Keep it in the pot – control your pothos
By Ralph E. Mitchell
Some plants need to stay in their pots for our own good. All houseplants make great container plants, but a few need to stay containerized and out of the landscape. One such plant is the popular vining houseplant known as pothos. This beautiful vine has colorful heart-shaped foliage often grown in a hanging basket or up an upright support as an indoor or patio specimen. A wonderful plant when kept in its “cage” under cultivation, but once the pothos vine is released, it can change into an invasive.
If you look at houseplants at any garden center , the colorful array of choices is stunning – Florida is known for its commercial production of tropical foliage plants. One foliage plant that often stands out, even as a small specimen, is Epipremnum aureum or golden pothos. The heart-shaped leaves are green with white or yellow variegation. As a houseplant, pathos foliage stays small at around three and one-half inch long, oppositely arranged along a manageable trailing vines. Pothos do best in bright, diffuse light, which might be found indoors near a window or on a patio shaded by trees. Epipremnum does well in a hanging basket to show off its graceful vines, or in a regular pot centered on a plant stand. This plant also does well when trained up a moss totem which allows the roots to grow into the medium.
There are many cultivars that have materialized from the original plant. ‘Golden Pothos’ is a very common variety with the classic dark green leaves with yellow and creamy white streaks. ‘Hawaiian Pothos’ is another similar cultivar with more intense yellow coloration. For an all-green type, there is ‘Jade Pothos’ , while ‘Marble Queen’ offers green with a white variegation. You may have also seen a chartreuse type called ‘Neon’ which offers a bright, light-green, showy option. A new patented cultivar from UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center has recently been released called ‘Pearls and Jade’®. ‘Pearls and Jade’® came about as a mutation of ‘Marble Queen’ with a color pattern best described as “white, gray, and green coloration in irregular patches, blotches, and streaks.”
Now while some may try to use this as a groundcover, it is not recommended. First, consider that Epipremnum aureum is a CATEGORY II Invasive exotic – as per the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council – “…that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities…” In addition, the UF/IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group recommends homeowners avoid planting this plant in the landscape as it may escape cultivation. Pothos that have escaped into natural areas eventually mature (then sometimes called Hunter’s Robe) and can grow up trees where they develop enormous three foot by two foot leaves on thick, fifty foot-long vines. As such, please keep your pothos under control!
While pothos are reported to be able to improve indoor air quality, they also are toxic to both people and pets, so keep this in mind concerning children, dogs and cats. Overall, pothos plants are well-loved selections favored by houseplant aficionados. They have some setbacks which can be identified and managed. Bottom-line -enjoy your pothos potted! For information on all types of houseplants suitable for our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/03/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gilman, E. F. (2014) Epipremnum aureum Golden Pothos. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Christman, S. (2014) Epipremnum aureum. Floridata.com, Tallahassee, FL
McConnell, D. B., Chen, J., Henny, R. J. & Everitt, K. C. (2015) Cultural Guidelines for Commercial Production of Interiorscape Epipremnum. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Henny, R. J. & Chen, J. (2017) New Florida Foliage Plant Cultivar: Pothos ‘Pearls and Jade’®. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
FLEPPC. 2017. List of Invasive Plant Species. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. Internet: www.fleppc.org.
The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – https://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/assessments/epipremnum-pinnatum-cv-aureum/