Pothos plants are subtropical or tropical vines that are only truly hardy in USDA growing zones 10-12. This indicates that they can develop outdoors as perennial evergreen vines, just as they do in their natural environment. In cooler temperate climates, however, pothos can be grown as an outdoor annual, in a greenhouse, or in a pot that is brought indoors during the winter.
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You have to think about what pothos plants actually are and where they come from to fully comprehend why this plant does well in some climates but not others.
While most of us know them as a common houseplant, this species (Epipremnum aureum) is an evergreen perennial vine native to French Polynesia, Australia, and Southeast Asia. In its wild habitat, their vines can vine over 60 feet long with leaves over 30″ in width! It can be easily identified in indoor settings thanks to its glossy heart-shaped leaves and graceful dangling vines. However, as they mature, the leaves change into enormous pinnate leaves with indented holes along the middle stem.
As a member of the Arum or Araceae family, E. aureum is closely related to Philodendron, Taro, and Monstera. These warm-weather plants have absolutely no tolerance for frost and thrive in tropical habitats. They frequently grow naturally in the understory, so they don’t need direct sunlight.
Pothos’ love of warm moderate weather and tolerance of shade is what has made it the perfect houseplant for temperate regions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate these lovely vines outside!
There are several parts of the United States where pothos can thrive outdoors in the ground as an ornamental plant. It can also be grown as an annual in the garden or as a potted plant that is brought inside for the winter.
Can Pothos Live Outside?
Despite its widespread reputation as an indoor plant, pothos can survive outdoors. Pothos flourishes outdoors in its native habitat, the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Your pothos will flourish outside if you mimic its natural habitat in terms of temperature (65°F – 85°F), light, soil, water, and fertilizer.
Therefore, what is the best way to replicate the pothos’ natural environment in your backyard so that your plant not only survives but also thrives?
- indirect and bright lighting conditions This might entail placing your pothos close to trees so that the shade that these tropical plants require will be provided by the tree canopy. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep your pothos in a pot, you could hang them from the patio’s ceiling. The patio roof will then make sure these pot plants aren’t in direct sunlight while still ensuring that your pothos’ light needs are being met.
- Light, aerated soil. These are the key characteristics of the best soil for pothos plants as they help ensure the soil drains water well. You don’t want the waterlogged soil to cause the roots of your pothos to begin to rot. Your pothos may perish if root rot is not treated in a timely manner. Safe to say, your pothos needs drainage.
- Only water it when the top two inches of soil are completely dry. Just like when they’re houseplants, an overwatered pothos due to it getting too much water isn’t a happy pothos. If there are no monsoon-like conditions, pothos should be able to live outside without any issues. Just check the soil to make sure your pothos is dry enough before watering it as the rain you get may be more than enough.
- Occasionally fertilize during the active growing seasons of spring and summer. You can fertilize your outdoor pothos to encourage growth since they still need nutrients. Having said that, you shouldn’t be concerned if you forget to fertilize. I’ve often forgotten to fertilize my pothos, and they continue to grow. Pothos are renowned for their ability to withstand some neglect quite well.
Pros & Cons of Keeping Pothos Outside
Being kept outside has undeniable benefits for a plant that normally grows as an understory plant in rainforests. The most crucial ones are listed below.
– Pros of Growing Pothos Outside
So, if you decide to grow pothos outside, here are some of the pros you can take into consideration:
Bright, Natural Light
Indoor lighting conditions are rarely comparable to outdoor natural light. The pothos will flourish when grown outdoors in light conditions that match its needs because it prefers bright, indirect light.
Plant the pothos where it will receive bright light while being shielded from the sun’s direct rays.
Even under a tree is acceptable as long as it receives dappled light for the majority of the day.
When moved outside, pothos that has been struggling due to low lighting will flourish much more. Better lighting will promote quicker and healthier growth. Your pothos should produce lusher, larger foliage.
Access to rainwater, which is much better for plants than tap water, is one of the benefits of growing this plant outdoors.
Other chemicals like fluoride, which when present in excess, can harm your pothos plant, are present in tap water in addition to chlorine.
When potted, pothos will use up nutrients from the soil much more quickly and potting mixes will quickly run out of nutrients. As a result, you’ll need to put your pothos on a fertilizer schedule to make up for the nutrients lost.
However, because nutrients in garden soil do not deplete as quickly, you won’t need to fertilize as frequently.
– Cons of Keeping Pothos Outside
Of course, there are also downsides to keeping pothos outside, as I highlighted below:
Damage Caused by Sudden Changes in Temperature
You can keep pothos outdoors all year long unless you live in a region where you don’t have to worry about temperature changes or lows below 50 °F.
