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Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos / Devils Ivy / Scindapsus)

About the Pothos Houseplant

Pothos or Devils Ivy is a very easy going houseplant that is almost idiot-proof to grow indoors. It can live in homes, offices or even a shopping mall. It's not fussy! And we should know as between us we have eight of these handsome plants.

Pothos has multiple different names, both scientific and common, which can make it difficult to identify by name alone. By sight though things are quite different. With its obvious trailing habit and distinctive leaf markings, it gives itself away and becomes an easily recognisable houseplant.

A compact and bushier Pothos or Devils Ivy, as a result of pinching out the growing tips

Firstly let's sort this naming business out as it can get confusing.

Previously throughout the world, it used to be known scientifically as Scindapsus aureau or Phaphidophora aureu. More recently in much of Europe, it still tends to be known as Scindapsus aureus. In America and Canada, Epipremnum pinnatum. The Botanist of today will call it Epipremnum aureum.

The common names it goes by are just as varied, Australian Native Monstera, Devils Ivy Plant, Golden Pothos, Ivy Arum, Silver Vine and Taro Vine to name just a few. So even if you know it by something else in our article here to keep things simple, we're going to use its current scientific name, Epipremnum aureum and its most popular common name, Pothos. Phew glad we sorted that.

Finally, we should probably mention at this point that Pothos and the Heartleaf Philodendron look pretty similar at first glance. In fact, it's the most confused houseplant we've ever written about! If you're not confident in the difference or you're not sure what plant you actually own, then Stamen and Stem have a super article that breaks it all down and goes through the differences between the two plants.

There are six different Pothos cultivars that are mainly sold today

Jade Pothos is the original. This has solid green leaves of average size with a reasonably neat growth habit. However it's a bit plain so has largely been replaced by more appealing looking varieties.

Although there are quite a few different cultivars about (see the comments section at the end of the article), there are six main cultivars that are sold in your standard plant shops today. They all have the same care requirements but a lot of our readers still what to know what they actually have so let's take a look at them now.

Golden Pothos

The most common is Epipremnum aureum, (Golden Pothos and Devils Ivy). This is a mid green and mustard variegated plant which is the most tolerant and adaptable of varied light conditions. Being quite hardy and taking poor light and erratic watering for quite some time.

It also has another special trait; unlike almost all other variegated plants, if you put Pothos in low light conditions it will still hold on to its variegation well.

Epipremnum aureus or Pothos has so many different names it can be hard to identify by the name alone

E. aureum - Golden Pothos

Marble Queen Pothos

Marble Queen is the second Pothos cultivar that you should be able to find easily enough. This one has contrasting but stunning marbled white and green foliage.

It's harder to care for and therefore hasn't become as common as the Golden. It does grow slowly however, which is an advantage if you want a plant for a space that won't be out grown for a while.

Pothos Marble Queen being grown as a houseplant

E. aureum 'Marble Queen' by LucaLuca

Satin Pothos

If you want a much more compact variety then Satin Pothos is worth a look. It's becoming one of the most popular cultivars and for good reason. If given reasonable light, the vines will stay quite small but they will still produce regular leaves that are smaller than the Marble Queen and Golden Pothos. This gives a very dense and full looking plant.

It's very glamorous too, with small splashes of silver on the dark green leaves that really give it a sparkle. If you're very lucky you may also find the Silver Pothos. This one looks very similar to the Satin but flips things on it's head and has more splashes of silver than green.

Small Satin Pothos growing in a black pot

Scindapsus pictus 'Argyraeus'

N'Joy Pothos

If you want even smaller and dainty looking leaves then Pothos N'Joy should be the one to look out for. It's sometimes labeled and known as Pearls and Jade. N'Joy has an elegant growth habit and looks splendid if you want its vines to drape and hang down from a shelf or window ledge.

The leaves have the familiar green but are blotched throughout with white sections. Again adding contrast and increasing the attractive look of the plant.

It's worth pointing out that this plant is not the fastest growing cultivar and is less accommodating of poor watering. If you let it dry out too much it will droop and let you know it's not happy.

Photo showing the leaf markings of Pothos N'Joy growing in a yellow plant pot

E. aureum 'N'Joy'

Neon Pothos

A rising star, the Neon Pothos variety has massively increased in popularity in the last few years, in part because of Instagram inspired posts. People just can't get enough!

The attraction is hardly surprising. With its wonderfully vibrant foliage that falls between the colors of yellow and green, it's striking and bold but also very pretty. It also has all the positive traits of its siblings. Easy going and reasonably drought tolerant as well as serving as a living air-purifier in our homes, it helps scrub the air clean of toxins.

