Is there a more classic house plant than the golden pothos? Even if you don’t know it by name, you’ve definitely seen this beautiful plant before. The species name is epipremnum aureum, but it goes by several names, including golden pothos, devil’s ivy, and hunter’s robe. Today I’d like to share my care guide for golden pothos!
You can recognize pothos by their shiny, heart-shaped leaves and long vines. The leaves are often variegated with splashes of yellow or white. They are natively from the Society Islands of French Polynesia, but they are now found in lots of other tropical places. Lucky for us, they also make awesome house plants! The leaves will definitely get a lot bigger in the wild, but pothos can thrive indoors as well.
Care Guide for Pothos
Pothos are typically included on lists of ‘easy care’ plants, and I would totally agree with this! I’ve had a lot of luck with my pothos plants, and mine have been pretty low-maintenance so far. Here are some of the basic care requirements for golden pothos, or any other variety:
Water when the first inch or two of the soil feels dry. It will probably look droopy or wilted when it’s starting to get too thirsty, but I usually don’t let mine get to that point.
I’m a big fan of watering once a week no matter what plant it is. It might not be the best strategy but it’s the easiest for me to keep up with. Be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole if you’re prone to overwatering your plants.
Plain old house plant potting mix is great! I don’t think pothos have any special soil requirements, so just about any store-bought mix should be fine.
Part of the ‘easy care’ label is the pothos’ lighting needs. Avoid lots of direct sun and super low-light areas, but a pothos should be happy with the light pretty much anywhere in between. I’ve found that medium indirect light is best.
Artificial light works too, making epipremnum aureum a great office plant! Pothos that aren’t receiving enough light may grow more slowly. They may also lose their variegation, meaning new leaves will grow in solid green instead of splashed.
In my experience, nothing to worry about here! My pothos grow fine in lower humidity (20 – 50 %) and don’t seem to be sensitive to it at all. If you have a humidifier for your plants, it’s not critical to keep your pothos close to it or even in the same room.
- Like any plant with larger leaves, it can be beneficial to dust your pothos regularly. Wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth, or gently spray them off in the sink or shower.
- In warmer, tropical climates, epipremnum aureum can live outdoors year-round. Please do your research about your climate zone before landscaping with pothos. However, your indoor pothos may enjoy some time outside in the summer! Be sure to bring your plant inside if temperatures drop below about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and inspect it for pests before doing so.
- A mature pothos will develop trailing vines that can grow to be quite long. It can be helpful to trim the vines if they are getting too leggy or have too much stem space between the leaves. New leaves will eventually sprout near where the vine was trimmed, making the plant look fuller.
If you’ve ever looked up some information about your plant, and then forgotten it immediately, this care sheet is for you. Plants all have different needs. Keep track of the various requirements for lighting, water, and other things; as well as any other notes you want to take.
Print out copies for each plant you have, and create your own plant care binder! All of your information will be easily accessible in one place.
There are many varieties of pothos, but there are a few that are more common. These will be easier to find in home improvement stores, nurseries, and sometimes even random places like grocery stores! All of the pothos that I’m familiar with are trailing plants. For a mature plant, this may help you differentiate a pothos from a different species.
Golden Pothos If I had to guess, I would say this is the most common variety. The golden pothos has medium green leaves with small amounts of variegation that are usually yellow in color.
Jade Pothos They’re exactly what the name describes! Jade pothos leaves are a solid medium to deep jade green with no variegation. I’m not an expert, and jade and golden pothos may technically be the same plant, just with and without variegation. Leave me a comment if you know the difference!
Marble Queen Pothos This stunning variety has a distinctive pattern of mottled white and dark green. Because of the more extensive variegation, marble queen pothos will require more light than some other types.
Neon Pothos A super fun one! Neon pothos leaves are a bright neon yellow-green color. These plants are sure to stand out against other more typical green foliage you may have in your collection.
Pearls and Jade Pothos These can be identified by the variegation pattern, which occurs in more distinct sectioning than the marble queen. Their leaves are smaller than most other pothos, and the variegation is often cream instead of white. Again, I am not 100% sure, but pearls and jade pothos is very similar to N’joy pothos, which is a patented species. From what I can tell, pearls and jade leaves will have random variegation, while N’joy leaves have green centers and variegation on the edges.
