How to Grow, Plant, and Care For Pearls and Jade Pothos
Pearls and Jade pothos plants have become an extremely popular type of houseplant over the last several years. Their variegated leaves and ease of care makes them a fantastic houseplant for beginners. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton shares all aspects of Pearls and Jade pothos plants, including proper maintenance and care.
The world of pothos cultivars has many interesting subjects, ideal for avid houseplant collectors. One of the most recently introduced of the group is known as ‘Pearls and Jade’, a highly variegated and sought-after houseplant.
With high levels of variegation and a slightly different growth habit, there are some quirks to be aware of when growing these plants in comparison to other types of pothos plants. But armed with knowledge of their needs, you’ll find growing pearls and jade just as easy.
If you’ve decided this pothos plant is the next type you’d like to add to your houseplant collection, you’ve come to the right place. Follow along as we examine all aspects of maintenance and care for Pearls and Jade pothos plants.
Pearls and Jade Pothos Overview
Plant Type Houseplant
Species Epipremnum aureum ‘Pearls and Jade’
Native Area Tropical forests
Exposure Bright indirect light
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests & Diseases Spider mites, mealybug, scale
Soil Type Airy and well-draining
Soil pH Acidic
A Bit About This Cultivar
Most houseplant lovers will be aware of the popular pothos group of plants and likely have one (or more) in their collection. These tropical plants are one of the most commonly grown trailing houseplants, known for their cascading vines and variegated leaves.
Pothos plants are scientifically known as Epipremnum aureum, part of the Araceae family. They are native to tropical jungles around the South Pacific. But, due to their rapid growth (and often invasive nature in the right climates), they have become naturalized in warmer climates around the world.
This plant is a cultivar of the original Epipremnum aureum species. In fact, it is just one of many cultivars of this famous plant, creating a fascinating collection of related mutations with different leaf colors and variegation patterns.
This plant is one of the most recent cultivars developed and released to the market. It was created by teams at the University of Florida, who induced mutations in the popular Marble Queen cultivar.
One of the mutations that emerged was pearls and jade. Found to be relatively stable when propagated (some mutations die out quickly after successive generations of propagating), the cultivar was patented in 2008. From 2009 onwards, it was slowly propagated to preserve the variegation patterns and released for general sale.
When it first emerged, this plant was a rare pothos. The high demand and limited supply pushed the price of this cultivar up significantly. However, as it has become more widespread, they are luckily much easier to find, allowing you to add this interesting pothos to your collection.
While most pothos cultivars look relatively similar, pearls and jade strays from the pack in leaf shape, texture and color. The leaves are smaller than the standard golden pothos and have a slightly ruffled texture, similar to the other highly variegated cultivar N’joy.
The variegation pattern is what makes this plant so sought-after. Combining all the different pothos variegation types, this cultivar has large patches of white or cream variegations with sections of flecked variegation within these patches.
For the technical terms on what makes them different and worthy of cultivar status, the University growers put it best:
“Mature leaves from ‘Pearls and Jade’® reach an average of 7–8 cm (2.5–3.0 in.) long and 4–5 cm (1.5–2.0 in.) wide compared to 12 cm by 8 cm (4.5–3.0 in.) leaves on the parent plant ‘Marble Queen’.
‘Pearls and Jade’® leaves display white, gray, and green coloration in irregular patches, blotches, and streaks. These colored areas vary in size from a dot of less than 1 mm to large blotches covering over half the leaf surface.
Each leaf varies slightly, which is typical for most variegation patterns in this genus, but the overall phenotypic effect is a pleasing uniform variegated appearance.”
How to Grow
Pothos are known for being incredibly easy to care for and great plants for beginners. While that remains somewhat true of this cultivar, there are a few caveats. Due to the highly variegated leaves, this cultivar does need a bit more attention than the standard golden pothos – mostly when it comes to sunlight.
These mutations make them slightly fussier than other pothos types and won’t tolerate as much neglect. But, following these essential care tips, you should have no trouble keeping your plant happy.
Sunlight is the biggest difference in care between this cultivar and the more commonly grown pothos plants. This is due to the variegation levels in the leaves.
Variegation is quite a complex and technical phenomenon. There are different types of variegation that appear on plants for different reasons. But when it comes to pearls and jade, to put it simply, the white or cream variegated areas change color in the leaves because they lack chlorophyll.
As we already know from our school science class days, chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis. This process transforms water and carbon dioxide, with the help of sunlight, into ‘food’ that the plant uses to grow and keep itself alive. Without sunlight, plants cannot photosynthesize.
Because this is a highly variegated cultivar, it also means the leaves lack more chlorophyll than usual. Less chlorophyll equals less photosynthesis, making it difficult for the plant to survive without perfect conditions.
