If you have children, cats, or dogs that chew on plants, be aware
that pothos can cause sickness if ingested, although it is rarely
fatal. Its sap contains calcium oxalates which case irritation,
burning and vomiting—hence not much is usually eaten.
This vining plant is native to tropical jungles, where it can
grow to 40 feet or more. Its native range includes the south
Pacific, China, Japan and India. Indoors, grown in pots, it
usually grows five to 10 feet long. As it grows, the oldest
leaves nearest the pot may yellow and fall off. If the plant gets
too leggy and straggly, you may need to root cuttings to pot and
start new plants. Keeping it pruned as it grows will help it to
retain a less-vining habit.
Cuttings are simple—just take six to 12 inches of stem, removing
lower leaves, and put stem bases in a jar of water. In a few
weeks you should see roots forming. When they get an inch or two
long you can pot the plants into a houseplant (not garden) soil.
Or, you can leave them in the jar of water, replacing with fresh
water every couple of weeks. Cuttings stuck into a pot of damp
soil (or perlite or vermiculite, or a mix of these) should form
Since it is vining, it will seek its way across furniture, up and
over most any structure indoors but won’t cling to
trellises—twining instead. The plant habit also lends itself to
the popular use in hanging baskets. The pointed, heart-shaped
leaves are two to four inches long, and about half that in width.
While the species has green leaves, most the cultivars (cultivated
varieties) you’ll see or find for sale have colored leaves. In
low light, however, colored leaves may become mostly green.
The main cultivars include ‘Marble Queen’ with white variegated
leaves and slow growth, while ‘Glacier’ has smaller green leaves
marbled with white. ‘Tricolor’ is less common, and has yellow,
cream, and pale green leaves. ‘Golden’ has quite yellowish green
leaves and is probably the most common cultivar.
Perhaps the main problem with this plant is keeping it from
taking over, or getting too long and leggy. You should keep a
watch every couple of weeks for white mealybugs.
If the plant quickly wilts, yet the soil is moist, perhaps it is
too wet and root rots are starting. While the plant will form
roots and survive in pure water, the plants don’t like to stay wet
when they’re potted. Make sure containers or pots have holes to
drain excess water from the soil, and that pots aren’t sitting in
water in saucers.
Don’t forget when watering and plants are actively growing to add
a low dose of fertilizer, according to label directions. Normally
rich green leaves turning lighter may indicate that more
fertilizer is needed, especially if the plant is adding lots of
new growth. A sudden pale color to leaves when plants are moved
may indicate they’re now getting too much light.
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