How Often to Water Pothos Plants


How often to water pothos

Pothos are one of my favourite houseplants as they are very easy to look after (once we know how to water them!) and, in my experience, the easiest plant to propagate. For this reason, I have many propagated pothos plants, so I used this opportunity to experiment with different methods of watering.

You see, several things can affect how often we should water our pothos plants, such as pot size, pot material, and potting medium.

It took me some testing to get the watering right with my pothos as they are quite sensitive to overwatering (root rot is the easiest way to kill off your pothos), but from research and trial and error, I have developed a good system that works. In this article, I share with you all the tips and secrets I have learned.

But in a nutshell…

We need to water our pothos plants once every 7 days in Spring and Summer and once every 10-14 days in Winter. From experience, we need to allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering pothos plants again and always give them a good soak.

We need to remember to Mist the pothos leaves with water once every 7 days to create a humid micro-climate. (I have some tips for this too!)

Keep reading to learn the signs of overwatering and underwatering and for the best method for watering pothos (also known as devils ivy) plants…

How Often to Water Pothos Indoors

For us to develop a better understanding of how to water our pothos plants, we need to know how they grow naturally…

Pothos is native to warm tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Oceania and grows in relatively high humidity, sheltered from excessive air currents, and in well-draining soil.

From my experimentation, I discovered that our pothos is a very adaptable plant that can grow in a wide variety of conditions, but my pothos grew best when the soil was recently moist but drying out slightly between bouts of watering.

I tried watering pothos every 10-14 days, and it was just too long for it to be tolerated. If the potting soil dries out completely for an extended period or the humidity is very low, the leaves of the pothos can turn brown, a sign of drought stress.

I also tried watering my pothos every 3 days. The soil was saturated rather than just moist, which turned my pothos leaves yellow, and they began to droop, potentially indicating root rot.

To water pothos properly, it is important to replicate the typical watering cycle and levels of moisture in the potting soil of their pothos’ native environment. From my testing, I was able to definitively determine that…

Watering my pothos plants once every 7 days in Spring and Summer during active growth and once every 10 days in Winter was the optimal balance to meet the watering requirements yet avoid the dangers of overwatering.

My Best Method for Watering Pothos

There are several factors can influence how often pothos should be watered according to your climate and conditions:

  • The average humidity and temperature range of your climate.
  • The size of the pot or container (smaller pots and containers faster than larger pots).
  • Whether pothos is in the air current of air conditioning and near to sources of heat when indoors.
  • The capacity of the potting soil to retain moisture.

The most reliable way to establish how often to water pothos for your specific climate and conditions in your home, feel the top inch of the potting soil with your finger to detect the level of the soil’s moisture.

If the soil feels moist, then I delay watering for a few days until the soil feels as though it is drying out, which is the perfect time to water with a really good soak.

Once you know how long it generally takes for the first inch of the soil to dry, you can establish a watering schedule that is tailored to your climate and the conditions in your house.

This method has, by far, worked the best for me and my pothos.

Pro tip: I pick up my pothos periodically after watering. I have been watering and caring for my pothos for so long that I can assess when the soil has started to dry as it reduces significantly in weight. This can help you make an informed decision as to whether your pothos is ready for water.

Avoid This Mistake!

I would avoid using moisture meters or water gauges. I have experimented a lot over the years with these products, and my conclusion is that they simply are not precise enough.

We need to remember that our pothos areas sensitive to overwatering. I had a water meter tell me the soil was dry, but when I felt the soil it was still damp. Had I watered on the soil gauge recommendation, it would have resulted in overwatering.

My Experience with Misting Pothos

I quickly discovered first hand the importance of maintaining humidity for pothos.

For indoor pothos plants, we need to mist the leaves with water (or use a humidifier) as our houses tend to have low humidity, particularly with air currents from air conditioning and sources of heat in the Winter months.

At the time, I was living in New York, and my pothos were drooping and turning brown at the edges because of my indoor heating in the Winter and the air conditioning in the summer! I had to find a solution!

Initially, I tried misting the leaves, which worked well, but due to the heating in winter, I found it increased the temperature and sapped moisture from the air, and my pothos were still drooping. So I experimented by using misting alone, placing one pothos in the bathroom (lots of natural humidity) and on my other, I used a special plant humidifier that I ordered online.

The Results…

What I found was that misting was highly effective at maintaining humidity, but I had to mist every day in the Winter to counteract the dry air from my indoor heating, which I found impractical.

The pothos in the bathroom thrived to some extent because it was nice and humid, but the problem I found was that I had to open the Winter after showering (to prevent mold, of course), and the blast of cold air, when I opened the window, was not great for the pothos and it did not grow as well as my other pothos in environments with more stable temperatures.

What worked best for me was the humidifier. My pothos was happy as it had consistent humidity and the leaves stayed healthy without drooping. This complimented my watering strategy perfectly, and my pothos looked great!

I would say that if you don’t have to use indoor heating or air conditioning, then misting would probably suffice.

How Often to Water Pothos in Winter

We must keep in mind that our pothos plant’s demand for moisture can fluctuate with the seasons, even when growing indoors.

In Winter, pothos require watering less often as growth slows down due to fewer hours of daylight and a lower light intensity.

