How to Grow and Care for Pothos (2023)

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a tropical vine native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, but you probably know it best seen trailing off of shelves and desks. Pothos is commonly grown as a houseplant, boasting pointed, heart-shaped green leaves that are sometimes variegated with white, yellow, or pale green striations.

Pothos plants can live for many years with basic care and are super adaptable, as various light, soil, and moisture conditions suit them. They're fast-growing plants even indoors, often adding between 12 to 18 inches of length in a month. Be aware that pothos plants are toxic to pets.

Common NamePothos, Golden Pothos, Devil's Vine, Devil's Ivy
Botanical NameEpipremnum aureum
Plant TypeVine
Mature Size20–40 ft. long, 3–6 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull sun, partial shade
Soil TypeMoist but well-drained
Soil pHNeutral to slightly acidic
Bloom TimeRarely flowers
Flower ColorGold/Yellow, Purple/Lavender
Hardiness Zones10–12 (USDA)
Native AreasAsia
ToxicityToxic to dogs and cats


Watch Now: How to Easily Grow and Care for Pothos

Pothos Care

Caring for pothos is simple. This low-maintenance plant thrives in bright, indirect light, but it can also do well in low-light conditions. Pothos can thrive in standard houseplant potting mix or a chunky, well-draining aroid mix. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Feed the plant with balanced houseplant fertilizer each month during the spring and summer.

Because pothos can grow in low-light areas or those with only fluorescent lighting, it's an excellent houseplant for offices and dorm rooms.

How to Grow and Care for Pothos (1)

How to Grow and Care for Pothos (2)

How to Grow and Care for Pothos (3)


Pothos likes sun or shade, but you need to watch if it's in too much of either one. When grown indoors, pothos prefers bright but indirect light. Variegated plants sometimes lose their leaf pattern and revert to all-green foliage if they don't receive enough light. Moving them to brighter conditions usually restores the variegation. Suddenly pale-looking leaves mean the plant is receiving too much direct sun.


Pothos plants thrive in ordinary, well-draining potting soil that can be on the dry side or even rocky. Pothos thrives in a soil pH ranging from 6.1 to 6.8. It is tolerant of a range of conditions, from neutral to slightly acidic.


Let your pothos plant's soil dry out completely between waterings. If left in continually damp soil, the plant's roots will rot. Black spots on the leaves (or the sudden collapse of the plant) indicate that the soil has been kept too wet.

The plant will indicate when it needs water. When it starts to droop, it needs water to revive it. However, don’t wait until the leaves start to shrivel or the plant will lose some leaves. Dry, brown edges mean the plant was kept dry for too long.

Temperature and Humidity

Pothos should be kept in temperatures that are consistently above 50 degrees. These plants prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Pothos plants grow best in high humidity, but they're also very tolerant of low-humidity conditions. If you like, you can increase humidity around the plant by keeping it in a typically humid area of the home, such as a bathroom, or grouping the plant with other tropical houseplants to create a more humid microclimate.


Pothos plants are not heavy feeders, but they can benefit from occasional fertilizing during the growing season. Feed pothos plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer once per month during the spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing in winter when the plant goes dormant.


Pothos plants live for an average of five to 10 years, but with proper care, these hardy houseplants can live for much longer. Giving your plant the proper environmental conditions and basic maintenance can help increase its lifespan.

Types of Pothos

Pothos hybrids can have many different types of leaf variegation, with white, yellow, or light green patches interrupting the predominant deep green leaves. Some cultivars have solid light green leaves. Recommended pothos varieties include:

  • 'Marble Queen': A varietal with an exceptionally attractive white-and-green variegated pattern. It requires more light than most pothos to maintain its unique coloring.
  • 'Pearls and Jade': This varietal is an avid white and green climber, but instead of striping, the colors of gray, green, and white show boldly around the perimeter of the leaves.
  • 'Neon': A bright chartreuse variety, this pothos needs less light and is great for brightening up a dark area in your home.
  • 'Silver Satin': This varietal has thick gray-green leaves with silver splotches. It is very tolerant of drought and low-light conditions.

