Tips For Repotting Pothos Houseplants

A woman in gray gloves uses a trowel to move a variegated pothos plant from one terra cotta pot to another
(Image credit: DragonImages)

If you asked gardeners to vote for their easiest houseplant, it is very likely that pothos (Epipremnum aureum) would be among the top of the crop. This foliage plant, a climbing vine in the wild, is often seen cascading from its pot in a living room and it tolerates and even thrives on neglect.

Wondering when to repot pothos? Pothos repotting is largely optional and, like every other maintenance task, very easy.

Meet the World’s Easiest Houseplant

Pothos has a variety of common names ranging from golden pothos to devil’s ivy, but nobody ever calls it a temperamental houseplant. It hails from the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia, but has naturalized in many other tropical and subtropical forested areas in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific islands.

Pothos is a foliage plant par excellence, with large, lovely heart-shaped leaves that can be variegated with white, yellow, or paler green. In the tropics, it grows as a long, leafy vine (to 70 feet, or 23 m) but indoors it rarely exceeds 30 feet (10 m) in length. It can be grown as a climbing or a cascading houseplant.

Caring for a Pothos

Indirect sun and well-draining soil top the list of what pothos needs to be happy. An occasional watering helps but this plant likes the soil to dry out well between drinks. This also prevents root rot. You can fertilize your pothos if you really want to, but no more often than every three months and, quite frankly, the plant is likely to do just as well without.

What about repotting? Again, repot if you like. There are different opinions when it comes to timing. How often to repot pothos? Some experts suggest that this be done every year, while others remind gardeners that a root bound pothos is a happy pothos.

How to Repot a Pothos

You could consider repotting a pothos if roots grow from the drain holes, the plant’s leaves are growing in small, or you want a larger plant. Most plants stay smaller in smaller pots, allowing themselves to grow as large as their root system will allow. If any of these is the case, act in late winter to get the plant into its new quarters for spring.

Pick a container with ample drain holes and make sure they are on the bottom of the pot, not the sides. The new pothos pot should be just a few inches bigger than the current pot. Tip the container and gently remove the pothos from its current container. Clip off any circling roots as well as any dead or rotting roots.

Replace as much soil as you can without impacting the root ball. Don’t spend a fortune on soil -- any average well-draining potting soil is fine for a pothos. Keep the top of the plant root ball on the same level as it was in the prior pot. Tuck extra soil around the edges of the root ball and tamp it down carefully.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.