How to Grow Pothos Plant (Devil’s Ivy)

A container garden that includes the pothos plant

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Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), also known as devil’s ivy, is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. They're fast, lush growers, are drought-tolerant, and thrive in just about any lighting situation. They're also, however, toxic to people and pets, so you'll want to keep a close eye on the fast-growing vines to ensure they stay out of reach.

Thanks to their trailing growth habit and aerial roots sprouting from the stem, pothos plants can be trained to climb a small indoor trellis, a post or pole, or a doorframe or window with a few small nails or tacks for support. You can also plant them in hanging baskets or position them at the top of a bedroom shelf with vines hanging down to create a lush, jungle vibe.

  • Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Common Name: Pothos plant, devil’s ivy
  • Plant Type: Vine
  • Mature Size: 20–40 feet high
  • Sun Exposure: Moderate indoor light
  • Soil Type: Well-drained potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1–6.5
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets, toxic to humans
Pothos plants on rattan shelf

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Plant Care 

Pothos plants are so low maintenance that they can adapt to a wide range of light conditions and moisture levels—but it’s still important to know how to make them happiest for maximum growth.

A healthy pothos plant can go for weeks without a sip of water, but it’s best to just let the top two inches of soil dry out to the touch between waterings. Monitor the soil during the growing season in spring and summer, when your plant may need more frequent waterings. In the winter, it may need a little less water. Give your pothos a dose of fertilizer every three to four months. 

Left unpruned, your pothos vines will grow long—which you may or may not want, depending on how you’re displaying your plant. To encourage a fuller, bushier look, cut back trailing vines and pinch off growth tips.

Pothos cuttings and tips are easy to root and propagate in either plain water or soil, making them ideal (and free!) gifts.

Best Growing Conditions for Pothos Plants

Pothos can do well in low to bright, indirect light, making these leafy vines a great choice for low-light areas like hallways, bathrooms, or even your workspace. They’re quite adaptable in terms of water and humidity, too. You can forget a healthy pothos for a little longer than would be ideal with no ill effects.

They can survive in either steamy conditions or dry air, though they prefer spaces with moderate to high humidity, like a steamy bathroom. Curling leaves on your plant indicate that the air is too dry in your space. Set your pothos pot on a tray of pebbles with a little water in the tray (keep an eye on it, and replace the water as needed). The water will evaporate and moisten the air around the plant.

In terms of temperature, it’s best to keep your pothos in a warm place that doesn’t drop below 65 degrees at night.

If you notice a lack of variegation in your pothos, it’s probably due to a lack of light; Your pothos is boosting its chlorophyll to absorb as much light as possible, resulting in green rather than multicolored leaves. However, with neon pothos, brighter light leads to a brighter look to the solid-colored leaves, and plants without bright light may look dark or dull.

If you’re hoping for more color in a variegated variety, move your pothos plant to a spot with better, brighter light. Similarly, if your pothos is in a spot with direct sun and is showing more variegation than green on its leaves, you may want to move it to a place with a little less light to ensure it’s getting the nutrients it needs. 

Types of Pothos

While you’re probably familiar with the common types of pothos, this hard-to-kill houseplant comes in several varieties. A popular variety is golden pothos, with streaks of creamy yellow and bright green. Neon pothos is a bright, green-tinged golden color without variegation. Marble Queen, the lightest cultivar in color, features nearly white leaves with green streaking. Another, known as silver pothos or satin pothos, has smaller, dusky-green leaves with a pale green-gray pattern and a matte, almost satiny look to the leaf. 

Silver Pothos

Black & Blooms

How to Propagate Pothos Plants

Growing new plants from pothos cuttings couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a cutting with one to two leaf nodes—the little nubs that protrude from the stem opposite each leaf—or a growth tip with a node as well as a small pot of soil or a glass of water. Here's how:

How to Propagate Pothos in Water

Step 1: Using a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears, remove at least a six-inch length of healthy stem from the mother plant. Choose a section with at least four leaves and two nodes. Remove the leaf closest to the bottom of the cutting.