In some zones, however, you’ll need to keep an eye on the temperature and bring pothos inside when it starts to get too cold.
It’s much simpler to regulate the temperature and avoid such fluctuations indoors. Other environmental factors like humidity, light exposure, and others are also simpler to control.
Although pests can harm plants indoors as well, a pest infestation is much more likely to happen outside.
Furthermore, compared to indoors, the likelihood of an infestation going undetected outdoors is higher. It may also be simpler to control a pest infestation indoors.
Changes in Landscape
You must always keep your pothos plant in mind when making any changes to the landscape of your garden. Changes to the landscape may have an impact on where you place your pothos plant.
Outdoor Pothos Care
Pothos can be allowed to meander along the garden’s ground or climb up trees and trellises. Pruning can either stop or delay its growth in size. Instead of letting the plant stand in water, the soil of AD Pothos should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Only the top 2 inches (5 cm) may be used.) of soil to dry before watering again. Pothos are finicky about one thing: overwatering. The plant is being overwatered if the leaves start to yellow. Water more frequently if you notice brown or wilting foliage. Pothos plants are simple to care for and rarely have a disease or pest problems, whether they are indoor or outdoor plants. To be sure, pothos plants can get mealybugs or scale, but a cotton ball dipped in alcohol or a horticultural spray treatment should quickly get rid of the pest. AD A healthy pothos plant in the garden gives the landscape a tropical feel, and it may also provide another benefit not found in pothos grown indoors: some plants may flower and bear berries, which is unusual for pothos houseplants.
What’s the Pothos Hardiness Zone?
The suggested plant hardiness zones for pothos by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are 10–12. The warmer US states are classified as Zones 10 to 12, which includes the deep south and the southern coastal regions.
Zones 10 to 12 are ideal for growing pothos, particularly when growing pothos outdoors, as it is a tropical plant accustomed to growing in warm, humid climates.
Which major cities are located in zones 10–12 for plant hardiness?
- Honolulu, Hawaii: Zone 12b (which even has its own native type, the Hawaiian pothos!)
- Los Angeles, California: Zones 10a, 10b, and 11a
- Miami, Florida: Zones 11a and 11b
- San Diego, California: Zones 10b and 11a
- San Francisco, California: Zones 10a and 10b
- San Gabriel, California: Zone 10a
- San Jose, California: Zones 9b and 10a
- San Juan, Puerto Rico: Zones 12b and 13a
- Tampa, Florida: Zones 9b and 10a
In the USA, zones 10 to 12 generally cover southern Arizona, southern California (coastal and inland), south Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and south Texas.
What Temperature Can Pothos Tolerate?
The best temperature range for growing pothos is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 and 32 degrees Celsius), though the plant can survive at as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Pothos should not, however, be left outside where the temperature drops below 50°F because it is not cold- or frost-hardy.
Given that the pothos is a tropical plant that thrives in warm to hot climates, temperatures below that range can harm your plant and even cause it to perish.
Grow your pothos specifically in the USDA hardiness zones 10–12 in subtropical regions of the USA. In the subtropics of the United States, the average monthly highs range from 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 26°C), and the lowest lows from 45°F to 50°F (7°C to 10°C).
The subtropical region in the US are:
- The Gulf Coast
- The area from southern Delmarva Peninsula to Florida on the East Coast
- Coastal southern Oregon and northern California to San Diego in southern California
- Sections of the South and Southwest
This means that your pothos can thrive outdoors in any climate with the aforementioned temperature range. If there isn’t a sudden cold front or a once-in-a-decade frost, the pothos will continue to grow in those regions every year.
Pothos should be cultivated as an understory vine in areas that are partially shaded in the subtropical regions. The best places for an understory vine pothos are next to your patio where a trellis can aid in the pothos’ ascent, at the base of large trees, and beneath decorative shrubs.
Cover your pothos with a row cover or frost blanket if the temperature falls below 50 °F (10 °C) for a brief period of time. Bring your pothos inside if the temperature is expected to drop below that level for an extended period of time.
Can Pothos Live Outside in Winter?
Depending on how chilly your winters are, pothos can survive outdoors in the winter. The tropical plant can withstand low temperatures of 50°F (10°C). But because pothos cannot tolerate cold because its natural habitat is warm, hot, and humid, the plant may experience cold shock and die or suffer severe damage.
Your pothos will therefore be fine outside if the winters are mild.
Move your pothos indoors, where it is warmer, during the winter if you live in a colder climate to avoid cold shock. If your pothos is kept in jars or pots, this is simple.
The pothos can also be moved into a pot in the winter from a garden bed or planter in your front or backyard.
