Pothos Lifespan: How Long Do Pothos Plants Live?
Every houseplant collector is bound to have at least one Pothos in their collection. Experienced Pothos parents and new owners alike may be wondering how long they can expect their precious plants to live for, anxiously avoiding their demise at all costs. Luckily, their lifespan is not as short as some may think…
Looking to add your first pothos plant, or second one (or a fifth, or a sixth) to your indoor garden but aren’t really sure how long they will live? As one of the most popular indoor houseplants, many new owners rush into plant ownership without thinking about the plant, and how long it might stick around.
If you like green companions that will stick around, the pothos plant is for you. That’s the good news. If well cared for, these plants have an excellent lifespan, and are extremely hardy even when they haven’t received a proper watering in a while.
So, if you want to know how long this plant lives, the short answer is, “it depends.” There are several factors that can influence this which you’ll learn about, as well as a few tips on prolonging the lifespan of your new plant. Let’s take a deeper look!
The Short Answer
If you are looking for the short answer on how long these plants live, the average lifespan of an indoor pothos plant is between 5 and 10 years. But there are many factors that play into that, including maintenance, care, and proper watering. It’s not uncommon to see a pothos live well over a decade of they are properly cared for.
The name Pothos refers to all plants of the species Epipremnum aureum. Although recently joining the ranks of most popular houseplants worldwide, the Pothos has a long history of interest and cultivation.
Pothos, like many tropical foliage plants, is part of the Araceae plant family. Also known as the Arum family, it is accompanied by the familiar Monstera, Anthurium and Peace Lily. Known for their ease of care, they are all also joined by a love of their sought-after foliage in a range of sizes and colors. There are many different cultivars of pothos, giving indoor plant enthusiasts plenty of options when bringing one home.
The question of what classifies as a Pothos is not always clear. For example, these plants share a common name with another species, Satin Pothos. However, this plant is from a different genus (Scindapsus) and is technically not a true Pothos.
Similarly, climbing or trailing plants with a resemblance to the Golden Pothos are often grouped with this species, despite being unrelated. Philodendron hederaceum, or the Heartleaf Philodendron, is usually the main species confused with the Pothos. Luckily, there are several ways to tell these two plants apart that can clear up the confusion.
In some regions, Pothos is known as the Money Plant after its perceived ability to bring its owner’s good luck and financial prosperity. A more sinister common name is Devil’s Ivy, prescribed due to its invasive nature.
Although known today as Epipremnum aureum, the Pothos was not always labeled in this way.
Believed to be native to French Polynesia, it was first described in written record as Pothos aureus in 1880. The Pothos genus wasn’t well classified in the 19th century and contained a range of plants just unique enough to not fit into any existing genera at the time. While it didn’t remain in that genus for long, the common name did stick around.
In 1962, it was reclassified Rhaphidophora aurea. This genus is part of the subfamily Monsteroideae, along with the ever-popular Monstera deliciousa.
With further study, researchers decided the plant was closer to another member of the Arum family, Epipremnum pinnatum. It was different enough to be considered a separate species entirely, leading to the name given today.
Pothos Plants develop long vines with cascading foliage. The leaves are gently heart-shaped and often feature interesting variegation patterns, from golden flecks to large patches of stark white.
In their native habitats, Pothos Plants either climb up trees or sprawl along forest floors. Their leaves grow incredibly large under the right conditions but remain a modest size indoors.
Training the vines up a support is one of many ways to speed up their growth and produce a dense cluster of glossy foliage. However, they look equally as good planted in a hanging basket to trail down, or on a shelf and draped along and in between other décor items.
While they can grow outdoors in tropical USDA Zones 9-11, it’s best to keep them indoors and contained within their pots. In the right conditions, they can spread rapidly when planted in the garden and are classified invasive in some regions.
Thanks to their continued popularity and interest, several Pothos cultivars have been developed by dedicated growers over the years. In fact, there are currently 16 types to choose from (as well as the aforementioned Satin Pothos), ensuring there is never a dull moment within this species.
The Golden Pothos, the original species, is the most widespread. With golden flecks and strong variegation, it is one of the easiest houseplants to grow, making it great for beginners.
White variegation is taking center stage at the moment, and Pothos is certainly not lacking in this department. Try Marble Queen, Snow Queen, Manjula, Glacier, and a number of other creamy cultivars within this species.
For lovers of large leaves, Hawaiian is the go-to when compared to other varieties. For a more compact look, try the highly variegated N’Joy. There is even something for those that don’t enjoy variegation patterns in the Neon Pothos and Jade Pothos.
In short – if you’re looking for something interesting and unique in foliage, Pothos is your answer.
How Long Do Pothos Plants Live?
Defining the exact lifespan of a houseplant is tricky. They don’t have quite the same progression as humans do, nor do they have a specific range where they are expected to die naturally. Some plants certainly do fit this description, but most houseplants don’t.
The same can be said for the Pothos. Yours may live for 2 years, 10 years or even longer depending on the conditions it is in and how it is cared for.
Parts of the plant will age. Leaves may turn yellow and fall off through no fault of the owner, while stems become diminished over time. However, new leaves and stems should always grow under the right conditions, leaving the potential lifespan of these plants as almost indefinite.
But, that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to live forever. Whether it be inadequate growing conditions, lack of care, or pest and disease problems, there are a number of factors that could lead to your plant’s ultimate demise.
Luckily, that also means that with the right care, your Pothos could theoretically live as long as yourself, and potentially longer.
6 Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Pothos
Environmental conditions and care are key to keeping your Pothos living as long as possible.
These plants are known to tolerate neglect and incorrect care well, leading to their low-maintenance and beginner-friendly labels. However, when looking to grow a long-living Pothos, almost perfect conditions are preferred.
