Pothos, Epipremnum aureum: “Devil’s Ivy”
Despite being a garden designer and certified plant enthusiast (read: borderline obsessed), I don’t grow many indoor plants. Most people think my interior space would match my exterior space: verdant, jungly, crammed with cascading and climbing greenery, and spotted with stately potted centerpieces. But most indoor plants I have tried to grow simply demand too much attention and too much fussing. That being said, of the three houseplants I grow, pothos is one.
Please keep reading to learn why you should grow this easy houseplant.
A tropical forest plant, in colder climates pothos lives indoors so happily that I’d put it in the running for winning the Easiest Houseplant Ever award. With a trailing, vine-like habit, attractive heart-shaped leaves, an ability to help purify the air and to thrive in low light and humidity while withstanding neglect for long periods of time, pothos is the perfect plant for people too busy for houseplants (but who really want the beauty of houseplants).
Pothos has numerous common names, including: golden pothos, hunter’s robe, ivy arum, money plant, and taro vine. The curious other name: devil’s ivy is because it’s nearly impossible to kill and stays alive even when kept in the dark.
In tropical forests pothos can grow incredibly large and climb and clamber over the landscape. The ones we grow indoors are tamer versions. If you happen to live in USDA zones 10 and 11, you may be able to grow pothos outside in a shady location as a ground cover or scrambling vine.
Both indoors and outdoors, if your pothos gets too leggy give it a prune to control the shape and corral the length. Discover yellowing and withering older leaves with dry edges? You probably let it dry out too much for too long. Solution? Give your struggling plant friend a good soak of water.
N.B.: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested by humans or animals.
- Grow pothos in a container that rests on a bookshelf or ledge, or in a hanging container so that it’s superior cascading habit can be appreciated. Can grow to about six to 10 feet over time.
- Because it helps clean the air of toxins, especially formaldehyde and benzene fumes, which are often found in recently painted or furnished rooms, pothos is perfect for offices and living rooms, and because it also helps remove carbon monoxide from the air, consider putting this plant in your bedroom to ensure enough oxygen while sleeping.
- Consider repotting your pothos if the roots have consumed the pot. Choose a container one size larger than what you are taking it out of and add fresh potting soil.
- Propagating pothos is also easy from cuttings. Simply place a cut stem that has a node on it in a glass of water and wait for it to root. Then plant in a small container.
- Varieties such as ‘Neon’, with chartreuse leaves will brighten a dark corner.
Keep It Alive
- Grow pothos indoors, preferably with bright, not direct light, although it also will tolerate low-light conditions. Tip: Pale leaves means too much sun, and loss of variegation means too little.
- Pothos likes to have its soil dry out between waterings and therefore accepts erratic watering care. It definitely dislikes soggy roots. Tip: The leaves droop when the plant is thirsty and needs a drink. But don’t let this wilt-y stage go for too long or you will start to see leaf drop.
- Grow in any well-draining potting soil.
- Pothos is a light feeder, but you can give it a monthly snack with a balanced fertilizer formulated for houseplants.
- For more growing and care tips, see Pothos: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
- Read about more of our favorite houseplants in Prayer Plants: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. And see more tropical plants in Tropical Plants 101 and indoor plants with exotic foliage in Houseplants 101. For more inspiration:
- Fiddle-Leaf Fig Trees: A Field Guide
- How to Make an Orchid Bloom Again
- Philodendrons: A Field Guide
- How to Keep an Indoor Citrus Tree Happy
- Succulents & Cacti: A Field Guide
- Maui Beach Cottage with a Tropical Garden
- Orchids 101: A Field Guide