Often called the easiest houseplant to grow, pothos, also known by its botanical name Epipremnum aureum, is a sturdy vine that looks amazing in hanging baskets or draping over the edges of end tables and bookshelves. Originally from the Solomon Islands northeast of Australia, this houseplant has pretty shiny, heart-shaped leaves. They start out as green but become more variegated as they mature. It’s also sometimes called variegated philodendron, as well as the not-so-flattering name of devil’s ivy! But best of all, pothos is (almost) impossible to kill unless you overwater it. It’s also relatively inexpensive! If you’re a new plant parent—or even a more experienced one—this plant deserves a spot or two in your home.
Here’s what you need to know to grow pothos.
Pothos needs lots of light.
Pothos prefers bright, indirect light, so a south, east or west-facing window is best. But it doesn’t want to be in direct sunlight, however, because it’s a climbing vine that lives under trees in its natural environment. In the wild, the leaves can become almost two feet wide! If you don’t have a room with bright light, pothos will tolerate low light, but it doesn’t grow as quickly and may lose its variegated color and appear mostly green.
How do I care for pothos?
It’s much less fussy than a lot of other tropical houseplants and doesn’t mind drafts or dry indoor air as much as some tropicals do. The biggest boo-boo with pothos is overwatering. While it will forgive less-than-ideal light conditions, it will not forgive being soggy. Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings, and always dump out the saucer beneath the pot so there’s no standing water. Yellow leaves and rotting stems are the telltale signs you’re overdoing it on the water.
If you like, feed pothos with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer, using it at half the strength recommended on the label. Feed about once every month or so during its growing season from spring to fall, though it’s not entirely necessary (remember, plants make their own food from photosynthesis).
To keep pothos full and bushy, trim back long shoots occasionally. It also will be healthier if you dust the leaves regularly. Use a damp cloth, or set it in the bathtub and give it a light lukewarm shower, dumping out excess water in the saucer beneath the pot.
Repot your pothos annually.
Pothos is a fast-grower, especially if it has tons of bright light. Repot in the spring, moving up one pot size. For example, if you’re in a 6-inch pot, move to an 8-inch. Putting it in a pot that’s too big isn’t healthy because the soil won’t dry out fast enough, which can lead to root rot. Make sure the pot has drain holes, too. Any basic potting soil (not garden soil) is fine.
You can make more baby plants.
It’s super-easy to make more pothos plants. If your plant is getting leggy or you just want to share with friends, cut off the end of the plant right below a node (that little bumpy thing on the stem below a leaf). Make sure your piece is at least 4 inches long, but it can be longer, too. Place the cutting in water in bright indirect light. In about a month, you should see roots develop below the node. Plant in a new pot filled with potting soil, and water lightly. Enjoy!
Keep your pothos plant away from pets.
Unfortunately, this easy-care plant contains calcium oxalates, which are toxic to cats and dogs. Nibbling on this plant can cause oral irritation, intense burning, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Keep pothos away from pets, but if you suspect your pet has ingested any of this plant, call your vet immediately.
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