Pothos is a plant of tropical origin, belonging to the family Araceae. It is grown indoors and it is used for decorations. Its leaves grow on climbing or hanging stems.
1. Taxonomy and Origin
Pothos is a plant of tropical origin, belonging to the family Araceae. It is grown indoors and it is used for decorations. Its leaves grow on climbing or hanging stems. It belongs to the genus Epipremmum, although some authors believe that it belongs to the genus Scindapsus. There are 40 different species of pothos.
- Pothos are climbing or hanging plants that can be quite long. Moreover, they are also long-lived plants.
- Stems: The main stems often grow to 30-46cm a year if they are indoors. In the wild, they acquire extraordinary sizes in their adult stage. They can easily reach two meters in height.
- Leaves: leathery, glossy and bright green. They have white or yellowish veins. When grown as climbers with stake, the size of the leaves increases, the opposite occurs when they are left hanging.
Pothos Growing. Photo: Carl Lewis
[click to enlarge image]
- Flowers: The flowers are small, with little ornamental and decorative value. When grown indoors, they rarely bloom.
The morphological characteristics of the two main species of this genus are:
- Epipremmum aureum: It comes from the Solomon Islands. It has strong but brittle stems. It develops adventitious roots that provide good grip and food for the plant. The leaves are large, heart-shaped, usually variegated with yellowish-white on green background and with long petioles.
- Epipremmum pictus: It comes from Indonesia. Climber with petiole and has smaller leaves than Epipremmum aureum. It has silver-white spots on bright green background with bluish overtones.
3. EDAPHOCLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS
- Temperature: It should be maintained above 15°C. Vegetative growth is faster as the temperature increases. Temperatures lower than 10°C increase susceptibility to fungal diseases and cause leaf loss. Avoid air currents.
- Light: Solar radiation plays an important role in leaf variegation and should be maintained between 15 000 and 25 000 lux. Below these values, the predominant colour is green. Enough light is needed but it does not benefit from direct sunlight.
- Humidity: It is a plant that does not need much moisture. However, it is enhanced by nebulisation with relative frequency as long as it avoids waterlogging.
- Watering: Moderate watering in summer and low in winter. Avoid waterlogging. If it is watered too much, it suffers chlorosis and finally causes the falling of the leaves.
- Substrate: It is not demanding. It is a plant that can evolve well in neutral soils with good aeration.
The propagation of this plant can be carried out by cuttings or division thereof.
- Multiplication by cuttings:
Multiplication by cuttings on ground is made from March to April. The procedure is as follows:
- Remove the tops of the long shanks.
- Remove the leaves closest to the base.
- Place the cuttings in the substrate covering up the first leaf (if necessary, it can be supported with a stake.
- Cover the pot with clear plastic, preventing it from touching the plant. The aim is to achieve a favourable temperature and moisture for rooting.
- Remove the plastic daily to avoid water condensation and too much relative humidity.
Multiplication by cuttings in water: Pothos is characterized by its easy rooting even in water. This procedure consists of simply introducing the cuttings in a container with abundant water.
The most cultivated varieties are:
- Willcoxii: yellow variegation and more popular.
- Marble Queen: Dominant white over green variegation.
5. GROWING TECHNIQUES
- Transplant: Should be transplanted every spring. It is not convenient to choose oversized containers as the plant will use more energy in exploring the substrate than in vegetative development which is more important.
- Fertilization: If it is transplanted annually, it should be given a substrate which is rich in macro and micronutrients. Additional fertilization may not be necessary. However, as the aerial part has the greater ornamental value, the fertilization (if it is necessary) will be richer in nitrogen than in other nutrients.
6. PESTS AND ILLNESSES
- Mealy bugs: Symptoms include discoloured, chlorotic and distorted leaves, etc. sometimes it causes black moulds.
- Red Spider: The symptoms are discoloured and matte pits as well as small yellow spots on the upper part of the leaves.
- Stem and root rot (Rhizoctonia sp. y Pythium sp.): A disease which is difficult to control. It must be prevented by avoiding waterlogging.
- Bacteriosis (Erwinia sp. y Pseudomonas sp.): The symptoms are dark spots on the leaves.
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