Pothos - need to fertilize?

epiprenJanuary 21, 2009

I dutifully fertilize my pothos with those fertilizer sticks.

My uncle has had the same pothos, in the same pot, for 22 years. I asked him how he takes care of it. He simply waters occasionally, in sips, and trims it when it hangs too far out of its pot.

In other words, he does everything wrong. Waters in sips, never letting water flow out. No fertilizer. No changing soil. Nothing. And it's working. Any thoughts?

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If it's obvious that the soil's bad, it's gotta be changed, no doubt about it.

My mother uses 5-2-2 fish emulsion for her ivys' and they've been doing good for the past twenty years.

For grooming, just snip the dying part as close as you can to a new leaf.

P.S. Pothos HATE most pest powders. I'd recommend getting something that you can water the plant with to take care of any problems.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:38AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

After careful consideration, quiet contemplation, and an awfully, anorexic play at alliteration, the only thing I can come up with is either a typo ('2' years) or that plant has SOME kind of ju ju! ;o)


    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 9:06AM
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Is it physically possible to kill pothos?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 12:21PM
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I killed pothos for years, until I searched Pothos on this site and found out why.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:13PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Yes, Blu, it's quite possible to kill Pothos, generally by overwatering. I know a few people who can grow many things but not Pothos; overwatering can kill these guuys quite fast!

As to the original poster, Pothos don't seem to need or want fertilizer & they're from a group of plants that generally prefer benign neglect, In other words rather less care than more.

I'd forget those fertilizer sticks altogether. I don't really fertilize mine which I've grown for years, by the pot fulls, if I fertilize it 1 or 2 times a year (when I'm giving it to other plants) that's it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

My guess is that the plant is languishing, rather than thriving. We've all seen lots of pictures in this forum of plants that looked pretty sad to me, yet the owners were happy with them.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 2:04PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Good point, and I agree. Similarly, I think I can usually get a clearer idea of a picture-poster's husbandry skills by looking beyond the recently fussed-over focal plant, almost sure to be in top shape, to see what the plants lurking in the background look like. I've seen many examples that are very revealing. Learned that in spy school. ;o)


    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 5:47PM
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Its clear Epipren that your uncle's plant has many good things going for it. It doesn't need water if he knows the plant's use of it and can safely water to the point of its using rather than watering to the point of drainage which more confirms it has reached some point.

Its not the safest way to water a plant....but thousands of people do it and get away with it.
Their plants evidently have other good things surrounding them. The uncle's plant is happy with the amount of light it receives through the seasons, it is left alone, undisturbed, in a safe location and is not put in danger by air currents or running children.

My sister-in-law cared for all of her plants in a similar fashion. When I say "all"...I could hardly count them, she was forever buying another and adding to the numbers.
My constant suggestion that she was not caring in the recommended way --all that did was make her annoyed with my announcements. She's been doing what she does all her life...(she's 88) and she's not likely to change.
I agreed with her on that point.

If your uncle was to change his method and go with the recommended way --I'm sure his pothos would not be long for this world.

But I don't recommend you mirroring his method for any of your plants.

I might tho add a thought. Does your uncle have his pothos in a sleeve pot? i.e. is his plant--in its container, sitting in a second container and when he waters it exits to the sleeve....not to a saucer and when you're not looking, he dumps it.
Now that is recommended widely. Most guarded houseplant owners do not relish having a plant sitting in a dirty pot, sitting in a more dirty saucer, sitting in their living room with the need to water and having the danger of it overflowing onto their hardwood or carpeted floor and so buy a decorative sleeve and it, in itself, adds to a room's decor.

Just a thought!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 6:44PM
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Does your uncle's pothos ever get to vacation outside? I have had one for about four years that has never been repotted and continues to thrive. It gets watered sporadically and occassionally gets liquid fertilizer dumped on it, and yet it grows quite happily. I believe this is because it is outside in the summer and it always produces runners whose roots feed down into the soil. This way the plant is getting the nutrients from 'new' soil without ever being repotted.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 7:17PM
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Yes, I think we would all love to see a clear photo of your uncles pothos! Is that possible?

