The golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum, USDA zones 10-12), also known as devil's ivy, is an easy-to-care-for plant that tolerates a wide range of temperatures, lighting conditions and soil types. As a result, it makes an excellent houseplant, particularly for those who are inexperienced or not particularly skilled at growing plants. The shiny, heart-shaped leaves are a magnificent way to add a splash of green to a home, and the golden pothos' beauty and simple care requirements make it a great gift.
Since the native habitat of the golden pothos is under the jungle canopies of the Solomon Islands, it has adapted to need plenty of filtered sunlight. Give it too little light, and it will have minimal growth and lose its distinctive yellow highlights. But give it too much direct light, and it could turn a pale, unhealthy green.
Watering & Fertilization
It is very important that a golden pothos does not get overwatered as this can rot the root system and kill the plant. To ensure your plant receives enough – but not too much – water, use your finger to test for dryness by inserting it into the soil up to your first knuckle. If it feels wet already, skip watering. If your finger comes out dry, it is time to water your plant. Do not water in just one spot. Instead, water lightly around the entire pot. Always use a pot with drainage holes and empty excess water from the drip tray after watering.
Use a basic balanced (20-20-20) fertilizer monthly to keep your plant growing happy and healthy.
Propagating, Potting and Pruning
Golden pothos are grown from leaf-eye cuttings, root leaf-bud and stem tip cuttings. An 8-inch pot can hold as many as 35 cuttings, each of which will grow into a new plant. As the plants get bigger and their growth has slowed, you will need to replant them in their own containers.
When replanting a golden pothos, decide if you want it to grow it as a bush or a climber. If you would like your plant to climb, secure the vines to a moss pole support or a trellis. Always use a pot two sizes larger than the one the plant has outgrown, and ensure it has drainage holes and a drip tray.
If you want to maintain a bushier look, use sterile planting shears to prune the golden pothos back to 2 inches from the soil line to ensure fuller growth.
Pest and Disease Control
The most common pest golden pothos owners need to contend with is the mealybug. These can be stopped in a number of ways, including removal by hand, insecticidal soaps and cotton swabs soaked in rubbing alcohol. Other pests that may infest the plants include spider mites and scale insects, which can be fought off with basic insecticides.
As for disease, fungal and bacterial infections can take hold when the plants have been overwatered. These pathogens can cause root rot, leaf spots and blight. The best way to avoid these problems is to buy a healthy golden pothos at the start, which means checking the plant's roots to ensure they are healthy before taking it home. Healthy roots will be full and firm. Overwatered plants have flaccid, mushy or rotted roots and stems.
Troubleshooting Growth Problems
If your plant is growing too slowly, it could need a larger pot or more sunlight. If the plant seems too large for the container, try replanting first. If it is in an appropriately sized container, but it seems to have lost its yellow coloration, move it to an area with more sunlight, but never leave the plant in direct sunlight.
If your golden pothos is turning pale green, it probably has too much sun, particularly if it has been exposed to direct sunlight for long stretches of time. To fix this problem, move it out of direct sunlight. If that doesn't help after a few weeks, move it somewhere shadier still.
If the plant just seems wilted, check the soil. The plant may need more water.
When these plants have too small of a root structure and seem limp and droopy, they are likely overwatered. Use a soil that drains well, do not water excessively and drain the extra liquid after every watering.
Jill Harness is a blogger with experience covering architecture, design and decor trends from around the globe. As she lives in what would politely be called a "fixer upper," she is particularly interested in writing about DIY projects and repairs. Most of her home design writing can be found at www.homesandhues.com. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.