Golden Pothos Care – Growing The Devil’s Ivy Plant

The Golden Pothos is the "gold standard" when it comes to houseplants (yes, slight pun intended). They are a hardy plant, that can withstand even some of the more neglectful plant owners. In this article, amateur gardener Jason White covers exactly how to plant, grow, and care for the Golden Pothos plant.


The Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a tropical evergreen vining plant that can transform any room into one with a lush, tropical feel. Golden pothos plants are ideal if you’re looking for a plant that is easy to grow and is very low-maintenance. 

Two other appeals of this plant are that it can make an impressive indoor vining display and that the plant is easy to propagate to create more plants. This is one of the most popular pothos varieties, making it easy to find, and typically inexpensive to purchase or plant.

We’ve included information about how to plant, grow, and care for golden pothos so that you can get the most enjoyment from your plant. Let’s take a deeper look at this popular houseplant, and see if it’s the right fit for your home.


Golden Pothos Plant Overview

Potted Plant Next to a Window
Plant Type Vining House Plant
Plant Family ARUM
Plant Genus Epipremnum
Species Epipremnum aureum
Hardiness Zone USDA 10-11
Most Common Use Indoor Plant
Plant Maintenance Easy
Plant Height Up to 66 feet
Growth Rate 12-18 inches per month
Plant With Tropicals
Don’t Plant With Cold Hardy Plants
Soil Type All-purpose Planting Soil
Plant Spacing 2-3 feet
Watering Needs Every 5-7 Days
Sun Exposure Filtered Light
Toxicity Mildly Toxic
Pests Mealybugs, and Spider Mites
Diseases Phytophthora, Root Rot, and Blight

History and Cultivation 

Golden pothos is a climbing vine native to islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Some attribute its origins to the Solomon Islands, while others say it’s from Moorea in the Society Islands of French Polynesia.  

Are They Invasive?

Epipremnum Aureum Plants in Pots
When in the wild, this plant is considered to be an invasive species.

Regardless of the origin of golden pothos, it has made its way to tropical and subtropical forests worldwide, planted for its beauty. You can now find them in forests of northern South Africa, Australia, southeastern and south Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the West Indies. 

In the wild, golden pothos vines twist their way up trees and develop much larger leaves than indoors. Indoors, the leaves can grow 39 inches long by 18 inches across. However, in a forest, the leaves grow 3”x2” on thick, 50-foot-long vines.  

Unfortunately, these plants have become an invasive species, causing ecological damage around the world. They plants take over forest floors, wrap themselves around tree trunks, and are difficult to kill. In Sri Lanka, they have decimated at least two rain forests. They have also caused extreme ecological damage across Asia, Australia, and the West Indies.  

Golden pothos can survive in shady outdoor areas in USDA growing zones 10 and 11 in containers. However, it is illegal to plant them outdoors in many US states because of their invasive tendency. They can easily escape cultivation when added to outdoor landscapes.  

Other Names For Empipmnum aureum

Close Up of Marble Queen Plant
Marble Queen is one of the many common names golden pothos goes by.

The golden pothos scientific name is Epipremnum aureum. Plants in the Epipremnum genus are evergreen woody plants that hang from trees. This plant is in the Araceae family, also known as the Arum family or the Aroids. 

There are many other common names it’s also known as, including: 

  • Hunter’s robe 
  • Solomon Islands Ivy 
  • Ivy Arum 
  • Money Plant 
  • Marble Queen 
  • Taro Vine 
  • Silver Vine 
  • Devil’s Vine 
  • Devil’s Ivy 

Look-Alike Plants 

Golden pothos plants are most often confused with philodendrons and satin pothos. While they are all aroids, look similar, and have similar growth habits, they are very different plants.  

Philodendron Plant in a Window
Though pothos can look like philodendrons, there are some differences between them.

Pothos plants belong to the Epipremnum genus, while philodendrons belong to the Philodendron genus. 