From experience, typically, watering pothos once every 10 to 14 days in Winter months meets the water requirements of the pothos plant and prevents any problems associated with overwatering, such as root rot.

It is, however, important to consider where the pothos is located in your home as if it is near a source of heat or in the path of forced air, then this can dry out the soil more quickly, which is the case in my home as we discussed.

As long as the top inch of the soil dries out between watering and you give the pothos a good soak and mist the leaves once per week, the pothos should stay healthy and green over winter, but I would aim to increase the humidity by either misting or using a humidifier.

Signs of Overwatering and UnderWatering Pothos

The symptoms of overwatered pothos are that the leaves turn yellow and droop, giving them an overall dying appearance.

However, we must acknowledge it is not just overwatering that causes too much water around the roots of your pothos as slow-draining soils, pots without drainage holes in their base, and the use of saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots can all cause excess water to pool around the pothos roots which cause the yellow leaves and root rot.

What I’ve learned is that pothos require well-draining soil as the roots of the pothos plant do not tolerate being in saturated soil.

Too much water around the root ball excludes oxygen from the soil and prevents root respiration, which interferes with the root’s ability to uptake water and nutrients and causes the leaves to turn yellow, eventually causing root rot.

Pothos is more resilient when affected by drought stress than over watering so if in doubt, when watering pothos, wait till the soil feels dry.

Underwatering…

The symptoms of underwatering pothos are leaves that turn brown and yellow with the leaves visibly shriveling or curling.

Rather confusingly pothos leaves can turn yellow as a result of over watering and under watering but you can quickly determine the cause by feeling the soil’s moisture through the drainage hole in the base of the pot.

If the soil is boggy or saturated rather than just moist then overwatering is the cause whereas dry soil indicates not watering often enough or watering too lightly.

Pro tip: For underwatered pothos, my best method for revival is to place the pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes or so to ensure the soil is properly soaked so that the roots can uptake the water they desperately require.

Increase your watering frequency, always water with a good soak and mist the leaves once a week and the pothos should recover.

Well-Draining Soil Prevents Pothos Dying from Overwatering

Watering pothos to achieve the optimal balance of moisture is only possible if it is planted in the appropriate well-draining potting mix.

The right potting mix should maintain an aerated, porous well well-draining structure whilst retaining some moisture so that the roots can uptake the water they require.

For the optimal potting mix, plant pothos in 3 parts ordinary, house plant potting soil, or compost to one part perlite for added drainage and good soil structure.

Pothos is a tough plant and can adapt to most soil conditions, but adding perlite ensures that water can drain away from the roots effectively to prevent root rot.

If the potting soil is compacted and not porous then it can hold too much water around the roots of your pothos, causing the leaves to turn yellow and kill the plant.

With the right soil mix, it is much easier to maintain the perfect moisture balance for your indoor pothos plants and prevent any effects of overwatering to keep your plant healthy.

Water Pothos in Pots with Good Drainage

Pothos does not tolerate boggy or saturated for a long time so your pothos must be planted in a pot or container with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to drain away from the roots.

Watering with a really good soak so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot or container is the best way to ensure the pothos soil is evenly moist so that the roots can uptake the moisture they require.

If your pothos is planted in a pot without drainage holes, then water pools around the roots, causing root rot.

Water can still pool around the roots in your pot if:

  • The drainage hole in the base of the pot or containers is blocked with roots or compacted soil. If you notice your soil draining slowly, then it is worth checking to see whether you should clear the hole in the base to allow water to drain properly.
  • Saucers and trays underneath your pots. Saucers or trays underneath your pothos pot prevent water from spilling in your home, but you should empty the saucer or tray regularly to prevent water from collecting and keep the soil too damp for the pothos roots.
  • Decorative outer pots. Pothos are sometimes sold in decorative outer pots that do not have drainage holes in their base, which prevents water from escaping, causing root rot, so either empty the pot of water regularly or plant in a pot with drainage holes in the base.

(Read my article, How to Grow and Care for Pothos Indoors).

Should I Water Pothos with Rainwater?

Yes. If you live in an area with hard water, then I recommend using rainwater as it does not have the same concentration of minerals or chlorine as tap water, which can harm the roots and prevent the absorption of nutrients.

However, if your tap water is not as hard, then it should be fine for watering pothos. If you have any concerns, I would let the tap water sit in an open vessel for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate. I recommended googling to see whether your tap water is hard or not before watering.

Key Takeaways:

  • Water pothos plants as often as once every 7 days in the Spring and Summer and as often as once every 10-14 days in Winter. Always water pothos with a generous soak and mist the leaves with water once every 7 days to create the humid environment that pothos plants prefer.
  • Pothos should be planted in well-draining soil. Perlite can improve drainage of the potting soil to prevent pothos from dying of root rot
  • Plant pothos in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent excess water from pooling around the root ball, which causes root rot.
  • The symptoms of underwatered pothos plants are leaves turning brown or yellow and wilting, whereas overwatered pothos cause the leaves to turn yellow and droop. Water pothos plants with a good soak when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Typically, watering once per week is the optimal amount for pothos plants in Spring and Summer and once every 10 days in Winter.

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