Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > October > POTHOS--DEVIL'S IVY


One of the easiest of houseplants, Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), may seem a little boring because of its use in just about every indoor situation—homes, offices, hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.  This speaks more to its ability to survive abuse and neglect than to its exotic jungle heritage, where it climbs trees by means of adhesive rootlets to reach the sunlight only available in the upper canopy of the rain forest.  As it climbs, its stems thicken and its leaves become larger and larger, up to 2 feet long and 1½ feet in width.  These mature leaves are heart-shaped and often split and lobed like the Split-leaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa).  The pothos may completely cover a tree, blocking the sunlight for both the tree and other plants growing at ground level.  A common sight in South Florida is a telephone pole with giant pothos leaves clustered at the top.

Pothos remains in its juvenile stage when grown in a container as an indoor plant.  The leaves stay smaller, usually 3-5 inches in length, but the vine may still grow to 20 feet or more.  Under the dimmer light conditions of interior situations the leaves may actually get smaller as the vines dangle from a hanging basket.  Plants can easily become unsightly when older leaves drop off leaving long stretches of bare vine, so pruning is suggested to keep the plant bushy.  Although we have all seen a straggly, long-suffering plant that could stand to be cut back, a full, well-tended pothos is a beautiful houseplant .

As an indoor plant, pothos is usually grown in a hanging basket or in smaller sized pots 3, 4, or 6 inches in diameter.  You may also find it growing on a cedar slab or pole, or other support, sold as a “totem pole”.   The most popular variety is the Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy, with green and yellow variegated leaves.  Other cultivars include the green and white variegated ‘Marble Queen’ and the chartreuse-leaved ‘Neon’.  While pothos is related to the heart-leaf philodendron, it has a thicker leaf and stem.

Care is super easy for this fast-growing, low-maintenance plant.  It tolerates very low light levels, but prefers medium to bright filtered light, and I’ve seen it growing in full sun, although it looked a little pale and stressed.  Soil should be allowed to dry moderately between thorough waterings, never drying out completely nor standing in water due to poor drainage.  A little benign neglect usually works well with this plant.

Pothos is also classified by some botanists as Scindapsus aureum.    The common name Devil’s Ivy probably refers to the toxicity of all parts, especially to dogs and cats, and pothos should be kept away from small children.  It is also considered an invasive plant in many parts of the tropics.  Devil’s Ivy is native to the Solomon Islands in the Coral Sea…sounding a little more exotic?
Posted: 10/15/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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