Hawaiian Pothos: How To Grow a Giant Pothos Indoors

Hawaiian Pothos is one of the most controversial pothos varieties. With its large leaves and intense golden variegation, this rare houseplant has become a veritable unicorn among collectors. Surrounded by mystery and misconception, it’s got many people asking: is this pothos even real? Or is it a scam? 

Fear not: Hawaiian Pothos is a real variety of pothos. However, it’s not a different species, and it’s not an official cultivar either. This plant is simply what an Epipremnum aureum looks like once it starts reaching its mature shape and size. 

If you already have one at home, you’ll want to make sure that you give it a bit more love and care than you would a regular pothos. If you’re thinking about buying one, you’ll want to learn how to spot real vs fake plant listings. And if you want to put your green thumbs to the test, keep reading to discover how you can make your own from an old-school classic, the Golden Pothos. 

What Is Giant Hawaiian Pothos?

climbing giant hawaiian pothos plant

Hawaiian Pothos is the mature form of the Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy Plant. You can find it growing in the wild in Hawaii, but also in Florida, and several other tropical regions of the world.

Living up to its nickname of ‘Giant Pothos’, it can reach over 60 feet in height and can grow leaves that are over two feet long. 

Interestingly enough, Hawaiian Pothos is not native to Hawaii. The plant originates from French Polynesia and was incidentally introduced to the islands. Once there, the similar climate allowed it to naturalize, and the plant spread like a weed. 

What Is the Difference Between Hawaiian Pothos and Golden Pothos?

golden pothos plant on a shelf

The main difference between Hawaiian and Golden Pothos is the leaf size and shape. Golden Pothos leaves are oval or heart-shaped, usually 3 – 4 inches long. 

Hawaiian Pothos leaves are at least 10 inches long and can reach almost 2.5 feet at maturity. They have a narrower oval shape and can develop Monstera-like splits or fenestrations. The leaves can also display intense yellow or golden variegation, especially if the plant is growing in full sun. 

There is currently not enough information to confirm that Hawaiian Pothos is a real or accepted cultivar. It is not patented, and any mentions of it in scientific literature* are inconclusive. Technically speaking, it doesn’t have a scientific name, but if it did, it would probably be Epipremnum aureum ‘Hawaiian’.  

It’s worth pointing out that the leaf shape, color, texture, and size of most aroid species will change depending on the plant’s age, growing conditions, and even geographic location.

Simply put, a Golden Pothos growing outdoors in Hawaii or even in Florida will look different from one growing in your living room. 

Hawaiian Pothos Care Guide

Hawaiian Pothos has similar care requirements to Golden Pothos. The main thing you’ll need to pay attention to is providing the plant with the same growing conditions it enjoys in its natural habitat.

Otherwise, the new growth will get smaller, and you’ll end up with a regular, immature pothos instead. 

Light 

Hawaiian Pothos needs lots of bright indirect light to thrive. If you keep it in low light conditions, it will lose its variegation and its leaves will become smaller. This plant has a higher tolerance to intense sunlight, and won’t mind direct sun exposure in the morning or evening. 

Soil 

girl mixing different pothos varieties in one pot

Use a well-draining but moisture-retentive soil mix for your pothos. You can either buy a pre-made mix for aroids, or create your own by combining equal parts potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark. 

Water 

Water your plant when the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry to the touch. Use the soak and drain method, and slowly pour water through the soil until it starts dripping from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.

Temperature 

Maintain a temperature range between 65°F and 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Hawaiian Pothos is a tropical plant used to very hot climates and can tolerate temperatures as high as 95°F (35°C) if provided with enough water and moisture.

Humidity 

This giant pothos requires high humidity to maintain its size and stay healthy. Aim for a minimum of 60%, although a humidity level of 70% or higher would be ideal. Meeting this requirement can be challenging, so you might find it helpful to use a humidifier for the job.

Fertilizer 

Feed your plant once every 2 – 3 weeks with a balanced fertilizer. You don’t need to feed this plant during the winter months unless you’re keeping it under a grow light.

Support

Always grow this pothos on a support — ideally a moss pole, but you can also use a coir pole with a rugged texture. Of course, you can grow it however you wish, and there are no rules preventing you from keeping it as a hanging plant. However, not using a pole will cause the plant to revert to its juvenile form.

You will also need to extend your moss poles as the plant grows. On average, you can expect your Hawaiian Pothos to grow at least 2 feet in height each year.

When the plant gets too tall and there’s simply no more room to extend the poles, simply cut the top and use it to start a new plant — check the propagation section for more info.

Growing Hawaiian Pothos Outdoors

giant pothos plant outdoors

You can grow this pothos outdoors if you live in USDA zones 9a to 12. If it gets too big to live in a pot, you can simply plant it in your garden. Use it as a ground cover, or let it climb a fence, wall, or tree. However, make sure that you keep the plant contained.

Pothos can become invasive if it escapes cultivation, especially in tropical regions. 

How To Propagate Hawaiian Pothos

showing how to propagate pothos in water

There are two ways you can propagate this pothos, depending on your growing setup. 

