Pothos – The Easiest Houseplant

My Garden Life
October 6, 2021
Table of Contents
The pothos (Epipremnum species), also known as devil’s ivy, is one of the easiest houseplants to care for. Pothos is a vine with heart-shaped leaves. Varieties include leaves that are green, variegated green and yellow or green and white, and a nearly neon yellow species called ‘Neon’.

Pothos Plants Can Climb or Hang

several different varieties of pothos plants on a shelf with foliage trailing from the pots

If allowed to grow uninhibited, pothos will cascade over its pot, long stems trailing, its roots reaching for something to climb. If you’re ambitious, you can train your pothos to climb up walls or along furniture. Use a fishing line or a mounted trellis to guide your plant’s path to create an artistic display on your wall. Trim your plant regularly if prefer a tidy, bushy appearance. Snip leggy foliage just
above a leaf node to maintain the length you desire.

Another Name for Pothos is Devil’s Ivy

three different ways to grow a pothos plant - on a fiber post, hanging basket or wall planter

Pothos is called devil’s ivy because it’s so hard to kill. While pothos prefer bright light, regular watering and some humidity, it can survive some deprivation of all these things. If you make a mistake and the plant seems sickly or wilted, it can recover with a brief stint of attention in most cases. Its forgiving nature makes it an excellent choice for new plant parents, those with brown thumbs or those that want greenery without the fuss.

Pothos Water and Light Needs

potted pothos plant sitting in a sunny windowsill with a watering can nearby

Under perfect conditions, pothos would choose a warm, bright room with plenty of natural light and humidity. It will, however, tolerate both low light conditions and dry air. Pothos can even survive with only fluorescent light, so they are a good choice for offices. You can make up for a lack of humidity by misting your pothos with a spray bottle regularly or by using a room humidifier. What pothos won’t tolerate for a long period is a drafty window or a cold room, so place it somewhere warm (at least 60°F or more).
Pothos can survive both under- and over-watering. The best approach is to allow the top inch of soil to dry out completely between watering. Then discard any leftover water in the saucer after 24 hours. Plant your pothos in quality, well-draining soil with a little perlite added can help with moisture control between waterings. You will only need to add a household fertilizer to your water every one to three months.
Though it likely goes without saying, pothos is not edible. The plant is moderately toxic, so keep it out of reach of children and pets. Call your vet or local poison control right away if the pothos is ingested. Wash your hands after handling your plant.

Repot and Propagate Pothos

hand removing the rootball of a pothos plant from a pot to inspect whether the plant is ready for repotting

You will know it’s time to repot your pothos if the plant is doing well and then suddenly wilts or fails to thrive. If you see roots coming out of the soil or out of the bottom of the container, this is also a sign that your pothos is outgrowing its home and it’s time to repot. Choose a new container that is about two inches larger than the existing pot. Make sure to use fresh, well-draining soil mix and water your pothos thoroughly after repotting.

Pothos Cuttings are Easy to Root in Water

two jars displaying pothos plant cuttings that are rooting in water

To propagate via cuttings, simply snip the stem just below a leaf node. Choose a stem that is at least six inches long and place it in a glass of water. It takes one to two months for new roots to develop, so freshen up the water every other week. Once you have strong roots, plant the new pothos in fresh soil.
You can also propagate by dividing your pothos. Tease apart or gently cut the root ball, then repot the separate plants, keeping in mind to use a pot about two inches larger than each new root ball. You can place several cuttings into one container for a fuller plant.

Maintaining a Healthy Pothos Plant

a very sickly pothos plant with leaves that are turning shades of yellow to brown

If your pothos starts to show signs of unhappiness, examine your habits and its location. Here are some common symptoms to watch for:
  • Brown, yellow or black leaves and stems can all be signs of root rot, under-watering, too much sunlight or a plant that’s too cold.
  • If the leaves are moist and blackening, it’s likely that you’re watering too much and the roots are becoming soggy and rotted. Simply stop watering. The devil’s ivy will grow new roots and recover. When you see signs of new growth, resume watering.
  • If the leaves have spots of brown or yellow, this is more likely to be sunburn. Move the pothos out of direct sunlight.
  • If the leaves are shriveling or wilting, as well as turning brown or yellow, this is likely due to under-watering. Give your pothos a thorough watering and it will bounce right back.
  • If you have your pothos in a window and see black leaves or notice that it’s not growing much, it’s probably too cold. In each case, trim away damaged leaves and stems and give your pothos some time. Make sure the leaves aren’t touching the cold window glass. In most instances, the plant will recover with a little attention. Very rarely will a pothos be so badly injured that it won’t survive.

A Good Choice for Anyone New to Houseplants

beautiful pots of 'Marble Queen' pothos growing outdoors

Even plant parents with the brownest thumb can keep a pothos happy and healthy. With its heart-shaped leaves, variety of leaf colors and vining nature, pothos make quite a decorative statement. Pothos are sturdy. Their ability to show signs when they feel unwell, without dropping dead, makes it a valuable teaching tool for plant owners that are still learning how to care for plants.

Trailing plants are a great way to take advantage of vertical space, especially in tight quarters such as an apartment, office or dorm room. Here’s a list of our favorite 7 Houseplants that Look Great on a Shelf that will have your space surrounded with greenery in no time!
Potted pothos plant trailing from a kitchen shelf among decorative jars


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