FYI: If bringing your pothos inside isn’t an option, mulch around the base of the plant. The remainder of the plant may be covered by a frost blanket. You could also hammer stakes into the ground and wrap or cover the tropical plant in burlap as an alternative.
Is Pothos Cold Hardy?
Due to the fact that pothos is a tropical plant that naturally grows in hot, humid climates, it is not cold hardy. Pothos dislike the cold because they are not prepared to withstand it. Cold shock is likely to develop when the temperature falls below 50°F (10°C).
The leaves of a tropical plant like the pothos will become discolored and eventually turn black if exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time. On your pothos, the leaves and stems may begin to wilt, look droopy, or wilt as they turn soft and mushy. The leaves may also have burn-like spots on them.
Did you know: A pothos’ cells collapse and die when it experiences cold shock? Why? Because as ice forms inside plant cells, the water inside them expands. The cell dies as a result of the cell wall being broken by the expansion.
Pothos is incapable of turning on its cold tolerance. This is not to say that your pothos will perish from cold shock. The pothos can regenerate and survive if only a small portion of the plant is harmed.
What’s the Lowest Temperature for Pothos to Survive?
Pothos can only survive in temperatures below 50°F (10°C). Pothos can survive outside in some specific varieties at temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 and 7 degrees Celsius), but this is not ideal. If it gets cold where you have your pothos, the leaves may fall off and then come back when it gets warm.
The pothos isn’t really cold hardy, so it’s very possible that it will perish when temperatures drop to or below freezing.
Will Pothos Come Back After a Freeze?
Depending on the type of freeze, the extent of damage the plant sustained, and whether the pothos is a young plant, it may recover after a freeze. The pothos will lose their leaves, but they will grow back when the temperature rises in the spring if the freeze damage isn’t too severe.
Your hardy pothos will suffer damage from a light frost, but not nearly as much as from a hard frost. A “light” freeze damages the plant’s foliage. The leaves will become discolored and will experience cold burns.
Hard frosts cause cellular shifts and long-term damage to plant tissue because they cause the water inside the plant’s cells to freeze. The entire plant, including the foliage and roots, may be harmed by the freeze.
FYI: The most damage after a hard frost occurs when the sun comes up, which is when the pothos defrosts. Stems and leaves are killed as a result.
Additionally, it will be extremely challenging to aid the plant’s recovery even if your pothos is exceptionally hardy and doesn’t perish.
Can Pothos Live Outside in Summer?
Pothos can survive the summer outdoors as long as the temperature doesn’t consistently exceed 90°F (32°C). Pothos thrives in warm, muggy weather as a tropical plant. If you want to keep your pothos outside during the summer, states in USDA plant hardiness zones 10–12 are ideal.
Pothos can also thrive outside in subtropical regions.
However, if you reside in plant hardiness zones 9 or lower, I advise you to keep your pothos indoors.
When pothos is grown indoors, it is much easier to make sure the plant receives the proper amount of light, shade, water, and humidity. Additionally, during the coldest months of the year, you can regulate the interior temperature to prevent cold shock or the death of your pothos from too-cold temperatures.
Can Pothos Live in Direct Sunlight?
If the plant only receives direct sunlight in the early morning and late afternoon, pothos can survive in the sun. Pothos ought to have bright, indirect light the rest of the day. This indicates that the tropical plant requires light that has been filtered by nearby trees and plants.
Direct sunlight will harm the plant and cause sunburn on your pothos, especially during the hottest part of the day. When brown, cream or yellow patches appear on the lovely pothos leaves, the leaves will appear burned and will look scorched. Eventually, the leaves will turn brown and yellow.
Any harm caused by excessive light exposure is irreversible. Therefore, you must take out these leaves and move your pothos to a location with bright, indirect, or filtered light.
Do Pothos Like Full Sun?
Pothos dislikes direct sunlight. The plant is a naturally occurring understory vine, so in its natural habitat, it creeps, trails, and climbs underneath bushes and trees, where it is primarily shaded. The dense tree canopies of the rainforests keep pothos covered even when it grows as a ground cover.
The pothos plant will experience leaf burn, scorch, or leaf sunscald if it receives more than 3–4 hours of direct sunlight each day, which is the equivalent of getting a sunburn for humans.
Can Pothos Grow Without Soil?
Pothos can grow continuously in water. However, it will grow more slowly, and some of the leaves might lose their color. Instead of transferring the vine from soil to water, you can grow it in water from the beginning to avoid this.
Here’s how you can grow golden pothos without soil:
- Pick suitable pots. Choose transparent vases at first because you’ll need to keep an eye on the water level and the development of the roots. To prevent root infections, you can later switch to opaque or darker-colored ones.
