Names are often deceiving, and we’re about to discuss a plant whose name is doubly so.
Hailing from the Araceae family, Epipremnum aureum (ep-ih-PREM-num AW-re-um) is best known as pothos but hasn’t been a member of the Pothos genus for a long time.
One of its most infamous pothos varieties or cultivars, Epipremnum aureum ‘Hawaiian’ (better known as Hawaiian pothos or pothos ‘Hawaiian’), isn’t from Hawaii at all, but rather its parent comes from French Polynesia.
And there’s yet another dilemma with this cultivar – it’s steeped in controversy between those who defend it as a cultivar, those who think it might be its own species (sometimes referring to it as giant Hawaiian pothos), and those who are positive it’s just a more mature golden pothos (the parent plant).
We’ll get more into this debate in a moment, as the details will help you avoid getting bamboozled by online sellers.
Hawaiian Pothos Care
Size and Growth
Hawaiian pothos plants are fast growers when given the proper conditions.
It has a potential size of 25’ to 45’ feet tall and 4 to 8’ feet wide.
Unless you give it support, this vining plant will more commonly grow to only around 3’ to 4’ feet tall and about 2’ feet wide when grown in a container.
Some growers have reported heights of 9’ feet when supported by a bamboo pole or trellis.
And this brings us to the great debate, which hinges greatly upon its appearance and care differences.
There is no confirmed patent for Hawaiian pothos, leading many to claim it’s actually just Golden pothos.
They argue that the differences are just due to aging, but this cannot explain away all of the differences.
Golden pothos has dark green leaves with gold variegation. Meanwhile, this cultivar has a creamy, light yellow variegation.
Its leaves also grow much larger, measuring 5″ to 12” inches long compared to its parent’s 4″ to 8” inch long green foliage.
The stems of Hawaiian pothos are green, while golden pothoses are yellowish.
You might be able to get golden pothos to bloom, but Hawaiian pothos is next to impossible to get to flower (if it’s possible at all).
Finally, Hawaiian pothos plants need less light and moisture, and their larger leaves will sometimes develop fenestrations.
Flowering and Fragrance
As mentioned, this cultivar is not known to flower, even under ideal conditions.
Light and Temperature
Golden pothos is a plant that has adapted to life under a forest canopy and can’t handle direct sunlight – and the same is true of its cultivars.
You don’t want to expose your ‘Hawaiian’ to direct sunlight, as the leaves will easily scorch. When under harsh sunlight, you can remedy this by providing enough cover.
So it’s best to place where it can get plenty of bright, indirect light or filtered light conditions for this plant to thrive. Indirect light will also improve leaf growth and encourage its lush variegation.
However, it’s also important that you don’t leave it in full shade or even partial shade for long periods of time, as this will cause the plant to lose its variegation.
Instead, medium to bright indirect sunlight is the best way to go.
When growing up using artificial lighting, you will want to keep your Hawaiian pothos plants at least 6’ feet away from the light source.
Using grow lights when your place has insufficient natural light works well too.
You can use an east-facing window to get the best results.
For climates where the sun is harsher, you may wish to place the plant beside the window or use a sheer curtain to shield it, but more temperate regions shouldn’t require as much protection.
When in doubt, shift the plant a little to find where it’s most comfortable.
If placing your pothos plant at a south-facing window, use a sheer curtain to filter the light or place it where the sun’s rays won’t hit it directly.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this plant hails from a more tropical zone and requires higher humidity than your home normally provides.
While it can do well enough in humidity levels as low as 40% percent (which is more likely to occur in your kitchen or bathroom), the ideal range is 50% to 70% percent.
There are a few easy ways to achieve this:
- Group plants – around 90% to 99% percent of the water your plant drinks is used for a process called transpiration, which is similar to how humans sweat.
By grouping plants together, the humidity naturally increases between them.
- You can also use a pebble tray, which is simply a shallow tray filled with pebbles or glass aquarium beads that you sit the plant’s pilot on top of.
Fill the tray with water and allow it to evaporate naturally, refilling as necessary.
- You can also invest in a small humidifier that will increase the humidity of your plant without having a major effect on the rest of the room.
This is the most expensive option, but most personal humidifiers will keep track of the humidity level, making them more efficient.
But what about misting? Misting doesn’t really have much effect because the water almost immediately dissipates.
It can also increase the risk of fungal infections or infestations in some plants (such as those with velvety or fuzzy leaves) because their leaves will trap the water.
As a result, it’s generally best to avoid misting, even though Hawaiian pothos is more tolerant of this practice than many other plants.
