Apartment plants

Pothos - Scindapsus aureum

Pothos - Scindapsus aureum

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Genus of about 40 species of climbing plants, evergreens, originating in Southeast Asia, characterized by large, very decorative leaves.
In nature these plants reach heights of over six meters, in the apartment of course their dimensions remain much smaller.
The pothos is a plant with a decombing (or possibly climbing) habit, very common in apartments: it is in fact very simple to grow, with rapid growth and great adaptability. It is also very decorative thanks to its leaves, which are declined in many colors, but always very dense and luxuriant.

General characteristics

The so-called pothos is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Araceae family from the humid and warm regions of Southeast Asia (in particular from the Solomon Islands and central India). The scientific name of its genus is Scindapsus which includes at least 40 species, some very common for ornamental purposes.
In general it is a liana with aerial roots. Thanks to its flexibility in its natural environment it clings to trees or any type of support you find on its way, with the aim of being able to take advantage of more light. In that context it can reach 5-6 meters in length, while in domestic cultivation it rarely exceeds 2. It carries persistent, heart-shaped and alternate leaves that depart from the stems. The color is only rarely uniform. Spotted, variegated or marbled varieties are more common. They come in many colors: from light green to olive to dark green. However, yellow, cream, silver and white are also present. The flowers, very small, come out from the leaf axil, but in our climate they occur very rarely.
On a household level it is commonly used as a houseplant, greenhouse or veranda, making them assume a decombing or climbing habit (using materials capable of retaining a minimum level of humidity as guardians). Lately it is increasingly appreciated also for its ability to purify the air by capturing carbon monoxide, produced by engines and heating systems, toluene, benzene and formaldehyde. Extensive scientific studies have included this plant among the top ten for its ability to purify the air.


Common name

Family and Latin name Araceae, Scindapsus, more than 40 species
Type of plant Herbaceous, climbing or decombant
Leaf color Dark green with variegations or spots of various colors
Foliage Persistent
Adult length / width Up to 2 m / up to 30 cm
Cultivation Easy
Water needs Medium-high
Growth fast
Propagation Cutting on the ground or in water
Resistance to cold Rustic (up to 12 ° C)
Exposure Very bright, no direct light
use From apartment, veranda or outdoor potted
Ground Light, subacid (lots of peat and sand)
pH From neutral to acid


It is good to place it in a very bright place, for example near a window, in summer it is advisable to make sure that it is not directly hit by the sun's rays. The ideal environment must be very bright, but direct light that could cause leaf burns must be avoided. Inside it may be a good idea to place it near a window, shielding it with light-colored curtains.
The same indications apply to the outside. It is usually good to place it under a tree or under a rich pergola of deciduous leaves, which lightly shield the light, but create a warm and humid environment, like the one found in the origin countries of our specimen.
The variegated leaf cultivars usually need a very bright environment as photosynthesis is present only in green areas. We always avoid that the sun hits them directly.


They must be contained, it is advisable never to soak the soil and let it dry between one watering and another. The pothos needs abundant irrigation, but is at the same time rather sensitive to root rot. The water supplies must therefore be abundant in all seasons, but waiting for the substrate to be completely dry before proceeding again.
To have luxuriant plants, however, it is equally important to maintain high environmental humidity. This must increase in proportion to the temperatures. You can therefore resort to frequent nebulizations (with distilled water) and place near the specimen of trays full of expanded clay and water. Outside, instead, you can simply wet the floor so that natural evaporation helps us significantly.

Cultivation techniques

being a climbing plant the Pothos develops its branches very long, so if we want it to grow in height we will have to insert some pots in the pot, preferably covered with moss, otherwise we will be able to place it in hanging bowls, leaving the branches to grow towards the bass.
If we wish to make it grow a lot it is necessary to repot it every two years, possibly in March-April, and to give fertilizer for green plants about twice a month in the irrigation water, from March to September.


it takes place by cuttings: at the beginning of spring, cuttings about ten centimeters long are taken from the shoots at the base of the plant, which must be planted in a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts; the cuttings should be kept at a temperature of about twenty degrees until rooting has taken place, then they are repotted in individual pots. You can also practice leaf cuttings, possibly in May or June, by taking portions of branches containing a knot, which are then to be rooted like the previous cuttings.

