Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, is one of the easiest houseplants to grow, which makes pothos care a snap for beginners! 

Pothos is a tropical plant and can grow up to 60 or 70 feet in the jungles of French Polynesia, where it originates. It gets its nickname because it can grow in darkness and is also quite invasive and difficult to get rid of!

However, those characteristics make it a great houseplant. Pothos don’t need a lot of light or fertilizing, and they’re easy to propagate if you want to give away cuttings to friends, or borrow a cutting from a friend’s plant to start your own!

Pothos are also one of the best plants for cleaning the air. Add one to your office for a pop of green and clean breathing throughout your workday!

How to choose a pothos plant

Pothos plants come in several different varieties, varying from plants with neon green leaves to white and green patterned leaves.

The more green in the leaves, the less light the plant needs, so keep that in mind as you shop. Pothos will all grow in different light conditions, but it might change color and become more green (and less) in lower light. Make sure to read the instructions on the plant if it has them.

Pothos also tend to be mislabeled as a philodendron, which is a completely different plant that looks similar to the untrained eye. Pothos has thicker, more textured leaves, while philodendron leaves tend to be thinner. You can also ask or Google it if you’re unsure.

Pothos Care 101

How much light does a pothos need?

Pothos plants tolerate a variety of light levels, which is one reason why they’re an ideal indoor plant.

Most pothos plants do best in medium light, but they can also thrive in low light or even rooms with no windows at all like bathrooms.

Some do well in brighter light, but just don’t put them in indirect light, because they’ll burn.

(For information on how to determine how much light you have, click here.)

What’s the best soil for a pothos?

Pothos plants aren’t picky about soil, so just about any organic potting soil that drains will work.

How often should you water a pothos?

If you’re busy and don’t have time to care for fussy plants, this is the plant for you. If you forget to water it, it’ll be fine for a while.

Just water your plant every 7 to 10 days or so depending on temperature, and it’s okay to err on the dry side. A good rule of thumb is to let the soil get completely dry and then water thoroughly.

Also, make sure your pot has drainage.

If you over-water, your pothos could get root rot and the leaves might turn yellow (yellow leaves can also mean too much sun).

If the leaves get limp, it needs a drink! Use a moisture meter like this one to always know how thirsty your plant is.

Tips for pothos care:

  • Pothos plants don’t require a lot of fertilization, but you can add a little Indoor Plant Food to their water each week to keep them healthy and thriving!
  • Rotate your plant every once in a while so it can get light from all sides. Some varieties do better in high or low light, so make sure to check which variety you’re purchasing. Of course, they’ll live in any light that’s not too bright, but they might grow slower or change color.
  • Plant them in hanging pots or up on a shelf where their vines can hang down. You can also put them on a tabletop where the vines can grow outward.
  • Pothos is toxic and can cause stomach pain if ingested, so make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets.
  • They can handle a wide range of temperatures, but avoid putting them right by a heating or air-conditioning vent. A good rule is that if you’re comfortable with the temperature, your plant is too.
  • If your plant gets too long, just give it a trim. Then you can give the cuttings away or start more plants of your own!

How to propagate your own pothos

If you want to steal a piece of a friend’s plant or start a new plant with a cutting from one of your own, cut a 6- to 10-inch piece off a plant and put about two nodes of the vine into a cup or jar of water. You can also plant in moist soil. Keep the water topped off and freshen it up every week or so. The plant will start growing in no time!

Pothos are beautiful, inexpensive, hardy, and great at cleaning the air. I can’t think of a better houseplant to start out with if you’re nervous about trying houseplants!

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