Pothos plants (Epipremnum aureum) also known as devil’s ivy, are the PERFECT plant for beginners because they’re low-maintenance and very forgiving. If you’ve recently picked up one of these beauties at the garden center, one of the first things you thought about was probably: “how often should you water a pothos plant”?
That’s an excellent question! So much of your plant’s health actually depends on how well you water it.
Watering is something you should learn how to do from the moment you bring your plant home because it’ll help you prevent certain problems like root rot, yellow leaves, and a withering plant that eventually dies.
In a nutshell, if you want your pothos plant to thrive, understanding how to water it is key. It’s such an important factor in whether or not your plant appears lush, full, and healthy. And don’t we all want our pothos plants to thrive in our home?!?
If you want to keep your plant to stay alive for years, even decades (yes – pothos plants can live for decades upon decades!), then the best way to do that is to master how you water it.
Always keep this in mind: the pothos plant’s natural habitat is a tropical climate, so a great way to ensure your pothos thrives inside your home is to mimic that tropical environment as best you can.
In this post, we’re going to cover a few factors that can affect how often you water your pothos plant. These factors include drainage holes, dry soil, your watering schedule, the growing season, and the amount of sunlight you give your pothos. All of these things play a role in your plant’s health and life cycle.
Let’s get started!
When to Water Your Pothos Plant
First and foremost, please understand that the pothos plant is a drought-tolerant plant. This means it can survive the occasional skipped watering session (and even two or three!). Yes – they’re resistant!
In fact, this is what makes them one of the easiest houseplants to care for, if not the easiest.
If you’ve killed off a few houseplants because you regularly forget to water your plants, your pothos might be able to survive your tendency to under-water, but only to a certain point.
And if you have trouble understanding when exactly your plants need water, the pothos plant is very easy to read.
One very special thing about pothos plants is that they’ll let you know when they’re overdue for a drink of water. Watch out for leaf wilting!
The vines and leaves on your pothos plant will begin to droop down when they’re in need of water. Pretty easy to tell that, right?
After you give them a good soak, your plant should perk right back up and the leaves should no longer droop.
Wilting and drooping is the number one sign that your plant is being under-watered. Underwatering simply means that you need to increase the frequency in which you water your plant; it has nothing to do with the actual amount of water you give your plant at each watering session.
For instance, if you currently water once every three weeks but your plant begins to wilt before the three weeks are up, then you should start watering every two weeks and access how your plant reacts to more frequent waterings.
A general rule is that the top layer of soil should feel completely dry before your water it again. Usually, you’ll water your pothos plant once a week or once every two weeks when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Here’s a better way to know when to water:
Stick your finger into the soil. Do you feel any moisture? Does your finger come out dry or does it have remnants of soil left on it?
If it comes out dry after sticking it into a few inches deep of soil, then it’s time to break out the watering can!
If it still feels moist, especially at the base of the plant and your finger comes out with little bits of soil on it, then your plant can take a few more days before being watered again.
TIP: Moist soil means do not water yet while dry soil means time to water!
Why is the touch test such a reliable method?
Pothos plants have a hard time when they’re overwatered so your best option is to always wait to water until the soil feels dry. It’s easier to “fix” an underwatered plant than an overwatered one.
Remember we talked about pothos being drought-tolerant?
Overwatering can quickly lead to root rot. Pothos is sensitive to too much moisture and it can cause things like a mushy root system that also leads to pesky problems like plant gnats.
This is why waiting to water until you feel that the soil is dry is such a good method.
If you’re still not comfortable with the touch test or feel that you’d like another reliable method, try a moisture meter!
I love my moisture meter and used it often for both indoor plants and outdoor plants. It’s very easy to use and is also inexpensive: find it here or at your local garden center.
All you need to do is stick the meter into the soil. The meter will immediately tell you whether the soil is dry or moist.
Check out an example in the photo, below. See how it has a range from dry to wet? If your meter is reading the soil as dry, it’s time to water! If it’s showing it’s still wet, give it a few more days before you water it.
Soil moisture meters are an excellent way to check the moisture level of your soil, which can help you feel more comfortable caring for your plant.
TIP: Something else that affects how you water pothos plants is the pot size. Pot size can greatly affect your watering frequency. The larger the pot, the more it holds which means it can hold more water for a longer period of time. The smaller the pot, the less water it can hold which means you’ll need to water more frequently.
Terracotta pots are great for many different types of plants because they wick away moisture which helps prevent the negative effects of excess water.
These pots also don’t retain heat the way plastic pots do, so it’s a great pot to have in high temperatures. You likely won’t run into this problem with indoor plants, however, so plastic pots are perfectly fine.
A hanging basket is another popular option for pothos plants because of their beautiful long vines that grow several feet long! Just remember that the most important thing when picking out a pot is that it has a drainage hole where excess water can drain.
You can keep your pothos in their plastic pot and simply place it inside a more decorative pot that matches your home decor. Then when it’s time to water, all you need to do is take the plastic pot out of the decorative pot while you give it enough water.
Also, keep in mind that you’re going to be watering more often in the spring and summer and less often in the winter months. Your indoor plants won’t demand too much water in the winter because the soil takes longer to dry out AND because many plants go dormant in the winter, meaning they’re not actually growing new leaves.
If your home is super humid, you also won’t need to water as frequently as you would if you live in a dry climate as I do!
How to Water Pothos Plant
You now know when to water your plant so now let’s cover the HOW TO WATER pothos part.
A good soak is KEY- especially during the growing season because it’s what going to help your plant grow a significant amount – I’m talking up to several feet!
You’re not going to water too frequently since pothos plants like dry soil between waterings, so when it times to water, you’ll want to give your plant a good generous drink of water, not tiny sips.
To do this, completely soak the soil with water until you see water gushing out of the drainage hole.
Always keep in mind that water WILL collect at the bottom of the pot so it’s VERY important to make sure you dump that excess water whether you’re using a saucer or whether you place your plastic pot inside another pot.
You don’t want a pool of water sitting at the bottom of your planter.
If you allow your plant to sit in that water, it can rot the root system. The bottom of the roots cannot sit in a pool of water for too long because they’ll start to turn to mush, which can quickly kill your plant.
It’s an extra step in your watering routine but it’s an important one!
Conditions that Affect Your Watering Schedule
While a good rule of thumb is to water your pothos plant when the soil feels dry, there are quite a few more factors that will determine your watering frequency.
Things like how much light your plant is getting, the humidity level of the area, what type of pot you’re using as well as which soil mix, are all determining factors of how quickly the soil in your home dries out.
Common problems that arise with these popular indoor plants often come from not understanding that pothos plants need proper care in addition to the right amount of water.
Environmental factors play a large role in your set schedule so let’s take a closer look at these quickly! (Don’t worry – this stuff isn’t overwhelming but it’s one of the best things you can do for your pothos vines and pothos’ leaves).
Pothos plants, whether it’s marble queen pothos, jade pothos, golden pothos, or neon pothos, thrive on indirect sunlight and humid conditions.
Keep in mind that pothos plants are tropical plants. They enjoy high humidity and in their natural habitat, are usually provided with lots of shade from neighboring trees and tree trunks.
Therefore, placing your pothos plant in an area of your home that gets too much direct sunlight is just not ideal or natural.
Pothos is known for being able to thrive in low light conditions, but it can also do well in bright light as long as it’s not being scorched by too much sun for a long time every single day, especially during the warmer months.
If you place your pothos plant near a window that lets in a lot of sunlight, be prepared to give your plant extra water more frequently because the soil will dry out much more quickly.
You might also end up with brown leaves that have been sunburned.
Keep in mind that there’s no going back with sunburned leaves – once they’re burned, they won’t return to their normal shade but will instead start to fall off the vine.
This is why it’s important to find the right place for your houseplant. Sometimes, a few feet away from a bright window is the best choice because it can keep your pothos’ leaves nice and green.
A few feet away ensures that your plant has a reliable light source but isn’t sitting in harsh conditions
On the other hand, you don’t want your plant to wither away due to a lack of light. If you’re thinking of placing your pothos plant in a bathroom that doesn’t have a window, think again!
Pothos needs a good amount of light to achieve new growth; it can’t survive without light. Just keep in mind that indirect light is best and you’ll be in a great spot!
Type of Soil
Pothos plants are not too fussy when it comes to the type of soil they’re planted in. Many people use regular potting soil but it’s a good idea to get a houseplant soil mix from your garden center. This type of soil usually provides better drainage and some key nutrients for indoor plants.
When you first bring home your pothos plant, however, you won’t have to worry about the type of soil. You only have to re-pot your pothos about every two years or when it’s outgrown its current pot.
Temperature and Humidity
This part is huge. Pothos plants feel most comfortable in a humid environment so if you’re home is dry, like mine, you can increase humidity by doing two things:
1) Try placing a small humidifier in the area. It can do wonders for houseplants.
2) Place your pot on top of a shallow saucer filled with rocks and water. The water will evaporate into the air and increase the humidity level around the plant. Replace the water every few days.
Pretty easy, right?
As far as temperature goes, aim for a temperature range of anything between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 55 degrees F might present a problem for your plant; pothos simply isn’t built to tolerate cold temperatures. It’s why pothos plants make excellent houseplants.
The hotter it is inside your home, the more frequent you’ll have to water. The colder it is, the longer the soil will take to dry out which means you’ll be watering less frequently.
Sign of Underwatering
The signs of underwatering are easy to spot on a pothos plant. The houseplant will let you know if it’s in dire need of water. If you see the vines and leaves wilting and dropping downward, then you need to water your plant as soon as possible.
Another sign of underwatering is brown patches that spread through the leaves. This is a sign your plant hasn’t had enough frequent waterings and has been suffering from lack of water for a while. Start watering your pothos more frequently and on a tighter watering schedule to prevent more brown patches in the future.
Signs of Overwatering
Overwatering is also easy to spot on a pothos plant. Yellow leaves are a big sign that you’ve been watering too frequently or have been letting the bottom of the pot sit in a pool of water. Both can cause root rot, which causes yellow leaves.
Another sign of overwatering is brown tips. While brown patches within the leaves indicate underwatering, brown tops on a pothos plant are a sign that you’re not letting the soil dry out between waterings.
Pull back on the frequency with which you’ve been watering and this should prevent brown tips in the future.
Remember that the best time to water is when the soil feels dry. If it’s slightly wet, wait another day or two to water.
We’ve now covered when to water (when the soil feels dry!) and how to water (water generously so that water seeps out of the drainage holes!). We’ve also talked about watching out for over and under-watering signs.
Since pothos plants are low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, following these tips will help you keep your plant healthy even when you neglect it a little! Good luck!
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