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The pothos (Epipremnum aureum), known by some as devil’s ivy because of its rapid growth rate and near inability to be killed, is one of the most popular houseplants for all levels of plant parenthood. It’s beautiful, extremely easy to care for, and has a high propagation success rate.
If you consider yourself a black thumb, this plant will definitely change your mind! Read on to learn all about caring for pothos and propagating pothos.
This vining plant can be found in many tropical countries—although it’s actually an invasive species in some tropical areas. The fast-growing pothos climbs using aerial roots, which are roots that grow out of the vine and attach themselves to their surroundings. Usually, that would be a tree in their natural habitat.
The leaves of the pothos are typically around six inches long as a houseplant. The leaf color ranges from dark green to light green and can have beautiful variegation depending on the species and environment.
There are many different varieties of pothos, including the golden pothos, silver pothos, neon pothos, jade pothos, and marble queen pothos. The one featured in this post is a golden pothos that I bought from Lowe’s Garden Center when I was first dabbling in growing houseplants.
Where Can I Find a Pothos?
You can find yourself a gorgeous pothos plant on Etsy! Check out this golden pothos from one of my favorite Etsy shops!
How Do I Care for a Pothos?
Now, let’s move on to caring for a pothos. Luckily, this is pretty easy which is why it makes a great first-time houseplant.
Bright to moderate, indirect light is best, although they can tolerate low light but will not grow as fast. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can burn the leaves. And keep in mind, variegated plants will lose variegation in low light!
Getting just the right light for indoor plants can be difficult. My easy guide to natural light for indoor plants, as well as my guide to grow lights, will help you with finding and achieving the light levels your plants need to thrive! (By the way, my two current favorite grow lights are below.)
You should water your pothos when the soil is dry about an inch down. I know to water mine when the leaves start to look a little droopy, and I find that’s about once every two weeks.
Overwatering may cause leaves to yellow and die off, but don’t worry—the pothos easily overcomes occasional overwatering. Frequent overwatering can cause root rot, so be mindful of that.
Pothos will be OK in normal humidity levels, but as a tropical plant, they prefer humidity. There are many easy ways you can create humidity for your houseplants, such as using a humidifier.
Check out my post on easy ways to create humidity for your houseplants for a step-by-step guide to different methods!
These plants don’t like to get very rootbound. A pothos will need to be repotted when it outgrows its pot, is not growing as fast as usual, has significant leaf droop, or has roots coming out of the drainage holes. They are fast growers so this is usually every one to two years.
Choose a pot that’s the next size up from the current pot and make sure it has drainage. It’s best to repot in the spring or summer, if possible.
Pruning is not always required but is handy to control the size and shape of the plant. Some pothos tend to get “leggy” which is when the vines become very long and stretched out with fewer leaves, usually due to the plant trying to reach out to find more light.
Pothos owners can create a more bushy plant by pruning the vines to encourage new growth. When pruning, use a pair of clean scissors to cut about a 1/4 inch above a node (where the leaf attaches to the vine). Cutting “above” a node means the node will NOT be included on the part you cut off.
Prune off any yellow, dying leaves once they can be gently plucked away from the plant.
I don’t fertilize my pothos. These plants are fast growers and can do just fine without it. If you’d like to fertilize your pothos, you can use a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month, during the growing season (spring and summer).
Pothos Aerial Roots and Climbing
Pothos use aerial roots to climb up something in their natural habitat, like a tree. Aerial roots also help plants absorb nutrients. So, although pothos can be beautifully displayed in a few different ways, putting those aerial roots to use and providing the plant with something to climb up in your home will help keep your pothos strong and healthy.
Here is a stackable moss pole I recently purchased for another climbing plant.
As part of your watering routine, mist your moss pole so your pothos’ aerial roots can get a nice drink, too.
Propagating pothos is known for being extremely easy. This can be done in water or soil. Pothos propagated in water can also be left there permanently. The plant will not grow as fast or large in water but will still look beautiful.
Propagating Pothos in Water
Propagating pothos in water is very simple. To propagate in water, trim a few cuttings off the mother plant, cutting a 1/4 inch below a node (meaning, the node is included on the part you cut off). Remove the bottom couple of leaves in order to leave about six inches of just stem.
Put the cuttings in a glass of water making sure at least one node is under the surface. Place the cuttings in a location with bright, indirect light. Be sure to change the water when it gets murky, about every few days to a week.
Tiny roots will usually start to sprout from the nodes within the first week or two, but it will be a few weeks before you can transfer your cutting into soil. Wait a few weeks until the roots are a couple of inches long, and then transition the cutting to its permanent pot. In my experience, three-or-so inches is long enough for the roots to be transferred.
Bonus (but not necessary): Once your cutting is ready to pot up, add a small amount of the potting mix into the jar of water each day until the water is nearly replaced with mix. Then, pot your plant in its permanent pot. This will help transition the roots from being fully exposed to sunlight to receiving none at all.
In general, I prefer propagating pothos in water because it’s easier to track your progress, but you can also easily propagate in soil.
Propagating Pothos in Soil
To propagate in soil, take a cutting off your plant like you did in the water propagation step, but this time place the cuttings directly into the soil so that the soil covers at least one node.
Keep the soil moist and put the cutting in bright, indirect light. You can also put a clear plastic bag over the top of the cutting to lock in beneficial humidity. Remove it every other day or so to let in fresh air.
You’ll start to notice new growth within the first month or so, but be patient!
Another method is to place the entire vine down so it’s laying on top of the surface of the soil, with all the nodes facing down into the soil. Temporarily fasten the vine to the soil using bobby pins or paper clips, if needed.
Keep the soil moist and put the cutting in bright, indirect light. You can also put a clear plastic bag over the top of the cutting to lock in humidity. Remove it every other day or so to let in fresh air.
The nodes in contact with the soil will eventually take root this way, too.
Remember, while the pothos is a fast grower, patience is key with propagation. Don’t give up if you don’t see roots within a few days!
Displaying a Pothos
The vines of a pothos make it super easy to take “Insta-worthy” plant photos because they can be draped over, attached to, or hung down from all sorts of places. Over the years I’ve displayed my pothos in the following ways:
- Growing up a wall. I attached the vines to the wall with removable Command hooks and twine. The plant actually attached itself to a wooden picture frame I had. If this happens to you, you can gently pull the aerial root away from the object if you need to move your plant.
- Growing up a trellis. I set the pot on the floor and leaned a wooden trellis against the wall behind it. As the plant grew, I’d weave the pothos vines throughout the trellis. Eventually, the aerial roots attached themselves to the wood and the plant climbed the trellis on its own.
- Here is an affordable wooden trellis that is very similar to the one I had (I flipped mine upside down).
- Sitting on a high bookcase shelve, trailing down the side of the bookcase. This can be a nice look for a few vines. My plant was very lush and I felt that it looked a little too heavy so I ended up moving it.
Are pothos plants toxic to pets?
This plant is considered toxic to pets, so keep it out of your furry friend’s reach.
Are pothos and philodendron the same thing?
The pothos and heartleaf philodendron are commonly mistaken for each other. The pothos typically has larger and more waxy leaves with variegation, while the philodendron has more heart-shaped, dark green leaves. While they both can survive in lower-light areas, philodendrons survive better in low-light situations. They make great office plants!
More pothos posts
Big pothos fan? Me too! Check out these other care and propagation guides: