As one of the easiest houseplants to grow, pothos plants are considered relatively fast growers that can reach several feet in length.
Their vines have a trailing habit and when the plant is healthy and thriving, they’re densely packed with oval or heart-shaped leaves.
There are several pothos varieties including variegated ones or pothos with dark or light green leaves.
And because the size and fullness of a pothos plant is a pretty good indicator of its health, I’m going to cover the aspects related to the size and growth of this plant. I’m also going to give you tips on how to encourage better and thicker growth.
How Big do Pothos Leaves Grow?
Pothos leaves vary in size, depending on whether they’re grown indoors or outdoors, but also depending on their variety or cultivar.
Pothos that grow outside in their natural habitat can grow leaves as big as 3 feet or more. The Epipremnum aureum Hawaiian or Hawaiian Pothos is known after its massive leaves that put other indoor pothos plants to shame.
That’s because indoor pothos produce leaves that are about 4-8 inches in size, on average.
Larger leaf sizes of 8-12 inches are also possible in indoor pothos, but much larger sizes may only be found on pothos plants grown in greenhouses, for example.
Pothos plants that produce very small leaves and thin, weak stems may have trouble receiving enough light or enough nutrients.
Therefore, leaf size is determined by a bunch of factors in the plant’s environment including light exposure, temperature, humidity, watering, nutrients and so on.
When something from these is lacking, the pothos plant will struggle to grow big leaves. Leaves will shrink and become scarce.
How Long do Pothos Stems Grow?
As with leaf size, pothos stems will grow longer in their natural habitat, reaching lengths of up to 30 feet. Indoors, however, they’ll stay smaller, averaging a length of about 8-10 feet.
You can allow pothos plants to grow downwards out of hanging baskets or simply have them climb up a moss pole or other support structure.
When conditions are optimal and they’re well taken care of, pothos plants grow and spread fast, quickly filling up a space.
A healthy and thriving pothos plant will produce vigorous stems with dense leaves. On the other hand, a pothos that’s struggling because of a lack of light, for example, will still grow long stems, but they’ll be weak and thin, with scarce and small leaves.
You can expect a pothos plant to grow larger and fuller on the condition that it gets enough bright, indirect light.
And just like leaf size, the length of the stem is also influenced by being watered correctly, growing in a warm and relatively humid environment, and getting enough nutrients to support growth.
How Fast do Pothos Plants Grow?
On average, a pothos plant will grow about 12 inches a month during the growing season. Your pothos can grow faster or slower, depending on the growing conditions you provide.
Ideally, a pothos plant will require the following to reach the average growth rate of 12 inches per month:
- Indirect light to promote photosynthesis and healthy growth
- Average room temperature or temperature between 70-90 F
- Regular watering whenever the topsoil dries out
- Average humidity
- Well-draining potting mix to keep roots well-aerated and prevent root rot
- Regular repotting whenever the plant outgrows its pot
- Regular fertilizing during the growing season
One of the most significant things that’s sure to slow down the growth rate of your pothos is a lack of enough light.
I see it mentioned almost everywhere how pothos plants adapt to low light conditions as well. And even though that may very well be the case with some pothos plants, for most, low light conditions are simply not the default option when it comes to light preferences.
A pothos plant may grow in dimmer light, but it’s growth rate will slow, its leaves will potentially lose their variegation and revert back to normal.
Therefore, if you want to make sure your pothos plant stays on track with its growth rate, you should maintain the best possible light conditions for your plant.
And that includes protecting the plant from any strong direct light, which can burn the leaves or cause discoloration.
Does Pothos Grow Faster in Water or Soil?
Pothos plants can be grown with success both in water and soil. In my experience, pothos plants tend to grow faster in soil, but root faster in water.
Often, pothos grown in water will develop quickly and grow fast, but the growth rate will start to slow down after a while, with the plant failing to reach its expected length at maturity.
This doesn’t usually happen with potted pothos plants, the growth rate of which is steady and continuous during their growing stage and into maturity.
That said, the substrate or growing medium alone isn’t the sole element responsible for the speed at which a pothos plant grows.
You can very well have a potted pothos plant with prolific growth in water, if it’s otherwise well taken care of, and one that’s doing poorly in potting media, if you’re not meeting its requirements.
When it comes to rooting a stem cutting, however, I can vouch for the water rooting method being faster than rooting pothos cuttings in soil.
There are nuances here too. Although stem cuttings root faster in water, some gardeners say that the roots are weaker and often cuttings fail after being transplanted to a pot and recommend rooting in potting soil to begin with.
But if your aim is to grow pothos in water, then there’s no need to bother with rooting in a pot. Just root in water and continue to keep the plant in water as it matures.
In conclusion, as long as your pothos plant receives enough light, nutrients, water, warmth and humidity, it will grow no matter if it’s in water or soil.
Do You Cut Back Pothos Plants?
Yes, cutting back pothos plants is something that I try to do regularly. That’s because pruning works as a stimulant for these plants, triggering them to shoot out new stems.
Regularly pruning or cutting back pothos plants will also encourage fuller and thicker growth and larger leaves.
You can prune back a pothos plant by cutting just below a leaf node. This leaf node is the side where new shoots will emerge.
You can prune back pothos plants that have stretched out or have become leggy, or you can even cut back a pothos plant dramatically — to the point where only a couple of inches of the plant remain at the base — to infuse it with new life.
You can prune pothos plants as needed throughout the growing season. Besides leading to a bushier growth, pruning also helps keep the plant at a manageable size and guide its growth pattern.
How do You Encourage Pothos to Grow?
If you want to encourage the growth of your pothos plant, here’s what you should focus on above all else:
– Provide plenty of light
The growth rate of a pothos plant that doesn’t get about 12 hours of bright indirect may slow down. To avoid that from happening, make sure to place it in a location where it can receive bright light.
– Water correctly
Pothos plants are prone to root rot issues when overwatered. Root rot will not only slow down the growth rate of the plant, but it can also kill it.
– Fertilize during the growing season
You can use a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season or use one that’s high in nitrogen to stimulate bigger leaf growth.
– Keep the temperature between 70-90 °F
Temperature shock and temperatures outside the comfort range for these plants will cause stunted growth, so make sure to avoid temperature extremes.
– Maintain disease-free plants
Leaf diseases and pests can also weaken the plant and hinder its growth, so avoid using dirty pruning shears or blades, and monitor your plants for diseases and pests.
Why is Your Pothos Not Growing?
There are a couple of reasons why your pothos plant is not growing and, in my experience, lack of light and overwatering are two of the prime reasons.
Lack of enough light interferes with the photosynthesis processes, which are essential for leaf development and healthy growth.
Another reason is a potential overwatering problem that has started to cause root rot in your pothos plant.
Besides these two, you’ll also need to examine whether the plant gets enough nutrients and whether the room where it’s kept is warm enough or optimal enough for your pothos.
If you’re doing everything right and your pothos is still struggling, consider replacing the potting media or pruning back the plant.
Pothos are prolific growers and despite being tropical plants, they’ve taken well to indoor growing as well, making them one of the most popular houseplants.
Still, if there are deficiencies in their care, pothos plants will struggle to grow or to produce normal-sized leaves.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to meet the plant’s basic requirements including pruning the plant as needed.