If you have ever visited the Friendly Confines at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, or even just seen it on TV or any number of pictures depicting one of the oldest baseball stadiums still in existence, you know all about its trademark ivy wall. No other major league stadium has that feature, but have you ever stopped to wonder what type it is – or realize that there are different types of ivy at all?
Then there’s pothos ivy, which is native to the Solomon Islands, and it remains one of the most popular house ivy for plant lovers across the world.
But just how fast does this plant grow, and how can you get the most out of your own humble potted specimen of pothos ivy?
An Overview of Pothos Ivy
The botanical name for pothos ivy is Epipremnum aureum, but you may know it by devil’s ivy, silver vine, or any number of other common names.
When mature, it typically grows to somewhere between 6 to 10 feet long, though some specimens can shoot well past that to 30 or even 40 feet high in warm temperatures. That said, as we’ll see, you need to strike a delicate balance between providing your pothos ivy with enough warmth and light for it to grow and mature while also affording it plenty of shade, as direct sustained sunlight and excessive heat isn’t good for it.
Pothos ivy is meant to be planted in soil that’s moist, well-drained, and between 6.1 to 6.5 on the pH scale.
How Fast Do They Grow?
To answer our title question nicely and succinctly, pothos ivy can grow as fast as one foot per month during its optimal growing season, which runs from December to May. Of course, that is contingent upon the conditions being “optimal,” which is where things become tricky.
As noted above, when cultivating pothos ivy, you need to strike a delicate balance between giving it enough sunlight and heat to sustain the conditions in which it best flourishes without subjecting it to extreme hot, cold, or dryness.
On the plus side, pothos ivy is pretty durable and can sustain droughts better than other kinds of ivy. Even so, plants don’t tend to flourish in drought conditions, and pothos ivy is no exception.
This is where it becomes important to factor in all the intricate “preferences” pothos ivy has when it comes to light, temperature, watering regimens, and everything else.
One thing to note is that variegated plants such as pothos ivy tend to lose their color distinctions and variation. This can leave your once-vibrant green leaves looking pale as a result of getting too much sun.
For as important as it is to keep your ivy sheltered from the sun, you also need to pay close attention to its roots as well. While the soil must be moist, if your plants’ roots are kept too wet for too long, they’ll begin to rot. Don’t overwater your plant – wait a few days, or until it droops a bit, and then perk it back up with your pail of water.
In terms of fertilizer, pothos ivy doesn’t require nearly as much as other forms, but still needs a little. Potting soil doesn’t tend to provide much in the way of natural nutrients, hence the need to stimulate their growth a little with fertilizer. Monthly or bimonthly with a standard houseplant fertilizer should be sufficient.
As your pothos ivy continues to grow, its roots may likewise keep filling the pot. Once it does so, it’s time to repot it in a bigger pot by carefully lifting the plant and placing it in a container at least one to two sizes larger along with some fresh potting soil.
Because pothos ivy can grow so large so rapidly compared to other plants, you’ll need to keep up with your pruning. You want to keep the stems trimmed on the shorter side, but you do need to make sure the foliage remains full.
How to Make Them Grow Faster
As established, pothos ivy grows relatively quickly for plants. With all of those facts and basic maintenance accounted for, let’s now turn our attention to how you can speed up the process and make your pothos ivy grow even faster.
For starters, let’s turn back to the matter of temperature. For the best results, you’ll need to make sure that your plant is exposed to temperatures of between 70 and 90 degrees. Remember that this species of ivy is native to the tropics, so it naturally does better in consistently warm, wet climates. Of course, while those may be great conditions for your ivy to flourish, “warm and wet” isn’t necessarily the kind of climate you want to live with in your house.
Thankfully, that 70- to 90-degree range gives you some wiggle room. If you are keeping your pothos ivy plant outside, you shouldn’t have a problem as long as the temperature in your area consistently remains within that range during the day. On the other hand, while 90 degrees can sound hellish as an indoor temperature, the low to mid 70s is doable for pothos ivy you keep in your home.
This in turn points to a rule of thumb when it comes to pothos ivy – samples grown outdoors in typically warmer temperatures tend to grow faster than their indoor counterparts. On the one hand, if you want your ivy to be big and bold, you almost certainly want to keep it inside. On the other hand, if you want to keep it as an indoor plant, you can rest assured that the warmish but much cooler temperatures in your home should be more than enough to keep it growing while also keeping that growth in check so it doesn’t take over your indoors like the outfield fence in Wrigley Field.
