, and the vine itself 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; they will rot easily.
- 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 placed 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.
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 above 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 or vice versa, so choose one and stick with it.
- After a few weeks, you should start to see roots (in water) or observe that the plant can support itself (in soil).
- 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.
- Epipremnum aureum ‘Marble Queen’ is one of the most common pothos varieties today. It has smooth green leaves variegated with white and gray.
- E. aureum ‘Golden Pothos’ has dark green heart-shaped leaves with white or yellow variegation.
- E. aureum ‘Jade Pothos’ is all green with no variegation.
- E. aureum ’Neon’ has showy bright light-green leaves.
Wit & Wisdom
- According to a study by NASA, pothos is one of the best air-purifying houseplants.