Encyclopedia of Houseplants

Pothos Are So Easy To Care For It’s Stupid

updated Oct 20, 2022
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

A care guide for pothos plants almost seems redundant because pothos are so very easy to keep alive. Seriously, if you only water them when they start to look wilty, you’ll have them for years. However, if you want to take the best care of them, so they’re the happiest and healthiest they can be, here are our best tips.

Pothos vs. Philodendron

First off, make sure you’ve got a pothos plant vs. a heartleaf philodendron. They are both vining plants that look similar. The biggest difference is that pothos have larger, thicker leaves and grooved stems. Philodendron leaves tend to be darker and less likely to be variegated. But they have very similar requirements for water, light, and care.

Pothos Plant Care

Pothos do well in a wide variety of light conditions and are, therefore, an excellent option for even low-light homes. In fact, try to avoid direct sunlight. Interesting fact, courtesy of Gardening Know How: a variegated pothos placed in low-light conditions may lose some of its white color because only the green part of the leaf can absorb light.

On the other hand, if you notice that your pothos’ leaves look paler than usual, that’s a sign that your plant is getting too much light.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Soil and Water

Pothos plants don’t actually have to be planted in soil; they do very well just placed in a container with water. If you do decide to plant them in soil, any potting mix is fine. Be aware that a plant that’s gotten used to being in just water may not do too well if transferred to soil.

When it comes to watering, pothos do best when their soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. As with any plant, watch leaves for signs of the plant’s well-being: if the leaves are glossy, green, and perky, the plant is happy; if they’re wilting or turning brown, you’re not watering enough. Yellow leaves are a sign of over-watering and root rot. Don’t let the soil sit constantly wet.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Pothos Vine

Naturally, pothos plants are trailers, and many people enjoy them for this characteristic. My mother has a gorgeous pothos that trails gracefully from the top of a grandfather clock. As trailers, they are also great indoor hanging plants or placed up high on shelves.

However, if left un-pruned, pothos can become too leggy. Pinching back stems at the tips ensures that your plant doesn’t become too thin and stringy. You can even put clippings into the same pot to help your pothos get more full.

Propagating Pothos

Propagating pothos is extremely easy. It’s one of those plants you can just pinch a leaf and node form and hand to a friend. If they stick it in soil or water to the root, soon they’ll have a pothos plant of their own. Pothos plants can also be easily divided when re-potting to produce new plants.

(Image credit: Rikki Snyder)

A Note on Toxicity

Though rarely fatal, ingesting pothos can cause vomiting and irritation in pets and children.

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