Here are the visual differences between pothos and philodendrons: 

  • Leaf shape: Pothos have more extensive, thicker, and waxier leaves, while philodendrons have more heart-shaped leaves 
  • Aerial roots: Pothos have one large areal root per node, while philodendrons may have several.  
  • Petioles (stems connecting leaves to vines): Pothos petioles indent toward the vine they connect to and are straight at the base, while philodendron stems are completely round, thinner, and dramatically curved like the top of a heart at the base 
Satin Pothos 
Satin Pothos Plant
These silvery-blue plants are not true pothos plants.

Pothos plants belong to the Epipremnum genus. However, satin pothos plants are not true pothos and belong to the Scindapsus genus. Satin pothos leaves are thicker than pothos leaves, are more textured, and have a shimmery silver color. 

How to Plant Golden Pothos 

It’s easy to propagate and plant golden pothos. There are a few different methods to do this, and each of them is fairly easy. This is why this plant is a favorite for newer gardeners and hobbyists alike. Let’s take a look at the most common planting methods.


Person Cutting Plant for Propagation
Pothos plants are very easily propagated using cuttings.

Golden pothos plants live five to ten years on average in an indoor setting, but it’s not uncommon to keep one alive for decades through continuous propagation.  

It’s easy to learn how to propagate golden pothos. You can place cuttings in either water or soil to grow more plants from the one you have.  Keep in mind that you will want to use a knife or scissors to make any cuttings because the sap from the plant can burn your hands.  

Propagation in Water 

Pothos Propagating in Water
Using water to propagate is simple and effective.

It will take about one month for roots to grow when you propagate golden pothos in water: 

  1. Cut stem: Cut 4-5 inches of healthy stems from your plant. The best stem will have four or more leaves, but it is possible to root a cutting with just one leaf. 
  1. Remove leaf: Remove the leaf closest to the cut end of the stem.  
  1. Place in water: Place the cut ends of the stem into water. You will want to use a clear glass container so you can see when the roots are ready.  
  1. Provide sunlight: Be sure that the cutting gets plenty of indirect sunlight
  1. Plant: Plant the cutting after roots start to grow in the water. 

Propagation in Soil or Vermiculite 

Pothos Propagating in Soil
Propagating using soil can take a little longer for this plant.

Cuttings you root in soil take a month to grow new roots and two to three months for the new plants to be ready following this method:  

  1. Cut stem: Cut 4-5 inches of healthy stems from your plant. The best stem will have four or more leaves, but it is possible to root a cutting with just one leaf. 
  1. Remove leaf: Remove the leaf closest to the cut end of the stem.  
  1. Rooting hormone: Dip the leaf into rooting hormone (but not directly into the container because this is a sanitation risk). Be sure that you cover the first set of root nodes with the hormone. 
  1. Plant: Plant the cutting in an indoor potting soil mix or vermiculite. You can plant multiple cuttings if you plant them two inches apart. 
  1. Provide sunlight: Be sure that the cutting gets plenty of indirect sunlight. 
  1. Water: Keep the soil moist. Some people like to cover the pot with a clear plastic bag to retain moisture.  

Soil Needs

Marble Queen in a Pot
Weel-draining, all-purpose soil is best for planting golden pothos.

What type of soil is best for golden pothos? This plant’s soil should be well-drained potting soil. If the soil is too compact, the roots may stay too wet and rot.  

The soil mixture doesn’t need to be complicated. You can use any indoor potting soil mix. Or you can mix regular soil with an ingredient to keep it well-drained and aerated, such as peat moss, vermiculite, or perlite.  

Pothos plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. However, there’s no need to go out and buy a soil pH test kit because it can tolerate a wide pH range. 

An excellent soil mix to try for your pothos plant is a combination of the following: 

  • 2 parts coco coir or peat moss 
  • 1 part perlite or vermiculite 
  • 1 part pine bark fines 
  • Water to moisten 


Marble Queen Pothos Growing in a Pot
Since they can be invasive, it is best to plant them in a container or pot.

Your pothos pot should have drainage holes at the bottom. You will also want a saucer underneath the pot to catch any excess water that drains out.  

