Pothos Plant Care

A native of Polynesia, pothos plant (epiremnum aureum) has become perhaps one of the most ubiquitous indoor plants.  It is so easy to care for that is has become as common in offices as water coolers and copiers.  It is also efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene. As an indoor plant it can reach a height of 60 feet or more, given suitable support!

The pothos plant has a multitude of common names including golden pothos, hunter's robe, ivy arum, money plant, silver vine, Solomon Islands ivy and taro vine. It is also called as devil's vine or devil's ivy because it is almost impossible to kill. It is sometimes mistakenly labeled as a Philodendron in plant stores.  Philodendron is a vining houseplant with similar leaves, but is an altogether different genus of plants.

Pothos plant are very easy to grow.  They do well in bright, indirect light, but can also be happy in low light locations.  If your pothos is highly variegated — particularly variegated with white — they may either not grow as well in low light or may lose their variegation if the light is too low. Only the green parts of the leaves can make energy for the plant via photosynthesis, so it must be able to get enough light for energy or its growth will slow or the leaves will compensate for the lack of light by becoming more green i.e. producing more chloroplasts for photosynthesis.  This loss of variegation is a good way to know if your plant needs more light.

Pothos plants are not picky when it comes to soil.  Actually, they don’t need soil at all!  You can grow them in a vase of water.  The plant is sometimes used in aquariums, placed on top of the aquarium and allowed to grow roots in the water. This is beneficial to the plant and the aquarium as it absorbs many nitrates and uses them for growth.

While pothos plants are an easy to care for houseplant, you do need to be aware that they are poisonous. Though rarely fatal, the plant can cause irritation and vomiting if ingested due to the fact that it contains calcium oxalates (similar to elephant ears). Even the sap from the plant may cause highly sensitive people to break out in a rash. (Been there. I though my skin was on fire!) It is considered toxic to cats, dogs and children, but as mentioned, it normally will make them very sick but will not kill them.

In Greek mythology Pothos was one of Aphrodite’s erotes, a winged god similar to the better known Roman god, Cupid.  He was essentially one of Aphrodite’s entourage of gods representing different aspects of love like Hedylogo, the god of flirting; Anteros, the god who punished those who scorned love; or Eros, the god of … well … lust and … um.  Pothos carried a vine symbolizing wine or the god Dionysus.  Pothos represents yearning and desire.  Late classical writers describe him as a son of Zephyros (the west wind) and Iris (the rainbow) to represent the variegated passions of love.