THE POTHOS: 17 DAZZLING VARIETIES FOR YOUR COLLECTION
Plus Easy Identification and Care Tips
Pothos plants (Epipremnum aureum) are one of the easiest, among all the houseplant options out there, to care for. Highly tolerant of different soil conditions, light access, temperature and humidity, they’re virtually indestructable.
Whenever I’m asked what beginner houseplant growers should start with, this is it! But that’s not to say you can just buy one, put it on a shelf and walk away from it. All living things need, at least, a little attention. Don’t we?
Another great feature of the resilient pothos is that there are so many different varieties. Beautiful heritage, hybrid and cultivar specimens that you can collect and propagate to increase that collection. Who doesn’t love free plants?
By the time you reach the bottom of this page, you’ll be familiar with all them. In addition to how to care for them and the right conditions (very simple) under which they’ll brighten up your home for years and years.
HOW I STARTED WITH POTHOS PLANTS
My introduction to the world of houseplants and their care was with a familiar variety, with a not-so-familiar name. The Epipremnum aureum (lat.) or Pothos.
As I get older and my own plant collection gets bigger, I find myself reminiscing upon many a fond memory of my brother and me playing in our backyard.
Pretending to dig up dinosaur bones in a muddy corner of the yard and climbing our giant avocado tree were two favourite activities.
As much of a fantasy world as that space was for us as kids, it wasn’t much of a garden. That was because my mom was a houseplant virtuoso, completely oblivious to my father’s complaints of living in a jungle.
The familiar home garden centers that we enjoy today didn’t yet exist at that time. Instead, I watched my mom delight in collecting different houseplants from where ever she came upon them.
Sometimes, in the most interesting of places, looking back. Yard sales, school fundraisers, etc. New plant varieties were often collected from cuttings that my mom and her friends would trade.
WHERE DID the POTHOS ORIGINATE?
This now prolific houseplant can be traced back to its native roots on the island of Mo’orea, a member of the societal French Polynesian islands.
It was first dubbed pothos aureus in 1880, during its original categorization.But, properly naming the pothos was heavily debated due to the observation of a flower blooming from it in 1960.
Epipremnum aureum was decided upon as it’s permanent Latin name, based on the plant’s overall leaf structure and growing behavior.
During the 19th century, as with many new discoveries, this plant was given many common names. Possibly because biologists and horticulturalists simply didn’t have the fast and efficient means of sharing new information that we do today.
Researchers around the world gave this plant monikers such as Ceylon Creeper, Hunter’s Robe, Money Plant and Devil’s Ivy. Its interesting to see how world views of the time were reflected in the names given to new findings.
Since its first categorization, some 140 years ago, this specimen has made its way around the world to become the familiar house and office plant we know today.
MEDICINAL and TOXIC PROPERTIES of POTHOS PLANTS
I get a lot of questions about the potential hazards of these common houseplants. The answer is yes, they are toxic to both pets and people.
But, there are also some interesting studies happening right now, researching the potential contribution pothos plants can possibly make to modern medicine. Let’s take a look at both sides of this issue.
These cause crystallization in the tissue of the esophagus which may lead to choking and the inability to breathe. Great care should be taken to ensure that pets do not have access to them.
We have ours in pots, hanging from the ceiling, well out of the reach of our pets. We think of it as pet-proofing our gardening habit.
Due to the calcium oxalate within the plant, it can also be mildly toxic to humans. It would be wise to keep them out of reach of small children, as well.
Some pothos varieties are cultivated for their ornamental flowers and foliage. Others for their food value. In the west, these varieties are more commonly known as ornamental plants.
Appreciated for their air pollution removing capacity. Elements such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide are among these. By doing so, they also help to eliminate odors.
Currently, these plants are being studied with special focus on their potential ethnomedicinal and pharmacological uses that are beneficial to both humans and the environment. We certainly need more things in the world that can do that.
There are few available reports on the medicinal properties of the pothos. Yet, according to innovareacademics.in each part of this plant has been found to have antibacterial, anti-termite and antioxidant properties.
Research has suggested these plants are potentially anti-malarial, anti-cancerous, anti-tuberculosis, anti-arthritis and wound healing. Of course, these points of research are still in their early stages.
This plant should NEVER be used for medicinal purposes without consulting a medical professional first.
The Epipremnum, through either cultivation or natural adaptation, has morphed into several different types. Color, pattern, leaf shape and growing behavior are what determine each type.
Below is a full list of all different types of Pothos available on the market, today.
Because there is a lot of confusion out there on the interwebs as to which type is which, I’ve provided a brief description for each to help you identify each type based on the unique (and sometimes very similar) characteristics of each.
This regal yet common variety has large, heart shaped white leaves with heavy sprays of dark green spreading across each leaf, from it’s base, in random patterns.
The leaves have a slight sheen to them with a smooth texture. Growing habits include a bushy core with trailing, vine-like tendrils.
This variety is not as common. Leaf patterns are quite the opposite, with much lighter sprays of green across a white background, giving this variety its name.
Being related, it displays the same leaf sheen and texture as the Marble Queen, as well as growing habits.
Leaf shape, growth patterns and texture of this familiar variety are similar to the Marble Queen yet with gold marbling spraying out against a dark green backdrop.
Interestingly, the more natural, indirect sunlight this variety is exposed to, the more prominent the gold marbling becomes.
This one is even less common. Its pale green leaves with splashes of dark green are unique, yet similar to the others in leaf shape, texture and growing habits.
With fewer chlorophyll cells, growth is slower and contributes to the different shades of green on each leaf.
Another familiar variety, the Jade is widely seen in hotels and offices, beneficial for their air-purifying properties.
Characteristics are similar to the Golden, minus the marbling effect. However, being so closely related to the golden, some gold marbling may appear in bright sunlight.