How to plant pothos cuttings: 

  1. Add soil to the pot: Add potting soil up to ⅔ from the top of the pot  
  1. Add stems: Place stems in the pot where you want them, spreading any roots.  
  1. Pour in more soil: Cover the stems and any roots with soil, leaving two inches free at the top of the pot.   
  1. Water: Water your pothos slowly until the water flows out the bottom of the pot. 

If you want to add a new pothos cutting to an established pot, poke a small hole in the soil with your finger or pencil. It should be deep enough to accommodate the roots. Then plant the cutting in the hole and water.  


Plant Repotted to a New Pot
When a golden pothos gets bigger, it may need a bigger pot to hold its roots.

Choose a new pot with drainage and plenty of room for your plant and its roots to grow. The best pot is a few inches larger than your plant’s root ball.  

How to repot a golden pothos: 

  1. Remove the plant from the old pot: You may need to turn the pot upside down and gently rock the pot back and forth to get the plant out. A rubber spatula can help free the plant from the sides of the pot. 
  1. Add soil to the new pot: Since the new pot will be larger than the old pot, you will need to add an inch or two of soil to the bottom before proceeding.  
  1. Plant in a new pot: Add the root ball to the new pot.  
  1. Add more potting soil: Add potting soil around the root ball and on top until there are about two inches of space at the top. 
  1. Water: Water your newly-potted pothos until it flows out the bottom of the pot. 

How to Grow Golden Pothos 

Golden pothos plants are tropical evergreen climbers in the wild. They are known for their trailing vines. Healthy vines sometimes grow 12-18 inches per month, reaching 20-40 feet at full maturity.  

However, the vines don’t climb walls on their own like ivy or satin pothos since they won’t latch onto anything without a substrate. Your plant will need your help to trail the vines where you want them to go. They also won’t cause any structural damage to your walls like ivy can.  

Several decorative growing options allow your vines to grow upward, outward, or downward.  


Plant Draping Over the Side of a Container
Letting the vines of your golden pothos plant drape is a popular way to let them grow.

One of the most common ways to display pothos vines is to drape them around the room. You can trail your golden pothos lines around the room, over the tops of furniture, around door and window frames, and along fences.  

Once the vines are long enough, you may think about guiding them along the top of your wall or around your windows or doors. Small, clear command hooks are perfect as invisible guides wherever you want your plant to grow. 


Vine Plant Climbing a Trellis
Using a trellis is another way to provide a structure for your plant to grow.

A golden pothos trellis provides a specific structure on which to place growing vines. You can place a trellis in the pot with the plant or secure it to the wall near the plant.  

Since there is no substrate for the vines to root into, like on a tree in the wild, you will have to guide the vines and attach them to the trellis as they grow. Plant twist ties can help you secure the vine to the frame.  

Moss Pole 

Plants Growing on Moss Poles
Using a moss pole is an attractive and natural way to let your golden pothos climb and grow.

A golden pothos totem provides a superior planned structure that allows your plant to grow upward on a moss pole.  

Moss poles mimic the way pothos naturally grow in forests. Misting a golden pothos growing on a moss pole simulates the moisture level in its natural environment.  

The moss pole acts as a substrate into which the plant can root and grow. The roots dig into the moss as it would tree bark in the wild.   

Steps for creating a golden pothos totem:

  1. Soak the moss pole: You can omit this step if you would rather mist the plant on the moss pole when you finish. 
  1. Insert the moss pole into the pot with your plant: You can choose to either insert it into the dirt in the middle or back of the pot.  
  1. Wrap vines up the pole: You can use floral pinsvelcro stripsorchid plant clips, or garden twine to secure the longest vines to the moss on the pole. Shorter vines can continue to drape around the outside of the pot until they are long enough to climb the pole.  

Hanging Pot 

Hanging Pot Holding a Vine Plant
These plants will grow well in pots where their vines can hang down.

Rather than allowing your pathos vines to grow upward and outward, you can grow them downward in a hanging pot. If the vines get too long, you can cut them.  

