Devil’s Ivy; sounds sinister, but looks gorgeous! Foliage lovers, forgetful gardeners, and houseplant enthusiasts alike, this one’s for you. Prized for its glossy green leaves, unique variegation patterns, versatile display options, and almost supernatural tolerance of neglect, it’s no surprise that Devil’s Ivy is one of the most popular and beloved houseplants the world over.
No self-respecting houseplant hobbyist’s collection is complete without this most effortless of plants. To help you get started with growing your own, we’ve put together a fool-proof guide to all things Devilish!
What is Devils Ivy?
Epipremnum aureum, better known as ‘Devil’s Ivy’ or Pothos, is a species of evergreen perennial plants belonging to the Arum family, Araceae. Known collectively as Aroids, the family boasts over 140 species of broad-leafed tropical plants that are popularly kept as houseplants, including Monstera, Caladium, Alocasia, and Philodendron.
The Devil’s Ivy plant is endemic to specific tropical island regions of the Pacific Ocean, where it spreads across the forest floor, encircling nearby plants for support as it creeps upwards, or cascades down from taller plants. Despite its original habitat being limited to just a handful of tiny Pacific islands, Devil’s Ivy has now become widely naturalised in tropical and subtropical areas throughout Australia, Asia, and Africa.
Because of their tropical inclination, Pothos are rarely, if ever, successfully cultivated outdoors in the Northern hemisphere. Instead, it is usually grown as a houseplant where it thrives in the warm and consistent conditions of the home.
In its natural habitat, Pothos’s creeping and climbing vines can extend to great lengths of up to twenty meters, although they tend to be much more compact and manageable when grown in the home, with a more modest length of around two meters.
Pothos’ trailing and creeping growth habit means they can be displayed in a variety of creative ways; cascading elegantly down from suspended baskets; or trained to grow around upright moss poles for support. Pothos are also particularly adaptable to semi-aquatic conditions and are sometimes grown simply in water-filled glass vases to showcase their root system, or in aquariums and aquascapes, where they absorb nitrates and help to oxygenate the water.
Almost all varieties of Devil’s Ivy feature large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves which encircle thick, cascading vines. Aerial roots extend from the main vines and latch onto nearby plants or structures to support their creeping growth.
Many varieties feature beautiful variegation patterns and colours on their leaves, ranging from sprawling milky-white marbling patterns to smaller splotches and splashes, depending on the variety. It is this unusual foliage which has catapulted Pothos into the houseplant hall of fame.
And it’s a good job that Devil’s Ivy produces such beautiful foliage, since they almost never flower, even in the wild. The last recorded spontaneous flowering of a Pothos plant occurred in 1962! Often, the only way to encourage flowering in these stubborn plants is to use artificial hormone supplements, and even with additional help, the chances of your indoors-grown Pothos producing flowers are exceptionally slim.
Scarce and fleeting as they may be, the flowers that do appear are similar to the blooms of peace lilies, producing a single thick, glossy petal known as a spathe, which partly envelopes a large central floral spike.
Devil’s Ivy gets its rather sinister name from its reputation for being almost impossible to kill! This is one plant which truly thrives on neglect, so novice and forgetful gardeners rejoice! They are well known for their amazing ability to remain green even in prolonged periods of darkness and to continue growing even in prolonged periods of drought.
What are the Benefits of growing Devil’s Ivy in Your Home?
Pothos are listed in the NASA Clean Air Study as one of the most effective air purifying plants. They have been scientifically proven to remove harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene from the atmosphere, so not only are Pothos easy on the eye, but they can also help to create a healthier home too!
Throughout Asia, Devil’s Ivy is thought to bring luck to those who grow it. Often known colloquially as the ‘Money Plant’, many believe Devil’s Ivy brings good fortune, wealth and prosperity, so consider keeping a Pothos if you could do with a little financial boost!
Best Types of Devil’s Ivy to Grow
Each type of Devil’s Ivy has its own distinctive, yet equally beautiful foliage. To help you decide which one to introduce to your houseplant collection, we’ve put together a list of five of the most fabulous varieties.
Devil’s Ivy ‘Jade’ is so named for its rich jewel-green coloured leaves. Unlike other varieties, Jade features no variegation, but its gorgeous glossy, dense foliage speaks for itself. Its quintessential heart-shaped leaves have a faintly ribbed texture which adds extra interest. Jade has a compact and neat growth habit which is perfect for smaller spaces.
