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Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Home

 
The green and white leaves of Epipremnum aureum 'Marble Queen'; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ ProBuild Garden Center
Epipremnum aureum 'Marble Queen'; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ ProBuild Garden Center

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

A helpful factor in determining the suitability of a plant to your home and envisioning the care it will need, is to know the origin of the plant. Native to the Solomon Islands, Epipremnum aureum (golden pothos or devil's ivy) is a climbing vine that produces abundant marbled foliage. In its native habitat, it climbs tree trunks by clinging to rough bark with aerial rootlets and tumbles along the ground as a ground cover, reaching up to 40' or more in length. In our homes, these easy-care plants can spill from a pot, be trained up a moss covered pole or hang from suspended containers. It is a forgiving houseplant for spaces with less than ideal light and forgetful gardeners. Scindapsus pictus cultivars (also called pothos) are close relatives that need similar care

Light:

Pothos plants prefer bright, filtered light but will put up with some light shade and continue to grow. Though they can survive poor light conditions, they may slowly decline in health and will lose their attractive leaf variegation.

Water and Humidity:

Water moderately, making the potting mixture moist and checking back after 15 minutes to remove any water sitting in the plant's run-off dish. When the plant is in active growth, allow the top of the soil to dry between waterings.  In the low-light conditions of winter (October through February), water only as often as is necessary to prevent the soil from drying completely. In general, the plant will need more water in brighter conditions than in a dimmer spot. Wipe off any water that splashes on the leaves.

Average household humidity is adequate, but if the room is on the warm side, particularly if it is above 65" F. in the winter, you will need some supplemental humidity. Mist daily if leaf tips begin to turn brown.

Pothos aureum loses its variegation if kept in lower light
In lower light, Epipremnum aureum will lose its leaf variegation

Temperature:

These are tropical plants and a warm household, between 65 and 80°F., is ideal. Do not keep this plant in temperatures below 55°F., but in winter, let it rest at a temperature around 60 ºF, if possible. Avoid chilly windows and blasts from heating vents.

Re-potting:

Re-pot annually, in the spring, to a container one size larger with soil based potting mixture. Keep the plant in a container that drains from the bottom.

You can trim your plant in the spring to control its size.

Nutrition:

A balanced, organic fertilizer, fed at half strength, every two weeks, during the growing period (March to September) only, will keep your plant vigorous.

What to Watch for:

If your pothos is a cultivar with light colored leaves, they burn easily and should be kept away from direct light. Indirect, medium light is better. Wipe off any water that splashes on the leaves.

If leaves are losing their variegation, move the plant to brighter, indirect light for improved coloration.

Yellowing, falling leaves and rotting stems indicate that you are overwatering or the soil is retaining too much water.

Brown edges and brown leaf spots together are caused when the root ball is allowed to dry out during the growing season.

The bright leaves of Epipremnum auream "Neon' grown as a hanging plant; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Maja Dumat
The bright leaves of Epipremnum aureum 'Neon' trailing from a hanging planter; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/ Maja Dumat

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