A Neon Pothos growing in a hanging basket

E. aureum 'Neon' in a hanging basket

Marble Planet Pothos

Finally we come to the last and least common variety on our list. It's not helped that this is sometimes incorrectly labeled and sold as Monstera Peru. This is a new(ish) cultivar of Pothos created in a lab. Yup you won't find this out in the wild and as such it has traits which are different to other Pothos plants.

The dark green leaves of Marble Planet are much bigger and have deep and pronounced veins that give an almost bubbly and puckered feel. This gives some seriously impressive thickness and size to each individual leaf. The stems grow fast and produce new leaves rapidly.

Most Devil’s Ivy needs a little training and support, but for Marble Planet, it's essential that support is provided if you want a neat look. That said it will also do well if sat on a high shelf and the stems allowed to fall and trail down the wall as it pleases.

The rare E. pinnatum 'Marble Planet'

E. pinnatum 'Marble Planet'

You may be looking at your plant and thinking "mine doesn't have the exact leaf markings like any of those shown above". The appeal of Pothos plants is that each leaf has individual and unique markings, no two leaves on the plant are exactly the same. So if yours looks close to one featured above then it's likely that's the one you have.

On the other hand, you might have another cultivar - There are lots out there, the ones talked about above are just the most commonly found. So yours could even be a rare find! You're welcome to post a picture in the comments section further down and we'd be happy to take a look for you.

Although Pothos is a fantastically easy care plant to have in your home, unfortunately, its popularity has waned over recent years and so it can still be some what difficult to come by. This problem came about due to the plant committing two faux pas when it comes to modern interior design.

To hell with current fashions, Pothos looks great and probably always will

Firstly, given time it creeps, trails and clings around anything in its path, spreading and sliding towards sources of light. Once a highly desirable feature (because you could train its long vines above windows and beams to soften hard lines and edges) now this can be looked upon as untidy and messy, especially in a modern home.

Moss Sticks for sale

A number of a moss sticks for sale

Secondly, it looks beautiful growing up a moss stick. It's a somewhat sad thing to say but many people under the age of 25 reading this will have absolutely no idea what a moss stick actually is. For those who remember them fondly let's just take a moment here to reminisce. Ah the 90's - good times. ;-)

To those who don't know, a Moss Stick is normally a vertical hollow tube made of plastic mesh with wide holes, the inside of the tube is typically filled with moss like material. The entire "stick" is then placed and firmed into the pot with soil and over time the stick becomes covered and hidden by the growing plant.

By supporting the plant that's hiding it, the moss stick turns a normally low growing and spreading plant into a compact and vertical column of greenery. Genius.

Pothos plant from Amazon.com

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Pothos plant for sale on Amazon.co.uk

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You can still buy moss sticks if you look hard enough or instead choose to let Pothos clamber over your entire home, failing that you can pinch out the tips on a regular basis and keep it neat and tidy in a simple container.

Moss Sticks for Sale - Struggling to find moss sticks for your plants? Then we'll giving the thumbs up to these ones on Amazon.

So to hell with current fashions, Pothos looks great and probably always will. Up next are the easy instructions for your Pothos / Epipremnum care requirements, which if followed will ensure you have stress free growing experience.

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Pothos Care Guide

Light

Average light would be best for your Pothos plant. Growth will be slow if you choose a very dark spot, this will also create sparse "vines" with leaves quite far apart. Very bright spots with strong sunlight beaming on to the leaves should be avoided as well because this will eventually destroy the plant.

Try to aim for any spot in your home where you could sit and comfortably read a book for most of the day. If you struggle to see the words or have to squint because it's too bright then your plant's not going to be happy either.

Watering

Water your Pothos regularly during the growing seasons and always a lot less in Winter. It has a level of drought tolerance, so your plant won't mind being under watered. But over watering needs to be avoided, otherwise you risk rot setting in around the roots.

Don't Forget - The soil should never be soggy or wet. If you've given too much water, pour any excess away.

A good soak every week is likely ideal. However, lots of factors play a part, with plants in warm rooms and lots of light needing more water than those in cooler spots and receiving less light.

Humidity

If given the choice Pothos enjoys high humidity, however it's not vital for a healthy plant and will be equally fine in a location with lower humidity levels.

Feeding

There is no need to feed unless the plant is growing. We feed our semi-regularly during this time. This means if you're able to, give your plant a light feed once every month over Spring and Summer using a general all-purpose fertiliser.

Temperature

A reasonable warm temperature is needed here. No lower than 10°C (50°F) in Winter and ideally between 15°C (59°F) and 25°C (77°F) in the other seasons.

Repotting

You only need to think about repotting your Pothos when the roots are so congested the plant starts to suffer. This will take a few years to happen. The most obvious sign of a repot being needed is when it isn't growing anymore and it's Summer (growth shouldn't be expected during Winter).

Propagation

Propagating Pothos is incredibly easy. If you want more plants you should give it a go as it's really difficult to go wrong.

