Originating from the South Pacific, the Pothos genus features brightly colored leaves and long trailing vines. As an incredibly hardy houseplant, Pothos varieties are excellent starter houseplants for just about anyone. Indoors, they look excellent hanging off of a shelf or simply as a centerpiece, and outdoors, Pothos make for effective groundcover or as trailing vines on a pergola, garden wall, or window box as they can grow anywhere from 10 to 10 feet tall.
The most common types of Pothos include the Pothos ‘N Joy, known for its highly variegated, emerald leaves; the Golden Pothos, which features yellow and green speckled leaves; the Jade Pothos, with solid, deep green leaves; and the Silver Splash Pothos, a fan favorite best known for its large, deep green and silver-green variegated leaves. These houseplants are considered one of the easiest ones to care for but still have some specific requirements to help them thrive– check out our guide below to help your Pothos flourish:
Before we begin, it’s important to note that all varieties of Pothos are mildly toxic to animals and people due to the presence of Calcium Oxalates in their sap. While ingestion isn’t necessarily deadly, eating Pothos leaves or stems may cause nausea, vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. Some severe cases may also include swelling in the mouth and on the tongue and difficulty breathing.
To avoid accidents, keep your plants out of reach from pets and curious children!
As one of the hardier houseplants available, members of the Pothos genus don’t need much care. However, there are a few general rules to help keep this plant thriving:
Your Pothos will need at least six hours of bright, indirectly sunlight each day. For variegated plants, direct sunlight may cause variegation to fade, so it’s best to keep your Pothos away from direct sun. We recommend placing your Pothos near an east-facing window or eastern wall to get plenty of gentle morning sunlight. Alternatively, keep your Pothos near a south-facing window or under a tree to provide some shade during the afternoon.
Your Pothos will need at least six hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.
Photo by Jordan Lye
When it comes to soil, Pothos isn’t picky. You'll be alright if you have some well-draining potting soil on hand. In addition, baby Pothos will adapt to their general soil environment: a Pothos grown in wet soil will do better in wetter conditions, while a Pothos grown in dry soil will be more drought-tolerant. Pothos do not prefer a particular soil pH and can survive in both acidic and alkaline soils.
A Pothos grown in wet soil will do better in wetter conditions, while a Pothos grown in dry soil will be more drought-tolerant.
Photo by Katkami
When you water your Pothos, make sure you do so only when its soil is completely dry. Since these plants are highly drought-tolerant, the plant won’t mind waiting a day or so before you water them. If your Pothos is getting too much water, its leaves may start to get black spots. If your Pothos needs water, its leaves will droop.
Only water when the Pothos soil is completely dry.
Photo by Tharakorn Arunothai
Temperature and Humidity
Pothos are pickiest about temperature and humidity. These plants prefer warmer climates (between USDA agricultural zones 10-12) and higher humidity levels of around 60%. To ensure your plants are warm enough, keep them indoors during the winter. Pothos are not frost-hardy and will die if temperatures reach below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure your Pothos gets a humid environment, consider misting the plant frequently or keeping it near a humidifier.
Pothos don’t necessarily need fertilizer, but many potting soils are nutrient-poor. Depending on the nutrient levels of your potting mix, feed your Pothos a little bit of general houseplant fertilizer or compost about once per month.
Potting and Repotting
Although they aren’t picky about soil, your Pothos will still need a new pot and fresh soil once every one or two years. When you repot your Pothos, ensure it’s kept in a pot with drainage holes and that the new pot is at least 10% larger than its previous pot. As per usual, always repot your Pothos during the winter/early spring growing season.
To further improve drainage in your Pothos’ environment, consider using a pot made from porous materials like concrete, terra cotta, or ceramic.
Getting your Pothos to bloom may be challenging, as they only bloom once fully mature after several years. As houseplants, Pothos are typically grown in their juvenile phase, and since they don’t flower until full maturity, there’s a chance you may not even see your Pothos flower, and that’s okay!
If you’ve got a mature Pothos and want to encourage flowering, slowly increase the amount of sunlight your plant receives and add a little extra fertilizer into its feeding schedule. Mature Pothos plants only flower from December to May.
Pruning and Propagation
As a trailing vine, Pothos plants are relatively easy to prune and propagate. Unless your Pothos is growing leggy, has a localized infection, or is just growing out of control, you shouldn’t need to prune it often. When you do prune, make sure you do so during the growing season and use a clean, sharp pair of scissors. When trimming a vine, either trim as close to the soil as you can or leave two inches of space between the soil and your vine. If you trim close to the soil, your Pothos will grow back thicker than before. If your cuttings are healthy, feel free to save them for propagation.
Photo by Yusan (@mypeacefulmoment)
To propagate, remove any leaves from the first inch of your cutting, then wait about a day for it to callous over. Then, take your cutting and wrap it in a wet paper towel with your rooting hormone. Let it sit for a couple of hours, then stick the cut end into a fresh pot of soil. Mist the soil regularly to keep it moist, and after a few weeks, try tugging on your cutting to check for resistance. Any resistance to a gentle pull means there are roots!
Common Pests and Complications
As a leafy plant, Pothos are susceptible to a number of pests, including aphids, mealybugs, scale, fungal gnats, and spider mites. To treat these insects, gently spray the leaves with a watered-down hydrogen peroxide solution. If your Pothos has fungal gnats, check your plant for root rot, then repot it in a clean pot with fresh soil.
Pothos Growing Long Vines
Another common complication with Pothos plants is legginess. If your Pothos starts growing long, thin vines that stretch upwards, it’s not getting enough sunlight. Simply move your Pothos somewhere it’ll get more sun, or supplement sunlight with a UV lamp. If you’d like to remove the leggy sprouts, prune them off with a clean pair of scissors.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to care for Pothos