Will my Pothos Recover?

Alysson1220July 29, 2011

I have pothos plant that my mom had sent to school on my first day of teaching 5 years ago. Miraculously I (and my students) have managed not to kill it. I brought it home for the summer to repot it, since its hasn't really grown much. It has pretty mush always had two small vines with about 3-4 leaves and thats it. It's never grown crazy big. I've never had to trim it or anything. It is my understanding that these plants can really take off, but mine never did. I repotted it 2 years ago, since it was in a tiny pot and it was root locked. when I repotted it this time, there were hardly any roots at all, but the vines themselves were still green and healthy looking.

Here's where I'm concerned. When I repotted it, it was in a wilty state. I used fresh soil, and then watered it to draining and put it outside. I didn't read the directions until afterward, but it it was in direct sun, super hot temperatures, and I think I overwatered it to compensate for the heat and sun. I noticed today that the uppermost leaves are starting to turn brown and getting thin. I quickly brought it inside and out of the direct blazing sun. I check some videos online about clipping for propagation techniques. I clipped the two healthiest looking leaves and put them in the soil.

Do you think that it will come back? Once those leaves start to turn brown, is it doomed? I'm really worried, because I really love this little plant. I want it to thrive and I can't believe I'm killing an un-killable plant!

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Alysson,

No sorry, Pothos won't come back from just single leaves, they don't reproduce like that.

One needs to clip a piece w/ a leaf & ONE NODE, the little bumpy thing along the stem (from which future leaves &/or roots will grow).

They're not that un-killable, can be killed both from overwatering & I'd guess a lot of direct sun. Pls. stop watering the remainder of the plant if you still have it. Put it where it can can some bright, but indirect light & then pls. leave it alone for 4 days at least to try & recover.

If you do kill it, they are quite easily replaced, just ask anyone you know who has one for a couple of cuttings.

If you still have any plant left & it's not totally wilted, find a stem piece w/ node or 2 & place in cup of water to root.

I always have several cups of these cuttings growing in my bathroom. I never plant them, I just trim the roots from time to time & they do fine in the water. Maybe in future, that's an experiment you could try w/ your school kids.

Pls. don't be discouraged, you could always buy another at a local box store if you need to.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:23PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

If you have any of the stem left just cut any dieing leaves off and set it in water. if the stem is still alive then there is a chance that it could come back.

Ideally you'd want at least two nodes, one to be in the water and one or more above but sometimes one is OK. Just leave it in water and you'll see roots starting to grow.

Then you have a choice, to grow it in soil or keep it in the water. If you keep it in water for any length of time then it can be difficult to switch it back to soil but these plants do fine if kept growing in water.

If you decide on soil you need to use a fast draining mix, don't use the store bought stuff by itself. You can mix it at least half and half with perlite, orchid bark or small pieces of Horticultural or fish tank charcoal. It's gotta be loose and airy.

And do not fertilize at all until you see new growth and no more sun, only indirect light.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 11:58PM
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I have a question about pothos that I did not see on this forum. I have a lot of runners on my pothos plants, so I bought several nice ceramic pots at Wal-Mart to put them in. My question is, before I spend any more time and money, will my plants grow and thrive(barring overwatering) better if I first put my plants in a clay pot, the size appropriate for the size of ceramic container? I read somewhere that the roots could breathe better in a clay pot rather than a plastic or a closed in pot(no bottom drain). I have already potted 4 plants about a month ago, they seem to be starting to show some node growth on the stems, but one of them I put in lowlight in the bathroom is starting to get yellow leaves starting at the base. Could that problem be shock by putting it in the bathroom, or overwatering, because I dote on it to much because I am so proud that I got it to grow like that and I am probably watering it more than it needs. I do tend to do that. It is also in a clay pot sitting in the ceramic one. Will the roots get sufficient air circulation if the claypot is snug in the other planter. I got the size claypot that the sticker said would fit down in it. I just got 3 more planters, but I haven't did anything with them yet. Thank you for all of your help.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 3:32PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi PTbaker,

Where to start -- OK, first not sure what you mean by Pothos having 'runners'. They don't have runners as far as I know, they're just vines (stems w/ leaves). Are you sure it's a Pothos, perhaps post a pic to be sure?

Not sure one wants to be double potting one's first plants. Something to be said for keeping it simple to start. Pothos are commonly grown in plastic pots as many other Houseplants (not clay). Many of us save unglazed clay pots to grow succulents &/or cacti.

May I ask why you're double potting, is it for the outer pot to be ornamental? Before buying more materials, you may wish to read up on the plants first. For Pothos, a plastic pot, maybe a humidity tray & basic neglect. Plants can & do suffer from too much attention. Pothos in particular don't take well to doting & fussing, & overatering them is the one SURE way to kill them.

Double clay pots doesn't seem a good idea & I haven't seen folks doing this. It's usually done placing a plastic pot w/ draining holes into a larger ornamental pot w/out a hole (sometimes referred to as a cache pot).

Can't say why you have yellowing leaves in the bathrooom plant, it's not the bathroom doing it, I have cups of Pothos in water in my bathroomn & they're just fine.

It's likely a combination of poor soil & overwatering. You may not have it in fast draining mix which could keep it a bit soggy & not help things along. A houseplant mix w/ maybe 50% perlite might be a place to start. Try watering the plant less often & see if that helps.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:58PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Allyson, curious what happened to your plant?

ptbaker, I totally agree with PirateG, plastic is fine for Pothos. And only water when dry. Lifting the pot is usually the best way to judge, at least it is for me, the bigger ones I tip to the side to gauge their heft. To get started at this point, (assuming this is a pretty small pot/plant,) I also agree with PG about how it's probably overwatered. Try not watering until the soil feels very dry for a few days. Then pick up the pot to see how much lighter it is. After watering, check the difference which should be dramatic. This is now your future gauge of when to water. How heavy is it?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:36AM
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Thank you both for your contributions. Yes, it is a pothos. I guess I should have specified"vines", but the first word that came to mind was runners. I read an article from a master gardener that plants would do better in clay pots, reason was so they could breathe better, and soil would dry out evenly, and by the pots being porous, plants wouls do better? But if you'll are having and have had great results with plastic, then maybe I don't need to double pot, and yes, it was for decorator purposes that I was double potting. I just didn't think the plants would do good like that. So far, I am using cuttings to make the planters, some I am letting root in water, and some, I went ahead and put in pots. I didn't think to let them root first, hope they make it, they are still living, so far. I will statt lifting the pot to tell when its time to water.. Thanks again for the help.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:45PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

You're welcome.

...so they could breathe better, and soil would dry out evenly, and by the pots being porous, plants would do better. That's true but not necessary for most plants. If you prefer clay for Pothos, that's fine and it should do well.

...it was for decorator purposes that I was double potting. I just didn't think the plants would do good like that. Either clay or plastic would be fine and with either, you would want to check after watering to make sure water isn't standing in the cache pot.

I didn't think to let them root first, hope they make it... Both methods are fine and either can go wrong. Sounds like you've hedged your bets.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:57PM
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Hey Pirategirl, I did take the pot out of the decorator pot to check it, and there was water in the drip pan that the pot sits in, and there were roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. I cut off the roots, and emptied the water out. I will let it dry out now, and I will keep a watch on the lightness of the pot. This one is a yellow streaked pothos, and my other one is a white streaked one. How often do you fertilize your plants? Do you use miracle grow? Thats what I have been using, mixing up a gallon at the time, should I be diluting it down even further? Thanks again for the helpful tips.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:24PM
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