As mentioned, Hawaiian pothos may have been man-made, but it shares its parent plant’s adaptations.
Thus, you will most likely not be able to grow the plant outdoors unless you are in USDA hardiness zones 11 to 12, which is at the southern tip of Florida and the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, this cultivar is considered invasive in Florida, so it is very unlikely that you will find a place where you can grow it outdoors legally in the continental US unless it’s in a container.
The good news is that this cultivar is comfortable in a temperature range between 64 and 77° degrees Fahrenheit, so you can harden it off and bring it outdoors during summer.
Outside of this comfort zone, Hawaiian pothos plants can tolerate a temperature range of 60 to 90° degrees Fahrenheit before it risks damage.
It’s not cold tolerant at all, so anything below 60° degrees Fahrenheit will make it unhappy, and anything under 50° degrees Fahrenheit can cause damage or even kill it.
You will also want to keep it away from any sources of sudden drafts, such as AC units, vents, or doors that are frequently opened and closed.
Watering and Feeding
The good news is that Hawaiian pothos is very forgiving if you miss a watering or two, but the bad news is that it has very little tolerance for being overwatered.
If your pothos plant is overwatered, you will notice brown or yellow leaves, wilting leaf tips, and stunted growth.
You can use the finger or stick method to determine when it’s time to water.
Simply stick your finger straight down into the soil and water if it’s dry to your second knuckle (approximately 2” inches).
If you choose to use a popsicle stick, mark it every inch, then stick it in the soil and leave it for 20 minutes.
When you pull it out, the stick will be darker where moisture was present.
Hawaiian pothos has shallow roots, but you can still use either the bottom-up or soak-and-dry method to water this plant with great results every time.
Speak to three plant lovers; none can agree on whether this plant is a light, moderate, or heavy feeder.
Thankfully, this isn’t important since Hawaiian pothos is easy to feed regardless.
Just give it a balanced liquid-soluble houseplant fertilizer once monthly in spring and summer to improve foliage growth.
A 15-15-15 NPK is an idea, but you can also go for 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer if you wish.
Dilute according to the instructions on the packaging and adjust as necessary if you find the plant is getting too much or too little.
You also stop fertilizing your pothos in the winter months until spring comes.
Soil and Transplanting
As with most plants, your Hawaiian pothos will need loose, well-draining soil.
However, it’s very forgiving and will handle most soil types if you add an aggregate such as perlite to ensure proper drainage.
Well-draining potting mixes for cacti or succulents work very well with this cultivar.
When grown in a container, use a pot with drainage holes to allow the excess water to leave the pot.
While it prefers a neutral soil pH of 6.6 to 7.3, it will still fare well in slightly acidic (6.1 to 6.5) soils.
Some growers have noted success using LECA instead of soil.
Due to its fast growth rate, you will need to repot this plant every 2 years.
Grooming and Maintenance
Very little maintenance is needed for this plant, although you may occasionally need to prune it to remove any leggy stems or maintain a desired size or shape.
Make sure also to remove damaged or diseased leaves.
You can also support your pothos with a moss pole to aid your plant in climbing as it develops aerial roots.
How to Propagate Pothos ‘Hawaiian’
The primary way to propagate Epipremnum aureum ‘Hawaiian’ is through stem cuttings taken using a sharp knife, which can be grown in either soil or water.
Hawaiian Pothos Pests Or Diseases
Due to its rapid growth rate, the parent plant of Hawaiian pothos is considered invasive in Florida, which is one of the few places in the US where it can be grown outdoors.
It’s vulnerable to cold and frost but is somewhat drought-tolerant.
Aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites can also be a problem, although it’s rare for a healthy Hawaiian pothos to become infested unless it’s close to an already infested plant.
You can spray your pothos with soapy water to kill these insect pests.
Almost all fungal disease risks are related to overwatering, including root rot, Phytophthora, and bacterial leaf spot.
It should be noted that this plant, like its parent, is toxic to both humans and pets due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in high quantities.
While the crystals can cause kidney stones or other issues in humans, they can be deadly to cats and serious to dogs when ingested.
Epipremnum Aureum ‘Hawaiian’ Uses
Perhaps the single best place to keep this plant is in a hanging basket, where its stems can hang down and grow longer than if left to trail along a horizontal surface.
It’s also a low-maintenance plant, which makes an excellent indoor plant for beginners.
Like its parent plant, this cultivar can help remove toxins from the air.
Because it’s a tropical plant, it might need a little extra environmental consideration, yet its higher tolerance to lighting conditions means you can grow it in a dorm or office.