Pothos Training Wheels

If you can't balance on a bicycle, 
add 2 smaller wheels to the back end while you learn. 
If you can't keep plants alive, get yourself a Pothos 
to give you some confidence while you learn. 

It is only over the last year or two that my gardening experiments have started to show results. Early experiments in more urban areas proved that my thumbs were definitely not green. Once I had hoped that there was a genetic component to success with plants but I seem to have been mistaken. My earliest memories of gardening are from my grandparents. Both my mother’s and father’s parents seemed to be able to grow anything they wanted anywhere they wanted no matter what season we visited. I would watch my mother’s mother throw a peach seed in the yard one visit and we would be harvesting bushels of peaches for homemade ice cream the next. I don’t remember planting seeds at my father’s parent’s house but we always seemed to be able to go harvest vegetables from the garden for dinner. Time and seasons run a little funny in memory as the decades roll past but whatever any of my grandparents decided to grow would grow well.

When plant after plant failed to survive my care I gave up wishing on genetic stars and remembered my grandmother’s kitchen window. She always had old jam jars and soda bottles with single leaves of ivy in them. The ivy, I discovered after some looking, was Pothos. Epipremnum aureum has many common names but the one I’ve heard most often is Pothos vine. As with many popular house plants, this species originated in the tropics.

(Insert quick lecture) Why tropicals make good house plants (skip if you like): Tropical habitats (those in the equatorial band) have a relatively stable temperature year round and seasons are determined by the amount of rainfall instead. Plants adapted to living in an unchanging temperature and going for weeks without water before being inundated with floods are perfect for the average working person who can go a month before remembering they still have a plant. Many house plants have origins in the tropical rain forests, specifically, where the canopies are so thick they have adjusted to life with very little or indirect sunlight. Again, perfect for homes with few windows and unpredictable lighting. Tropical forests are also hot beds of biodiversity. This has instigated an ongoing battle between the hungry and the tasty. Adaptations in plant chemistry happen quickly in this environment and species that are toxic will live to produce offspring that are even more toxic. Most of our modern medical pharmacy is derived from the results of this chemical warfare between plants and animals of the tropical rain forests. This also means most popular house plants are at least somewhat poisonous. Make sure to look up a species before bringing it home for the cat to munch on. (End lecture)

Despite the hardiness of these plants and their ability to be completely ignored for weeks on end I still managed to kill my first one. I assumed the problem was that I had left it in soil so I clipped some starts off a second plant and dropped them in old jam jars just like my grandmother had. I managed to kill some of those as well by forgetting to add water after evaporation and such over a few months. Finally, years later, I have propagated clippings from that second plant into lots of plants including pots in each room of the house and many plants gifted to friends.

There are lots of articles about how to care for Pothos but in essence one simply needs to give it a glass of water whenever the leaves start going a little limp. It will live in a dark corner, can be ignored for weeks, grows with or without soil, starts roots 5 feet away from the base and grows to fill whatever size pot you put it in. If you need some training wheels to help you green up your thumbs, this is the plant for you.

Happy Gardening!

Toxicity note: Pothos is poisonous to pets and somewhat toxic to humans. Do not ingest and if your pet is a plant nibbler, keep these out of their reach. Some people with sensitive skin may have topical reactions as well.

PS… A couple of quick links to follow if you would like more information on Pothos:

Pothos Plant Profile: The Spruce

Epipremnum aureum: Wikipedia

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