Pearls and Jade Pothos: The Plant Created by Gamma Radiation

Pearls and Jade is a pothos cultivar with small, variegated foliage and a compact, bushy shape. It takes its name from the lush display of pearl-white and jade-green leaves, which transform it into a luxurious houseplant centerpiece.  

But don’t let the name fool you: this plant doesn’t have high-end care requirements. Instead, like all pothos, it’s low-maintenance and beginner-friendly. And, thanks to its slow growth, it’s a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a plant that won’t take over your home.

This pothos is very similar in appearance to the Manjula and the N’Joy. But unlike its cousins, the way this cultivar came to be is far more intriguing.

Origin Story: How Gamma Radiation Created a New Plant

pearls and jade pothos plant on white table.

Pearls and Jade Pothos is a patented cultivar of the Epipremnum aureum plant. It has small, wrinkly leaves, bushy looks, and a gorgeous display of white or cream leaves streaked with dark and silvery green and light green speckles. 

This man-made plant was bred from the Marble Queen Pothos, one of the most popular varieties available on the market. 

But how did a plant with such royal parentage end up being compared to The Hulk? First, we need to look at how scientists created this pothos to find out more. 

Several years ago, the University of Florida participated in a program that used mutations to help create new plant cultivars. 

Pothos plants rarely flower in cultivation, which means that hybridization is impossible. The only way to create new varieties is to wait until one of the plants naturally develops a mutation. 

But in this case, scientists decided to use radiation to give nature a helping hand. So they took several Marble Queen Pothos plants and exposed them to gamma radiation. 

Now, if you’re familiar with the MCU, this will probably ring a bell: a bombardment with gamma rays is also what created The Hulk. 

Almost a year later, one of the plants developed a single branch that displayed a unique leaf pattern and growth habit. 

Scientists took that mutant branch, trimmed it into smaller cuttings, and propagated it until they created a new pothos cultivar. They named the new plant ‘UFM12’, applied for the patent in 2008, and were granted the application in 2010. 

This new variety was released on the market under the name of the Epipremnum aureum’ Pearls and Jade’ cultivar. 

Unlike The Hulk, Jade and Pearl Pothos takes a long time to reach its full size. As a result, this plant has a very slow growth rate. 

When grown indoors, it rarely reaches more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length. However, it’s an easy plant to care for, and it can thrive in your home for decades with the proper care.

Pearls and Jade Pothos Care Guide

This plant has similar growing requirements to other variegated pothos cultivars. It prefers bright but not direct sunlight and moist but well-draining soil. It can adapt to all indoor conditions but will grow best if your home is warm and a bit on the humid side. 

Light&Nbsp;

Pearl and Jade Pothos has moderate light requirements, but it will not grow well in low light. In addition, its variegated leaves produce less chlorophyll than pothos plants with green foliage. 

To ensure healthy growth, always keep this plant in bright indirect light. For example, try growing it in an east or west-facing room, at least 2 feet away from the window.

Avoid keeping this plant in direct sun. The intense light will scorch the foliage, causing brown, dry burn marks on the leaves.

If your home is too dark, you’ll notice that your pothos will slowly lose its variegation. Low light will also cause leggy growth, bare stems, and small leaves. 

Soil&Nbsp;

Use a well-draining, airy, and nutrient-rich potting mix for this plant. For example, a mix of equal parts coco coir, perlite, and orchid bark would be ideal. But if you can’t find coir, swap it for peat moss or a universal potting mix. 

Feel free to add worm castings to your potting mix to boost the plant’s nutrients. A handful of horticultural charcoal will also improve drainage and aeration and help reduce the risk of root rot

Water&Nbsp;

This pothos variety has moderate watering needs. However, due to its slow growth rate, you don’t need to water it too often. Simply use your finger to test the soil in the pot once a week. 

If the top 2 inches feel dry to the touch, you can water the plant using the soak-and-drain method. 

Temperature&Nbsp;

Pearls and Jade Pothos needs a warm indoor environment to thrive, but it will also be fine growing in the average home temperature. A temperature range of 64°F to 86°F (18°C to 30°C) is enough to keep this plant happy. 

Like all pothos varieties, this tropical plant does not tolerate frost. Therefore, you can only grow it outdoors if you live in USDA zones 9 to 12. 

Remember to bring the plant inside your home if temperatures drop below 64°F (18°C) during the night.  

Humidity&Nbsp;

This pothos can tolerate low humidity. But it will grow best if you can increase the humidity levels to around 60%. 

Humid air will encourage faster growth and bigger leaves and prevent spider mite infestations.

If the air in your home is very dry, you may notice the leaves developing brown, crispy tips. To keep the foliage looking lush and healthy, try keeping the humidity above 40%. 

Placing the pot on a pebble tray is a quick and easy way to increase the moisture around the plant. You can also try grouping several plants or keeping your pothos in a bathroom with a window.

Fertilizer&Nbsp;

Feed your pothos throughout the growing season using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. 

