Everything You Need to Know About Pothos Plants and Soil
With so many variations to choose from, Pothos plants are a houseplant that everyone can love and benefit from. With due care and attention, pothos plants are rapid growers in warm and humid environments. One of the most essential aspects of properly caring for these trailing plants is choosing appropriate potting soil. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the best soil mix for Pothos plants to ensure your plants thrive at home.
- Best Pothos Soil Mix – The Essentials
- The Role of Soil in Plant Health
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Pothos Plants
- The Importance of Well-Draining Potting Soil for Pothos Plants
- What Soil pH Levels are Best for Pothos Plants?
- How Plant Size and Pot Type Affect Soil
- Best Potting Soil for Repotting Pothos Plants
- The Ultimate Pothos Plant Potting Mix Recipe
- Wrapping Up
- Pothos Plant Soil Tips FAQ
Best Pothos Soil Mix – The Essentials
Pothos plants do best with a well-draining soil mix that balances water-holding capacity and drainage. The soil pH should be between 6.0-6.5. A good mix is two parts peat moss to one part perlite to one part pine bark fines.
The Role of Soil in Plant Health
Proper soil is essential for good pothos plant health alongside water, light, and an appropriate location in your home for the plant to thrive. Most natural soil is a mix of three types of inert particles (sand, silt, and clay), as well as organic matter.
Many houseplant soil mixes are made from inert materials such as vermiculite and perlite as well as organic materials like coco coir and peat moss.
No matter the composition of the soil, it should do the following:
- Provide the right mix of water holding and drainage
- Hold and cycle nutrients
- Anchor the plant in place
- Provide proper aeration
If you use the wrong soil mix, your plant can face several problems. A soil mix that doesn’t provide enough aeration or draining can lead to problems with root rot and oxygen exchange. Alternatively, soils that don’t hold enough water can lead to dry plants.
The proper soil mix is also essential to providing plants with nutrients. The pH of the soil affects nutrient availability.
Additionally, the soil structure impacts how well the soil holds nutrients. Certain types of clay and organic matter particles are great at holding nutrients until plants need them.
See our essential guide to propagating pothos plants for additional considerations when growing from stem cuttings.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Pothos Plants
If you’re using the wrong type of soil for your Pothos plant, you’ll likely notice one or more indicators. Both your plant and the soil itself will show you that you need to choose a different soil.
While yellow leaves or leaf loss can be a sign of a variety of Pothos problems, they are often a signal that you’re using the wrong soil mix or the plant is lacking nutrients (fertilizing can help here in addition to some basic pruning).
Yellow leaves often appear when your plant doesn’t have access to oxygen. If you are using soil that doesn’t provide proper drainage, your plant’s roots cannot access the oxygen they need.
Yellow leaves can also be an indicator of root rot. While root rot is caused by a fungus, it often appears in wet conditions. Allowing your soil to dry out between waterings will help prevent root rot. For this to happen, you need to use a well-draining soil mix!
Soft Plant Tissue
If you notice your plant’s roots or above-ground tissue is soft, it might be experiencing fungal issues. These fungal issues often appear when a plant is constantly in wet soil.
If you notice any soft tissue, check your soil. Excess water should drain out the bottom rather than sit in the soil.
When you water your pothos plant, the soil should become moist. However, the excess water should drain out of the bottom of the planter rather than remain in the soil.
The soil should also dry out over time. Environmental conditions impact how fast the soil should dry, but the top two inches of soil should be dry within one to three weeks.
If you notice the top of your soil is constantly wet, your soil is not draining. This is a sign that you need to choose a different potting soil for your Pothos plant.
The Importance of Well-Draining Potting Soil for Pothos Plants
One of the most important aspects of good Pothos soil is proper drainage. If your soil doesn’t allow excess water to escape, you’ll end up with water-logged soil that your plants will hate.
When soil isn’t well-draining, air pockets stay filled with water. This means that plant roots don’t have access to oxygen — essentially, they’re drowning!
Soils that aren’t well-draining also create problems with root rot and other types of fungal and bacterial issues.
What Soil pH Levels are Best for Pothos Plants?
All varieties of Pothos (including variegated pothos cultivars) plants prefer soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. If the pH is a little outside of this range, your plants will be fine.
How Plant Size and Pot Type Affect Soil
You may be wondering if the size of your Pothos plant and/or the type of planter impact what soil you should choose. For the most part, the answer is no.
All Pothos plants should be planted in a well-draining soil mix with a slightly acidic pH. The size of the plant nor the type of container it’s planted in affects this.
With that said, these two factors do impact how you should water. A larger planter will hold more soil, which will dry slower than soil in a small pot. This means you will need to water your plant less frequently.
However, large plants will also use more water than smaller plants. So large plants may need to be watered more often, even if they’re in a larger container.
The resounding answer is that the type and size of your Pothos plant, as well as the type and size of your planter do not change the soil you should use.
Best Potting Soil for Repotting Pothos Plants
When you re-pot your Pothos plant, you don’t need to alter the type of soil you use; these plants will still like a well-draining soil mix.
However, when you repot, it’s a good practice to dust off the old soil and replace it with new potting soil. This will prevent the spread of pathogens and elevate any issues with compaction.
The Ultimate Pothos Plant Potting Mix Recipe
Now that you know the characteristics of a great Pothos soil mix, it’s time to find out how to make or buy one.
The Best Home Soil Mix Recipe
The good news about Pothos plants is that they can handle soil mixes made from a variety of materials, as long as the soil provides what the plants need.
To make a great soil mix at home, mix the following:
- 2 parts peat moss OR coco coir
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part pine bark fines
While you’re mixing the materials, add enough water, so the soil is moist but not wet.
Great Pre-Mixed Soils
If you don’t want to make your own soil, there are several excellent Pothos soils on the market. This potting mix from DirtCo is made from peat and perlite, and it’s suitable for Pothos. Happy Frog Potting Soil is another Pothos option that you can order online.
(Editors Note: Petal Republic participates in partnership programs with Amazon and other merchants to help connect readers with relevant products and services we may recommend).
Can You Use Cactus or Orchid Soil Mixes With Pothos Plants?
You Pothos plants will do okay in cactus or orchid soil mixes, but they aren’t the ideal mix. These mixes drain a bit more quickly than a soil mix a Pothos plant will love.
Fortunately, Pothos plants aren’t too picky about their potting soil. The most important aspects of a great Pothos soil mix are a well-draining structure and a pH between 6.0-6.5.
If you’re looking for your next pothos plant to add to your collection, see our in-depth guide to where to find the best pothos plants for sale.
Pothos Plant Soil Tips FAQ
What Soil pH is Best for Pothos Plants?
Pothos plants do best in soil with a slightly acidic pH. Remember that a neutral pH is 7.0, and any number below this is considered acidic. Pothos plants do best in a mix with a pH between 6.0-6.5.
Can you use cactus or orchid soil mixes for Pothos Plants?
Cactus potting mixes typically won’t have quite enough nutrients for pothos plants, and orchid potting mix generally contains too much bark, which makes it too light and loose to support a mature pothos plant.
What are the main soil considerations when repotting a Pothos Plant?
Always switch out your soil when you repot your Pothos Plants to remove any issues with compaction, pests, and diseases.
How do you mix Pothos Plant soil?
To make the Pothos Plant soil mix, add all the ingredients to a large container, then add water until just moist. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together, and then fill your Pothos Plant pots.
Do Pothos Plants like moist soil?
Pothos Plants plants do best in a potting mix that holds moisture yet also drains well. Ensure your potting vessel has a drainage system so excess water can disperse during watering cycles.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.