Follow these care tips for a healthy, happy Pothos long-term.
Give Them Bright Indirect Light
Take a look at any low-light houseplant list and you will surely find Pothos near the top. Unlike some houseplants that immediately lose their vigor and struggle to grow in lower lighting conditions, these plants hold up relatively well in the short term.
But these are not their preferred conditions. Growing under tree canopies in their natural habitats, the Pothos is accustomed to dappled shade outdoors. Indoors, this translates to areas with bright indirect light.
Bright indirect light may be difficult to define. Generally, they are spots very close to windows but out of the path of the direct sun. You can also use a light meter, or download a light meter app on your smartphone, to determine the perfect light levels.
Given consistently bright indirect light, your Pothos will thrive year after year. As sunlight plays an important role in variegation levels, this is also a way to ensure you get the highest possible variegation levels from your plant.
Make sure you don’t overdo it and leave your Pothos in the path of direct sunlight. This will burn the leaves after only a few hours, having the opposite impact on growth and potentially on overall lifespan.
Much like their tolerance for a range of lighting conditions, Pothos are also tolerant of a missed watering or two. Their thicker, waxy leaves hold more water than the average houseplant, allowing them to manage forgetful plant parents well.
However, like all plants, they appreciate as much consistency as possible. Watering at just the right time – as soon as the top few inches of soil dries out completely – will prevent stress and extend the life of your plant.
Both too little and too much water are the greatest plant killers. Water too little and the plant cannot photosynthesize or survive. You will see browning leaves, general wilting, browning stems, and stunted growth.
On the other hand, too much water can be just as damaging. Watering when the soil is already moist, or lack of drainage in the chosen pot, will lead to waterlogging. This excess moisture in the soil hangs around the roots, restricting airflow and causing rot.
Root rot is certainly a death sentence if not dealt with immediately. Underwatering gives you more time and likelihood to resolve the problem, but can also be deadly if you’re not careful.
To avoid these problems, check the soil regularly and never let it dry out completely or become soggy.
Provide The Right Soil
Plants, no matter how they are labeled, are obviously not designed to grow indoors. There are certain characteristics that make some plants suitable for growing indoors, but that comes with a few extra considerations. One of those is soil.
Container soil is different from garden soil. Confined by a pot, the soil needs to be light and airy to drain any excess water freely to prevent root rot. It also needs to allow air to flow through the soil to transport oxygen to the roots.
As the foundation of good growth, the right soil is vital in extending the life of your Pothos. If you’re looking for strong healthy roots in the long term, consideration of the soil is important.
Houseplant soil mixes, available from nurseries or online, are designed for indoor growth, making them ideal for any Pothos plant. But, to really make your plant feel at home, try making your own soil mix.
Take a look at the components in the existing soil and try to replicate that texture and composition exactly. Keep a note of what you used and follow the same routine with every repotting. This maintenance in conditions will ensure your Pothos is never stressed or in shock, extending their lifespan.
Repotting is a task houseplant parents often forget about. But, in terms of keeping your Pothos alive long-term, is it one of the most essential tasks around.
Over time, plants in containers will use up all the available nutrients in the soil. These nutrients – made up of a combination of macronutrients, secondary nutrients, and micronutrients – are essential to the continued survival of your plants.
Fertilizer is the first line of defense here. However, after a few years, another soil issue will pop up. Soil disintegrates over time, unable to hold onto any moisture or fertilizer. If left in the same container for long periods in these conditions, your Pothos will slowly die.
And finally, there is the problem of root growth to consider. A healthy plant is a growing plant, which means the roots are always slowly expanding into the soil. Eventually, they will take up all the space in the pot. With nowhere to go, they will start to leave the drainage holes and circle around themselves until they are given the space to grow again.
Combined, these factors explain why repotting the pothos is so important. These quick growers require repotting often in the first few years of growth, but this can be slowed to every two to three years as the plant matures.
As long-time Pothos owners may have discovered, these plants can quickly become unruly. The long vines grow several inches long per month in spring and summer and are known to trail down to the floor when left unattended.
This isn’t technically a problem for growth and lifespan. However, it’s not a great contributor either.
The more leaves and stems the plant has to keep alive in comparison to the confined areas of the pot, the more stress it will be under. Similarly, the weight of the stems and leaves can put pressure on the roots when left hanging, causing slow or stunted growth.
Pruning is one tool you can use to resolve this problem. Pruning stimulates new growth at the site of the cut when done correctly, improving the appearance of stretched or leggy branches and keeping the plant to a manageable size.
After pruning, you don’t need to throw your cuttings away either. Trim them, pop in a glass of water and watch the roots grow to produce more of your favorite plants.
Prevent Pests & Diseases
If there is any major reason for a plant’s demise largely out of the owner’s control, its pests and diseases. Pothos plants are prone to several pest and disease problems indoors, each of which needs to be managed soon to prevent long-term damage.
Look out for spider mites, scale and mealybugs that feed on the sap and tissues of the leaves and stems. Control with an insecticidal soap or neem oil and continue to apply until all traces of the problem are gone.
Diseases are not as common, but issues like root rot and leaf spot are known to affect Pothos plants. When it comes to disease, prevention is key. Provide the right care and prune away any problematic foliage immediately. Once disease sets in, it is usually best to discard the plant rather than let the problem spread to the rest of your indoor garden.
As soon as you notice a problem, acting quickly will save the life of your Pothos and keep it healthy for years to come.
With the right conditions and a little TLC, you can keep your Pothos alive for as long as want to – potentially longer than yourself. While there are other houseplants that might live a bit longer, these leggy green companions are some of the most popular, and low maintenance indoor plants you can welcome into your home.