Although the original pothos species is known for its ability to handle low light, that is not the case for this cultivar. With so little chlorophyll in the leaves, they need plenty of bright indirect light throughout the day to grow their best.
As the leaves are thin and prone to burning, they also need to be kept out of direct sun. This will stop any brown and crispy patches from forming on the leaves that can make the plant look unsightly.
For the best result, place your plant in a bright room with an east, south or west-facing window. They should be placed close to the light source, but not so close that their leaves are exposed to direct sun. If you don’t have the perfect spot, you can supplement with grow lights to keep your plant happy.
The leaves of Epipremnum aureum may look delicate, but they are actually quite drought-tolerant plants. They are classified moderate water uses – not needing consistently moist soil but also needing more than succulent-type plants. A regular watering schedule and frequent checking of the soil are enough to keep your pothos happy.
The leaves are slightly thinner than regular pothos species and need water more often to prevent wilting. But even with this small difference, they are still relatively low water uses when compared to other houseplants.
As this is quite a small plant, it’s recommended to water when the top inch or so of soil has dried out completely. For plants in larger containers, you can increase that slightly as there is more soil to retain moisture in the pot.
Finding this perfect time to water requires you to check the soil with your finger every few days, potentially more often when temperatures are high in summer. This allows you to water when the soil lacks moisture, rather than on a strict schedule that ignores the actual soil conditions.
Although they are quite tolerant plants, one thing you should avoid at all costs is overwatering. Pothos don’t like soggy soil and need aeration and drainage to grow successfully. If you water too much, leaving the soil waterlogged and the roots suffocated, your plant may succumb to root rot.
Root rot is a deadly condition if not immediately resolved, so it’s best to avoid completely if you want to keep your plant alive. Never water when the top layer of soil is still moist and always repot into containers with plenty of drainage holes.
Another important component of drainage is soil. As roots are the foundation of plant growth, it’s important to keep them happy. And, the best way to do that is with good soil.
Luckily, you won’t need to consider soil until it is time to repot or propagate. Recently purchased plants should be planted in the perfect soil mix that they have adapted well to. Since houseplants don’t like change, they will be far happier here than with frequent soil changes and new conditions.
But, when the time to repot eventually does come around, it’s vital to use the right soil mix. Standard potting soil or regular garden soil is not recommended as these mixtures typically don’t drain well enough to prevent root rot in houseplants. In the case of garden soil, it can also carry pests, diseases and weed seeds that you certainly don’t want to deal with in your indoor garden.
To closely match the conditions this plant is used to, purchase a specialized houseplant soil mix, either online or at your local nursery. These mixes contain various elements to improve drainage and aeration around the roots, making up for the lower evaporation rates indoors.
You’ll see ingredients like perlite, vermiculite, river sand, bark pieces, compost and coir, depending on the mixture chosen by the manufacturer.
For DIY lovers, you can also make your own soil mix perfectly suited to this plant’s growing conditions. My basic recipe is two parts potting soil, one part perlite and one part coconut coir, which you can adjust based on how your plant is performing.
Temperature and Humidity
Coming from the tropics, pothos plants are accustomed to plenty of warmth and tons of humidity, like most houseplants. This cultivar is no different.
These plants cannot handle cold well and need to be kept in temperatures above 60F throughout the year. They can manage heat better than many plants and are happy in temperatures as high as 90F, but grow best in conditions between 75F and 80F.
If temperatures drop below 60F, the plant will slow growth dramatically or stop altogether. Even colder temperatures can lead to permanent damage that will take a while to recover from. Keep this plant in the warmest room of your home and don’t leave them right next to windows (especially open ones) when it’s cold outside.
High humidity is also a must to maintain healthy growth. Although they don’t need the stifling humidity levels of tropical jungles – usually 80% or higher – it is recommended to keep levels around 60% to keep these plants happy. Anything below 40% can cause the leaves to become dry and turn brown at the edges.
They also don’t appreciate rapid changes in environmental conditions. To avoid this, keep them away from gusty open windows, air conditioners and radiators. They do like airflow, but too much can cause the vines to ditch their leaves.
Pearls and Jade are not heavy feeders. These plants are slow-growers due to their variegation levels and don’t use up many nutrients throughout the year. They are happiest with the occasional top-up through the spring and summer months with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Apply this fertilizer once per month along with your regular watering routine. If the leaves start developing brown patches and the plant stops growing, hold off on the fertilizer as the roots may be damaged. Stop fertilizing in fall and winter to give the plant a break before returning to normal in early spring.
These compact plants are not particularly high maintenance. Besides repotting (which we’ll discuss later), all you really need to worry about is pruning.
Since they grow so slowly, pruning to control growth isn’t as needed as it is with golden pothos species. But, if you want to keep the plant compact, you can trim back the vines slightly so they are just cascading over the container.
