How to Grow and Care for Pothos Indoors


How to grow and care for pothos indoors

To care for pothos indoors, grow the plant in bright, indirect light, wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering, and prune the vines back every spring to create a bushier shape. Apply a fertilizer during active growth for larger glossy leaves.

Pothos is a very easy plant to grow and one I personally recommend to anyone who is looking for a low-maintenance houseplant. But how do you ensure healthy pothos with luxuriant leaves? The secret is to learn how they grow in the wild and recreate some of these conditions in our homes to ensure your plant thrives!

Summary of care and growing instructions for pothos indoors:

Growing Conditions:How to Care for Pothos Indoors?
Light:Bright indirect is best, but pothos can grow in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
Humidity:Mist the leaves occasionally in Summer. Mist the leaves every week in Winter to counteract dry air from indoor heating.
Watering:Water once every 7 days in Spring and Summer and once every 10 to 14 days in Winter.
Temperature:Room temperature is ideal. Do not let the temperature go below 55ºF (13ºC) in Winter.
Care:Wipe the leaves every few weeks with a damp cloth to remove dust.
Repotting:Repot every 2 or 3 years.
Soil Mix:80% houseplant soil with 20% perlite is the best potting mix.
Best Pots:Terracotta, or clay pots with drainage holes in the base.
Propagation:Propagate from cuttings in the Spring into soil or water (soil is best in my opinion).
Fertilizer:Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength once a month during active growth.
Winter Care:Mist the leaves in Winter and reduce watering to prevent root rot.

About Pothos

Pothos (Scindapsus) is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It has the colloquial name ‘devil’s Ivy’, which you may think sounds sinister, but this is due to its hardy nature and resilience to unfavorable conditions, which makes it a perfect houseplant for beginners!

Pothos comes in several varieties with golden pothos and neon pothos being the most popular cultivars available in garden centers.

Its vines are capable of developing aerial roots to anchor themselves to a support such as a moss pole, or they can be cultivated to grow a bushy appearance with regular pruning.

Did you know pothos even has the ability to purify air-borne chemicals?

It should be noted that pothos is actually regarded as an invasive species in the USA so avoid planting outdoors.

How Often to Water My Pothos?

Water pothos every week in the Spring and Summer during active growth and water every 10 to 14 days in the Winter whilst the plant is dormant. If the pothos is under-watered, the leaves and stems wilt, whereas the leaves turn yellow due to overwatering.

I find that pothos grown in bright rooms with lots of light need watering more often than those grown in shadier rooms.

Pro tip: A good method for establishing whether your pothos needs watering is to feel the top inch of the soil. If the top inch of soil is still damp then delay watering until it has just started to dry, then give the pothos a good soak.

I have found from experience that it is far easier to revive an under-watered pothos than an overwatered pothos, so if you are in any doubt, I recommend delaying watering until you are sure the top inch of soil is dry.

(Read my article, How Often to Water Pothos, for more on watering at different times of the year).

What are the Light Requirements for Pothos?

Pothos need bright indirect light to thrive and grow bushy. However, they can tolerate full shade and still remain healthy. I must caution against growing pothos in direct sunlight, which can scorch yellow due to its sensitive leaves.

I have grown pothos in rooms with north-facing windows that have limited light but I prefer their bushier appearance when grown in the bright light of a room with a south-facing window.

Did you know that the reason pothos has the common name ‘devil’s ivy‘ is because the leaves can stay green even after weeks without light? In my opinion, pothos is the best houseplant for an office due to its tolerance of poor light. Plus, I think they really brighten up the place!

How to Care for Pothos Indoors?

Pothos are tropical plants and prefer room temperature, with 65°F and 80°F (18°C and 27°C) being optimal for growth in the Spring and Summer.

However, in Winter, I find it is best to reduce the temperature down to 60ºF (15°C) whilst the plant is dormant.

It is a good idea to keep your pothos away from cold window sills at night (which can be much cooler than the ambient temperature of the room). I personally have to move mine from a window sill during Winter as the glass can get very cold, which can harm the leaves of your plant.

Avoid placing your pothos too near to any indoor heating, as the temperature fluctuations can dry out the soil too quickly.

Suppose your pothos plants are in the direct path of airflow from air conditioning, forced air, or even draughts from open windows. In that case, I find my pothos grow better when I mist the leaves to increase the humidity, which counteracts the unfavorable dry air.