In Spring or Summer, create propagation material by cutting off the tips to create "cuttings" and either put them in water until they grow roots, or push the cuttings directly into pots of moist compost. They root easily so you should have a good success rate.

If you're not confident in doing it or don't understand what we've said watch this video for more.

Speed of Growth

Pothos is normally a quick growing houseplant providing you treat it well. Different varieties grow at different speeds, with the Satin and N'Joy growing the slowest. All varieties will have slow growth or will stop growing completely if poor care is provided.

Height / Spread

This depends on how you're growing Pothos. So to address this it's best to explain a little about the eventual length of the vines first. They can reach impressive lengths out in the wild, up to 20m / 66ft.

They can get very long indoors too but this is rare because although the creeping habit is part of the charm, many homeowners will prune when they become too long and unruly. Ultimately this means the plant can be as tall or as short as you want it to be.

Flowers

Getting flowers on indoor plants is very rare and to be fair it's only because of the beautiful foliage that these plants are grown indoors.

Is Pothos Poisonous?

The leaves and stems have a sap which contains Insoluble calcium oxalates. If this is ingested by a pet or person it can result in painful lips, mouth and tongue. If a fair amount of the plant is consumed more significant symptoms such as vomiting are common.

Anything else?

Just like Ivy (Hendera helix), you can pinch out the tips of the vines which will create a more compact and bushier plant. Each plant will produce several vines which twine together, this can look quite messy so every now and again gently untangle them.

You can prune back most of your plant to reinvigorate it

If your Pothos reaches a good age then some bare and leafless vines in spaces should be expected. At this point, you could either take cuttings to create brand new plants. Or if you're particularly fond of your existing one, you can cut back most of the plant's vine back towards its base to reinvigorate it. Make the cut just past an "eye" and a new shoot should sprout within a few weeks.

As an example, we cut our plant back as shown in the photo below. The stump in the middle of the blue circle was where we made the cut. The growth on the right was the existing vine and the growth on the left is the new sprouting vine. It grew robustly and produced a lot of new leaves along the way.

Photo showing how to prune a Pothos plant to encourage new growth shoots

Caring for Pothos Plants Recap

  1. Average Light Levels Pothos is an adaptable houseplant that will do well in both light shade or brightly lit spaces. However avoid no light locations as well as direct sunlight.

  2. Average Watering This plant will cope with some dryness at the roots but aim to keep the soil moist.

  3. Average Temperature Provide temperatures between 15°C (59°F) and 25°C (77°F).

  4. Average Feeding Provide feed to the soil once every two months.

  • No lower than 10°C (50°F)
  • Do not overwater

Pothos Problems

Dripping / Crying Pothos leaves (guttation)

After a Pothos plant has been watered well, in warmer months when you wake in the morning you may find water like droplets have formed and collected at the leaf tips. This is know scientifically as guttation and is almost always harmless.

We say almost because the liquid has leaked out of the tiny pores on the undersides of the leaves called stomata, essentially it's mostly water, but you have to remember it has come from inside the houseplant. This means small concentrations of sugars or waste material, may also have leaked out with the water.

There is no need for major concern as guttation is usually only temporary, in the meantime just catch the drips with a tissue rather than trying to drink them or something silly.

Black spots on the leaves / Yellow leaves

This is caused by Overwatering. The soil should be moist for much of the time, but never let it sit in water.

My variegated plant is producing solid green leaves

Variegation loss in houseplants like Golden Pothos and Marble Queen is reasonably common. There is a slim possibility it's happening because the light levels are too low, but this isn't normally a problem for these plants as they hold on to any variegation fairly well. Instead it's more likely the plant is just reverting back to it's original "DNA" makeup, which is the solid green, non variegated type.

To fix the problem it should just be a case of snipping off the vines that are producing the solid green leaves and hopefully the next one your plant produces will have the familiar markings again.

Leggy looking Pothos plant with yellow leaves

Pothos plant photo showing some of the leaves starting to turn yellowThe oldest leaves will yellow and fall over time and this is normal. The process will happen more frequently, and with random leaves further down the vines, if you overwatered or under watered on a regular basis.

Over a long period this type of care will ruin and destroy the look of the plant and you'll end up with bare and empty vines. If this happens you can either take cuttings from the tips to produce new plants or cut back everything to start again.

Pothos leaves have dry brown edges / Drooping

This is caused by Underwatering.

Variegation fading

Pothos is adaptable to darker spots in your home, but if it's really dark the variegation will gradually fade.

Pale / Translucence / Scorched leaves

This is caused by too much light, move it to a darker place or provide some shielding.


About the Author

Tom Knight

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

Credit for "Marble Queen" Article/Gallery - LucaLuca
Credit for Pothos "Aureum" growing over a celling - Jerzy Opioła
Credit for Pothos Neon - Gallery - David J. Stang


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