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Potting and Repotting Pothos

Over time, your pothos will become pot-bound. When the leaves droop, no matter how much or how often you water them, drooping is a sure sign that roots have probably filled the pot and there is no room to grow. Look for roots growing out of the pot's drainage holes, or carefully lift the plant out of its pot to examine the roots.

When the plant has reached this stage, you can repot it into a container that is one or two sizes larger in diameter and depth. Use fresh potting soil and water well after repotting to help the plant recover. If possible, wait until the spring or summer months and repot when the plant is in active growth for best results.

Type of Pot to Use for Pothos

Pothos plants can grow well in several different types of pots, including plastic, ceramic, metal, and terra cotta, as long as the pot has good drainage holes in the bottom. The pot should be no more than two inches wider and deeper than the plant's root ball when repotting. Check drip trays, saucers, and cache pots after watering to make sure the plant isn't sitting in water. If your pothos plant lives in an area with low light, consider using a terra cotta pot, which helps wick away moisture, to avoid overwatering.

With its long, trailing vines, pothos is a natural plant for hanging baskets or macrame planters. You can even grow pothos in water as long as the vessel is nonporous and watertight.

Propagating Pothos

You can buy a mature pothos from a plant shop, but it's easy to propagate pothos yourself using stem cuttings. Pothos cuttings like to propagate in water at first. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Using a sterile, sharp cutting tool, choose a healthy stem with at least three leaves, and cut it at an angle about a half-inch or inch below the lowest leaf.
  2. Remove the lowest leaf from the stem (you don't need to remove the other leaves).
  3. Place the stem in a vase or jar of water, but do not let the remaining leaves touch the water.
  4. Once the cutting has sprouted new roots that are several inches long, likely over the course of a few weeks, transplant it into a pot with potting soil as soon as possible so it can begin to develop a strong root system.
  5. Put the pot in a spot with bright indirect light and keep the soil moist but not wet.

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Common Pothos Problems

Even hardy, low-maintenance pothos can experience common houseplant problems, including pests, diseases, and other issues. Here are some signs to watch out for.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow leaves on a pothos plant can be caused by several different factors. The occasional yellow leaf is nothing to worry about as long as the plant is putting out new growth, but sudden or widespread yellowing is cause for concern. Root rot due to overwatering or a bacterial or fungal disease may be the cause.

Browning Leaves

Brown leaves on pothos are unattractive and signal that something's wrong with the plant. Browning leaves can be caused by a range of issues, including too little light or overwatering. Brown leaves that are dry and crispy indicate underwatering or a lack of humidity.

Drooping Leaves

Pothos leaves drooping or wilting are a sign that the plant is stressed, often by lack of water. Give your plant a deep watering and monitor the soil moisture going forward to avoid letting the soil stay dry for too long. Droopy leaves can also be a symptom of the plant being pot-bound or affected by a plant disease.

Common Pests

Pothos is usually pest-free. However, the plant can occasionally become infested with mealybugs. Dab the insects away with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. You can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap to control infestations.

How to Revive Pothos

If your pothos plant is looking droopy, wilted, or otherwise unhealthy, give it some basic care. Trim away any dead or damaged foliage. Check the soil moisture and water if needed. If you've been watering frequently and the soil is soggy, let the soil dry out completely. If it's been a few years since you gave the plant fresh soil, or if the plant is pot-bound, consider repotting in a slightly larger pot with fresh soil.

If you're concerned that the plant might not make it, take a few cuttings from its healthy growth to propagate into new plants. You can also add rooted pothos cuttings to your plant when repotting to help fill out its growth.

Are Pothos Poisonous?

Pothos plants are toxic to cats and dogs as well as humans, but the plant is not lethal if ingested. The roots, leaves, and stems of pothos contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the skin, mouth, and digestive tract.


  • Is pothos easy to care for?