Be sure to choose a hanging pot with an attached saucer to prevent ruining your floor underneath with dripping water. 

A fun way to use several golden pothos hanging pots is for privacy in front of a window or opening between rooms.  

Golden Pothos Care

How do you care for golden pothos? They need filtered bright light, water every 1-2 weeks, and fertilizer every 2-3 months.  

Golden pothos plants are very low-maintenance. They are very forgiving even if you sometimes forget them. This is what makes them so valuable to indoor gardeners that just may not have enough time to care for a more high-maintenance plant. It also means you can place them in locations other plants might not grow, like on top of your refrigerator


House Plant Near a Window
Bright, filtered light is ideal for growing golden pothos.

How much light does a golden pothos need? When considering its light needs, it’s best to place the plant in a place with bright filtered light most of the day. Light through slatted blinds or frosted glass is perfect.  

The more sunlight the plant receives, the brighter the yellow variegation will be on the leaves.  

Some good places to put golden pothos indoors for indirect light includes: 

  • Near but not in a window 
  • In a bathroom that gets lots of light through a frosted window 
  • In a sunny room with dappled light through a blind or curtains 

How about in an office setting? Can golden pothos survive in fluorescent light? Plants in the pothos family all tolerate medium or low light, but they won’t grow as quickly. Many people grow them in offices that have fluorescent or incandescent bulbs instead of natural light.  

Golden pothos will also grow under LED lights. One advantage to using LED plant lights is that you can adjust for ideal foliage growth. Some even come with a timer to mimic sunlight.  

If you have your pothos outdoors in a pot, it can handle full sun or partial shade. Some partial shade options might be a place where it is getting dappled light through trees or under a pergola. 


Water Droplets on Bright Green Leaves
Water your plant when the soil is dry, but misting is another option to mimic tropical climates.

How much water does a golden pothos need? You should only water your pothos every one to two weeks. How often you will need to water depends on how much sun your plant gets and how humid the room is. If the top one or two inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water again. 

It is possible to give a pothos too much water. You’re better off forgetting your plant from time to time rather than thinking about it so much that you overwater it.  

Pothos plants don’t tolerate wet and soggy soil too well. If you end up overwatering your plant, it will let you know because the leaves will turn yellow (beyond the normal golden pothos variegation), and the vines will start to wilt.  


Close Up of Marble Queen Leaves
Warm or mild temperatures are preferred by golden pothos plants.

Pothos can tolerate a range of temperatures, but they grow best between 70°F and 90°F.  Above and below these temperatures, they won’t grow as well.  


Vine Plants Growing on Moss Poles
Since pothos are tropical plants, they prefer more humid environments.

How much humidity is best for golden pothos? Your plant will prefer a humidity range between 50% and 70%

Pothos can tolerate a lower humidity environment. However, they do much better in humidity that imitates their natural tropical forest environment.  

If you notice the tips of the leaves turning brown, it can be a sign that the air is too dry. One easy way to increase humidity for any tropical plant is to place the pot saucer inside a larger saucer filled with pebbles and water.  


House Plant on a Table Near a Window
A well-fertilized golden pothos will grow more quickly, but it isn’t necessary.

Golden pothos plants develop and mature more quickly if you keep them fertilized. Your plant will have an optimal growth rate if you fertilize it every 2-3 months during its growing season. 

You should fertilize them in their growing season between December and May. There’s no need to fertilize your plant from June through November.  

What is the best fertilizer for pothos? Pothos do well with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer (20% phosphorous, 20% potassium, 20% nitrogen). All-purpose plant foods fall into this category.  


Marble Queen Plant in a White Pot
Since most golden pothos plants grow indoors, it is highly unlikely yours will flower.

Do they flower? You will never see golden pothos flowers on an indoor plant. However, golden pothos flower in the wild when the vines are mature and 35-40 feet long.  

Since indoor plants never reach that size without having a tree to climb, your only chance of seeing a flowering golden pothos is in a tropical forest. Mature wild pothos plants grow erect flower stalks with a cream-colored spathe and purple around the spadix. 