Step 2: Place your cutting in a vase, glass, or jar of water. Place the container in a place with bright but indirect light. Soon, you’ll see roots growing from the leaf nodes.

Step 3: About four weeks after roots emerge, you can pot your cuttings in a lightly moist potting mix and care for them as usual. But since pothos plants tend to do best in the medium in which they were rooted, your plant may flourish more easily if you keep it in water. At this point, you can move your pothos to a larger or more decorative vessel.

How to Propagate Pothos in Soil

Step 1: Using a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears, remove at least a six-inch length of healthy stem from the mother plant. Choose a section with at least four leaves and two nodes. Remove the leaf closest to the bottom of the cutting.

Step 2: Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone, and then pot your cutting in a 50/50 mix of peat and sand or perlite, making sure that the first set of nodes is below the soil. Place the pot in a place with plenty of bright but not direct light, and keep the soil moist.

Step 3: Within eight to 12 weeks, your new pothos plants will be ready to up-pot in fresh, all-purpose potting soil.

Common Problems With Pothos Plants

Though pothos are generally hardy and forgiving plants, they're prone to problems like any other. The most common issues stem from inadequate watering—usually too much—and not enough light or humidity.

Leaves Turning Yellow

One of the most prevalent problems with pothos is yellowing leaves due to overwatering. Remember that this plant doesn’t like to sit in water, and poorly drained soil can cause its roots to rot. However, if only a few older leaves (closer to the roots) are turning yellow and dropping while your plant is still putting out new growth, know that this is natural. Lastly, if you've ruled out moisture issues, your pothos may need more bright, indirect light.

Leaves Turning Brown

Like yellowing, browning leaves can have multiple causes. Most commonly, over- or under-watering is the culprit. Lighter, crispier brown spots usually mean under-watering, while darker and softer spots are likely caused by over-watering and point to root rot.

Leaves Drooping

Drooping, sad-looking leaves are your pothos plant's way of telling you it's thirsty. Give it a nice glug of water and those leaves should perk back up within a couple of hours.

Potting and Repotting Pothos

Pot your pothos in all-purpose potting mix and repot once the roots have completely filled the pot. Top-dress older plants by adding a little soil to the surface each year between repottings.

Rootlets peeking out of the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot are an indication that it’s time to size up and add fresh soil. Opt for a pot that's at least a few inches wider than the rootball, or one to two sizes larger than the current pot.

To repot, gently loosen your pothos roots around the edges of the pot and pull out, being careful not to snap any stems. Place your plant in the new, larger pot lined with a couple of inches of fresh soil and fill in around the roots with more soil, packing it in gently. Finally, give it a generous drink of water.

Marble Pothos
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FAQs

Are pothos easy to care for?

Pothos are some of the most easy-going houseplants out there. They're pretty tolerant to neglect and low-light situations, making them an ideal beginner houseplant.

How fast do pothos plants grow?

Pothos are considered quick-growing houseplants. A happy specimen can put out over 12 inches of growth in one month.

What's the difference between pothos and philodendron?

Pothos closely resembles heartleaf philodendron, but you can tell the two related species apart by examining the leaves: Pothos leaves feel thicker and bumpier, with a more pronounced rib down the middle of the leaf, while the more heart-shaped, smoother philodendron leaves are symmetrical, with a pointier tip.

Article Sources
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  1. Toxicity of Common Houseplants. University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension

  2. Golden Pothos. ASPCA

  3. Epipremnum Aureum. Missouri Botanical Garden

  4. Epipremnum Aureum. North Carolina State University Extension

  5. Pothos, Epipremnum Aureum. University of Wisconsin Division of Extension

  6. Houseplants. Cornell University Cooperative Extension. December 13, 2019

  7. Growing Indoor Plants with Success. University of Georgia Extension. May 27, 2020

  8. Epipremnum Aureum Golden Pothos. University of Florida IFAS Extension. February 2014

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