How to Care for Epipremnum "Devil's Ivy"

On a little island, part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, grows a humble little plant which has risen to become one of the most recognized and cultivated plants the world over. Here on the island of Mo’orea, the native population of Epipremnum aureum grows - more often known as Devil’s Ivy or Pothos vine, and a mainstay of indoor plant growing in both tropical and temperate regions for many years.


Although this plant has become a commonality in the world of indoor plants, it still remains a favorite due to its incredible hardiness, tolerance of extremely low light levels and a growth habit as welcome inside the home as it is high in the trees of the rainforest. Truly this is a plant that anybody can grow, and it will reward you with a center-piece plant which you can continue to grow and grow for years.


Epipremnum are first and foremost climbing vines, with stems up to 4cm in diameter. Using thick aerial roots which adhere to just about any surface, these plants can often grow to enormous sizes in their natural environments and cover the surface of entire trees. In this natural growing environment, their leaves can often get enormous, up to 100cm. 

When cultivated in pots, as juvenile plants, Epipremnum often has much smaller leaves and unless trained to grow up a support, they will often simply hang over the pots to great lengths. This makes them fantastic for growing on top of shelves, bookcases, or even hanging indoors. Otherwise, balconies and patios are also a fantastic place to grow these unfussy tropicals.


As plants which climb through the trees, and often rely on little moisture versus their ground-dwelling relatives, Epipremnum are notoriously water-hardy. When grown indoors, you should only ever need to water them when the soil is dry to touch; otherwise, hold off unless the plant shows visible signs of water-stress. If you notice your Epipremnum with drooping leaves, or leaves curling inward, it can be a sign of dry-out. Simply check the potting mix and water if it’s dry. If, after watering, your plant continues to show signs of water-stress it may need a repot; check the density of roots in the pot by lightly squeezing it, and seeing how hard it feels. If the pot is solid and not squishy, the plant probably needs a pot-up.


If you’re trying to choose the perfect spot for your Epipremnum, look for places which experience good strong dappled sunlight for most or all of the day; Epipremnum grow best in bright light that’s broken up, maybe by a tree or shrub outside the window, or even some form of UV-reducing shadecloth. Although Epipremnum are notoriously hardy in dark spots, they will often exhibit eventual signs of stretching for light and may not grow vigorously like they would in good natural light.If you’re looking to grow your plant outdoors, once again choose a spot where direct strong sunlight is broken by shade, or under shade-cloth.

Many people ask whether their Epipremnum will ever flower; the answer is almost certainly “No”. One of the super interesting things about this plant is that, despite being biologically capable of flowering at one point in its evolution, the plant lost its ability to do so by developing a genetic impairment in one of its primary flower-producing genes; without this essential gene, flower development is almost impossible and so Epipremnum aureum relies on its fast-growing nature to propagate vegetatively. Plants can be induced into flowering through a specialist spray containing the lacking gene, which has been done successfully in labs and as tests, but is not something the home-gardener could likely access.


Thinking you maybe want even more of these awesome plants? You’ll notice small aerial roots being produced by your Epipremnum at each node, the slight swelling in the stem every inch or so from which a new leaf and root will be produced. You can cut directly behind this node to take a cutting of your Epipremnum, then plant it into very light potting mix with perlite (a seed mix or propagation mix is best). Dropping cuttings directly into water can also be a fast-and-easy way to root cuttings.


We hope you enjoyed this quick guide on how to look after your Epipremnum aureum, undoubtedly one of the easiest and most rewarding plants you’ll have in your collection for many years to come.


As always, if you’re having trouble with your Epipremnum, contact us at subscriptions@botanicbox.com.au  and we’ll guide you in the right direction!


Share this post