How to Care For Your Pothos Plant

Updated 08/08/19

Bogdan Kurylo/Getty Images 

Pothos, also known as devil’s ivy, is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Thanks to their trailing, vine-like growth habit and aerial roots sprouting from the stem, you can train pothos plants to climb a small indoor trellis, a post or pole, or a door frame 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 trailing down to create a lush, jungle-like vibe.

While you’re probably familiar with the common types of pothos, this hard-to-kill houseplant comes in several varieties. You’re probably familiar with golden pothos, with creamy yellow and bright green streaks.

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 pretty, pale green-gray pattern and a matte, almost satiny look to the leaf. 

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 heart shape of the smoother philodendron leaves is symmetrical, with a pointier tip.

Best Growing Conditions for Pothos Plants

Pothos can do well in low to bright indirect light, making these lush, leafy vines a great choice for windowless or 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, and they can survive in a steamy conditions or dry air. 

Pothos does best in 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.  

Plant your pothos in an all-purpose commercial potting mix. Pothos cuttings can also root and survive in plain water. 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, meaning 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 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. 

How to Care for Pothos Plants 

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. 

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 the 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. 

Repot using all-purpose potting soil once the roots have completely filled the pot — 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. Top-dress older plants by adding a little soil to the surface each year between repottings. 

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. Both can both be rooted in soil or in water to make new plants.

neon pothos plant in red, brown, and cream ceramic pot
The Sill Neon Pothos in August Planter $40.50
Shop

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 nodes—the little nubs that protrude from the stem opposite each leaf—or a growth tip with a node, and a small pot of soil or a glass of water.

How to Propagate Pothos in Water

Step 1: Using a clean, sharp knife or pruning shears, remove a six-inch length of healthy stem from the mother plant. Choose a section of stem 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 glass in a place with bright but indirect light. Soon, you’ll see roots growing from the leaf nodes. 

Step 3: Around 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 a six-inch length of healthy stem from the mother plant. Choose a section of stem with at least four leaves and nodes. Remove the leaf closest to the bottom of the cutting. 

Step 2: Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone, then pot your cutting in a 50-50 mix of peat and sand or perlite, making sure that the first set of nodes are 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. 

pothos marble plant the sill
The Sill 4" Pothos Marble Plant $8
Shop

Related Stories