The neon pothos is a popular houseplant, native to the islands of French Polynesia. The bright yellow-green color of the plant’s leaves is what gives it its colorful name. This plant is quite low-maintenance and needs very little care, making it a great choice for beginner plant owners, and its eye-catching color makes it great for home decor.
In this article, we will discuss the proper cultural care of the neon pothos plant, as well as how to correctly propagate it. So, if you are thinking about adding this plant to your collection, just keep reading.
Neon pothos care
There is no universal schedule to follow when it comes to watering your plant. This is because the frequency of watering depends on factors such as the climate where you live, the season of the year and the current weather conditions. In other words, someone in a cold climate, during winter with lots of rainfall, will not need to water their neon pothos as much as someone in a warm climate, in the summer, with little to no rainfall.
The easiest way to determine whether your plant needs water is by touching the soil in the pot. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant; if the soil is still quite damp, wait one or two days and check it again.
These plants can tolerate a little drought once in a while, but try to avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings.
The biggest mistake a plant owner can make with their neon pothos is to overwater it. An overwatered plant’s roots will drown in the soggy soil and die. The dead roots will then begin to rot and become susceptible to opportunistic pathogens. These pathogens exacerbate the spread of the rot, and soon the entire plant will be affected. When the stems and leaves become soft and mushy, it means the plant is extremely overwatered and the rot has become so serious that the plant may no longer be salvageable.
If you suspect that your plant is overwatered, remove it from the pot and wash off as much of the old soil as you can. This is so that you can inspect the roots more easily. If there are roots that have turned brown or black, cut them off using a sterilized pair of scissors. Make sure you remove all of the rotten roots, and that only healthy, white roots remain. Spray the healthy roots with fungicide and let them dry completely before replanting the pothos in a new pot with a fresh potting mix.
This plant’s lime-colored leaves will be most vibrant when exposed to medium-to-bright, indirect light. Do not leave the plant under direct sunlight, because this can damage the foliage. It can tolerate low light conditions, but its leaves will become noticeably duller.
A north- or east-facing window is ideal for the plant, but if the only window available lets in harsh light, you can diffuse the intensity by placing a sheer curtain over the window.
During the winter, when sunlight is scarce, help the plant by installing grow lights.
Because the neon pothos lives in the tropical islands of French Polynesia, it appreciates a higher-than-normal humidity level. Nevertheless, the normal humidity in your home will often be sufficient for the plant.
If the weather becomes particularly dry, you can always support the plant by misting its leaves in the morning. You can also place the plant’s pot on a pebble tray filled with water. As the water in the pebble tray evaporates, it will moisten the leaves and the soil in the pot.
You could also place the plant next to other humidity-loving plants, so that together they can create a microclimate. Another trick is to keep the plant in one of the most humid rooms in your house, such as the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room.
Lastly, if you have the means, you can buy a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity in your home.
The room temperature in your home should be perfectly fine for your neon pothos. As long as the temperature is not in the extremes for long periods, the plant should be alright.
Take the plant indoors when winter starts, because it does not do well in the snow. Do not place it near doors or windows that have cracks that let in cold air, and avoid spots where warm or cold drafts from heating and air conditioning vents can hit it. These drafts can dry out the plant’s leaves very quickly.
As long as the potting mix is airy, porous, and well-draining, this is all your plant needs. The soil should allow air and water to pass through it easily, reducing the chance of overwatering and therefore also of root rot.
If you are unsure whether your soil mix is sufficiently well-draining, you can always add some perlite to your regular potting soil.
The pot you use should have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to flow out. Refrain from using steel or plastic pots, because these materials are not breathable. Opt for terracotta or clay pots instead, because they allow air and water to penetrate.
You do not really need to fertilize this plant; it will grow well regardless. However, if you think the plant needs it, you can always give it regular indoor houseplant fertilizer once every two months during the spring and summer, when it is actively growing. Avoid feeding it during the fall and winter because you might end up overfeeding it, leading to mineral buildup in the soil and possible toxicity that does more harm than good.
Repotting the plant
Even if the plant looks a little rootbound, you can still let it grow a little longer in its current pot. The neon pothos does not mind being a little rootbound. You only really need to repot it every two years or so, when the roots start to grow out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If you notice the plant’s growth slowing considerably or stopping completely, that could also indicate that the plant is very rootbound and needs to be repotted sooner rather than later.
Use a new pot that is only one size bigger than the last pot. You do not want to use a pot that is too big because a big pot holds more soil. More soil in the pot means more water is retained every time you water it, and the more water is retained, the more likely the plant is to become overwatered and get root rot.
Neon pothos propagation
Propagation in soil
There are two methods to propagate this plant in soil.
Cut off a vine from the parent plant that has several nodes on it. Use a sterilized pair of scissors to cut a quarter of an inch below the node. It is important to include at least one node because this is where the new roots will sprout from. Remove any leaves that are close to the bottom of the cutting.
Prepare a small pot with moist potting mix and plant the cutting in it. At least one node should be buried. Place the pot where the cutting can get plenty of bright, indirect light. Place a small plastic bag over the cutting to increase the humidity around it, and remove the bag for a few minutes each day to let fresh air in.
After a couple of weeks, check the viability of the roots by tugging on the cutting. If you can feel resistance, that means the roots have established and you can proceed to care for the plant as you would a fully-grown plant.
Cut off a longer vine than above, including multiple nodes, using sterile scissors. Instead of planting the cutting upright in the potting mix, lay the entire vine across the potting mix, making sure that all the nodes face downwards. If necessary, you can use paper clips or bobby pins to fasten the vine to the potting mix. If you do this properly, all the nodes that are attached to the potting mix will develop roots.
Place the container in a spot where the vine can get plenty of bright, indirect light. Place a plastic bag over the container to help lock in moisture and humidity, and make sure the potting mix is moist but never soggy.
After a few weeks, check the roots’ growth by gently tugging the vine. If there is resistance, the roots have grown nicely and you can now care for the plant as you would a regular plant.
Propagation in water
Cut a stem from the parent plant, making sure it has at least one node near the base of the cutting. Including a node is important because this is where the new roots are going to grow from. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting.
Place the cutting in a glass container with water, submerging the node. Place the container in a spot where the cutting gets plenty of bright, indirect light, and change the water if it starts to look murky. Refill the water if the level drops below the node.
After four weeks, the roots should be long enough that you can plant the cutting in a pot with moist potting mix. You can then care for it as you would a regular plant.
The neon pothos is a beautiful vining plant that has bright, yellow-green leaves. It is low-maintenance, hardy and very easy to propagate. It makes a lovely indoor plant and a great gift for beginner plant owners.
This plant likes bright, indirect light and water only when the top two inches of soil are dry. It prefers well-draining soil, room temperature, humid conditions and minimal feeding.
This plant can be propagated in soil by planting a cutting upright in the potting mix, laying the vine across the potting mix with the nodes facing downward, or letting the cutting root in water for a few weeks before transferring it to a pot.
Image: istockphoto.com / Akchamczuk