- Place the cutting. Only cuttings and not seeds can be grown without soil. Ensure that your cutting is recent, 3 to 4 nodes in length, and deeply submerged in the water.
- periodically add fertilizer. The pothos vines don’t require much. Any fertilizer that can be used for everything will work. Every month or so, use a few drops.
- Maintain as needed. Again, pothos plants require very little upkeep. To prevent root infections, you will only occasionally need to clean the water.
Does Pothos Grow in the Wild?
Without any human intervention, pothos plants can grow incredibly well in the wild. Epipremnum aureum’s natural habitats are usually in tropical areas.
Pothos flourishes in dense forests thanks to the assistance of sturdy trees and ideal levels of shade. Wild pothos outperforms vines that are grown in a domestic setting. Their leaves can grow up to two feet long! Those sprouts of growth, man!
Did you know that the majority of Pothos plants lack enough Gibberellin to flower? If there is even a remote chance that you will see flowering pothos, it will be in the wild.
Is Pothos Toxic?
All things are imperfect, sadly. Cats, dogs, and occasionally even humans can be slightly toxic from pothos vines.
The vines may result in digestive issues if consumed. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea are among the symptoms. Although not actually fatal, this is disturbing.
Why Are Golden Pothos So Trendy?
Pothos vines are one of the most popular houseplants, and for good reason, despite being toxic when consumed. Let’s see what makes the Epipremnum aureum such a perfect choice for homes and offices:
Ideal for Beginners
Unbelievably low maintenance is golden pothos. Simple maintenance procedures include bringing it inside during the winter, adjusting a humidifier, and watering it if the top 2 inches of soil become dry. Pothos typically only require weekly watering.
Ivy arum, silver vine, and the devil’s ivy are additional names for pothos vines in addition to “the money plant.” The name “devil’s ivy” is thought to refer to how tough the vines are.
Pothos will therefore feel almost indestructible, even if you’ve had plants die on you before.
Real Pretty Leaves!
Although flowering pothos is extremely uncommon, they are still very attractive to look at, even in pots.
The leaves of golden pothos are attractive; they are brilliant green with white or golden-yellow striations. They have an artificial, nearly shiny appearance.
Golden pothos leaves are either arrow-shaped or slightly heart-shaped, like those of other arum family plants.
Natural Air Purifiers
True, every plant takes in carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. you know, the old photosynthesis. However, the Epipremnum aureum vines are known to do a bit more than that.
Golden pothos has what’s called an “activated carbon filter system.” In other words, it can remove harmful volatile chemicals from the air, such as benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
To filter out noxious air and car fumes, it might be a good idea to keep potted pothos by your door or close to your windows.
Fun fact: According to NASA’s Clean Air study, golden pothos is one of the best indoor plants for purifying the air!
What’s Best for Golden Pothos: Indoor Or Outdoor?
Golden pothos does well in both indoor and outdoor settings. As famous indoor ornamental plants go, pothos (and all of its varieties) are no exception. However, a climate outside that mimics the golden pothos’ natural growth zone—bright, indirect light, warm temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18°C and 29°C), and high humidity levels—is also ideal for the plant.
Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to reside in a hot, humid climate.
So keeping your golden pothos in an indoor space will then work better for you as you can “artificially” trick your golden pothos into thinking it’s growing in its native tropical environment in a rainforest somewhere.
Where to Buy Pothos?
Even when pothos vines do reach the flowering stage, the resulting seeds are almost certainly not viable. Pothos vines rarely reach this stage. Therefore, you cannot simply purchase and plant pothos seeds.
As an alternative, you might think about requesting a cutting from a friend or neighbor. If that doesn’t work, you can still purchase a potted pothos plant that is fully grown at most plant stores. It’s even available online!
Can Pothos Live in Water Forever?
Yes, pothos can live in the water forever. If you change the water every two to three weeks or whenever it appears foggy and make sure it receives the proper lighting, it will live longer.
Do Pothos Like Big Or Small Pots?
Pothos rarely requires repotting and can thrive in a smaller pot, which also helps prevent the plant from growing too large. A new pot typically needs to be no bigger than 2 inches than the old one or the root ball. The plant can grow comfortably in a pot with a 10-inch depth.
You can see that there aren’t many obstacles preventing you from cultivating and maintaining pothos plants outside.
If you live in an area with long winters, one of the biggest obstacles is temperature. Even so, you can easily get past this obstacle by bringing your plants indoors for the winter.
Although you have more control over your pothos plant’s environment indoors, the lighting outside is unsuitable for pothos plants.