Skip to Content

Do Pothos Need Fertilizer? Answered

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

In this post, I’ll explain answer if pothos need fertilizer and how to fertilize pothos plants. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) has low nutrient requirements but needs small amounts of general-purpose fertilizer to maintain healthy, vigorous growth. Pothos plants can grow for long periods without fertilizer if there is sufficient organic matter in the soil.

However, to grow the pothos plants to their full potential, they need applications of slow-release dry fertilizer in the spring or water-soluble fertilizer applied every four to six weeks.

How To Repot Pothos

Pothos is probably the most widely grown houseplant in the world. This tropical evergreen vine is extremely easy to grow.

Pothos plants tolerate high levels of neglect and only need small amounts of fertilizer applied from time to time.

While pothos plants are low maintenance, they thrive when grown in optimal conditions.

Pothos plants prefer indirect light, high humidity, and warm temperatures (between 70F and 90F).

Pothos plants have low nutrient requirements, but they need some fertilizer occasionally to grow well and look their best.

In my experience, pothos plants can thrive for a year or more without being fertilized when the soil contains adequate amounts of organic matter such as compost.

Nonetheless, the plants eventually need fertilizer to replace the nutrients in the soil mix. Let’s look at the reasons why pothos plants need fertilizer.

Benefits Of Fertilizing Pothos

Appropriate fertilizer applications provide a range of benefits for pothos plants. Fertilizers provide the primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) that pothos plants need to perform photosynthesis and to continue growing new roots, stems, and lush green leaves.

Pothos plants also benefit from being fertilized with secondary nutrients and trace minerals, which support their overall health and resistance to pests and diseases.

The benefits of fertilizing pothos plants culminate in the vibrant health and enriching beauty of the plants.

Should You Mist Pothos Plants

Most Important Nutrients For Pothos – Pothos Fertilizer Ratio

Pothos plants don’t have specific nutrient requirements but need small amounts of essential primary, secondary, and trace nutrients in a complete and well-balanced ratio.

Which Nutrients Do Pothos Plants Need?

The primary essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are vital for growing healthy pothos plants.

Nitrogen is crucial for pothos plants because it enables them to produce chlorophyll for photosynthesis. Pothos plants also need nitrogen to grow new roots, stems, and leaves.

Pothos plants need fertilizers with phosphorous. The plants use phosphorous for critical functions like photosynthesis, nutrient transportation, and root and shoot development.

Potassium is also vital for pothos plants. This primary nutrient enables pothos plants to build strong cell walls, resulting in stronger stems and resistance to pests and diseases. Potassium also plays a significant role in the transportation of nutrients and water.

In addition to the primary nutrients, pothos plants need sufficient amounts of the secondary essential nutrients magnesium, calcium, and sulfur.

To maintain their health, vigor, and beauty, pothos plants also need the 13 essential trace minerals or elements like manganese, silicon, molybdenum, and boron.

Fertilizer Nutrient Ratios For Pothos Plants

Pothos plants benefit most from small amounts of complete fertilizers that contain all essential plant nutrients in a balanced ratio.

The fertilizer should mainly be composed of primary nutrients. It should also contain small amounts of secondary nutrients and minuscule amounts of the 13 essential trace minerals.

The fertilizer should have slightly higher ratios of nitrogen to potassium and phosphorous.

How Much Light Does Pothos Need

Types Of Fertilizers For Pothos Plants

Pothos plants can be fed with a wide variety of fertilizers, provided that the fertilizers contain the appropriate kinds of nutrients in the proper amounts.

Pothos plants can be fertilized by top-dressing with dry, slow-release fertilizers or with applications of fast-acting water-soluble fertilizers.

Best Fertilizer For Pothos

General-purpose, liquid fertilizers for indoor plants usually have appropriate nutrient ratios to meet the nutritional needs of pothos plants.

Water-soluble fertilizers also have the advantage of making nutrients immediately available to the plants. The disadvantage is that these fertilizers must be applied more often than dry fertilizers.

Dry fertilizers can be messier to apply than liquid fertilizers, but they have the advantage of releasing nutrients slowly, so there is little risk that the plants will get burned.

This is helpful because pothos plants are sensitive to excessive nutrients.  Dry fertilizers are also advantageous because they only need to be applied once or twice a year.

High-quality compost, earthworm castings, and granulated fertilizers are some of the best dry sources of fertility for pothos plants.

These fertilizers release nutrients to pothos plants in low amounts over a long duration. Compost and castings also contain complete and well-balanced nutrient profiles and diverse populations of beneficial soil microbes.

Homemade Fertilizer For Pothos

There are countless homemade fertilizers that can be applied to pothos plants. Most of these homemade fertilizers are easy and quick to prepare and can be as effective as store-bought fertilizers.