Then there is the matter of where you place your plant in the first place. While you can technically pot it just about anywhere, a larger pot will allow the roots to grow out and thus enable it to grow faster and more fully. By contrast, placing your plant in a tiny pot or even a mason jar will stifle that growth.
Of course, there is a place for tinier potted plants, and maybe you want a miniature potted pothos ivy sample that isn’t so big. That said, if you ever hope to see it grow anywhere near its potential size, a jar or smallish pot simply won’t cut it.
For that matter, neither will mere water. While simple water and dirt can, again, be enough to get your plant started, it cannot sustain the vast sizes to which it can grow. You will thus need to make sure that your pothos ivy plant is planted, as mentioned, in conditions that are conducive to that larger size, and that means soil that’s been at least lightly fertilized.
On the subject of fertilizer, you might wish to test it before you use it on your pothos ivy. If so, you’re in luck, as most home gardening stores sell easy-to-read soil testing kits that can help reveal to you which nutrients your soil needs.
Some of the most important nutrients for sustaining health and fast plant growth include:
The best fertilizers should include all of these in ample amounts.
That being said, there are differences among even the best fertilizers, and these in turn can have a tangible difference on your pothos ivy’s planted progress. For example, some inorganic fertilizers can provide a faster, comparatively instant boost to your soil quality, whereas more organic options can take longer. That being said, for those with a true love of greenery and keeping things “truly organic,” there’s no substitute for organic fertilizers, and while they may take longer to take effect, in the long run they may be able to sustain that growth and be healthier for your plant overall.
One of the most important things to remember about any plant is that where there’s moisture there’s often fungi. Growing a plant can be an enjoyable, even cathartic experience, but there’s nothing “fun” about fungi causing your plant to rot or smell. You thus need to be on the lookout for outbreaks of fungi and address it sooner rather than later with a safe herbicide which will not harm your plant.
Finally, you need to make sure that all your pothos planting progress isn’t undone by hungry insects. On the whole, pothos ivy is a hardy plant, and not one that is commonly targeted by bugs, which is yet another reason why it is among the best ivy plants for potting at home. Nevertheless, caterpillars, mites, mealybugs, and all manner of other insects might still munch on your pothos ivy’s leaves and roots if you don’t root them out first.
Insects infesting your plant are a time bomb, and one with a short fuse. You need to act as quickly as possible or they could really do serious damage to your plant.
One of the fastest and most effective ways you can treat the problem is to take a weak form of rubbing alcohol and rub down any part of the plant where you see bugs, and perhaps the entire plant.
You may also want to consider using an insecticide to get rid of insects. That said, there are some plant owners who don’t like to use such solutions on their plants, in which case you’ll need to be extra vigilant to make sure no insects get into your ivy in the first place and that you treat them and any other signs of eggs or decay as quickly as possible.
You can also strike a middle ground by making a more environmentally-friendly, homemade insecticide by mixing together a teaspoon of dishwashing soap with a liter of water and using that to wipe down your plant.
A General Guideline for Growing a Cutting Fast
If you already have a pothos ivy cutting handy and want to get it growing as fast as possible, there are a few extra things you can do.
First, you need to take the cutting itself, which naturally prompts the question of how large this cutting should be. Ideally, you want to have it between six and twelve inches long. Shorter than that and its viability may be in jeopardy, whereas a larger cutting may be unwieldy.
Once you have taken this cutting, you’ll want to remove some of the leaves toward the lower portion of the stem. Failure to do so will make the potting process more difficult.
Now it’s time to actually place them in the spot where you wish to plant them. You can put them in a large pot straightaway, but that might be a bit too unwieldy for your little cutting. If so, you can start off with one of those small jars or vases as mentioned above, and then quickly transfer it to a new spot as soon as it starts to get too big for its surroundings.
Make sure that the bottom two or three nodes of the stem are completely submerged in water so they can grow properly.
Keep the water fresh, replacing it every seven days. After about a month, your plant should be much bigger and already ready for that bigger, proper home in a larger pot if it isn’t in one already. Simply take the plant out and place the cuttings in damp soil, making sure you handle the plant delicately and its roots are both fully submerged and have more than enough room to grow outward.
By following these steps, you can coax a little cutting of pothos ivy and grow it into a full burst of brilliant room-brightening foliage.