I prefer misting the leaves every few days, but I have also found good results when using an indoor humidifier.

As pothos prefers warm temperatures and some humidity I have found that pothos grow particularly well in bathrooms as long as they have bright, indirect light.

Useful tip: I find that the pothos leaves tend to attract dust due to their slightly waxy surface. I recommend wiping the leaves gently with a damp cloth every 3 or 4 weeks to keep them healthier, as they can photosynthesize more efficiently.

How Often to Repot Pothos

Re-pot pothos every 2 to 3 years in the Spring. Pothos can tolerate being pot-bound for a year or so, but it should repotted when there are roots growing from the drainage holes in the base and when roots are circulating the bottom of the pot.

Whilst you can repot pothos at anytime of year, I’ve found Spring is by far the best time as the plant is this is the time of year its most resilient.

Give the soil a good soak after repotting and misting the leaves to alleviate transplant shock, and your pothos should be back to their best in no time!

Best Soil Mix for Repotting Pothos

Pothos needs a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil potting soil. Mix 80% of houseplant soil with 20% perlite or pine bark-based potting mix. This provides the optimal well-draining soil structure for the pothos’s roots to establish and grow.

Pothos particularly do not like overly compacted soil, which is why it is so important to amend the soil before repotting.

I have found that perlite is a better option than pine bark for a soil amendment as its large particle size allows water to drain efficiently away from the roots, which prevents root rot.

Perlite is also inorganic and doesn’t decompose like pine bark, so the soil structure is preserved over a longer time frame, giving our pothos plants the best soil conditions.

In my experience, root rot is one of the biggest threats to pothos plants, hence the importance of good drainage.

If you do not amend the soil to improve the drainage, then the soil can stay too moist for the pothos to tolerate, resulting in yellowing leaves and a dying plant.

If your pothos are dying and turning yellow, read my article, How to Save a Pothos with Yellow Leaves.

Best Pots for Repotting Pothos

My favorite pots for pothos plants are clay or terracotta pots as they are porous, which allows the potting soil to dry out evenly, whereas plastic pots can retain too much moisture for the pothos’s roots to tolerate.

Always repot your pothos plants to a pot that is only 1 or 2 inches in diameter larger than its previous pot to prevent ‘over potting’.

Overpotting is a classic mistake that I see people make all the time. If the pot is too large, then it holds much more soil and dries out more slowly, which can promote the conditions for root rot.

I personally prefer terracotta pots for growing pothos indoors. However, pothos can still grow in other pots as long as you are careful not to overwater and as long as they have drainage holes in the base.

How do I Prune Pothos?

I recommend pruning your pothos every Spring. Pothos is a hardy plant and can tolerate good pruning, so use a sharp pair of pruners to cut the vines back to the desired size and shape.

I always use pruning as a good opportunity to take cuttings for propagating. Who doesn’t love more houseplants for free?

The problem is that pothos vines can grow long and leggy over the years if left unpruned, which creates a less desirable appearance.

Pruning every year creates a far more bushy shape for your pothos with more abundant leaves. I have found that when I grow pothos in brighter light, the pothos have a tendency to grow more bushy and look much better.

How to Propagate Pothos

In my experience, the best way to propagate pothos is to propagate the vines in soil in the Spring.

You can propagate many individual plants from just one vine as at each petiole, there is a node that can develop roots and form a new plant.

I personally prefer propagating pothos in soil rather than water as I find when you have to transfer the pothos plant cuttings that are propagated in water into new soil, the roots tend to be very weak, and the shock of being transferred from water to soil can kill the cutting.

As propagation is a nuanced process better explained visually, here is a helpful YouTube on how to propagate pothos cuttings in soil:

What Fertilizer Should I Use for Pothos?

Use a general liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength once a month in the Spring and Summer to support healthy growth and a bushy appearance.

The reason I recommend using fertilizer at half concentration is that pothos is not as nutrient-hungry as some other houseplants, and too much fertilizer can cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Pothos plants are so hardy that they can actually survive without fertilizer if they are repotted into new potting soil every 2 years.

However, I find that when I use fertilizer, the pothos leaves tend to be much larger, which helps to create a bushy appearance, compared with pothos that do not have any fertilizer.

Avoid using any fertilizer after the Summer.

If you are having any problems with your pothos, read my article, How to Revive a Dying Pothos Plant.

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