Glacier Pothos: Care Guide, 6 Common Problems + Origin Story

The rare and mysterious Glacier Pothos is a gorgeous houseplant with dark green, silvery green, and bluish-gray variegation. Although it’s a tropical vine, it is hardy and adaptable and doesn’t require a special care regime. If you’re lucky enough to find it, you’ll discover that keeping it alive in any home is easy, even if you’re a beginner.

Read on to find out more about how to care for the Pothos Glacier, and discover its intricate origin story.

What Is Glacier Pothos?

Glacier Pothos is a variety of Devil’s Ivy with white and green, variegated foliage. The leaves have an oval, slightly elongated shape with a lightly ruffled texture. They can be white or pale cream and display a motley of dark and light green hues. 

Often, you will notice leaf patterns that are almost silvery-blue in appearance. These streaks make an eye-catching contrast against the white foliage background and can resemble the bluish patterns seen on glaciers — hence the name Pothos Glacier.

This plant has a bushy, compact growth habit. You can keep it on a stand or hanging basket and let it trail. Or, if you want to make it grow larger leaves, you can also grow it on a moss pole.  

Origin

The exact origins of Glacier Pothos are unclear. Unfortunately, there is no patent for this cultivar, so it’s tricky to tell when it was first bred and by whom. And to get a better picture of how this plant came to be, you also need to look at the history of a similar cultivar: the N’Joy pothos.  

Pothos N’Joy was discovered by plant breeder Ashish Arvind Hansoti in 2002, who applied for a patent in 2007 and received it in 2009. The patent documentation mentions that the cultivar displayed ‘green variegation on cream to white background with many shades of green on a single leaf.’ The shades of green ranged from dark to silvery green and mint green — a color variation that will later be used to describe the Glacier. 

Pothos Glacier appeared on the market in 2014. That same year, Costa Farms acquired Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc., a plant-breeding company in Florida that, according to unofficial statements, bred both the Glacier and the N’Joy. After the acquisition, Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses’ plant portfolio was added to Costa Farms.

However, Costa Farms chose not to buy rights to propagate the N’Joy. Later, they also discontinued breeding the Glacier due to their partnership with the University of Florida and its breeding programs. Incidentally, the University of Florida was assigned the patent rights for a similar-looking pothos variety, Pearls & Jade (UFM12), back in 2008.

What happened to the Glacier Pothos after it was discontinued remains a mystery. It’s also difficult to tell if any plant breeder is currently growing this cultivar. 

Glacier Pothos Care Guide

The Glacier Pothos has the exact growing requirements as other variegated pothos cultivars. To thrive, it needs bright indirect light, a well-draining soil mix, and warm temperatures.

Let’s take a closer look.

Light 

Glacier Pothos needs bright indirect light to maintain its variegation. This will also prevent issues such as leggy stems or very little growth. However, you’ll want to avoid direct sunlight exposure, as this can scorch the leaves.

If you have a room with eastern or western exposure, keep it 2 to 3 feet away from the window. For example, you can keep your pothos on the windowsill in a north-facing room. 

Soil 

Plant your Glacier Pothos in a well-draining but moisture-retentive soil mix. A combination of equal parts potting soil, orchid bark, and perlite would be ideal.  

Avoid planting your pothos in nothing but a universal potting mix. That type of soil is too compact and does not facilitate drainage. In addition, if the soil stays wet all the time, your plant will become susceptible to root rot.

Water 

Glacier Pothos needs moderate watering, but avoid letting it dry out completely. The easiest way to check if the plant needs more water is to test the soil with your finger. If the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil feel dry to the touch, give the plant a thorough soak, until water drips through the drainage holes.

Your pothos will need more water during the hot summer months or if it’s sitting in a very dry room. In winter, you can reduce your watering schedule, but remember to regularly test the soil humidity with your finger. 

Temperature 

Despite the name, Glacier Pothos does not tolerate frost. It grows best in temperatures ranging between 65°F and 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Like all tropical plants, it will struggle to grow if temperatures drop below 59°F (15°C). 

Avoid exposing your pothos to sudden temperature changes, which can cause drooping leaves. Cold drafts can be a real problem in winter, so keep the plant away from drafty windows and doors. 

Similarly, hot drafts can dry out the air and wilt the plant. This is why you should never keep your pothos next to a radiator or a heating vent.

You can grow the Pothos Glacier outdoors if you live in USDA zones 9b and higher. In cooler regions, it’s best to keep it in a pot and bring it back indoors when it gets too cold. 

Humidity 

Glacier Pothos is not too pretentious about humidity. As long as you water it regularly and thoroughly, it won’t mind growing in a home that’s a bit dry.

But if you want to encourage faster growth and larger leaves, try increasing the humidity to around 50% – 60%. Higher humidity will also reduce the risk of spider mite infestations. 

The easiest way to make the air more humid for your pothos is to place the pot on a pebble tray half-filled with water. Alternatively, you can keep it in a naturally humid room, such as a bathroom or kitchen. 

Fertilizer 

Glacier Pothos has moderate fertilizer needs. To give it a boost, you can feed once every 2 – 3 weeks from early spring until mid-fall. Use a liquid fertilizer designed for foliage plants, diluted to half strength. 

Your pothos won’t need any additional fertilizer during the winter months when the lower light conditions will make it enter a brief period of dormancy. 