    Pothos plant care is very easy, and they're fairly tolerant of neglect and less-than-ideal growing environments. In fact, pothos is called devil's ivy because it's nearly impossible to kill.

  • How fast does pothos grow?

    Pothos is a quick-growing houseplant with the potential to add over a foot of length in one month.

  • What's the difference between pothos and philodendron plants?

    Pothos and philodendrons are two common houseplants that look very similar, but they are two separate and distinct plants. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their leaves. Pothos plants have subtle heart-shaped leaves that are large, thick, and textured, while waxy while philodendrons have more distinctive heart-shaped leaves that are thinner, softer, and smoother.

18 Types of Pothos That Are Fun to Grow and Display

Originally written by

Marie Iannotti

How to Grow and Care for Pothos (9)

Marie Iannotti

Marie Iannotti is a life-long gardener and a veteran Master Gardener with nearly three decades of experience. She's also an author of three gardening books, a plant photographer, public speaker, and a former Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator. Marie's garden writing has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide and she has been interviewed for Martha Stewart Radio, National Public Radio, and numerous articles.

Learn more about The Spruce'sEditorial Process

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Golden Pothos. Animal Poison Control Center.


  3. Epipremnumaureum. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  4. Golden Pothos.

  5. Pothos as a Houseplant. PennState Extension.


How to Grow and Care for Pothos? ›

Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, but they can tolerate medium to low indirect light, for instance, in north-facing homes or during cooler seasons with shorter days. This plant is not suited for intense, direct sun, which will burn and brown its leaves.

What do pothos need to thrive? ›

Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, but they can tolerate medium to low indirect light, for instance, in north-facing homes or during cooler seasons with shorter days. This plant is not suited for intense, direct sun, which will burn and brown its leaves.

How do you take care of pothos easy? ›

Caring for pothos is simple. This low-maintenance plant thrives in bright, indirect light, but it can also do well in low-light conditions. Pothos can thrive in standard houseplant potting mix or a chunky, well-draining aroid mix. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

How do I get my pothos to grow more leaves? ›

Providing your pothos with a moss pole to climb will encourage larger leaves which will give the plant a fuller appearance. You can make your own moss pole or purchase one from a nursery or garden center. Add the pole tothe pot and secure the vines using twist ties or zip ties.

Do pothos need deep pots? ›

So, while pothos plants don't necessarily require deep pots, choosing a pot that's the right size for your plant is still essential. A pot that's too small can restrict the growth of the roots, while a pot that's too large can cause the soil to stay too moist for too long.

Do pothos grow better in soil or water? ›

Do Pothos grow better in water or soil? I've found that although Pothos will grow in water with nutrients added, you will get much more luxurious growth if you grow in a standard potting mix and fertilize. Growing in water can be much simpler though so it's just a matter of what you prefer and what fits your lifestyle.

What does a pothos look like when it needs to be watered? ›

Pothos plants also tend to droop slightly when they're thirsty, which is a great reminder if you sometimes forget to water!

Where should I place my pothos? ›

Pothos generally need warm, humid conditions to grow at their best. A room temperature somewhere between 65 and 75ºF is ideal, with humidity levels ranging from 40% to 60%. Usually, if you're comfortable with the humidity and temperature of your home, a pothos will be too.

Why is my pothos not growing well? ›

If your plant isn't growing like it should, it's time to re-examine your watering schedule. Pothos plants need water, but not too much. If the top inch of soil isn't drying out in between your visits with the watering can, then your plant is being overwatered.

How do you keep pothos short and bushy? ›

To prune, use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or secateurs to make a cut just below a node. If your goal is to encourage bushy growth, prune close to the crown to create lots of shorter stems from which new leaves will emerge. If you want to shorten up a long vine, snip it off wherever you prefer.

Where do you cut pothos for new growth? ›

Trim a 4-6 inch piece just below a root node. Ideally, the cutting will have 4+ leaves and at least two growth nodes. Pothos plant propagation can be done in water or soil, but once it begins, the plant has difficult switching to the other growing medium.

