Pothos plants, with the scientific name Epipremnum aureum, are easy to grow and come in various foliage colors and patterns. These vines are native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Islands. Some of their common names include silver vine, taro vine, devil’s vine and Ceylon creeper. Although they are relatively low-maintenance, these plants are still prone to the effects of underwatering if neglected for long periods.
Underwatered pothos: Signs and how to revive
Signs of underwatered pothos plants
1. The leaves are droopy, brown and wilted.
Underwatered pothos plants tend to have droopy leaves that look lifeless and about to fall off. The leaves will turn brown and wilt, and will eventually become dry and crisp with a wrinkled appearance. These are all signs of dehydration.
2. The soil is pulling away.
Your pothos plants are underwatered if you notice that the soil is pulling away from the inside of the pot. This is due to a complete lack of moisture in the soil, which causes the soil to contract. You will need to reduce the length of time between waterings to prevent this from happening again.
3. The soil is drying out too quickly.
If the soil is drying out too fast between waterings, your plants may need to be repotted. A pot that is too small and cannot hold enough water for the plant’s requirements could impede the growth of your pothos. Ideally, you should repot the plant after the first year.
How to revive underwatered pothos plants
To revive underwatered pothos plants, you need to give them a thorough watering and move them out of the sun. These plants should not be grown in direct sunlight, because the excess heat and light could dehydrate them, and they could get sunburnt.
Rehydrate the soil by placing the entire pot into a container or bucket full of water for at least 30 minutes. Remove it from the water and allow it to drain thoroughly. Place it in a spot where it can get bright, indirect light while it recovers.
Pothos plants: Care and propagation
Pothos plants thrive when placed near a window where they can receive indirect light while avoiding chilly drafts. They should be kept at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with the ideal temperature being 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These vines grow well in high-humidity areas that mimic their native habitat, but they are also tolerant of dry air. During winter, when indoor air is dry, provide misting or a room humidifier for your pothos plants.
Pothos plants like well-draining potting soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.1 to 6.5, although they also tolerate higher values. Plant them in containers that are one to two inches wider than the root ball, with adequate drainage holes.
Allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering your plants, and discard excess water so that the plants do not sit in waterlogged soil, as this could lead to root rot. Pothos plants are light feeders and you only need to give them a liquid houseplant fertilizer every one to three months to keep them healthy.
Trim off long runners to keep the plants full and bushy; bare stems can be cut back to encourage new branches to grow. To keep the foliage fresh and clean, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth every few weeks.
For rootbound plants that become droopy, remove them from their pots and repot them in pots that are one to two inches wider. Fill the spaces around the roots with fresh potting soil.
These plants are propagated through stem cuttings. To propagate, cut at least six inches of stem before a leaf node, and submerge the stem in water. Remember to change the water every two to three weeks. Roots will develop in about two months, and you can then plant the cuttings in fresh potting soil. Be sure to grow multiple stems in the same pot to ensure lush growth. Pothos plants can also be grown through division by gently cutting the root ball into sections and repotting them in fresh soil. Make sure the pots are large enough to leave at least one to two inches of space around the root ball.
Pothos plants are easy to care for and propagate, but are also susceptible to the effects of underwatering if you forget them for too long. The most common signs of underwatering are droopy, brown and wilted leaves. To revive the plants, give them a thorough soaking in a basin or bucket for at least 30 minutes, and move them out of the sun to recover.
Image: istockphoto.com / Tropical Borneo