It’s Houseplant Week! I absolutely love having plants in my home, but I know the thought of keeping houseplants alive can be intimidating. Trust me: I once killed a cactus. And many succulents. And a couple ferns. No judging here. Over the years, though, I’ve learned a few things, and now I’ve got dozens of happy plants throughout the house. If you like the idea of having some greenery in your home but aren’t sure where to start, this series is for you! Today we’re talking about pothos.
Ah, the ubiquitous pothos. It is, in my experience, BY FAR the easiest of all the houseplants to keep alive. My mother-in-law gave me a cutting she took from one of her own plants like seven years ago and it just died last month. I had to work hard to kill it too. No water and very little light for months. I never fertilized it or re-potted it or added new soil. It just refused to kick the bucket…although to be fair, it was looking pretty haggard toward the end.
My point is, if you’re going to do the houseplant thing, I highly recommend starting with a pothos. They don’t mind being ignored and they look great. Right now I have three–one in my bedroom, one in the family room, and one in the living room–and I’m thinking about making a cutting so I can put one in the baby’s room too. Easiest houseplants ever!
- It’s scientific name is Epipremnum aurem, though it’s known by a variety of common names (like “devil’s ivy” or “golden pothos”) and is often mislabeled as a philodendron.
- It’s got shiny, sort of heart-shaped leaves that can be all green or a mottled combination of green and yellow or white, which grow on trailing stems.
- Easy to care for, pothos grows quickly and is excellent at filtering toxic things like formaldehyde out of the air. Can you see why I’m a big fan?
- It is definitely toxic to cats and dogs if eaten, so put it out of reach of any pets that might try to take a bite. (Not an issue at our house, but you just never know.)
- Always look for plants with new growth. Nurseries and other plant sellers trim off dead or dying pieces, so most plants you find will look healthy, even if they’re on the last legs. If you see lighter green curled-up baby leaves or tiny ones about to unfurl from the stem, you know your plant is alive and growing.
- Look for any leaves that look like they’ve been eaten and check the soil under the leaves. There may be bugs living in your pothos, which you definitely don’t want to bring home with you. (It’s rare that I’ve found buggy pothos, but you can never be too careful.)
- I’ve had great luck buying pothos from the garden section of hardware stores, but you can find them at most grocery stores as well. They’re inexpensive too; I’ve never spent more than $5 on a new plant.
- Light: Indirect sunlight is best. Wile pothos can thrive even in fairly low light conditions, mine seem to prefer medium light…not too dark, not too bright.
- Water: Allow leaves to wilt before each watering. When your pothos looks droopy, water it. It will perk up within 24 hours and look good as new. This will keep you from overwatering it, which in my experience will kill it quicker than underwatering will.
The photo below is one of my pothos plants that I let go a little too long between waterings so I could show you what I mean:
See? Droopy and sad. I gave it couple cups of water and this is what it looked like the next morning:
So much happier! Now I can ignore it till it starts looking wilted again.
- Soil: Any basic potting soil is fine. I often keep mine in the soil they came in and they do well.
- Pothos vines can get looooooong. You can either give them something to climb or hang from and let them go crazy, or cut them when they get out of control. Using sharp scissors, trim vines at an angle just past a healthy leaf.
- Remove any yellowed or dead leaves. They usually fall off easily but you may need to snip them with scissors.
- Wipe leaves occasionally with a damp washcloth or paper towel to remove dust. This is something I am terrible at remembering to do (you can totally tell this plant is dusty) but my plants are always happier and prettier after they’ve been cleaned up.
- If you do trim your pothos back, you can grow a new one with the cuttings! Set the cut end in a cup of fresh water so it can grow new roots. Keep the water fresh (it may start turning green or simply evaporate) and give it a week or two, and you’ll have a brand new free baby houseplant!
- When transferring pothos to a new pot, be sure to break up the root ball a bit. Gently work your fingers through the roots to spread them apart from each other, place in a new pot, and fill with potting soil. Easy peasy.
Guys, I seriously love these plants. They are virtually indestructible and look so pretty. Go get one right now. Better yet, I’ll make you a cutting and you can try growing your own little baby!
Have you tried keeping a pothos? Did I miss any important care tips?