Pothos ‘Marble Queen’ is perhaps one of the showiest, and definitely one of the best-loved varieties. It features highly variegated leaves that are adorned with milky white and cream marbling. It also has one of the largest and most sprawling growth habits of all pothos varieties. Marble Queen certainly lives up to its regal moniker, standing out proudly amongst any houseplant collection.
Pothos ‘Snow Queen’ is another striking variety of Devil’s Ivy which certainly demands attention. Similar to the Marble Queen in terms of variegation pattern, only with crisper, snow-white markings, which create a show-stopping contrast against its deep green background.
Occasionally they produce leaves that are almost completely white in colour. Its heavy variegation is due to a lack of chlorophyll which means it has a slower growth habit than less variegated Pothos varieties, making it ideal for smaller areas in the home.
Satin Pothos is unique in that it doesn’t have the characteristic glossy green foliage displayed by most other Pothos varieties. Instead, it offers leaves of a deep, olive green with a matte, almost fuzzy surface. The leaves take on an irresistible pearlescent shimmer when the sunlight touches them, causing them to appear almost luminescent.
Satin Pothos also display small, jagged silver variegation marks across the leaves, often with a silvery border encircling the very edges of the leaves. Although not strictly a member of the Epipremnum species, Satin Pothos and Devil’s Ivy are often grouped together under the Pothos umbrella because of their almost identical anatomy and care requirements. Satin Pothos are particularly tolerant of low light and drought, so they are perfect for the forgetful gardener.
Neon Pothos, as the name suggests, boasts eye-catching fluorescent green-hued foliage which is almost unprecedented in nature, giving this variety a decidedly out-of-this-world appearance. Its leaves are pure green with no variegation, but like variegated varieties, it needs brighter light levels to maintain its incredible colouring. Insufficient light levels will cause its foliage to become dull.
Caring for Devil’s Ivy
As one of the lowest-maintenance houseplants around, caring for your Devil’s Ivy couldn’t be simpler. Here are our top tips for effortless Pothos growing.
Pots and Repotting
As always, select a pot with plenty of drainage holes, since your Pothos won’t enjoy having wet feet. They can grow rather rapidly when conditions are right, so use a pot which is a couple of inches bigger that the rootball, and expect to pot it up every two or three years to accommodate new growth.
Generally, if you can see roots protruding above the soil line or through the drainage holes, it’s time for a bigger pot. Drooping leaves with no sign of pest or disease are also an indication that your Devil’s Ivy has become pot-bound.
If you’re planning to train your Pothos upwards around a moss pole, select a pot which is stable and sturdy and won’t topple over as your plant grows upwards and becomes more top-heavy. If you’ll be suspending your Pothos from a hanging basket, place it somewhere with plenty of space beneath it for the vines and tendrils to cascade downwards.
Choose a well-draining and moderately fertile soil for your Devil’s Ivy. Start out with regular houseplant potting compost and enhance it by adding perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage, and organic matter such as sphagnum moss to boost nutrients.
On the rainforest floor, Devil’s Ivy has become adapted to moderate light levels, so they prefer a position in the home with bright but indirect or dappled sunlight. They should be kept away from direct sunlight and south-facing windowsills since intense sunlight can scorch their magnificent foliage.
Although able to grow fairly well even in very dark areas of your home, variegated varieties tend to need higher light levels than plain ones. They will lose their characteristic patterns and revert back to a plain green colour when grown without sufficient sunlight.
Similarly, sun-starved Pothos may become leggy and spindly as they stretch out in search of more light, so move them to a brighter position to reinvigorate their show-stopping foliage.
The broad, flat leaves of Pothos are prone to collecting dust over time, which can prevent the foliage from absorbing enough sunlight to perform photosynthesis. Give its leaves the occasional dust or wipe them over with a soft, damp cloth to let the sunlight back in.
Pretty much the only thing to remember when it comes to watering your Devil’s Ivy is don’t overdo it! They hate soggy soils and will quickly succumb to root rot, so wait for the top few inches of soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Your pothos will probably need fortnightly watering in the spring and summer growing seasons, but this can be significantly reduced during winter while the plant is dormant. Always allow your pothos to drain thoroughly after watering, especially if it’s sitting inside a decorative pot without drainage holes.
Soft, squashy vines or black spots appearing suddenly on the foliage can be a sign of overwatering, whilst black or brown-tipped foliage can be a sign of overwatering.
If you forget to water your Pothos for a few weeks, don’t worry, they’re tough! And definitely don’t overcompensate by giving it a huge drink. It will soon recover from drought but may not recover from a deluge.
