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Gardening 101: Pothos

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Gardening 101: Pothos

March 5, 2020

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.

Pothos vines are members of the Araceae plant family. At center is &#8\2\16;Marble Queen&#8\2\17; and at bottom left is &#8\2\16;Satin&#8\2\17;.
Above: Pothos vines are members of the Araceae plant family. At center is ‘Marble Queen’ and at bottom left is ‘Satin’.

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).

Satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus &#8\2\16;Argyraeus&#8\2\17;) is a cousin to Epipremnum aureum.
Above: Satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’) is a cousin to Epipremnum aureum.

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.

Pothos &#8\2\16;Marble Queen&#8\2\17; has white variegation and is slower growing. It looks excellent in a white pot. A rooted cutting of Marble Queen Devil&#8\2\17;s Ivy is \$6 from Spyloh via Etsy.
Above: Pothos ‘Marble Queen’ has white variegation and is slower growing. It looks excellent in a white pot. A rooted cutting of Marble Queen Devil’s Ivy is $6 from Spyloh via Etsy.
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.

To propagate a new pothos from your existing plant, start with a six-inch piece of stem that has several leaves.
Above: To propagate a new pothos from your existing plant, start with a six-inch piece of stem that has several leaves.

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.

To propagate, trim a stem so that a growth node (the spot from which a leaf sprouts) is a half-inch from the bottom. Pot the stem into water and wait for roots to sprout from the growth nodes.
Above: To propagate, trim a stem so that a growth node (the spot from which a leaf sprouts) is a half-inch from the bottom. Pot the stem into water and wait for roots to sprout from the growth nodes.

Cheat Sheet

  • 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.
Variegation is a mutation that can be genetic or random (if only a few variegated leaves appear on an otherwise green plant, it may revert over time to a plant that has solid green foliage).
Above: Variegation is a mutation that can be genetic or random (if only a few variegated leaves appear on an otherwise green plant, it may revert over time to a plant that has solid green foliage).

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