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How Often To Water Pothos (And 7 Golden Rules of Watering)

Known as one of the most popular plants among beginner gardeners, pothos is an easy plant to take care of. It doesn’t require much water, but you should have a clear watering schedule to keep it healthy and pretty.

I will provide you with factors that impact watering frequency, how to recognize water deficiency or sufficiency, and show you how to properly water your plant. If you already have a pothos at home or intend on buying one, then you’ve come to the right place. 

The watering schedule for pothos depends on the seasons, temperature, humidity level, plant size, type of container, and soil mixture. Follow the golden rules of watering and look out for the signs of drought and waterlogging. You can water your pothos from above, from below, or you can use self-watering pots.

Factors That Impact Watering Frequency of Pothos

Watering frequency and the number of water changes for pothos throughout the year. It’s linked to the temperature of the room, humidity level, plant size, pot size, and soil mixture.

Watering Frequency According to Seasons

Summer

Summer means higher daily temperatures, which suggests frequent watering. You need to compensate for the amount of water lost through evaporation. I suggest watering your pothos 2 to 3 times a week during the warm days.

Your plant should be fine unless you live in extremely warm areas with low humidity. In that case, you’ll have to step up your watering game a bit.

As for the growing new leaves, summer is the perfect season for it. Pothos requires a temperature of 80° F (26.7° C) and a humidity level of 70% or more. A (plant) humidifier is your best friend if you have trouble raising the humidity in your household.

Make sure to check the soil before watering by poking a finger or a wooden stick (skewer) into it. If the first couple of inches are dry, it means your plant needs a refreshing drink.

During the rainy summer days, the humidity rises, while the temperature decreases. Make sure to check the soil often, because you might find yourself watering pothos only once a week in this kind of weather.

Winter

Winter presents a long nap time for pothos. It’s the time they mostly go dormant, so you won’t notice any growth. Being a tropical plant, pothos like warmth and bathing in the strong indirect sunlight.

Unfortunately, winter doesn’t provide any of those requirements. Water your pothos once every two weeks. However, always make sure to check the soil with your finger as often as you can.

Living in chilly areas can be a bit troublesome during the winter because your plant won’t absorb as much water as you think it should. What I mean is, always check the soil before watering. Trust me, you don’t want to overwater your plant.

You can use lukewarm water, rainwater, or melted snow. Make sure they’re room temperature, about 70° F (21° C), so the plant doesn’t experience temperature shock.

Spring

Pothos’ growing season slowly starts in spring, after waking up from a long winter dream. As the plant wakes up and takes in more water and nutrients, you’ll have to adjust your watering schedule. It’s safe to say that you can water it once a week, but the frequency depends mostly on the climate in your area.

I still keep the once-every-two-weeks watering rule during March. April and May steadily increase the watering needs to once every 6 to 8 days. Junes can be hot so watering every 4 days might be necessary.

Temperature

Temperature is, obviously, closely related to seasons. Being a tropical plant, pothos require temperatures between 70 and 90° F (21 and 32° C). That’s when the growth is optimal for both old leaves and new shoots. You can water your plant once a week when the temperature is in this interval.

Extremely low temperatures, (below 70° F) and very high ones (above 90° F) cause degenerative growth which meddles with water transportation through the plant.

As a result, your pothos might experience poor water uptake due to root stress. Make sure to create an environment with optimal temperature for the plant, before its roots become permanently damaged.

Humidity

The amount of water is dictated by the humidity level. The decrease of humidity around the plant increases evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is an umbrella term that considers both water evaporation from the soil and evaporation from the plant’s leaves. 

Pothos is tolerable towards low humidity, but, being a tropical plant, it likes humidity levels above 50%, preferably around 70%. You won’t need to water it often when the relative humidity is high. Being exposed to low humidity can damage leaves though, so try avoiding it.

As mentioned before, a plant humidifier can help you a lot if you’re having problems with raising humidity levels.

Plant size

Pothos develops vines that like to climb moss poles or crawl around your house. Nevertheless, it can grow significantly large and bushy. Smaller plants usually don’t need as much watering as large ones.

Depending on the size, you might need to water giant pothos more often, once every 5 days in an optimal environment. It’s not easy to schedule watering at this point, so keep an eye for curly and browning leaves. They’re a sign of dehydration and you should water your plant.

