Known to us only as a houseplant, the pothos plant is very much an outdoor plant in its natural habitat, but also in other areas where temperatures allow the plant to be kept outside all year long.
If you live in an area where outdoor temperatures never dip below 50 °F, congrats! You can grow a pothos plant outside. The rest of us will have to get content with keeping this plant outside only during the warmer months of the year.
Undoubtedly, there are several advantages to keeping pothos plants outside, but also a few drawbacks. And I’m going to cover both, along with some of the particularities of growing a pothos plant outdoors.
Pros & Cons of Keeping Pothos Outside
For a plant that grows as an understory plant in rainforests, being kept outdoors comes with undoubted advantages. Here are some of the most important ones.
– 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
Natural light outdoors is rarely matched by indoor light conditions. As a plant that prefers bright, indirect light, the pothos will thrive when grown outdoors in light conditions that line up with its requirements.
Plant in a location, where the pothos is protected by the direct action of sun rays, but still receive bright light.
You can even plant it under a tree as long as it receives dappled light for most of the day.
Pothos that have been doing poorly because of low light conditions, will do much better once moved outdoors. Better light conditions will trigger faster and healthier growth. You can expect lusher and larger foliage from your pothos.
One of the perks of growing this plant outside is access to rainwater, which is much more beneficial to plants than tap water.
Aside from chlorine, tap water contains other chemicals like fluoride, which in excess, can have harmful effects on your pothos plant.
Planted in pots, pothos will use up nutrients from the soil much faster and potting mixes become depleted faster of nutrients. Therefore, you’ll need to put your pothos on a fertilizer schedule to make up for the loss of nutrients.
In garden soil, however, nutrients don’t get depleted as fast, so you will not need to fertilize that often.
– Cons of Keeping Pothos Outside
Of course, there are also downsides to keeping pothos outside, as I highlighted them below:
Damage caused by sudden changes in temperature
Unless you live in a zone where you don’t need to worry about temperature fluctuations and temperatures dipping below 50 °F, you can keep pothos outdoors all year round.
In other zones, however, you’ll need to watch out for temperature changes and move pothos inside when the temperature drops to dangerous levels.
Indoors, it’s much easier to control temperatures and prevent fluctuations of this nature. It’s also easier to control other aspects of the environment such as light exposure, humidity and other.
While pests can attack plants indoors as well, a pest infestation is much likely to occur outdoors.
Also, a pest infestation is more likely to go unnoticed outdoors, as opposed to indoors. Treatment of a pest infestation may also prove easier to manage indoors.
Changes in landscape
Changes in the landscape may affect the positioning of your pothos plant, so you’ll always need to take it into account whenever you decide to make any changes in the landscape of your garden.
Do Pothos Like Full Sun?
Full sun exposure should be avoided when it comes to pothos plants. Their leaves are simply too sensitive to the strong action of the sun.
Leaching of the leaves and scorching are the most common side-effects of too much direct sun exposure.
Gentle early morning sun or late afternoon sun will usually not harm the plant, but only a couple of hours of direct sunlight at noon will surely damage the leaves of your pothos plant.
Another issue about sun exposure that’s worth mentioning is the transition from indoor light to outdoor light when moving plants outside.
The plant should be slowly acclimated to outdoor conditions for several days. A sudden change will shock the plant, causing leaf discoloration.
To prevent this, start by keeping the plant outside for only a couple of hours, then slowly increase the amount with each day.
Where to Keep Pothos Outdoors?
I advise you to carefully consider where you want your pothos plants outdoors, especially if you’re planting them in the garden and not just moving them outdoors for the summer.
For example, if you want to plant a pothos under a tree so it can climb up the tree, make sure it’s a tree that you will want to keep around.
You don’t want to end up cutting out the tree and leave the pothos plant without any protection from direct sunlight, for example.
Pothos plants can thrive in the shade of a tree that provides dappled light for the plant or in another location, where the plant can be protected from strong direct light such as a porch or a patio.
What is the Minimum Temperature for Pothos?
Pothos plants thrive in an environment where the temperature is constantly between 60 to 85 degrees F. The minimum temperature pothos plants can withstand in the winter is 50 F.
Below 50 °F, tissue damage and temperature shock set in and it’s highly unlikely that your plant will survive.
Therefore, don’t plant your pothos in the garden unless temperatures will stay above 50 °F even in winter.
Move potted plants inside for the winter and move them back outside in the spring, when there’s no longer a possibility for temperatures to dip below 50 °F.
As you can see, there aren’t many hurdles in the way of you growing and keeping pothos plants outside.
Temperature is one of the biggest hurdles if you live in an area with old winters. But even then, you can easily overcome this hurdle by moving plants inside for the winter.
It’s true that indoors you have more control over the environment of your pothos plant, but light conditions outside are unmatched for a pothos plant.