Golden Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, (Epipremnum aureum) is one of the most popular and easy-to-grow houseplants. Indoors, it will tumble over the sides of a hanging basket, climb up a moss pole or trellis, and grow long stems punctuated by green, heart-shaped leaves flecked with yellow. But can it also be grown outdoors?
The short answer is yes, Pothos can live outside. It can grow year-round in the garden in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12, which take in the southernmost parts of Florida, Texas, Arizona, and much of southern California, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii.
Grown outdoors in these areas, it is a spectacular ground cover. It grows so well that it is considered to be an invasive species in most of these areas.
Where Is It Native?
This tropical plant is hardy in the warm USDA zones because it is native to rainforests of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, where it grows in filtered, indirect light, moist soil, warm temperatures, and high humidity.
The climate in USDA zones 10 to 12 is similar to these tropical regions, so these are the best places to grow it outdoors year-round.
How Does Pothos Grow?
As a houseplant, it is tolerant of low-light conditions and will grow nicely but will remain in its juvenile stage with thin stems and oval, pointed leaves that are 2 to 4 inches long. It will typically never flower indoors.
When grown outside in optimal conditions, the plant can mature and grow thick stems and leaves up to 3 feet long with many splits, almost like palm fronds.
It is in the Arum family and produces the spathe/spadix type of flowers when grown outside.
6 Optimal Conditions for Pothos Living Outside
So, now we know the answer to the question, “can pothos live outside?” but your plant needs six essential conditions.
Pothos grows best in temperatures of 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It will die in temperatures below 50 degrees, become stressed, and cook in temperatures above 90 degrees.
Just like in tropical rainforests, Pothos plants thrive with humidity in the 50% to 70% range. They are tolerant of lower humidity, but the highly variegated cultivars, such as N’ Joy, Pearls and Jade, Marble Queen, and Harlequin, need higher humidity levels than their less variegated varieties.
In its native rainforest habitat, Pothos grows on the ground and climbs up a tree if it encounters one as it trails along. The light that it gets through the trees is filtered, dappled sun or bright shade – never direct sunlight.
That is the level of light it prefers and one you’ll need to provide if you grow it outdoors.
Bright shade under a tree is the perfect place to locate your plant. Keep it out of the direct sun or in a spot where it only gets morning sunshine and shade the rest of the day.
The soil that this plant needs is rich, organic, and slightly acidic, with excellent drainage. If your garden soil is either heavy clay or light and sandy, you will need to amend it with peat moss and compost to achieve the correct drainage, structure, and nutrients.
Pothos plants tolerate varying amounts of water but prefer to be slightly moist. Rainfall should take care of this most of the year, but during dry spells, it’s best to soak the soil if it is dry 2 to 3 inches down from the top. Make sure it drains well, and never allow the plant to grow in standing water or soggy soil that can lead to root rot.
With rich soil, Pothos usually doesn’t require fertilization. But to boost its nutrition and keep it at optimum health, you can fertilize it once a month with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer (such as 10N – 10P – 10K) per instructions.
Pothos as a Houseplant Vacationing Outdoors
In colder zones where it isn’t possible to grow it in the garden, you can bring your Pothos houseplant outdoors in its pot during the spring, summer, and early fall when it is above 65 degrees F.
It will typically put on more foliage during this time due to the warmth and increased light. Set it in a shady spot or one that gets morning light, like on an east-facing patio, porch, deck, or under a tree.
Since it is in a pot and not in the ground, you may need to water it more often than you would indoors since it will dry out quicker in the warmth and light. Make sure that the pot has at least one drainage hole so that the water can drain when you water it and when it rains.
Indoors or outdoors, in a pot or in the ground, watch for insect pests on your Pothos. It can be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale.
Insecticidal soap and/or Neem oil will effectively treat aphids and spider mites. Mealybugs and scale can be removed by wiping them with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.
With the right growing conditions, Pothos plants will flourish outdoors, grown in the garden or a pot vacationing outdoors in the warm weather.
Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.