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 10:17PM
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I'll try to get a shot
I think it's in a duck-shaped container, not sure if it's full of soil, or if there's a second pot in there.

Will get back to you.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 11:51PM
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Just a comment to epipren's first post: Well, I also have a pothos that has been in the same pot for at least 20 years. (It hung in a bar w/ smoking! for about 10 years before I brought it home.) I have never repotted and fertilize a few times in spr/summer w/ miracle grow. it has gotten very leggy to the point where i've wrapped the lower ends around the top of the plant to make it look fuller. It has new growth and I pinch those off every couple months. It hangs in an east window in NE Mass getting very little direct sunlight but bright light most of the day. I have two others: one thriving(a few yrs old) sits on the coffee table in the above room, the other in another room in an east window also (this one is 1.5 yrs old and has yellowing leaves right now but turned the humidifier on it).

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 1:58PM
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My mother could kill weed just looking at it, in her own words.
Sad hugh. She has givin up on ALL houseplants. She hates coming to my home and seeing all my healthy plants!lol
She tried this one plant, the "pothos" after almost giving up, because she was told if she grew at least this plant, she still has some green thumb in her and hope.
SHE KILLED IT! Within weeks
Now she says she has a black thumb. She won't even let a plastic plant in her home, let alone live ones!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 5:48PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Mike,

Could it be she's one of the folks for whom silk plants would be the answer?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 6:53PM
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That's what I thought!!!!lol..
I told her this. That she could get nice looking ones at Target.
She said she wants nothing to do with anything that reminds her of the real thing! That's how much she is reminded of the failure to keep a live one alive.
But what did she do the other day, she bought silk flowers at the goodwill store! lol
My dad can't stand them!
He hates the fake flowers and she hates the real plants and the fake ones! Go figure.
Of course their home is decor is dull and boring....Lol

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 2:49PM
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Hi everybody I just found this site and I think I'm sorta like Mike's mom, I always tell people I can kill artificial plants. If I go to a plant shop they play dead until I leave. So I had a pothos at work, in water for over a year. Changing the water and rinsing the roots was easy so I decided to try to plant it since we are getting along so well. I took it home, put it in dirt and sat it at my balcony doors to get lots of am sun. To my surprise it is growing like crazy and making me very proud. I live on the East Coast and the weather will starting to change soon. My balcony doors are very drafty in the winger and I'm afraid I'll kill my pothos and never want to try again. Can someone tell me is it fine right where it is or do I have to move it? If I have to move it, will the change in location hurt it? I think I've heard that plants can die if you move them around. I love plants and nature, I don't want to end up restricting all plant forms from my home like Mike's mother.
Oh and I did use the fertilizer spikes when I first potted back in April or May but I haven't used any since. I usually don't water until I start to see leaves falling off. I use two aqua globes and empty pretty fast but I don't refill until, as mentioned before, leaves start to fall off.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 8:18AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, but that's a terrible watering practice. You didn't water 'til the leaves fall off? That's cruel & unusual punishment, surprising the plant is still alive. If it can survive that I wouldn't worry about much else.

Pls. read around some & learn how to water better than that. Try watering the plant every 10 days or so, learn the weight of the pot DRY, then water well, 'til it runs out the bottom & learn the weight of the plant newly watered. I'd forget the aqua globes since they're not helping you AT ALL.

Don't know how cold it's going to get for you, that's the key. I'll guess you need to bring it in & find a new spot for it. No, it shouldn't harm it to move, these are rough & sturdy plants. I'm guessing the cold draft will harm it more than being moved.

FYI: generally it's best here to start a new thread for each topic, rather than post to an old thread, which is no longer active. Likely to get more answers & faster that way.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:25PM
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