This cultivar doesn’t grow very fast, so you only need to feed it once a month, from early spring until early fall. Always dilute your fertilizer solution to half-strength to prevent burning the roots.

Your pothos will enter a brief period of dormancy during the colder months so that it won’t need any extra feeding. But if you’re using grow lights for your houseplant setup, it will continue to produce new growth. So, in this case, you can keep fertilizing it even in winter.

Pruning

Your P&J Pothos doesn’t need much pruning. You can trim the vines if they get too long or if you want to make the plant bushier. However, regularly pruning the old, yellow leaves will help maintain its tidy look.  

Repotting Pothos Pearls and Jade

Pearls n Jade Pothos doesn’t mind being a bit rootbound. But if you can see the roots come out from the top of the pot or through the drainage holes, it’s time to repot it. Depending on how fast your plant grows, you’ll need to do this once every 2 or 3 years.

Repot your pothos into a container 2 inches wider or one size bigger than the old pot. Always make sure that the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom. 

Plastic is the best pot material for this plant. However, if you’re using terracotta or unglazed ceramic, you’ll need to water the plant more often, so remember to check the soil moisture regularly. 

Pothos Pearl and Jade Propagation Guide

The best way to propagate Pearls n Jade Pothos is by rooting stem cuttings in water. You can use this propagation method in spring and summer. The warmer temperatures and increased levels of natural light will help your cuttings root faster.

Use a sharp, sterilized blade, and cut a long vine between two growth nodes. 

Divide the vine into single-node cuttings, and put them in a glass of water. Keep the glass in a warm room but away from direct sunlight. 

Pothos Pearls and Jade cuttings grow very slowly. Get ready to wait at least a month before seeing any roots. When the roots are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long, they can transplant in a well-draining potting mix. 

5 Common Pests and Problems to Avoid

This pothos is generally pest-free, so you don’t need to worry about severe infestations. But if your plant is growing in unsuitable conditions, you may encounter several problems. 

1.) Soft, Brown Leaf Spots

Brown leaf spots that feel soft or a bit mushy are common signs of root rot. Pearls and Jade Pothos is very susceptible to this disease, especially if the soil in its pot has poor drainage. 

Avoid overwatering your plant, and always test the soil with your finger before giving the plant more water.  

2.) Dry, Brown Leaf Spots

If the leaves of your pothos have brown, dry leaf patches, that’s a common symptom of sunburn. Moving the plant away from the window will prevent these burn marks.

However, this type of spot is normal if your pothos leaves are primarily white, with very little green coloring. White leaf sections don’t produce chlorophyll. The plant can’t use them for photosynthesis, so it will slowly ‘decommission’ them. 

There’s not much you can do about this, unfortunately. However, if you dislike how these discolored leaves look, you can prune them off. 

3.) Yellow Leaves

pothos leaves turning yellow and with leaf spot

Leaves turning yellow often indicates overwatering or pest infestations. 

To identify the exact problem:

  1. Start by testing the soil in the pot.
  2. If it feels soaking wet to the touch, cut back on watering until the top 2 inches dry out completely. If the plant’s health does not improve, it’s best to take it out of the pot and inspect the roots.
  3. Trim any black and mushy roots, then repot your pothos in a well-draining soil mix.

If the soil and roots are OK, check the underside of the leaves. There’s a good chance that your pothos has spider mites

Spray the leaves with a solution of water and isopropyl alcohol once a week; the pests should be gone after a month. 

4.) Crispy Leaf Tips&Nbsp;

Crispy leaf tips and edges signify that the air in your home is too dry. Try increasing the humidity to at least 40% to keep your pothos happy. 

Hot drafts can also cause the leaves to crisp up. In winter, avoid keeping your plant close to heating vents or radiators.

5.) Small Leaves

The leaves of your pothos will get smaller if you grow it as a trailing or hanging plant. Giving the plant more light and humidity can slow down the process. But the only way to prevent smaller leaves is by growing this pothos on a trellis or moss pole. 

FAQ About Pearls & Jade Pothos

Is Pearls and Jade Pothos Toxic?

Yes. Like all plants in the Epipremnum genus, Pearls and Jade leaves are unsafe for cats or dogs

Its leaves contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, nausea, vomiting, and painful rashes if ingested. Always keep this plant away from your pets.

What’s the Difference Between Pearls & Jade, Manjula, and N’Joy Pothos?

These three pothos cultivars can look very similar at first glance.

However, the easiest way to tell them apart is by comparing leaf shape and size and how green speckles are displayed on the white leaf sections.
If all the leaves on your pothos have light green speckles, you have ‘Pearls and Jade’ Pothos.

If only a few leaves have green speckles, you have a N’Joy Pothos.
If your plant’s foliage has green speckles and large, round-shaped leaves, you have a Manjula Pothos

References

patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/USPP21217P2/en 

https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/44/3/article-p824.xml

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/EP/EP44100.pdf

https://reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/0201712-introduction-and-evaluation-of-ornamental-plants.html

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.