Temperature and Humidity
In the wild, Pothos flourish in the high-humidity tropical conditions beneath the rainforest canopy. Although they can adapt to low humidity, they do best in moderately high humidity, so bathrooms and kitchens are the ideal locations for yours.
Grouping a few tropical houseplants together and misting them regularly can help to create a humid microclimate, or alternatively, you can place your Pothos on a pebble tray. Keep them away from heaters, radiators, and air conditioning units which can dry the air out.
You shouldn’t need to make any special temperature arrangements for Devil’s Ivy in your home. Average household temperatures between 15°C and 25°C are perfect for these warmth lovers. Keep them away from cool drafts and open windows during winter, as they will struggle in temperatures below 10°C.
If you’d like to grow your Devil’s Ivy as an upright plant rather than a trailing plant, you’ll need to support it with a moss pole. Insert a moss pole into its soil when you first plant it. As it grows, loosely secure its vines to the fibres of the moss pole using garden twine, wire, or cable ties.
For an even more artistic display that will transform your home into a lush jungle, consider using hooks to drape the vines across furniture and across walls!
Whilst Pothos aren’t particularly hungry, growing them in fertile soil will certainly speed up their growth and encourage plenty of dense foliage. Throughout the growing season, add some liquid all-purpose houseplant food to their water once monthly to really get the best from them.
The amount of pruning your Devil’s Ivy requires really depends on the amount of space you can dedicate to it since they don’t necessarily need any pruning at all. Their fast spreading, trailing, and creeping growth habit can quickly overwhelm a small space, so if you want to keep yours compact, prune back any unruly vines in spring or summer.
If your Pothos starts to look leggy then snipping back some of the length on the vines will also encourage denser foliage formation. You should also periodically remove fading, yellowing, or dead old leaves to keep them looking pristine and showcase all of their glossy green glory.
How to Propagate Devil’s Ivy
Aside from being one of the easiest plants to grow, Devil’s Ivy is also one the quickest and easiest plants to propagate using the water method! They tend to root really quickly, so it won’t be long before your home is full to bursting with Pothos-aplenty.
- In spring or early summer, when your Pothos is actively growing, select a few healthy vines with plenty of good leaves.
- Snip off a few inches of the vine using sterilised shears. It’s important to make the cut just above a leaf node since this is where the new roots will emerge from.
- Snip off a couple of the leaves closest to the incision point on the new cutting. This will expose a few more leaf nodes to create a more robust root system. Leave the foliage closest to the tip of the cutting intact, since this will absorb sunlight and create energy for forming the new root system.
- Place the cutting in a clear jar, vase, or bottle filled with water. Make sure all the exposed nodes are submerged but allow the leaves to rest well above the water’s surface.
- Place the cutting somewhere with bright, indirect light and refresh the water every few days. After a couple of weeks, you will be able to see the new roots emerging from the nodes.
- Once a healthy new root system has been established, you can transfer your cutting to a standard pot filled with well-draining, fertile substrate and treat it as you would a mature Pothos.
- Alternatively, you may choose to leave your cutting as it is, growing it hydroponically in the vase without any soil. Simply add regular liquid fertiliser and watch as its exposed roots grow and become ever more established and tangled!
Can I grow Devil’s Ivy outdoors?
Unfortunately, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in a tropical or subtropical climate will struggle to grow Pothos outdoors. They are sensitive to cold temperatures, and anything below 10°C can be fatal. It’s best to keep them warm in the home where you can enjoy them in all their tropical glory.
Will my Devil’s Ivy flower?
It’s highly unlikely that any house-grown Pothos will ever produce flowers. Even in the wild, blooming is scarcely seen unless synthetic hormones are used to help it along. Luckily, it’s the foliage, and not the flowers, which make Devil’s Ivy so very special.
Is Devil’s Ivy Toxic?
Devil’s Ivy is toxic to both pets and humans, cats in particular. It can cause severe stomach upset if ingested by our four-legged friends, so keep yours well out of reach of curious paws. Devil’s Ivy also contains calcium oxalate which is harmful to humans and can cause skin sensitivity, contact dermatitis, and burning sensations in the mouth if ingested, so handle yours with care (and definitely don’t try to eat it!).
Whether you’re a novice gardener or a botanical prodigy, this divinely Devilish plant has plenty to offer and demands almost nothing in return. So, if you’re on the hunt for a fabulous, fuss-free, and forgiving houseplant that’s sure to brighten up your home and improve your air quality, look no further than the Devil’s Ivy!