If you find yourself watering pothos time and time again, maybe it’s time to switch over to a new pot with a fresh soil mixture.

Containers – Types, Sizes and Soil Mixture

Pothos can grow in many types of containers and pots. What’s important is a drainage hole at the bottom of it. It prevents the build-up of water and reduces the chances of overwatering.

Most times, you can water it on schedule, once a week. If you notice that your pothos takes up a lot of space in a pot, it’s probably going to drain water faster. My advice is to reschedule watering to every 5 or 6 days or to repot it into a bigger container.

A too-large container can be troublesome, too. For example, a 10” pot is too big for newly propagated pothos. Opposite to a small container problem, you will probably need to water it less often, but with more water. This way, you’ll keep the soil moist for a longer time, and the plant will take in water gradually.

When it comes to soil mixture, make sure it can properly drain water because pothos doesn’t like soggy roots. Throw in some additional vermiculite to retain water for a longer period.

Vermiculite is a mineral specifically made to absorb water, like a sponge. It enables slow evaporation of water and it keeps the soil at root-level moist.

On-schedule watering is only possible with good drainage. Let the upper half of the soil (about 2 inches) dry out between two watering sessions.

Don’t use plain garden soil, because it’s too heavy. The water will stay on the surface layer of the soil, so you might think you don’t need to water the plant. Additionally, it can suffocate the roots and cause fungal infections.

Golden Rules of Watering

You can apply this rules for all types of houseplants including pothos. That is the reason it is called golden rules of watering. Here we go:

Keep the Soil Evenly Moist

I’ve said it countless times by now, and I’ll say it again. Make sure to water the entire surface of the soil so the water can be evenly distributed. By doing so, you ensure that the water will reach the roots.

This rule is especially imperative when watering larger pots because the roots can be anywhere. In addition to it, a part of the water will remain in the soil.

Water retention is important because water droplets bind various electrolytes, like iron, sodium, and potassium to themselves. In a way, it enables your pothos’ roots to have a nutritional snack whenever they want.  (Source: JSTOR)

Dry Between Watering

Dry soil between watering is important because water moves through the soil layer by layer. Your first thought might be to water the plant if you see a dry surface. Just because the top layer (1-2 inches) is dry, it doesn’t mean the plant is thirsty. It just means that the water reached root-level and your pothos is slowly sipping on it.

Water Early in The Morning or in The Evening

Watering throughout the day, especially hot ones, causes the water to evaporate quickly. You need to do it in the morning or evening, to ensure your plant gets the majority of the water you just poured onto the soil. When watering in the evening, make sure there’s enough time for your pothos to absorb the water before it gets chilly in the night.

Avoid Waterlogging and Drought

I can’t ‘stress’ enough how important this rule is. Waterlogging and drought can cause biotic and abiotic stress in your plant.

Biotic stress includes attacks and infections from viruses, fungi, bacteria, nematodes, etc.

Abiotic stress happens when the plant is given too much or too little water or any other key substance. In this case, both waterlogging and drought force the plant to experience excess or shortage of water. It negatively affects the plant’s growth and messes badly with its digestion.

Pay attention to your watering schedule, and you won’t experience either of these two issues!

Do Not Water Directly the Leaves

Contrary to the popular belief, watering leaves doesn’t make them grow faster. You shouldn’t water indoor houseplants because:

  • You can clog the leaf’s stomata which disrupt osmosis and plant respiration.
  • Water will splash around your house.
  • Water can attract malicious pests and diseases.

Well-Drained Soil and Water Go Hand in Hand

This rule is well-known among gardeners. Quality soil with good drainage easily holds on to water particles.

On one hand, compact soil (rich in clay) doesn’t let the water flow naturally. Moreover, it makes the water dwell on the surface level and can cause stem rot.

On the other hand, water flows straight through the loose (sandy) soil, and your plant can’t get a decent drink.

Water After Repotting

You’ll find yourself repotting pothos usually every two years. Make sure to water the plant a few days before repotting or propagating the plant. By doing so, you avoid exposing your pothos to stress after it’s repotted.

Water it again in a new container with a new soil mix because you want to make sure it continues living on in the same environment as before. You might need a bit more water than usual to wet the dry mix thoroughly.

