Just like most plants, pothos go through seasonal changes throughout the year. During fall, most of their leaves turn yellow and may crumble away.
This can be incredibly disheartening. You’re not sure if the plant is gone or if it’ll return in a few months.
At this point, you may wonder how long do pothos live. Generally, these plants can survive up to 10 years, but there are a few factors that come into play.
Let’s take a look at what affects pothos lifespan and how you can keep your plant around for as long as possible.
Pothos plants have been around for hundreds of years. Yet, their popularity has only started to rise relatively recently.
This is due to pothos’ resilience. The plants belong to the Araceae family, which is notoriously easy to grow.
They require little care and can grow several feet long in a short period.
Pothos consist of fleshy stems covered in beautiful green foliage. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, but they come in a few sizes.
Some types of pothos have broad leaves, while others have narrow ones. They also come in a few shades.
There are dark and light green varieties with different speckled patterns.
These plants aren’t typically flowering. However, with the right fertilizer, they may be able to sprout a few buds.
As we mentioned, pothos plants are incredibly sturdy. That means they can survive a few weeks of neglect without any long-term damage.
Still, this doesn’t mean they live forever. On average, healthy pothos can survive anywhere between 2 and 10 years.
During this time, the plants will shed their leaves many times with seasonal changes. They may also lose branches and stems along the way.
Yet, pothos should be able to sprout new structures throughout their lives.
Since pothos have a wide lifespan range, it can be tricky to know how old your plants are. The key to long-living foliage is proper care.
With proper maintenance, you can help ensure your pothos survive longer. Let’s dive into some factors that affect the plants’ lifespan and what you can do to help.
There are many types of pothos plants out there. Even though they all look similar, they have different needs.
For example, Golden pothos have broad green leaves with yellow streaks. These plants like to spread out and cover large areas.
This gives Golden pothos an edge when it comes to seeking light. That means they can survive in dark areas for a long time.
However, Neon pothos have a much paler green shade and are compact. For that reason, they’re more likely to thrive in direct sunlight.
These differences will affect the overall lifespan. In general, the more pothos leaves branch out of the plant, the longer they can survive.
We consider pothos plants fast growers. Typically, they can grow about a foot in 3 months. With enough care, they can get to around 20 to 40 feet, depending on their surroundings.
While a rapid growth rate sounds great, it can negatively impact the plant’s lifespan.
For pothos to grow, they have to multiply their cells. That means pulling resources away from other life processes to fuel the change.
This allows the plants to branch out and find new sources of energy. However, that’s not always easy.
With scarce resources, pothos may not be able to get enough energy to sustain their growth.
For that reason, pothos plants with a rapid growth rate tend to lead shorter lives.
There isn’t much you can do about a plant’s growth rate. Still, keeping an eye on it will give you a better idea of how long your pothos will stick around.
Even though pothos can survive without water for a long time, they will struggle. So, one of the easiest ways to ensure your plants survive a while is to water them regularly.
The best way to ensure your plants have enough hydration is to check the soil. Pothos prefer to keep the top two inches of soil dry for stability.
So, you won’t be able to tell the water content by looking at the pot. You’ll need to dig in with your pointer finger about three to four inches into the mud.
If your finger comes out moist, the plant is fine. However, a completely dry finger means the plants need water.
When you hydrate pothos, ensure you thoroughly saturate the soil. Add water until all of it is damp to the touch.
Then, allow the water to drain for a couple of hours before testing it again.
Generally, pothos need watering once every one or two weeks. Yet, these numbers can change with the weather.
Leaving the plants without water for long periods may cut down their lifespan.
Just like all organisms, the environment will have a huge effect on pothos lifespan. For the most part, these plants prefer to grow in the shade.
Their leaves have a lot of chlorophyll that allows them to create energy without direct sun.
This is what makes pothos such resilient plants. However, since they don’t like to spend much time in the sunlight, the leaves aren’t capable of handling the rays.
In full sunlight, pothos leaves can start to break down. You won’t notice the change straight away, but over time, the plants will deteriorate.
Eventually, this will shut down pothos’ ability to create its own energy.
On top of that, pothos are temperature sensitive. They don’t seem to have issues with the heat, but cold environments can harm them.
During particularly chilly winters, the plants may freeze over and stop growing. For this reason, it’s important to keep the plants in a warm, well-ventilated area.
We all know that for plants to grow healthy, they need access to different nutrients. These are minerals that help pothos carry out normal functions like making energy.
The main three nutrients these plants require are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Each one plays a unique role in pothos life cycle.
Nitrogen aids with the production of chlorophyll. This is what gives the leaves a green color and allows them to absorb sunlight.
Moving on, potassium is responsible for transporting substances. It assists the plants in moving water and other minerals around.
As for phosphorus, it’s essential for normal growth. This nutrient plays a major role in how the plants extend and multiply.
To ensure that your plants have all the minerals they need, you’ll need to use fertilizer. Pothos prefer an NPK ratio of 10-10-10.
This means there are equal amounts of each of the main three nutrients. To keep up with your plants’ needs, add fertilizer twice a year, around spring and summer.
Traditionally, most plants grow best in soil. They rely on a firm foundation for support and nutrients.
Pothos, on the other hand, don’t share this trait. While they can grow quite large in soil, they also thrive in water.
That’s why many people opt for water as the growing medium instead of soil. It’s much less messy and can be aesthetically pleasing.
However, pothos tend to live longer in drier environments.
On top of that, the vessel you choose for your plants will affect how they grow. Whether in water or soil, pothos need a large area to spread out their roots.
This means in a small pot; there’s less room for healthy roots, which may decrease lifespan. For that reason, it’s best to grow these plants in lots rather than containers.
Pruning is another necessary aspect of most houseplants. They require regular trimming to stay healthy and grow.
The same applies to pothos, especially if they have a rapid growth rate.
Pothos pruning is quite simple. First off, ensure you remove any dead leaves or stems that may have dried up or yellowed.
Then, it’s just a matter of cutting the plant to the desired shape and size. Usually, you only need to do this every two or three months.
Yet, some pothos types may require more frequent trimming.
This process ensures that your plants can keep up with the demand for nutrients and energy.
For pothos to live long, they have to be healthy. Unfortunately, even with perfect living conditions, you can’t always control this.
Fungi, bacteria, or viruses invade the root cells and slowly tear them apart. If left unchecked, the infection can spread to the rest of the plant and destroy it.
The only way around this issue is to cut out the affected areas. Look for shriveled or discolored roots regularly and remove them as soon as you find them.
Microorganisms aren’t the only creatures that like to pay pothos a visit. Other pests, like spider mites, enjoy feasting on the leaves of the plants.
As you can imagine, pothos can’t survive long without its green foliage. So, you have to get rid of the infestation as fast as possible to ensure your plant’s safety.
The easiest way to do this is by hand. Many of the pests are large enough for you to see them with the naked eye.
Grab a pair of tweezers and pick out the critters. This process will take time, but it’ll help your pothos live longer.
After that, spray the plants with soapy water or insecticidal soap every couple of weeks. The soap should keep away any future invaders.
How long do pothos live? On average, the plants have a lifespan of about 2 to 10 years. Still, there are a few factors that can affect this number.
Aspects like pothos type, growth rate, and water schedule can affect how long the plants live.
On top of that, environmental conditions and fertilization will play vital roles. Finally, keeping a healthy pruning regimen can help pothos live longer.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.