If you’re keeping it as a hanging or trailing plant, simply propagate it the same way you would with any other pothos plant.

If you’re growing it on a moss or coir pole, you’ll need a different approach. 

  1. Wait until your pothos has reached the top of the pole. 
  2. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the stem one inch below the node of the last leaf. 
  3. If the node already has an aerial root or a well-developed root system, simply plant it in a new pot with a new moss pole. 
  4. If the top cutting doesn’t have any roots yet, propagate it in water, then repot it when the roots are at least 3 inches long.  
  5. You can use this process for several other nodes. Just make sure that you don’t remove more than ⅔ of the plant. 

Common Pests and Problems

Mature pothos plants are hardy, resilient, and generally pest-free. Keep an eye out for the occasional scale, mealybug, or spider mite. 

Potential problems include root rot and nutrient deficiencies. If you keep your plant hanging, please note that the leaves will inevitably get smaller. The only way to prevent your pothos from reverting to its juvenile form is by growing it on a moss pole. 

How To Turn Golden Pothos Into a Hawaiian Pothos

Hawaiian Pothos can be a rare find. But if you can’t locate one for sale, don’t worry: you can make your own at home from a humble Golden Pothos. You only need three things to help this plant reach its mature form: light, a moss pole, and high humidity. 

Here are our four tips that will set you up for success.

1. Give It More Light

pothos plant living outside

Light is one of the main factors that trigger large leaf growth. Move your pothos to a sunnier location, where it can receive bright indirect light. If your home is too dark, you will need to buy grow lights.

Otherwise, consider keeping your pothos outdoors during summer, in a sheltered part of your garden.  

2. Let It Climb

Pothos plants need to climb in order to reach their mature form. For best results, use a sphagnum moss pole. Your plant will start to grow roots inside the pole, which means that you’ll have to change the way you water it.

Always pour water and fertilizer solution into the moss pole as well as the pot. Otherwise, all the roots in the pole will dry out and your plant will wilt.  

You can also grow your pothos on a coir pole, or a plank of wood. However, your plant will need very high humidity to reach its mature form on that type of support. If you can’t increase the humidity in your home above 60%, use a sphagnum moss pole instead. 

3. Increase the Humidity

In its natural habitat, pothos plants receive lots of humidity. This helps them grow faster and develop bigger leaves. To achieve the same results indoors, you will need to raise the humidity to at least 70%.

The only way to do that is by using a humidifier — don’t even bother with misting or pebble trays. 

4. Fertilize Regularly

Giving your pothos lots of light and the right type of support to climb on can result in leaves that are 20 times larger in less than a year.

Your plant will need plenty of nutrients to sustain that fast growth. Fertilize it once every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength.

3 Tips for Buying Hawaiian Pothos

Buying this expensive pothos can be tricky. You’ll find many online listings, but unfortunately, not all of them are selling the real deal. Here are three tips that will help you avoid potential scams and wasting your money.  

1. Buy Cuttings

Hawaiian Pothos plants are huge. They’re at least 13 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with vast and complex root systems — not exactly something you can fit in a package.

If you find sellers listing full plants, please note that they are simply selling the juvenile form, Golden Pothos. The only way you can buy a genuine mature plant is by buying a cutting. 

2. Buy a Cutting With Large Leaves

Look for leaves that are at least 9 inches long — preferably 10 or 12 inches. That’s a sign that the leaves are nearing adulthood and that the plant has been growing in the right conditions. 

3. Ask the Seller for Photos

Even if the listing already has images, ask the seller for photos that show where the plant is growing. Does the pothos look cultivated, or does it look like a random plant climbing up a wall or a tree?

Pothos plants grow like weeds, so it’s very tempting to simply cut one growing wild and sell it online. Unfortunately, wild plants come with pests and diseases. Also, taking plants from the wild — whether they’re rare or not — encourages poaching, and will pose a threat to local environments.

Always buy your pothos from a reputable seller that is growing it themselves, whether indoors or in their garden. 

FAQ

Is Hawaiian Pothos Toxic?

Yes, this pothos is toxic to cats and dogs. To avoid any accidents, please keep it away from pets and small children.

Is Hawaiian Pothos Rare?

Hawaiian Pothos is considered a rare houseplant. Oddly enough, its juvenile form, the Golden Pothos, is the most common type, and also one of the most popular houseplants in the world.

Can You Bring Pothos Cuttings From Hawaii to the U.S. Mainland?

According to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, you can bring plants from Hawaii to the mainland U.S. as long as they are bare root without soil. This means that you can bring pothos cuttings home from your vacation. 

Some U.S. states may require your cuttings to be certified by the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture before you leave. To make sure that your cuttings are safe to bring to the U.S., contact the HDA for more info on how to certify them.

For what it’s worth, know that Hawaiian natives believe that taking anything from their islands will bring you bad luck. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a rock or a plant cutting. Bringing a real Hawaiian Pothos home may seem like a good idea, but only if you’re sure you can escape Pele.

Why Are My Plants Leaves Turning Yellow?

Hawaiian pothos leaves turn yellow for similar reasons as Golden pothos. View our pothos leaves turning yellow page for solutions.