Parasites and Diseases

Usually the Pothos does not suffer from particular diseases, however if the waterings are too abundant it can happen that the plant is hit by root rot. Sometimes it can be attacked by aphids which, sucking the sap, slow down the growth of the plant.
It is one of the healthiest houseplants ever. It is in fact rare that it becomes prey to parasites (if not some rare case of attacks of red spider mites, which can be increased by increasing humidity).
The only drawbacks that may arise are related to incorrect cultivation treatments, such as too frequent irrigation or low environmental humidity, in addition to too little or too bright exposure.


Pothos aureus: has heart-shaped leaves, light green, with yellow spots, up to 30 cm long, can reach two meters in height and has aerial roots at the nodes.
P. a. Golden Queen: has almost completely yellow leaves.
P. a. Marble Queen: has white stained leaves.


The pothos to grow optimally requires a high level of environmental humidity and rather high temperatures.
The ideal climate should be around 18-25 ° C during the vegetative season, that is from spring to autumn. To get a fast growth an excellent idea is to place the pot outside from the middle of spring until September-October.
Clearly in our peninsula the climatic and pedoclimatic conditions vary a lot and we therefore always refer to the minimum night temperatures that can be reached and we always avoid to expose the pothos to less than 14 ° C: this could already cause huge damages.
In winter it is good to induce the plant to enter in vegetative rest placing it in a bright room, but with temperatures between 15 and 18 ° C, carefully avoiding cold currents to which the pothos is very sensitive.


This plant requires a light substrate with a tendentially acid pH. A suitable compost can be made in different ways.
- 1/3 of sterilized fibrous soil, 1/3 of peat or pine bark, 1/3 of coarse sand or perlite
- 2/3 of peat and 1/3 of coarse sand
- Land of woods, peat and sand, 1/3 each.





Scindapsus aureus

Square in shape, light green.
There are also cultivars with a yellow or almost white stem

Shiny leaves, of a beautiful bright green with yellow or white spots.
They are 10 to 30 cm long, heart-shaped when ripe.

From the Solomon Islands.
Climbing or decombente.
Among the most common on the market

Scindapsus pictus

Rounded acid green color

More often, at heart, dark olive green with silver spots, up to 8 cm long

From the island of Java and from Borneo
Climbing or hanging habit

Scindapsus trubii

Stems with rounded shape, light green

Heart-shaped, light green with silver or dark green spots. White back.

From all over Southeast Asia, from tropical wetlands


Repotting is usually carried out every year, given the vigor of the plant. The best time to proceed is from late February to April, depending also on our geographical location. However you can intervene, if we act gently, almost at any time of the year if we notice that the vase is too narrow and the roots start to come out.
We proceed by extracting the ground bread and eliminating any roots that may have been compromised or by freeing them and shortening them if they are too compact. We choose a vase (possibly in terracotta to allow perspiration), slightly larger than the previous one (+ 2 or 4 cm in diameter). On the bottom we create a thick draining layer with expanded clay or cocci, then we insert the plant and the new substrate, compacting well. If we wanted to make the specimen climb, we will place a suitable support in the middle, in porous or fiber-based material. Let us water abundantly.
If we have handled the root system a lot (perhaps outside the period of vegetative rest) or this was compromised by rot, it may be useful to administer a radical antifungal for a couple of times.


To obtain a good growth the fertilizations must be regular, especially during the vegetative period. Usually liquid products are used for green plants. The supply of nitrogen is particularly important, at the expense of phosphorus and potassium. From April to October it is given every 30 days, together with the water for watering.


Getting new pothos seedlings is very simple. The most effective method is certainly the cutting, to be done in spring. Proceed in this way:
- A healthy and vigorous stem is chosen. We cut a segment about 10 cm long, at a node. We then keep only two or three apical leaves, eliminating all the others instead.
- Insert it in a very light and drained compost and cover it with transparent plastic, so as to always keep the humidity rate high. We place everything in a bright area, but not directly in the sun.
- We often water until the roots are evident. Development of the bottom of plastic bottles will be evident. At that point it can be transferred to the final substrate.
With the same methods it is also possible to obtain a rooting simply in water.

Pothos: Pruning

At the beginning of spring it is useful to shorten the stems by at least 1/3 of their length. This will stimulate the vegetative restart. If desired we can, several times a year, proceed with the topping, especially of the new stems that start from the center. This operation will help to have more vital and compact plants.
It is absolutely necessary to avoid operating on the aerial roots because they are very useful for the overall health of the pothos.


Planting / repotting

From February to April
Talea April May
Pruning-topping April
Vegetative rest (repair at home) From October to April