Known by many different names, pothos are the perfect trailing houseplants for beginners. They’re easy to care for and are low maintenance.
This makes them a good choice for anyone who wants to learn how to care for indoor plants.
Also, their lovely long stems allow them to grow out of the edges of containers and baskets so you can enjoy the beautiful spade-shaped leaves.
Here’s how to care for pothos plants.
About the Pothos Plant
Pothos is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. They don’t require a lot from you. And, can withstand different conditions that many other plants can’t.
They’re likewise unique and lovely to look at, making them a good choice for homeowners as well as offices.
Pothos plants are fast-growing trailing vines that make them perfect for hanging baskets as well as containers. They can grow up to 8 feet in length or more. Thus, you’ll need to trim them back every so often.
Because their stems will pour out of their pot, they work well in tall containers that allow these stems to drape downwards. You can likewise place them on top of cabinets and other furniture to produce this effect.
Doing so also keeps them away from children and pets who may inadvertently play and consume them. This is very important because pothos is toxic to humans and pets. Although not lethal, they do contain calcium oxalates which can cause pain, irritation, and vomiting.
On the plus side, they help purify the air. They absorb contaminants and chemicals like xylene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethane from the air. This helps reduce indoor air pollution at home.
Pothos Plant Care
Pothos plants can tolerate different lighting conditions. This makes them easy to care for, especially indoors. It’s also why you see a lot of them in offices and homes.
That said, they do best:
- Outdoors in shaded to partly shaded locations. Thus, make sure to place them somewhere where they don’t get bright, direct sunlight.
- Indoors with bright, indirect light. This means you can place them by the window even if it isn’t facing south. It also won’t complain if it receives fluorescent lighting much like that in offices or even little light.
But, the most important thing to know about pothos and light exposure is that they don’t do well with direct sunlight.
While bright light does encourage its growth, too much of it negatively affects your plant as well.
So how can you tell if your pothos is getting enough light?
Notice the green parts of your plant. These are the areas that create energy. Therefore,
- A lot of variegation in its leaves (where you see lots of different colors occurring) means that it’s likely receiving too much sunlight.
- Loss of variegation or very little of it (leaves become greener with fewer varying color zones) means that it isn’t getting enough sunlight to create energy.
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Pothos Temperature & Humidity
Pothos plants are commonly found in USDA zones 10-12. That’s because they like fairly moderate temperatures (60-80 degrees Fahrenheit).
This makes them perfect as houseplants since most homes have average temperatures of about 68-76 degrees.
While the pothos is fairly easy to care for, water is where it’s a little bit more finicky.
That’s because it doesn’t like too much water. In fact, it hates waterlogged soil.
And, leaving it in this condition will result in root rot.
They’re actually better at tolerating dry soil compared to overwatering. That’s why it’s a good idea to allow the soil to dry before each watering.
You can easily tell by inserting your finger an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water.
But, leaving it without water is likewise a no-no. That’s because long periods of no water can dry out its roots. When this happens, your pothos becomes susceptible to disease and pests.
In almost all cases, pothos is grown in some kind of container. That’s because this allows you to position it where it’s trailing stems can look their best.
As such, you won’t be relying on garden soil but potting mix.
What you want here is well-draining potting soil that’s slightly acidic (pH 6.1-6.5).
Pothos don’t need a lot of “food”. So, you don’t need to keep applying fertilizer too often. However, it’s important to do so because potting soil doesn’t contain any nutrients.
And, if they do come with an initial dose of fertilizer, it will only last for the first few weeks to a couple of months as most.
You can apply a balanced houseplant fertilizer once every 2 weeks during its growth period (from spring until fall).
Then, scale that down to once a month during the winter when it’s much less active.
Pruning Pothos Plants
Because of vining stems, it’s a good idea to trim your pothos regularly. This not only keeps it neat, but it also prevents it from getting too heavy.
Plus, pruning it also helps it look full and bushy.
Keeping the stems short (to within 2 inches from the soil), is a good way to promote full stems and foliage.
Depending on how bushy you want your pothos to look, you can prune once or twice a year.
If you take proper care of your pothos plant, you should be able to enjoy it for the next 10 or more years. But, there’s a way to “extend” it’s lifespan…
You can propagate it.
Technically, you’re not making your pothos live longer. Instead, you’re growing more of them from the one you already have.
Best of all, it’s free… and, you can do it with just a little work and patience.
- Cut a long stem (4-6 inches) just below a node. You want a prolific stem. So, choose one that has at least 4 or more leaves and 2 or more growth nodes.
- Pothos cuttings can be grown in either soil or water. So, you have a choice here of where you want to put the stem. The only caveat is that it’s hard to move it. Thus, you need to commit to that choice and only move when the plant gets larger.
Repotting Pothos Plants
How often you repot your pothos will depend on how fast it outgrows your container and how much you prune it.
If you prune it regularly, you can do so up to a third of the length of the vines. This may be enough to keep it manageable in size such that you don’t need to repot.
But, at some point the roots will fill the pot. When this happens you’ll need to move it to a larger container.
The best time to do this will be in the spring. And, do choose a container that’s about two sizes larger. This gives it enough room to grow before having to repot again.