The so-called pothos is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Araceae family from the humid and warm regions of Southeast Asia (in particular from the Solomon Islands and central India). The scientific name of its genus is Scindapsus, which includes at least 40 species, some of which are very common for ornamental purposes.
In general, it is a liana with aerial roots. Thanks to its flexibility in its natural environment, it clings to trees or to any kind of support found on its way, in order to enjoy more light. In that area it can reach 5-6 metres in length, while in domestic cultivation it rarely exceeds 2 metres. It carries persistent, heart-shaped and alternate leaves that depart from the stems. The colour is only rarely uniform.
On the contrary, the varieties with spots, variegated or marbled, are more diffused. They are available in several colours: from light green to olive and dark green. But there are also yellow, cream, silver and white. The flowers, very small, come out from the foliar axil, but in our climate they appear very rarely.
At home, it is commonly used as a plan of the house, greenhouse or veranda, making it assume a decumbent or climbing (using as tutors materials capable of retaining a minimum of moisture). Lately it has been increasingly appreciated also for its ability to purify the air by capturing carbon monoxide, produced by engines and heating systems, toluene, benzene and formaldehyde. In-depth scientific studies have included this plant among the top ten for its ability to purify the air.
IL POTHOS IN BREVE
Family and Latin name
Araceae, Scindapsus, more than 40 species
Type of plant
Herbaceous, climbing or decumbent
Dark green with variegations or spots of various colours
Up to 2 m/up to 30 cm
Cuttings on land or in water
Resistance to cold
Not very rustic (up to 12°C)
Very bright, no direct light
Apartment, veranda or outdoor pottery
Light, sub-acid (lots of peat and sand)
Neutral to acid
- Pothos is one of the most popular indoor plants: its cultivation is really affordable for everyone. It adapts easily to the environmental conditions of our homes, it has a growth rate of up to …
- One of the most typical indoor plants, the Latin name is Scindapsus, or epipremnum, or even Pothos; they are commonly called potos, although the scientific name pothos now identifies another…
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It is good to place it in a very bright place, for example near a window, in summer it is advisable to take care that it is not hit directly by the sun’s rays. The ideal environment must be very bright, but it is absolutely necessary to avoid direct light that could cause leaf burns. Inside, it may be a good idea to place it near a window and screen it with light-coloured curtains.
On the outside, the same indications apply. It is usually good to place it under the foliage of a tree or under a rich pergola of deciduous leaves, which slightly shield the light, but create a warm and humid environment, such as that found in the countries of origin of our specimen.
Variegated leaf cultivars usually need a very bright environment as photosynthesis is only present in green areas. However, let’s always avoid that the sun hits them directly.
They must be contained, it is advisable never to soak the soil and let it dry between one watering and the other. The pothos needs abundant irrigation, but at the same time is rather sensitive to rottenness at the root level. Water supplies should therefore be abundant in all seasons, but always waiting for the substrate to be dry before proceeding again.
To have lush plants, however, it is equally important to keep the ambient humidity high. This must increase in proportion to the temperatures. It is therefore possible to use frequent nebulisations (with distilled water) and place trays full of expanded clay and water in the vicinity of the specimen. Outside, however, you can simply wet the floor so that the natural evaporation helps us significantly.
being a climbing plant, the Pothos develops a lot its branches in length, therefore if we want it to develop in height we will have to insert in the pot some tutors, preferably covered of moss, otherwise we will be able to place it in hanging bowls, leaving the possibility to the branches to grow downwards.
If we want to grow it a lot, we need to repot it every two years, possibly in March-April, and give some fertilizer for green plants about twice a month in the water of the watering, from March to September.
takes place by cutting: at the beginning of spring, cuttings about ten centimetres long are taken from the shoots at the base of the plant and planted in a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts; the cuttings are kept at a temperature of about twenty degrees until they are rooted, then they are repotted in single pots. Also foliar cuttings may be done, possibly in May or June, taking portions of branches containing a knot, which then are to be rooted like the previous cuttings.
Pests and Diseases
Usually the Pothos does not suffer from particular diseases, however if the watering is too abundant it can happen that the plant is affected by root rot. Sometimes it can be attacked by aphids that, sucking the sap, slow down the growth of the plant.