How do you promote root growth in pothos? ›

Just pop a Pothos cutting in with the water with your slow-to-grow cuttings and it helps speed up root development.

How can you tell if pothos is healthy? ›

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.

Do pothos like showers? ›

Pothos can handle a variety of lighting conditions and temperature fluctuations, so you can enjoy its beauty without stressing over its care. Plus, it feels perfect in high-humidity environments, making it one of the best plants for the shower.

How long does a pothos plant last? ›

Pothos, also known as Devil's Ivy, is a popular houseplant that has been around for centuries. It's easy to care for and can live for many years, but how long is a pothos lifespan typically? On average, a healthy pothos plant can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more.

Do pothos like tall or wide pots? ›

The best pot for a Pothos should be large enough to give the roots room to grow. At the same time, it should be small enough that the soil doesn't massively outweigh the roots.

Do pothos like top or bottom water? ›

Pothos. Like jade plants, Pothos can also be prone to leaf spots from splashing water. Bottom watering prevents spots and ensures good soil hydration.

When should you repot a pothos? ›

The time to repot is when the plant's root system completely fills the pot. However, make sure to repot your pothos every at least two to three years.

Can pothos go in regular potting soil? ›

Pothos plants will thrive in a soil with a pH of 6.1-6.8, which is very slightly acidic. Luckily, most potting soils fall within this range. You may be able to find this on the label, and you can test your existing soil with a pH meter.

Does repotting a pothos help it grow? ›

Pothos plants grow quickly, so it's important to repot them regularly to allow their roots more space to grow! Repotting can also be an important way to treat pothos health problems.

Why are pothos so easy to grow? ›

They do well in bright, indirect light as well as low light and can be grown in dry soil or in vases of water. They will thrive in nutrient rich soil, but do almost as well in nutrient poor soil. Pothos plants make a great addition to your bathroom or office because they can tolerate low light.

Can pothos survive two weeks without water? ›

Pothos can last longer than other house plants without water. When prepared properly, these resilient vines are perfectly fine for a 2 to 3-week vacation without being watered.

How long should I bottom water my pothos? ›

If you're bottom watering your plant, let it sit in a tray of water for about 15 to 20 minutes or whenever the top of the soil feels evenly moist.

How many cups of water should I give my pothos? ›

Golden Pothos needs 0.8 cups of water every 9 days when it doesn't get direct sunlight and is potted in a 5.0" pot.

Should I let my pothos climb or hang? ›

All pothos varieties need to climb. Letting your plant trail or hang will inevitably lead to smaller leaves, wider internodes, and bare stems after a few years, regardless of your growing conditions. Climbing also allows pothos to enter their mature stage.

Do pothos like to be hung? ›

Pothos are the perfect plants for hanging baskets, wall sconces, or climbing trellises. Pothos can be pinched back regularly to encourage bushier growth. If they are not pinched back, the plants tend to grow lanky and thin.

What facing window is best for pothos? ›

Just keep any Pothos out of hot, sunny windows. They'll burn in no time especially if up against hot glass. High light is fine for a Pothos but make sure it's at least 8-10′ away from a west or south facing window. Indirect sunlight is fine.

What is the best soil for pothos? ›

In summary, the best soil for pothos plants should be well-draining and rich in nutrients. By using a mixture of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and compost, you can provide your pothos with the perfect growing environment.

Where is the best place to put a pothos plant? ›

Place your golden pothos in an area with bright, indirect light or low light. North- and east-facing windows are best to encourage healthy growth. This plant's leaves can become sunburnt when placed in direct sunlight.

How much light does a pothos need? ›

It prefers bright, indirect light, but will tolerate medium and low light. The variegation will be more pronounced in brighter light. Your Pothos will not do well in direct sunlight–the sunlight can burn the foliage.

Do pothos plants need to hang? ›

To keep your pothos from falling over, you will need to tie it to its trellis or stake. Velcro plant ties are ideal for the job because they're easy to put up or remove, and because they're wider, they won't cut into the stems.


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