Choosing a homemade fertilizer for pothos plants depends on your local context and the materials you have available at the time. The list is virtually endless. Commonly recommended homemade fertilizers for pothos plants include:

  • Coffee grounds,
  • Epsom salts,
  • Banana peel blended with water.

These simple homemade fertilizers provide valuable nutrition to pothos plants. However, they have relatively narrow nutrient profiles. In my opinion, the best homemade fertilizers are:

  • compost,
  • earthworm castings,
  • fermented plant juice.

Compost, castings, and fermented plant juice have complete and balanced nutrient contents. They also contain plant growth hormones, enzymes, and beneficial microbes.

Compost and worm castings are excellent slow-release dry fertilizers. Worm casting tea and fermented plant juice can be applied as liquid fertilizers to achieve faster results. 

Fermented plant juice is one of my favorite homemade water-soluble fertilizers for pothos plants. When applying fermented plant juice as a foliar spray, pothos plants respond almost instantaneously.

The fertilizer is made by mixing sugar with the growth tips of fast-growing plants (see this video for more information on making fermented plant juice).

The mix of sugar and plant material ferments and produces a liquid that is rich in essential plant nutrients, growth hormones, and beneficial micro-organisms. The extracted liquid is applied with water at a 1-500 or 1-1000 ratio.

It is advisable to add an equal amount of brown rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar to the mix. Though vinegar is acidic, it has a pH buffering effect that balances the low pH of fermented plant juice.

When To Fertilize Pothos – Best Time To Fertilize Pothos Plants

Pothos should ideally receive fertilizer before they exhaust the nutrients in their growing media and show signs of nutrient deficiency.

However, pothos plants have such low nutrient requirements that it might be a year or two before they need an application of fertilizer.

In temperate climates, the best time to fertilize pothos plants is during the growing season, from early spring to the end of the summer months. The plants will benefit most from fertilizer applications in spring and summer because the warmer temperatures and increased light levels cause the plants to produce lots of new growth.

It is not advisable to fertilize pothos plants in winter because they are dormant and do not require additional nutrients. Fertilizing pothos plants in winter is a waste of fertilizer.

It could even harm the plants because they cannot metabolize the nutrients properly. 

Pothos Growth Rate

How Often To Fertilize Pothos

Pothos plants don’t need fertilizer as often as other commonly grown houseplants. It’s always safer and more beneficial to fertilize pothos plants less often rather than too frequently.

Dry, slow-release fertilizers like compost and general-purpose granulated only need to be applied to pothos plants once in spring. This will generally provide adequate nutrients to sustain the plants throughout the growing season.

Liquid fertilizers need to be applied more often to pothos plants than dry fertilizers. The recommended frequency of application depends on the nutrient content and ratio of the fertilizer and the plant age, size.

In general, it is advisable to apply liquid fertilizers about once a month during the growing season. Another effective strategy is applying liquid fertilizer at much lower concentrations every time you water the pothos plants during the growing season. 

The crucial factor is that pothos plants have minimal nutrient requirements, so they don’t need frequent fertilizer applications. You could probably skip fertilizing a plant for one or two years without causing nutrient deficiency problems, and the plants would likely continue growing well. 

How To Fertilize Pothos: A Step-By-Step Guide

Fertilizing pothos plants is easy but there are some principles and techniques for maximizing the benefits of fertilizer applications. Here is a step-by-step guide to fertilizing pothos plants effectively.

Step 1: Considerations And Preparations Before Applying Fertilizer To Pothos

Successful fertilization of pothos plants begins before you apply the fertilizer. The first step is to check whether the plants need fertilizer or not.

Factors to consider include the health and growth rate of the plants, the size of their containers, and the time of the last fertilizer application. 

If pothos plants look weak and unhealthy and have signs of nutrient deficiency, they need fertilizer. Container size is another crucial variable to consider. Smaller containers need smaller amounts of fertilizer applied more frequently than larger containers.

Before applying fertilizer to pothos plants, it’s also vital to how much time has passed since the last fertilizer application. If the plants haven’t received fertilizer for several months, and are growing slowly with yellow or discolored leaves, then they probably need fertilizer.

You might not need to fertilize pothos plants if they are healthy and growing in large containers with adequate amounts of organic matter. In these cases, it might be worth waiting a few weeks before re-assessing whether to apply fertilizer or not.

If you’ve determined that the pothos plants need fertilizer, the final consideration is how moist the soil is. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet.

Applying fertilizer to dry soil might burn the roots of the pothos plants while watering fertilizer into overly moist soil will create water-logged, anaerobic conditions.

Step 2: Select And Prepare Your Fertilizer

Choose fertilizers with the full complement of essential plant nutrients in a well-balanced ratio. Most general-purpose fertilizers for indoor plants will be suitable for pothos plants.