Person Taking Care of a Vine Plant
Golden pothos are very easy to care for and require minimal maintenance.

How do you know when it’s time to repot? If you notice that your plant’s roots are starting to pour out the bottom of the container, it’s a sign that your plant is outgrowing its pot. You will need to repot it into a larger container.  

Should you trim your golden pothos? That’s really up to you. Pothos plants tolerate heavy pruning and can help if the vines get too long or you want to encourage growth.  

You can always use the trimmed parts to propagate and fill in any sparse patches in your pot, start a new plant, or share with a friend.  

How to trim a golden pothos: 

  • Pinching back new shoot tips:  Pinching off new shoot tips during the growing season (December through May) helps buds form new vining systems and keeps the plant foliage dense and compact.  
  • Removing damaged leaves: Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased leaves and stems with a clean knife or scissors.  
  • Trimming to decrease size: Trim overgrown vines back to your desired length. 
  • Trimming to increase fullness:  New growth will emerge when you cut leaves above the leaf node. If your plant needs more fullness or has become too leggy, you can trim all the stems back to 4 inches from the soil. Extreme cutting encourages a flush of new growth.  

Pests, Damage, and Diseases 

Pothos damage and diseases can have various causes. There are also a few pests that can express an interest in your golden pothos. 

Yellow Leaves 

Potted Plants With Yellow Leaves
Reduce watering if you notice your golden pothos leaves are turning yellow.

Golden pothos leaves turning yellow is always a sign of having too much soil moisture. If many of the leaves are yellow, it may also indicate that your plant may have root rot.  

If your golden pothos presents yellow leaves, you need to increase the amount of time between watering. 

Should you remove yellow leaves from pothos? Stressed leaves are not likely to turn green again, so it’s fine to remove them.  

Phytophthora (Root Rot) 

Person Soaking Cuttings
You will have to treat the roots if they experience root rot.

A water mold called Phytophthora nicotianae causes root rot in pothos. When overwatered, the spores can swim and spread the infection throughout the plant. Symptoms of root rot include yellowing leaves, brown roots, and a foul smell from the soil.  

Is it possible to save a pothos with root rot? Yes. If you catch root rot soon enough, following these steps may be able to save it: 

  1. Trim: Cut off the infected roots 
  1. Clean: Wash the remaining uninfected roots.  
  1. Treat: Treat the washed roots with 3% hydrogen peroxide to kill the fungus attacking the roots. 
  1. RepotDisinfect your old pot with one part bleach to nine parts water for at least ten minutes and then clean the pot with dish soap and water. Alternatively, transfer the plant to a new pot. You will also need to use a new, untainted soil mix.  

Ethylene Damage 

Leaf With Ethylene Damage
If your golden pothos is infected with ethylene, the leaves will turn yellow and then brown.

Ethylene and certain fungicides can cause golden pothos leaves to wilt and droop. The leaves will turn yellow, tan, and then brown. 

Ethylene is a gas that is naturally released from decaying plant matter. It can also come from malfunctioning greenhouse heaters and can accumulate in trucks during shipping.  

Fungicide or Chemical Damage 

Leaf With Chemical Damage
Chemicals can also damage the leaves of this plant.

Fungicides that contain mefenoxam can cause leaf burn or bleach pothos leaves. This damage can also occur if you apply fungicides or other chemicals to the plant during the hottest part of the day, so it is best to do so in the early morning or evening. 

Rhizoctonia Root Rot and Aerial Blight 

Leaf With Rhizoctonia Root Rot
Dark brown or black spots are a sign of aerial blight.

Rhizoctonia solani spores in the contaminated potting soil can cause significant damage while rooting a pothos. It causes dark, necrotic spots on the leaves and leaf matting. You may be able to see strands of fungus. If the roots become infected, the leaves will wilt, turn brown, and die. You should bag and discard any infected plant.  

Southern Blight 

Southern Blight
If your plant gets southern blight, discard it and do not reuse the pot.  

