A popular, easy-to-grow indoor plant, Pothos is often called devil's ivy or variegated
philodendron. Pothos is a common name, too. Botanically it is Epipremnum. The reason for all the confusion is that until 1956 it had never been seen in flower. Botanists classify all plants on the basis of their flowers or other reproductive parts. Pothos matures at 40 feet or taller in its native southeast Asian jungles, but in pots seldom exceeds 6 feet. In effect, even the large, old tangle of pothos vine your grandmother had in her parlor was a mere baby at that height. The plant is most attractive as an infant in a hanging basket or taking its first steps at climbing a pole. The glossy-leaved plants are available in solid green or variegated with either white, 'Marble Queen', or yellow and lighter green, 'Tricolor'. A very close relative, Scindapsis pictus, is often called "pothos vine". It has satiny grey-green leaves with silver splotches. Unfortunately, it is not often offered.
Pothos are tough, adaptable plants. Their climbing/trailing habit makes them extremelydecorative and useful in a variety of settings, and their variegated forms add interest not available with true philodendron. Since Pothos aren't very demanding, they set the standard for tolerance of neglect. This makes them one of the best plants for public places and new indoor gardeners.
The Pothos comes to the indoor house plant world from Southeast Asia to narrow it down closer the jungles of Malaysia. The botanical name is – Epipremnum – Pothos is much easier to pronounce.
When caring for any plant indoors – water, pest and light are all important but – light – is at the top of the plant success list. For Pothos natural but bright indirect light would be my preference. You don’t want Pothos leaves sitting in direct sun – a northern exposure with sunlight coming through fully opened blinds will serve the plant well. If fluorescent lights are the only option, 12-14 hours per day should keep the Pothos in great shape.
Since we’re on the subject of light – how does the plant look if it gets too much or too little?
Usually houseplants don’t get enough light so… When Pothos doesn’t get enough light the new growth – stems get smaller, thin and weak, the new leaves “shrink” in size. This doesn’t happen overnight, it can takes months of low light levels to see the effects. Now Pothos when exposed to direct sun or too much light will slowly lose that rich lush color – and slowly turn a pale green.
Watering houseplants or more correctly over watering is second to light in plant care success. Success with Pothos is no different. How much water and how often depend on many factors:
- Light – how intense and for how long
- Pot size
- Root system – how good is it?
- Soil – Make up and Quality
As a general rule check the soil. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry. When watering any plant indoors make sure to water the complete rootball and not just the top, The entire soil mass should be saturated with the excess water poured or drained off. The water quantity will vary depending on the amount all the items listed above.
The Pothos is not much different than most houseplants. If the plant receives too little water the leaves will begin to wilt, older leaves often turn a bright yellow. This is why it’s important to thoroughly water the entire rootball. The root system of Pothos is small compared to other indoor plants. When the plant is over watered and the soil stays wet the roots will rot. In turn the leaves begin to wilt and the leaves lose their healthy look and turn to a pale dull green color.
If possible use distilled or rainwater the next best would be filtered water. The purer the water the better. Many growers have installed systems to get remove any minerals before watering the plants.
Remember the Pothos comes from Malaysia. Generally they like the same temperatures you do – 65 to 85 degrees (Fahrenheit is best for steady growth.
I’m not a big fan of using fertilizer on indoor plants. When most houseplants are purchased, since good soil is used, all the needed nutrients are sitting in the soil and should hold the plant for a long time. In the case of plants planted in a poor soil mix the Pothos responses well to very light doses. If I had to fertilize – for the homeowner – I would recommend a liquid type instead of a solid or granular.
Uses and Plant Size
Pothos can be grown and used in a variety of ways and locations. Inside or outside doesn’t matter, Good filtered light, 65-85 degrees and a well drained soil that holds moisture (not wet) and the plant will thrive. I’ve seen Pothos used as:
- Potted plant – small
- Hanging baskets
- Ground covers indoors and out
- Covering the base of a larger plant
- Stand alone specimen – Like at Disneyworld
When Pothos receive “good growing conditions” as described above they can grow all year, For those of you up north with Pothos you may notice a slow down during the winter months.
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