How to care for pothos (devil's ivy)
All you need to know about growing pothos (devil's ivy), in our detailed Grow Guide.
Pothos (Epipremnum or Scindapsus) not only has pretty, heart-shaped foliage that trails or climbs, it's also one of the easiest house plants to grow. It's tolerant of all kinds of conditions and neglect – it's thought it gets its common name, devil's ivy, because it can grow in low light levels and is virtually impossible to kill. Pothos can be trained up a pole or along wires on a wall, and also looks brilliant hanging from a shelf or hanging basket.
Also known as Ceylon creeper, hunter’s robe, ivy arum, money plant and taro vine, pothos is found growing up the trunks of trees in tropical forests in the wild. It can reach 20m tall but it's only likely to reach about 2m in the average home.
Pothos is also fantastic at cleaning the air – in the 1989 landmark NASA study into air purifying plants, the lead scientist named it as his favourite air purifier.
Pothos is toxic to humans and animals if ingested, so keep out of reach of pets and children. Its sap can be a skin and eye irritant, so wear gloves when handling.
How to grow pothos
Pothos is very easy to grow, in any bright or shaded spot – just keep out of direct sun. For the best results water only when the compost is beginning to dry out and feed once a month in spring and summer.
More on growing pothos:
Pothos: jump links
- Planting pothos
- Caring for pothos
- Propagating pothos
- Growing pothos: problem-solving
- Buying pothos
- Best pothos to grow
Where to grow pothos
Pothos will be happy in any room that has a temperature between 10-24°C. It does best in bright, indirect light, out of direct sun, but will also be fine in light or even deeper shade. Bear in mind that deep shade may mean that your pothos loses its variegation.
Pothos can be trained up a moss or coir pole, and looks beautiful hanging from a shelf or mantelpiece, or cascading from a hanging basket.
How to repot pothos
Repot your pothis in soil-based or house plant compost, in a pot that neatly fits the rootball. If you're growing pothos as a climber, tie the stems to a moss pole or train them along wires up a wall, using twine or house plant ties.
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Caring for pothos
From spring to autumn, allow the compost to dry out between waterings – pothos is drought tolerant, and too much water will kill it. Water sparingly in winter.
Feed monthly with a house plant feed in spring and summer. Repot every couple of years into a slightly larger pot.
Cut back the stems if they are growing too long or straggly.
Wipe the leaves if dust builds up on them – this will keep them looking shiny and will help them breathe.
How to propagate pothos
Pothos are very easy to propagate from cuttings. Follow these simple steps to propagate pothos:
- Cut off a stem that has a node (lump) on it
- Place it in a glass filled with a few inches of water
- Once roots have formed, pot up the cutting in a small pot and water in well.
Growing pothos: problem solving
If your pothos plant looks a little flat and lacklustre, it probably needs watering. A good soak will perk it up.
Yellow or withered leaves on pothos are a sign of underwatering – water gently over a period of a few days to revive it.
Wilted pothos leaves can be a sign of underwatering or overwatering – so check your care regime and adjust accordingly.
If your plant looks leggy, with sparse foliage, trim it back to encourage bushiness. You can use the trimmings for cuttings.
Loss of variegation means your plant is in too shady a spot – move it somewhere brighter. Pale leaves mean it is probably getting too much sun – move it somewhere shadier.
Advice on buying pothos
- Pothos are tolerant of low light levels but they may lose their variegation in deep shade
- Pothos either climb or trail, reaching up to 2m, so make sure that you have room for it. If you're buying it to climb, you'll need a support, such as a moss or coir pole
- You can often find pothos in garden centres, but for the best selection, buy at a specialist house plant retailer or online
- Ensure the pothos is healthy, with healthy leaves and leaf-tips, and no signs of pests
Where to buy pothos
Varieties of pothos to grow
Epipremnum aureum – the most widely available variety, with large, glossy leaves with cream and yellow streaks.
Height x Spread: 2m x 75cm
Epipremnum aureum 'Neon' (Neon pothos) – vibrant chartreuse leaves that almost look fluorescent.
H x S: 1.2m x 50cm
Epipremnum pictum 'Argyraeus' (Satin pothos) – heart-shaped, matte leaves with a silver pattern.
H x S: 1.2m x 50cm
Epipremnum N'joy – attractive leaves that are variegated with cream.
H x S: 1m x 30cm
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