Southern blight comes from a fungus called Sclerotium rolfsii​​ that dissolves plant walls. Infected plants will have white strands of fungal mycelia growing in the soil and along plant stems. You will also see small sclerotia balls which start white and change to yellow, orange, and brown. The fungus uses these balls to survive unfavorable conditions, including being treated with fungicide.  

Southern blight most often colonizes wood chips and potting soil mixes when they’re left on the ground.  

Manganese Toxicity 

Plant With Manganese Toxicity
Be sure to use a fertilizer that has balanced nutrients to avoid manganese toxicity.

Manganese toxicity usually happens in older pothos plants that absorb too much manganese. Too much manganese can come from too much manganese in fertilizer, acidified potting soil with a 5.0 pH or lower, or fungicide.  

Manganese toxicity causes yellow freckles on the leaves. To treat affected plants, discontinue using the offending fertilizer or fungicide or add lime to raise the soil pH between 6.0 to 6.5.  


Pothos Plant Eaten by Pests
Though there are few pests that affect golden pothos, they do exist and should be prevented.

A few golden pothos pests include mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites. When insects feed on your plant, they can reduce plant sap which takes nutrients away from leaves. If you have a significant infestation, your leaves will not look well and have stunted growth. 

How do you get rid of bugs on your pothos plant? The best thing to do is to spray horticultural oil on the insects. Horticultural oils block the pores through which insects breathe, ultimately suffocating them.  


Vine Plant Growing Along a Wall
It is best to grow them away from where children or pets can reach them.

Many people wonder if golden pothos can be toxic to dogs or cats. Not only are they toxic to dogs and cats, but they’re also harmful to humans.  

Plants in the aroid family contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are mildly toxic to humans and domestic animals. If a child or pet bites into a pothos leaf, it will feel like they’re chewing ground-up glass. The plant’s stems, leaves, and sap all contain calcium oxalate crystals.  

Calcium oxalate crystals are sharp and can cause painful burning when they contact the skin or mouth. When they reach the throat, they can cause pain, burning, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing. Swelling of the throat can make it difficult to breathe. And they can irritate the GI tract. 

Most animals and children spit out pothos leaves before swallowing, so poisoning is rare.  

If you suspect that your child or pet has swallowed a pothos leaf, look for these signs and contact human poison control or animal poison control immediately: 

  • Drooling 
  • Touching or pawing the mouth 
  • Mouth pain 
  • Decrease in appetite 
  • Vomiting 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Are Golden Pothos Good For? 

A u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eNASA studyu003c/au003e rated the golden pothos one of the best plants for indoor air. Their benefits include purifying and removing toxins from the air, including formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene.

Why Is Pothos So Expensive? 

2020 saw a new wave of houseplant enthusiasts. Because growers can’t keep up with the supply, the prices of golden pothos and golden queen pothos have increased to between $75 and $100.

Can Pothos Live Outside in Winter? 

If the winter temperature stays at least 65°F, it’s okay to keep your plant outside. However, if the temperature drops below 50°F, you should bring it inside to u003ca href=u0022 it from dyingu003c/au003e.

Can Pothos Live in Water Forever?

Golden pothos can live and thrive in water for a long time. As long as you add nutrients to the water, your pothos should be able to live in water for a long duration.

How Do You Know if Your Pothos Plant is Getting Too Much Sun? 

Yellow leaves can indicate that your pothos plant is getting too much light. Try moving it farther away from the light, moving it away from a southern-facing window, or adding a sheer curtain to the window.

Should You Mist Pothos? 

If you have a pothos attached to a mossy stake, you should mist it to help it grow aerial roots. Increased humidity from misting can also help keep your pothos looking their best.

Final Thoughts

Golden pothos plants are highly sought-after because they are easy to grow and very forgiving of neglect. It’s easy to learn how to take care of them because they are not demanding plants, making them excellent for beginners. With the proper care, you can keep a golden pothos plant going for decades, adding tropical beauty to your home.  

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