Pruning and Maintenance

The Glacier Pothos has a slower growth rate compared to other pothos cultivars, so it doesn’t need much pruning. However, if the vines get too long, you can give them a trim, and use the cuttings to propagate the plant. Regular pruning also gives your pothos a fuller look and helps keep it tidy by removing the older, yellowing leaves.

To keep the foliage healthy and glossy, use a damp cloth to wipe off the dust from the leaves once a week. A weekly application of neem oil solution will also prevent severe pest infestations.

Repotting Glacier Pothos

Glacier Pothos needs repotting once every 2 to 3 years. If you can see the roots come out from the top of the pot or through the drainage holes, it’s time to move the plant to a bigger container.

The best time to repot your pothos is in spring and early summer, when the plant is actively growing. Remove as much old soil as you can, and move the pothos into a container that’s one size bigger or 2 inches (5 cm) wider. Use a well-draining soil mix, and give the plant a good soak after repotting it.

Repotting your pothos also gives you an excellent opportunity to inspect the roots. Healthy pothos roots should be cream-colored and firm to the touch. If the roots are soft and mushy and have a dark brown, blackish color, that’s a sign of root rot. 

How To Propagate Glacier Pothos

propagating a glacier pothos plant

The easiest way to propagate Glacier Pothos is by rooting cuttings in water. You can use this method throughout spring and summer, during the plant’s active growth season. 

Take a few single-node cuttings, and put them in a glass of water. Keep them in a warm, sunny room but away from direct sunlight. After 4 to 5 weeks, or when the roots are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long, you can transplant the cuttings into a well-draining soil mix.

Find out more about how to propagate your pothos and how to troubleshoot common propagation problems.

Common Pothos Glacier Problems

The most common problems for the Glacier Pothos are caused by pests, incorrect watering, and too much or too little light. However, as this is a variegated plant, any care mistake is more likely to result in cosmetic defects, such as brown spots, dried leaf edges, or leggy stems. 

Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for.

Leaves Turning Yellow

pothos leaves turning yellow and with leaf spot

Yellowing leaves are a common symptom of water-related stress. They are the first sign that your plant is overwatered, but they can also indicate that your pothos is thirsty. Pests such as spider mites, scale, and mealybugs can also cause leaf discoloration.

Brown Leaf Spots

If your Glacier Pothos leaves are developing black or brown leaf spots, this could signify a fungal disease, a bacterial infection, or sunburn. 

Learn how to identify the cause of brown leaf spots on your pothos, and what to do in each case.

Dried Leaf Edges

The tips and edges of your pothos leaves will turn brown and crispy if the plant is living in very low humidity. Try keeping the humidity levels above 40%, and keep the plant away from heat sources such as radiators or heating vents. 

Curling and Drooping Leaves

The leaves of your pothos will start to curl and droop when the plant is thirsty. However, this behavior could also indicate that the plant is in shock. It could be a sign that you’ve used too much fertilizer, that the temperature has dropped suddenly, or that your pothos is exposed to hot or cold drafts. 

Long Vines With Few Leaves

Your pothos plant will grow sparse vines with few leaves if you keep it in low-light conditions. The best way to prevent this problem is to give it bright indirect light.

If your pothos has lots of bare vines, there are two things you can do to improve its looks.

  1. Give the plant a serious ‘haircut’. Trim down the bare vines, and your pothos will create new, leafy growth. You can use the bare stems for propagation. Cut them into single-node sections, and put them in a container with damp sphagnum moss. They will start growing roots and leaves after a couple of months.
  2. Use Keiki paste. This hormone-based substance will activate new growth on the bare stems. Put a small amount of paste on a cotton swab, rub it on the growth nodes, and they will start growing new stems and leaves.

Leaves Becoming Less Variegated

Glacier Pothos can revert to mostly green leaves if it’s growing in a very dark room. The only way to maintain its variegation is to keep the plant in bright indirect light.

FAQ

Is Glacier Pothos Toxic?

The Glacier Pothos is not safe for pets. Its leaves and stems contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals. They can cause painful mouth irritations, drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems if ingested. Always keep this plant away from your cats or dogs.  

Is Glacier Pothos Rare?

Glacier Pothos is one of the rarest pothos cultivars. At the time of writing (September 2022), very few online sellers are stocking it. Costa Farms, who were the main suppliers for this plant, have also stopped breeding it.

It’s worth pointing out that many of the plants sold today under the name of ‘Pothos Glacier’ bear strong similarities to patented cultivars such as Manjula, N’Joy, or Pearls & Jade. From a legal point of view, a plant seller cannot breed or propagate a patented plant unless they have bought the rights to do so. As a result, some sellers will come up with alternative names for plants that they do not have the legal right to sell or breed. 

This takes us to the next question. 

Glacier Pothos vs N’Joy: Are They The Same?

here is no clear distinction between the Glacier and N’Joy Pothos. However, some sellers and collectors claim that the Glacier Pothos has larger, rounder leaves with pronounced silvery-green variegation and that it lacks the speckles and ruffled, corrugated foliage texture. 

However, these features can also be used to describe the N’Joy pothos. For example, leaf size is directly influenced by growing conditions, such as light and humidity. Also, pothos plants are likely to develop mutations that result in unique color patterns and leaf shapes, even among patented cultivars.

It’s very possible that the Glacier was propagated from a N’Joy plant that displayed larger leaves, minimal speckling, and distinct silvery variegation streaks. But without a patent or an official statement regarding the breeding program, it’s impossible to tell if these two cultivars are different, or at least related.