|Official Plant Name||Epipremnum aureum / Scindapsus aureus|
|Common Name(s)||Pothos, Devil’s Ivy|
|Plant Type||Houseplant / Climber|
|Native Area||Society Islands|
|Flowers||None (cream flowers when grown in wild)|
|When To Grow||Year-round|
Full Sun or Partial Shade
4 – 8M
1 – 1.5M
Most soil types
Moist but well-drained
Epipremnum aureum, or ‘Scindapsus aureus’ as it is officially named, is far better known here in the UK as Pothos or Devil’s Ivy.
A lush and evergreen houseplant, that is incredibly easy to grow, it’s perfect as a first house plant or to add to a collection.
Houseplants have made a serious comeback over the past few years.
With more of us wanting to bring nature indoors, whether in our homes or offices house, plants have been shown to potentially reduce stress, boost productivity and improve the air quality.
Some houseplants can be more tricky than others to look after and keep alive and growers can easily be put off by previous failures. However, pothos is one of the easiest to care for and will grow well even if neglected a tad.
What are Pothos?
Pothos are tropical vines and part of the araceae family, which originate from Asia.
With their large evergreen heart-shaped leaves, they are a great feature plant for indoors. As a robust plant that can survive a fair amount of neglect, pothos are a great first houseplant to try and come in many different varieties.
As a vine, it looks equally good when allowed to trail down from high up on a mantlepiece or table, or grown vertically with supports.
The most commonly grown and widely available variety here in the UK is golden pothos and obtainable from most garden centres. However, some of these other varieties might need to be purchased from a house plant online retailer.
Epipremnum aureum AGM or Golden Pothos with its glossy green leaves tinged with random yellow streaks is a great trailing plant and is best shown off from a height. Having been awarded the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the RHS, it has shown to grow reliably well.
Epipremnum aureum Neon or Golden Neon Pothos is a vibrant variety with its solid bright yellow foliage. Happily trailing down from a container or pot, it looks great if hung in the air or from a shelf.
Epipremnum Trebie or Satin Pothos Trebie is a stunning variegated option that produces large green leaves tinged with silver streaks. It grows well up a moss support providing vertical impact to any room.
Epipremnum pictum Silvery Ann is a variegated variety, similar to pothos trebie, but with more silver foliage. As with the other varieties, it looks good whether allowed to trail or trained up a moss pole.
How to Grow Pothos
Pothos originate from warmer and more humid climates than here in the UK, which is why they are grown exclusively here as indoor plants.
Sunlight & Temperature
When grown as houseplants, pothos prefer a light spot, but not in direct sunlight which can burn the leaves and will also cope with a fair amount of shade.
Pothos generally grow well indoors in the UK where there is a temperature of 12C – 24C. They prefer humid conditions so a bathroom or kitchen can be ideal, but can also be grown in a normal household environment with misting on occasion.
Pothos are actually drought tolerant and prefer to be allowed to dry out slightly before being watered again.
If worried about how much to water, it is best to ere on the drier side, as too much water can kill them.
Grown in a free-draining potting mix is ideal as it will allow any excess water to drain away and avoid the plant’s roots becoming waterlogged.
It is advised that when watering to use room temperature water, rather than very cold water.
Pothos are not particularly hungry plants and thus do not need a huge amount of food and nutrition, feeding can be left to a 4 – 6 week schedule and fed with a balanced indoor plant fertiliser.
Pothos can grow quite quickly in the right conditions and will eventually need repotting.
When the plant’s roots become root-bound or when the roots protrude out of the bottom of the pot it is time to pot them on, using a slightly wider and deeper pot with new potting compost.
Pruning pothos plants simply depends on how much space you have and how large you would like them to grow.
They can be cut back hard to 5-10cm in order to rejuvenate or just the vine ends lightly trimmed to limit growth.
Either way, it is recommended to use a clean and sharp pair of secateurs and to cut just above a leaf join.
When grown in the wild pothos can be known to produce cream flowers. However, when grown as houseplants they are unlikely to do so.
Pothos are easy to grow and simple to propagate from cuttings, meaning you can increase your own collection or give away any spare plants to friends and family.
To create new plants, a cutting needs to be taken, either for this specific purpose or from a pruning.
Pothos plants have little bumps along the stems called root nodes and any cuttings ideally need to have 2 – 3 root nodes in order to have the best chance of developing a good root system.
The cuttings simply need to be placed in a glass of water, deep enough to cover the stem and nodes, but not so deep as for the leaves to get wet.
Place the glass on an indoor window sill and wait to see the roots develop from the nodes.
Once the roots have grown to 3 – 5cm, which usually takes 6 – 8 weeks, the cutting can then be removed from the water and planted into a small pot full of free-draining potting soil.
Pests, Diseases and Problems
Pothos plants are usually relatively pest and disease-free, however being indoor plants, they can be susceptible to mealy bugs and spider mites.
Mealy bugs are white sap-sucking insects that leave a telltale white and fluffy residue on the foliage behind them. If allowed to develop into a severe infestation mealybug damage can lead to leaf drop and eventual demise of the plant.
The first line of control is squishing any visible bugs by hand and hosing off all foliage and stems outside with a hose spray adapter.
If the infestation is more severe, plant oil and fatty acid sprays can be used or contact insecticides as a last resort.
Spider mites can be one of the most problematic pests to houseplants.
A sap-sucking mite, it leaves behind a mottled appearance on the foliage and can cause leaf loss and even death of the plant.
Controls can include increasing humidity either by moving the plant or by increased misting, however this is more of a prevention than control.
As with mealy bugs, fatty acid and plant oil spray can be used or an insecticide such as acetamiprid for severe cases.
Loss of variegation
Pothos plant foliage may begin to lose its decorative variegation over time with the leaves reverting back to a single colour.
This can sometimes be caused by the plant receiving too little light and is of no consequence other than cosmetic.
However, by moving the plant to a brighter spot the variegation should return to the leaves with time.
Overwatering is often a problem when caring for houseplants, especially pothos.
Overwatering or wet and soggy roots can lead to sudden yellowing leaves, severe wilting and the roots rotting and turning brown.
On checking the roots, if they appear brown and soft then action must be taken. Using a pair of secateurs cut and remove the brown soft roots, leaving only the healthy-looking roots.
The plant can then be repotted with some fresh free-draining compost and kept an eye on.
As a horticultural therapist, professional gardener and freelance writer, Ed is passionate about the healing properties and processes of gardening and nature. With a background in occupational therapy, Ed now runs a community garden where he aims to encourage and enable the local community to grow fruit, vegetables and cut flowers and experience the many benefits of gardening. Ed lives in West Sussex with his young family and golden retriever, where they look to live the good life by growing as much of their food as possible. See Ed's website here.