Cebu Blue Pothos The Cebu blue has leaves with a silvery blue tone. The shape of the leaves is more narrow and pointed than the heart shape of other pothos leaves. Another good option for something that will stand out from your other plants!
Satin Pothos is the common name for Scindapsus pictus. It’s similar to pothos, but not quite the same. For more information, check out my Scindapsus pictus care guide.
Heart-Leaf Philodendron: Not a Pothos
It’s easy to mix up golden or jade pothos with a heart-leaf philodendron (also known as philodendron hederaceum). They’re not the same plant! Luckily, the care for both is similar, so you shouldn’t have a problem if you mistake one for the other. If you’d like to know the difference, there are a few ways you can tell them apart.
Leaf texture – Pothos leaves are thicker and bumpier. The philodendron leaves will feel smoother and softer.
Leaf Shape – Philodendron leaves are more full and like a true heart shape.
Growth and new leaves – This is a sure-fire way to tell them apart. Pothos leaves just grow along the stems. You’ll see the occasional nub of a root, but that’s about it. With philodendron, the leaves grow out of these thin sheaths called cataphylls. They stick around on the stem for a while, but will eventually turn brown and can be pulled off if desired.
Hopefully, these pictures have made it easier to tell the two apart! Once you know what to look for, it’s pretty clear that these two species are not the same.
Why I Love Pothos
I love trailing and vining plants. There’s nothing more tropical or jungle-y to me than seeing a bunch of plants with lush leaves and long vines. Pothos is a super easy vining plant and a great one to start with.
There’s something about the laid-back nature of pothos that makes it so appealing to me. I appreciate that it’s not very picky about its conditions or care. I know that, within reason, a pothos will be okay pretty much anywhere I put it. It’s also rewarding to watch it grow, and I get excited when a vine starts.
Pothos make gorgeous hanging plants. Because I live in an apartment, I don’t hang any of my plants currently, but I love the look of it. Pothos also look great with their vines hanging off the edges of tables or shelves.
My Pothos Collection
My second golden pothos was from Home Depot. This one was my designated ‘office plant’ for my desk at work. My office actually has decent natural lighting, as well as the fluorescent lights. Of course, my office pothos is currently living in my apartment since I’ve been working from home, but it’ll go back when the time is right!
The last golden pothos is exciting because it’s a propagation! I plan on making a more detailed post about this, but I took some cuttings from my other plants and rooted them in water for a few months. I planted them in soil probably two months ago, and they recently started sprouting some new leaves. That’s how I knew the propagation was successful.
My final pothos was a pearls and jade pothos (or maybe it was an N’joy? I’m still not sure). I say ‘was’ because it’s the only pothos I’ve ever killed. I’m not sure what went wrong. It could have been pests, but there wasn’t an obvious infestation. It was right next to my humidifier, so maybe the leaves were too moist. I haven’t had great luck with other plants that I’ve bought from the same nursery, so it might be worth getting another from somewhere else and giving it another try.
Before tossing the pearls and jade, I found one stem that was salvageable, so I took it as a cutting. I feel like it’s important to point out that you shouldn’t be afraid to throw out a dying plant. I know it’s tempting to keep it and see if you can save it, but pests are often drawn to the dead leaves. You can end up with a worse problem that affects your other plants than if you had thrown the dying plant away when it first started rotting.
Anyway, the cutting has been in water for three or four months. It’s probably time to pot it in soil soon, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I did notice that these roots are growing much slower than my golden pothos cuttings.
There are my best care tips for pothos! I think all of the varieties are so beautiful, and they make a great addition to any space.
The thing that confuses me the most about pothos is how to pronounce the word! I personally say po-thos, but I’ve also heard it pronounced pah-thos and I honestly don’t know which is right (if there is a right way). How do you say it?
What is your favorite type of pothos? Do you have any more care suggestions? I’d love to hear about it, so leave me a comment and let me know!