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What is a Pothos Plant?

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  • Written By: Devon Pryor
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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The pothos plant, Epipremnun aureum or Scindapsus aureus, is considered to be the most common indoor houseplant. Pothos plants are easy to grow and maintain, and flourish in a variety of indoor conditions. In other words, the plant can survive varying levels of light, temperature, air humidity, and watering. In addition, the pothos plant is one of few species of indoor plants that can grow without any natural light source. Generally, the pothos plant is an easy-going botanical addition to an indoor space.

The leaves of the pothos plant, also called Devil’s Ivy, are waxy and smooth. Different varieties of the pothos plant have leaves of different colors. The most common variety of pothos plant is called Jade Pothos, and has evenly colored green leaves. The Golden Pothos has leaves that are colored with patchy shades of yellow and green. The Marble Queen Pothos has leaves that are patched white and green. A newer variety of pothos, called the Neon Pothos, has green and chartreuse leaves.

The pothos plant is thought to be native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. It is a low-growing vine that can grow around 10 feet long. The pothos plant may also be used as a hanging plant, in which case it may be pruned back to encourage more thickness at the base rather than extending vines.

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At the base of every leaf, where the stem of the leave meets the vine, there is a small, dry nub. If the pothos plant is growing near soil, this nub will extend and become a root. However, if the pothos is grown as a hanging plant, the vines may grow downward without coming into contact with any surface. In this case, the nubs at the base of each leaf will remain dry and short, as the vine continues to grow consecutive leaves.

The pothos is also a very easy plant to propagate through cuttings. Making a cutting of a pothos plant simply requires finding the nub on the underside of the vine, and cutting below the nub. In other words, the nub, or a few nubs, should be included in the cutting being taken from the main plant. An easy way to start a new pothos plant is to place the cutting in a glass of water, making sure that the nub is submerged. In a matter of days this nub will begin to extend forming a root. After a week or so, when the root has grown and looks strong, the cutting should be placed in soil, and watered well until it is established.

Pothos plants are also popular as an indoor plant because they have been shown to clean the air. In a study done by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), pothos plants, along with other indoor varieties such as spider plant, chrysanthemums and philodendron, were shown to remove significant amounts of toxic chemicals from the air. The study, first publicized in the late 1980’s, was a collaboration between NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). It showed that toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene, found in dangerously high levels inside many office buildings, could be naturally and safely removed by indoor plants. The study showed that pothos plant was one of the most effective species in ridding the air of indoor pollutants.

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