It’s one of the healthiest indoor plants ever. It is in fact rare that it becomes prey to parasites (if not some rare case of attacks of red spider mite, which can be dammed by increasing humidity).
The only drawbacks that can arise are related to incorrect crop care, such as too frequent irrigation or little humidity in the environment as well as exposure too much or too little light.
Pothos aureus: it has heart-shaped leaves, light green, with yellow spots, up to 30 cm long, can reach two metres in height and has aerial roots at the nodes.
P. a. Golden Queen: has almost completely yellow leaves.
P. a. Marble Queen: the leaves are stained white.
Squared in shape, light green in colour.
There are also cultivars with yellow or almost white stems.
Glossy leaves, a beautiful bright green with yellow or white spots.
They are 10 to 30 cm long, heart-shaped when ripe.
From the Solomon Islands.
Climbing or decumbent.
Among the most common in commerce
Rounded acid green
Thicker, heart-shaped, dark olive green with silvery spots, up to 8 cm long
From the island of Java and Borneo
Climbing or falling posture
Stems with rounded shape, light green
Heart-shaped, light green with silvery or dark green spots. Back white.
From all over Southeast Asia, from tropical wetlands
The pothos requires a high level of ambient humidity and rather high temperatures in order to grow optimally.
The ideal climate should be around 18-25°C during the growing season, i.e. from spring to autumn. To obtain a fast growth a good idea is to place the pot outside from mid spring until September-October.
Clearly in our peninsula the pedoclimatic conditions vary a lot and therefore we always refer to the minimum night temperatures that can be reached and we always avoid exposing the pothos to less than 14 ° C: this could already cause considerable damage.
In winter, it is advisable to induce the plant to enter into vegetative rest by placing it in a bright room, but with temperatures between 15 and 18 ° C, carefully avoiding cold currents to which the pothos is very sensitive.
This plant requires a light substrate with a basically acidic pH. A suitable compound can be made in different ways.
– 1/3 sterilised fibrous soil, 1/3 peat or pine bark, 1/3 coarse sand or perlite
– 2/3 peat and 1/3 coarse sand
– Land of forest, peat and sand, 1/3 for each.
IL CALENDARIO DEL POTHOS
From February to April
Pruning and overriding
Vegetative rest (repairing at home)
From October to April
Repotting is usually carried out every year, given the vigour of the plant. The best period to proceed is from the end of February to April, depending also on our geographical location. In any case, if we act gently, we can intervene almost at any time of the year if we notice that the pot is too narrow and the roots begin to come out.
The earthen bread is then extracted and any compromised roots removed, or released and shortened if they are too compact. Let’s choose a vase (possibly made of terracotta to allow perspiration), slightly larger than the previous one (+ 2 or 4 cm in diameter). On the bottom we create a thick draining layer with expanded clay or shards, then we insert the plant and the new substrate, compacting well.
If we want to let the specimen climb, we will place in the centre a suitable support, in porous material or based on fibres. Let’s irrigate abundantly.
If we have handled the root system a lot (perhaps outside the period of vegetative rest) or this was compromised by rottenness, it may be useful to give a radical antifungal for a couple of times.
To obtain a good growth, the fertilizations must be regular, especially during the vegetative period. Liquid products for green plants are usually used. Nitrogen is particularly important, instead of phosphorus and potassium. From April to October it should be administered every 30 days, together with the water of the watering.
Getting new pothos seedlings is very simple. The most effective method is certainly the cutting, to be operated in the spring. We proceed in this way:
– You choose a healthy and vigorous stem. We cut a segment about 10 cm long, at a knot. Then we keep only two or three apical leaves, eliminating instead all the others.
– Let’s put it in a very light and drained compound and cover it with transparent plastic, in order to keep the humidity level always high. We place everything in a bright area, but not directly in the sun.
– We water often until the roots are visible. Using the bottom of plastic bottles will be very evident the development. At that point it can be transferred to the final substrate.
In the same way, rooting in water can also be easily achieved.
At the beginning of spring it is useful to shorten the stems by at least 1/3 of their length. This will stimulate the vegetative regrowth. If we wish, we can, several times a year, proceed with the trimming, especially of the new stems starting from the centre. This operation will help to have more vital and compact plants.
Instead, it is absolutely necessary to avoid operating on the aerial roots because they are very useful for the overall health of the pothos.