Pruning is also important in cases of damage or disease. Removing affected areas will help the plant recover quicker and stop any problems from spreading. This pruning should be done whenever a problem is spotted, rather than early spring when pruning is typically done.
If you’re pruning healthy growth to manage size, make sure you save the cuttings to propagate more plants. But, if the cuttings are damaged or diseased, they should be discarded to stop the issue from spreading.
Once you’ve fallen in love with this cultivar, you’ll likely want a few more. That’s where propagation comes in. Luckily, pothos are some of the easiest houseplants to propagate, quickly rooting and developing into full and lush-looking plants.
They are propagated from cuttings to preserve their variegation. As they develop roots along nodes in the vine to spread along the ground naturally in their native habitats, or to climb trees, you can take small cuttings from any healthy section to root.
Before you start, you’ll need a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. They should also be clean to avoid spreading any harmful bacteria to your new cutting. Also grab a clean glass or propagating station, filled with filtered water for rooting.
Identify a healthy section of vine around 4 inches long or slightly longer. The leaves should be close together with no signs of damage. Remove the cutting just below a node – the growth points where the leaves emerge from. Remove all the leaves on the bottom section of the cutting, leaving around two or three at the top if possible.
Then, all you need to do is pop the end of the cutting into the glass of water. Make sure the leaves are not submerged as this will cause them to rot. Leave the glass in a warm spot away from direct sun and enjoy watching the roots grow.
Once the roots have developed significantly, you can repot into soil to continue growth. For a fuller-looking plant, it’s best to gather a few vines together to plant into the same pot. Once new leaves develop, they will cascade around all sides of the pot rather than just one.
As they grow so slowly, repotting won’t be a frequent concern. However, they can’t be left in the same container indefinitely. At some point, they will either need more space for the roots to grow or a soil refresh to improve moisture retention and nutrient levels.
In general, you’ll need to repot every 2-3 years. However, depending on conditions, you may need to repot sooner if you spot roots growing through the drainage holes or stunted growth. As they don’t like changes in conditions, you should only repot when your plant needs it to limit stress and encourage new growth.
To repot, all you need is a new container one size up and the soil mix discussed above. Remove the plant from its current container and gently tease the roots to release them. If the vines are long, take care when removing the plant to avoid damage.
Fill the new container with a small amount of soil mix and lower the plant inside. Fill in the gaps with more soil mix until the pot is almost full. Then, press around the vines to get rid of any large air pockets and secure the roots in place.
Water immediately after repotting and place the plant back where it was originally. You may notice signs of stress after repotting, but after a few weeks, growth will return to normal.
Although they are relatively carefree plants, they are not without their problems. Look out for these common issues and rectify them to save your plant from permanent damage:
Yellowing leaves have many causes, but are usually related to incorrect watering. Check for signs of root rot like soggy soil and soft stems. Nutrient imbalance may also lead to yellowing leaves, as well as lack of light.
Small spots of yellow that follow the variegation pattern are not a concern, but any other patterns could also indicate a pest problem.
Brown leaves also usually relate to a moisture issue. Underwatering and lack of humidity can cause leaves to turn brown at the tips.
Exposure to direct sunlight can also cause brown patches on the foliage, present on the side exposed to the direct sunlight. As these leaves won’t return to normal, it’s best to prune them after you’ve fixed the problem to encourage new and healthy growth.
Lack of Variegation
The more indirect sunlight it receives, the better the variegation will be. If the color is not looking as good as the day you bought it, move the plant to a brighter area that is shielded from direct sunlight.
This cultivar is not suitable for low-light areas and will struggle to grow and look healthy without the optimal amount of sunlight.
Stunted growth, much like yellowing leaves, has many causes. The most likely is incorrect light levels, lowering photosynthesis rates and stopping the plant from putting out any new leaves. An overgrown root system is also a possibility, especially if your pearls and jade is in a very small container.
Lack of nutrients and overwatering are also potential causes. When looking for stunted growth, also keep in mind that this cultivar grows much slower than a regular pothos and won’t put out as many new leaves as you may expect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this plant safe for pets?
Like other pothos plants, this cultivar is not safe for pets. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals and should be kept away from children and any of your furry friends.
How can I identify this cultivar?
Many pothos cultivars look similar, making them different to tell apart. This cultivar looks particularly similar to the compact N’joy cultivar – also a recent addition to the group. But pearls and jade has more flecked areas of variegation within the larger patches, while N’joy mostly sports the solid patches on their own.
Are these plants considered rare?
Pearls and jade is one of the most recent pothos cultivars, making it slightly harder to find than more established types. But, as popularity and interest grows, they have become more widely available and less rare.
Now that you’ve learned all you need to know about caring for this popular pothos cultivar, all that’s left is to welcome one into your indoor garden. Once you have it home, just stick to the recommended care regimen you’ve just learned about, and you’ll likely have an indoor plant that’s happy and healthy for the next decade.