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Growing and Caring for a Golden Pothos – An Essential Guide

a golden pothos plant in a white ceramic pot on a shelf in a kitchen

The golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is one of the most popular houseplants for good reason – it is super easy to grow! With its cascading vine-like leaves and ability to thrive in low light conditions, this tropical plant can add a pop of vibrant green to any indoor space.

Here is a comprehensive guide to growing and caring for golden pothos so you can enjoy this plant for years to come.

An Introduction to the Golden Pothos Plant

Golden pothos come in a few different varieties. The most common is the golden pothos, which has heart-shaped leaves with golden variegation. Other varieties include marble queen (white variegation), neon (bright yellow variegation), and jade (solid green).

Native to the tropical forests of the Solomon Islands, this vine has become a favorite in homes and offices worldwide. Its ease of care, air-purifying qualities, and aesthetic appeal make it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.

a golden pothos climbing up a moss pole

The Benefits of Growing Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos, a member of the Araceae family, is renowned for its trailing vines and variegated leaves. These leaves, splashed with yellow, white, or pale green, are not only visually striking but also an indication of the plant’s health.

Research has shown that Golden Pothos can effectively remove indoor pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, making it an excellent plant for improving indoor air quality. Additionally, its ability to thrive in low-light conditions makes it a versatile choice for various indoor settings.

How to Grow Golden Pothos Plants

a golden pothos plant

When selecting a golden pothos, look for ones with healthy green leaves and avoid plants with brown, yellowing, or wilting foliage. Juvenile golden pothos have smaller leaves than mature adults.

Light Requirements

One of the reasons golden pothos are so easy to grow is they are not too fussy about light. They can thrive in bright indirect light or even low light conditions found in many homes and offices.

Ideal lighting conditions are bright indirect sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Direct hot sunlight will scorch the leaves, so keep them out of southern exposures.

Low light will cause smaller leaf size and slower growth. If leaves turn pale green, move to a brighter location.


Determine watering frequency by checking soil moisture. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between waterings. Water less frequently in winter when growth slows.

Overwatering is worse than underwatering for golden pothos. Saturated soil leads to root rot and yellowing leaves. Use room temperature water and water until it drains freely from the drainage holes and add pebbles to the drainage saucer to keep the plant elevated above excess water.


Use a well-draining potting mix for golden pothos. A quality all-purpose or indoor potting soil works well. You can also make your own mix using equal parts peat moss or coco coir, perlite, and compost.

Soil should retain some moisture but drain well to prevent soggy roots. Add sphagnum moss on top of the soil to help increase humidity around the plant.

Temperature and Humidity

This plant prefers warm, humid environments similar to its native habitat. Temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C) are ideal. Avoid placing it near cold drafts or heating vents. Increasing humidity can be beneficial, especially in dry climates, which can be achieved by misting the leaves or using a humidifier.


Fertilize monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. This provides golden pothos with nutrients they need for growth during the active growing season. Discontinue fertilizing over winter when plant growth naturally slows.

Pot Size

Golden pothos like to be a little rootbound, so don’t overpot them. Choose a pot that is about 2 inches larger in diameter than the current container when repotting.

Use containers with drainage holes and well-draining potting mix. The exception is using pothos as a trailing or hanging plant – then a slightly larger pot allows the vines to cascade over the edges.

Golden Pothos Propagation and Pruning

a golden pothos vine trailing from a kitchen shelf

One of the easiest ways to get more golden pothos is to propagate stem cuttings in water. Use a clean, sharp knife or scissors to cut a stem that has at least 3-4 leaves.

Remove the bottom 2 sets of leaves and place the cutting in a jar of room temperature water. Roots will begin to sprout in a few weeks! Once rooted, plant in soil and keep moist until established.

Taking stem tip cuttings and rooting them in soil also works well. Simply plant the stems a few inches deep in a pot filled with soil or potting mix. Keep the soil moist until new growth emerges.

Prune golden pothos occasionally to remove any dead or damaged leaves and vines. Pruning also helps maintain a full, bushy look and encourages new growth.

Trim off any excessively long vines or straggly growth to keep the plant looking neater. Avoid overpruning or the plant may go into shock.

Golden Pothos Care and Tips

  • Light – Bright indirect sunlight or fluorescent lighting
  • Temperature – Average room temps, 65-80°F
  • Water – Allow soil to partly dry out before watering again
  • Humidity – Average to high humidity, mist leaves
  • Soil – Well-draining potting mix
  • Fertilizer – Balanced liquid fertilizer in spring/summer

Troubleshooting Common Problems

a golden pothos in a grey ceramic pot
  • Yellowing Leaves: Yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering. Reduce watering frequency and ensure your pot has proper drainage.
  • Wilting leaves: Occurs when the plant is too dry. Water thoroughly until excess drains out.
  • Brown Leaf Tips: This can indicate under-watering or low humidity. Increase watering slightly and consider boosting humidity around the plant.
  • Leaf spots or marks: These can be due to pests, bacteria, or fungi. Isolate the plant and treat with neem oil or appropriate pesticide if severe.
  • Loss of Variegation: Insufficient light can lead to loss of leaf variegation. Move your plant to a brighter spot, avoiding direct sunlight.
  • Leggy growth: Needs more light. Move to brighter location or prune to shape plant.
  • Slow growth: Fertilize in spring/summer and ensure adequate lighting.
  • Common Pests: Golden Pothos is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, it can occasionally fall prey to common houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. Inspect your plant regularly and treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Disease: Root rot due to overwatering is the most common disease. Prevent this by ensuring proper drainage and not overwatering your plant.

Decorative Tips

Golden Pothos is versatile in home décor. Here are some ideas:

  • Hanging Baskets: Allow the vines to cascade elegantly from a hanging basket.
  • Shelves and Mantels: Place on high shelves for a beautiful trailing effect.
  • Wall Climbing: Use small hooks or adhesive clips to guide vines along a wall for a natural, green wall effect.

Environmental Impact and Ethical Considerations

While Golden Pothos is a wonderful addition to any home, it’s important to consider its impact on the environment. In some regions, it’s considered an invasive species, capable of overwhelming native plants. Always source plants from reputable nurseries and be mindful of local regulations.

Golden Pothos is a stunning, resilient, and air-purifying plant that is perfect for both beginners and seasoned plant lovers. With the right care, including proper light, watering, and temperature conditions, your Golden Pothos will flourish, bringing a touch of nature’s beauty into your living space.

a golden pothos growing on a pole

How often should I water my Golden Pothos?

  • Water your Golden Pothos when the top inch of soil feels dry. This typically means watering every 1-2 weeks, but the frequency can vary based on the humidity and light in your home. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Can Golden Pothos grow in water?

  • Yes, Golden Pothos can grow in water. You can propagate cuttings in water, and they can continue to grow there indefinitely. However, the growth might be slower compared to soil-grown plants, and the water should be changed regularly to prevent stagnation.

Is Golden Pothos toxic to pets?

  • Yes, Golden Pothos is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause oral irritation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. It’s advisable to keep this plant out of reach of pets.

Can Golden Pothos help purify the air?

  • Yes, Golden Pothos is known for its air-purifying qualities. It can absorb and break down certain toxins like formaldehyde and benzene, improving indoor air quality.

How can I make my Golden Pothos fuller?

  • Regular pruning can encourage fuller growth. Trim long vines and leggy growth to stimulate new growth from the base or along the vine.
the essential guide to golden pothos plants pinterest pin

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