How to Recognize if Your Pothos Needs Watering?

There are many ways to determine if your plant needs watering. You just have to look closely for the early signs of dehydration and act quickly.

Test Moisture with A Finger or A Stick

I’ve mentioned this technique before, so I won’t go into detail. What you do is you stick your finger or a wooden skewer 1 to 2 inches (3 to 4 cm) into the soil to check if it’s moist.

When you feel it’s dry, that means it’s time for watering. But if it’s still moist, leave it be, and come back to check tomorrow again.

Soil Color

Dry soil has a light-brown color as opposed to the dark-brown when it’s still wet. You might notice some cracks in the surface of the soil, too. That’s when you know the dry period is over and you can water your pothos.

It’s important to note that soil color will be different for everyone because it depends on the amount of organic matter and mineral content in it. Still, the general rule is the lighter the color, the drier the soil.

Wilting, Wrinkling, or Drooping Leaves

These are the signs of an overwatered plant. They happen because the plant is trying to intake more water than it can process. The result is drooping, sad leaves that sometimes wrinkle at the edges.

If you spot these symptoms, don’t water your pothos. Leave it to dry for some time, remove the completely damaged leaves with gardening shears, and wait for the plant to recover.

Wilting comes as a result of root suffocation. It’s caused by too much water around the root area. The plant can’t get any air due to the amount of water and the leaves slowly start to wilt, and can even fall off.

Leaf Shrinkage

Shrinking leaves are a sign of dehydration and you can distinguish them from wilting. The size of the leaves becomes smaller through time and they become crisp and crimped.

You shouldn’t be too afraid of this occurrence as it only happens during extreme drought. The lesson here is: if you’re going to be out of home for a couple of weeks, have someone else water your pothos.

Yellow and Brown Discoloration on The Leaves

These symptoms are usually a sign of overwatering, root problems, and compact soil. The leaves can’t get the nutrients they need so chlorophyll starts to decay. The consequences are yellow discolorations, browning edges, and leaves falling off.

My advice is to repot the plant into well-drained soil in a new pot. Use this time to inspect if your root has any fungal infections. Remove the damaged leaves after repotting.

Using A Moisture Meter

I don’t use this device because I think everyone can recognize water imbalance-caused problems in houseplants by doing a bit of research.

It’s probably easier to just use a piece of equipment, but it can be deceiving. Moisture meters measure the conductivity in the soil and not the amount of water in it.

You stick a probe into the soil and the moisture meter will tell you if the plant needs watering or not. Low numbers usually mean dry soil and high numbers refer to overwatering. It’s good for beginner gardeners and those who don’t have much time to take care of their plants.

How to Water Pothos?

Watering from Above

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can use a small-sized watering pot (or watering can), preferably with a long funnel, to avoid splashing water on the leaves. You can find them on Amazon in many shapes, colors, and varieties, and they’re usually really cheap.

Watering from Below

Bottom-watering is a technique where you use a large, but shallow container and place your potted plant in it. It’s great because it moistens the soil evenly. Water climbs through the soil thanks to capillary action, which is a result of adhesive and cohesive forces.

Fill your container halfway with water and check after 30 minutes to see how much water has been absorbed. Use your finger to check the moisture. When it reaches the desired amount where you can feel wet soil, remove the excess water from the container. You can use this on the same schedule as to when you would water the plant from above.

Self-Watering Pots

Self-watering pots consist of a growing bed (soil + pothos) and a water reservoir beneath the bed. The pot has a pipe or an opening from the side that allows pouring the water into the reservoir.

It works by using capillary action to provide the plant with water. The difference between self-watering pots and watering from below is that self-watering ones use absorbent materials, such as cotton strings or perlite to slowly release the water into the soil.

These pots are a must-have if you travel often or regularly go on business trips.

Final Words

Watering plants should be a fun activity that brings joy both to you and your pothos. Make sure to make a proper watering schedule to keep the soil adequately moist and follow the golden rules of watering. Pay attention to environmental factors, such as seasons, temperature, and humidity to determine the frequency and the amount of watering.

Take a closer look at your plant from time to time to see if it’s trying to tell you if it’s thirsty. Watering pothos shouldn’t be a problem for anyone, so you can feel free to get one of these majestic plants for yourself.

(Sources: USGS, University of Georgia)