The unique ‘glowing’ appearance of this variety may be a genetic anomaly in chlorophyll cell color when exposed to bright light. In lower light, leaves darken.
Leaf shape and growth habits are consistent with previous varieties. Yet, with no color variations or patterns, at all.
Because the Neon is a cultivated off-shoot of the Golden, in consistently low light chlorophyll cells can rapidly multiply. Resulting in chartruese and dark green variegations.
This not-so-common variety is distinct for its lamb’s ear soft, rich green leaves.
Random splotches of greyish-white rendering a more satin texture instead of the sheen of previous varieties.
The patterns on this variety are noticeably different from the aforementioned ones. The N’ joy displays more concentrated areas of contrasting hues.
A water-colour effect of light green on a white leaf moves out from the center leaf vein across to its outer edges.
PEARLS and JADE
This could be thought of as simply a smaller version of the N’ Joy. Yet, this one often has more green on it’s leaves than, it’s counterpart.
Being smaller, it makes a beautiful addition to combination plantings with other varieties.
As one of the newest cultivars, this variety is still a rare one and is often mistaken for an N’ Joy.
The easiest way to identify it is by the very distinct grey patches, along with green, against white, giving this pretty plant its name.
Newer still is the Global Green. Presenting similar leaf patterns to the Pearls and Jade. But, in unique dark and light shades of green.
Don’t let the uncommon appearance of this cultivar put you off, Its just as resilient and easy to care for as other in this genus.
The Harlequin often grows perfect, half green/half white leaves, like a mask. Yet, sometimes, leaves reveal random splashes of color.
Leaves are typically larger than other Pothos varieties, making this a prized addition to houseplant collections .
Another prized variety is this uniquely variegated specimen. Random patterns give the gorgeous appearance of being hand painted.
Like the Harlequin, the Manjula also has larger leaves than more common varieties.
The largest leaves can be found on the exotic Hawaiian pothos. This variety typically grows in the wild but, with great care, can be kept indoors.
Similar to the Marble Queen, it’s grand leaves are adorned with sprays of white and green with gold veining.
The most exotic variety of pothos is, of course, the Cebu Blue. This epipremnum pinnatum (vs aureum) displays long narrow leaves that shine an iridescent blue-green. Making it an absolute stunner!
In the wild, the Cebu will develop leaf fenestrations, once mature. This glorious Baltic cultivar shows this feature much earlier, even indoors.
GROWING HABITS of POTHOS PLANTS
In its natural habitat, the E. aureum can often grow to 20m/65ft tall, with stems measuring a staggering 4cm/1.5in across!
Similar to orchids, their roots can grow quite happily without soil, latching onto trunks and branches of trees, in a more tropical climate. You don’t need to live in the rain forests of South America to grow your leafy beauties outside, though.
Under very specific conditions, these lovely plants may even flower. The blooms are produced in an elegant swath, which can extend up to 23cm/9in long.
Domestic houseplants are less likely to flower, perhaps due to environmental factors. The leaves on these trailing stems grow up to 10cm/4in long along tendrils that can reach down more than 91cm/36in.
POTHOS CARE GUIDE
Pothos plants will grow quickly in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight, for prolonged periods of time, will scorch the leaves and cause rapid dehydration.
These resilient viners will also do well in low or artificial light. Making them perfect for your work desk or a low-light home.
TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY
Pothos are considered tropical plants, as they prefer warmer temperatures and higher levels of humidity.
A range of 18°-29°C (65°-85°F) is ideal. As well as a humidity range of 40%-60%. In winter, or in desert climates, spritzing the plant with water can help increase humidity around it.
Epipremnums are conveniently tolerant of inconsistent watering. They’ve adapted to survive times of drought as well as rain abundance.
But, if allowed to completely dry out, wilting and yellowing can happen.
Considering that pothos plants grow up in trees in the wild, they aren’t picky about soil quality. Any standard potting mix will suffice.
But good drainage is a must for any houseplant, so be sure to mix in an adequate amount of perlite with the potting soil, to ensure this.
A 10-10-10 NPK works well. Slow-release options, during their active growth period, will supply nutrients, long term. While liquids offer faster absorption for ailing plants.
Container soil will lose its nutrients over time as plants absorb it, so it’s very important to replenish them when needed.
HOW to PROPAGATE POTHOS PLANTS
When the Pothos plant is in a rapid growth stage, it’s signature, leaf-lined tendrils can grow quite long.
This is the perfect opportunity to snip some healthy stems for your pothos cuttings. Without affecting the overall health and lush appearance of the plant itself.
Each cutting should have four or more leaves on it, to ensure it’s strength and vitality as it develops roots. Remove the leaf that is closest to the cut end. If not, it will become a safe haven for algae and bacteria to grow when submerged in water.
Place the stems in a small glass vase or drinking glass filled with clean, distilled water and place in a sunny window.
With the combination of clean water, light and heat (intensified by the glass window pane and the glass container), roots should begin to grow from the small brown nodes present along each stem.
Pothos cuttings can also be propagated by introducing a rooting agent, then placing them in well-drained potting soil.
However, since Pothos plants grow so happily devoid of soil in the wild, I prefer to root them in a plain glass of water without any rooting agents. I simply haven’t found it to be necessary, in this case.
POTHOS COMBINATION PLANTING
If you have the opportunity to root stems from different varieties of pothos, why not go wild and put them together as a combination planting.
I like to mix them with other varieties of houseplant such as wandering jew (Tradescantia zebrina) for contrasting color and pattern.
Part of the enjoyment of gardening is the understanding of it, from many aspects, through education. This journey through the world of horticulture fascinates me. I’m delighted to be able to share that fascination with you.
OTHER EASY HOUSEPLANTS
- Snake Plants
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