Check the recommended application rates carefully before mixing and applying to plants if you’re using a store-bought liquid fertilizer to feed pothos plants.
It is strongly advisable to mix the fertilizer with water at about half the recommended application rate because pothos plants don’t have high nutrient requirements. The same principle applies to dry, slow-release fertilizers. 

Step 3: Applying Fertilizer To Pothos

Now we get to the fun part.

When using dry fertilizers, apply a thinly scattered layer and mix it gently into the top layer of the soil. Water the dry fertilizer thoroughly. Watering will draw the fertilizer down to the roots while also encouraging it to break down and release its nutrients to the plants.

If you’re using liquid fertilizers to feed pothos plants, apply the fertilizers at the advised half-strength concentration. Liquid fertilizers can be applied to pothos plants by drenching the soil and foliage (or just the soil).

Pothos plants can also be fertilized by misting the foliage with a spray bottle.

Foliar sprays should ideally be applied when humidity levels are low. There should also be adequate amounts of air moving around the plants.

Avoid spraying liquid fertilizer on pothos foliage in conditions of high humidity and limited air movement, as this increases the risk of fungal disease.

Step 4: Observe Results And Respond Accordingly

After applying the fertilizer to pothos plants, observe the plants to see the results.

Liquid fertilizers should produce visible results within a few days. If you apply a dry type of fertilizer, you’ll need to wait at least one or two weeks to see if the fertilizer is achieving the desired results.

If the fertilizer application was successful, the pothos plants will have a healthier appearance with visibly greener and shinier leaves.

The pothos plants will also grow faster and produce denser foliage. If you observe these positive results there is no need for further action until the next planned fertilizer application.

When pothos leaves become discolored and develop brown spots, this probably indicates that the plant has nutrient burn because the fertilizer was too strong.

Only give the plants plain water until they recover and then re-apply the fertilizer at 50% or less of the previous application.

If you don’t observe any change in the pothos plants after fertilizing them, this may be a sign that the concentration was too low. It is advisable to be patient and wait another week. If there are still no observable changes, re-apply the fertilizer at a slightly higher concentration.

If you don’t see positive results after reducing or increasing the amount of fertilizer then the cause of the problem might be related to:

  • the fertilizer contents or quality,
  • the soil mix in the container,
  • the growing environment,
  • incorrect watering practices.

In most cases, if you follow the basic principles and techniques described above, you will be able to fertilize your pothos plants successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Pothos Plants

Now you have a clear understanding of why and how to fertilize pothos plants, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about growing these attractive tropical vines.

How To Grow Larger Leaves On Pothos Plants?

Pothos plants can grow very large– from 10 to 40 feet long and 3 to 6 feet wide. Applications of fertilizer will encourage pothos plants to grow larger leaves. Increasing the amount of light that pothos plants receive will also promote the growth of larger leaves.

How To Get More Variegation In Pothos Leaves?

It is possible to promote increased color variegation on pothos leaves by increasing the intensity and duration of light that the plants receive. Increased light will produce dramatic leaf variegation.

Less light will result in pothos plants with little to no variegation in their leaves.

Are Pothos Plants Toxic?

The leaves and stems of pothos plants contain calcium oxalate, which is mildly toxic if consumed by humans and mammals.

Calcium oxalate can also cause skin irritation when touched. However, calcium oxalate is not present on the outside surfaces of pothos leaves and stems, so you can handle the plants safely without the risk of coming into contact with this organic compound.

Do Pothos Plants Clean The Air?

Pothos plants purify the air of many commonly occurring chemicals that are dangerous to the health of humans and other living organisms.

Scientific researchers have shown that pothos plants can dramatically reduce the amounts of toxic chemicals in the air within a few hours.

Pothos plants remove toxic chemicals that are omnipresent in most urban indoor environments, including:

  • toluene, 
  • benzene
  • formaldehyde.

These chemicals are very harmful, so it is worth growing pothos plants for their air-purifying benefits as much as for their beauty and ease of care.

Do Pothos Plants Get Root Rot?

Pothos generally don’t have problems with diseases. However, the plants can become susceptible to fungal infections when grown in poor conditions and are unhealthy and stressed.

Unhealthy, stressed pothos plants are also vulnerable to fungal diseases like root rot. Phytophthora root rot is the most common type of root rot that affects pothos plants.

This disease is introduced to the plants by a species of water mold and is usually caused by excessive soil moisture, humidity, and lack of air movement. soil or high humidity.

The symptoms of root rot include drooping foliage and brown or black leaf discoloration. The problem can possibly be solved by allowing the soil to dry out and by exposing the plants to adequate airflow.

Fungicide can be applied to pothos plants that have root rot disease. However, this not recommended because the plants are sensitive to the ethylene that is contained in many store-bought fungicide products.