So you want to know – “What is the Best Fertilizer for Pothos?”
The Pothos growers have varied care advice. The spider plant growers share the same general care info.
Since Pothos has a wide range of cultivars they tend to have different requirements.
Several plants in the genus Scindapsus resemble pothos and even bear the name, but have needs related to their genus.
All true varieties of pothos are cultivars of a single species, Epipremnum Aureum (ep-ih-PREM-num AW-re-um).
The original plant has several common names, including:
- Devil’s ivy
- Money plant
Popular cultivars include:
Two popular false pothos species are satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus) and its cultivar ‘Trebi.’
While all these pothos plants share appearances or species, they all have minor different requirements. It is always best to figure out which variety you have and cater to its own needs.
To keep all the beautiful traits your pothos offers (such as the pale green of neon pothos, dark green leaves of jade pothos, or the vibrance of variegated plants) requires a careful balance of:
- Temperature range
- Location – indoors or outdoors
- Environmental conditions (heat, humidity)
- Light conditions and light levels – Direct sun, indirect light, bright light
- Regular watering schedule
- The right fertilizer
- Well-drained soil mix
What Pothos Plant Food Should I Use On My Pothos?
Since some pothos plants aren’t pothos, it’s essential to identify your plant before fertilizing.
Some basic treatment options are safe to use with all true and false pothos varieties.
Why Fertilizer Is Important
Pothos are not heavy feeders. When pothos doesn’t get enough essential nutrients, they lose vigor and more vulnerable to pests and disease.
Some insect pests are attracted to sick plants, so your pothos may also become infected.
Thankfully, pothos is good at telling you when something’s wrong. Yellow leaves are a sign – the soil may be lacking nutrients.
Other signs that your pothos is lacking the nutrients a fertilizer provides include:
- Brown leaf margins
- Fading of variegated leaves and yellowing Pothos leaves
- Leggy vines or drooping leaves
- Slow growth
- Weak roots
General Guidelines for Choosing a Pothos Fertilizer
As mentioned, every cultivar has slightly different needs for optimum health. But, a few baseline methods will work for all pothos plants.
There are many decent fertilizers out on the market.
Use a basic balanced houseplant fertilizer to meet your plants’ nutritional requirements.
In the case of pothos, a balanced fertilizer (i.e., equal NPK ratio, such as 10/10/10) adjusted to the proper dilution and frequency.
Fertilize as often as required by the type of fertilizer. Avoid using fertilizers during the winter months when pothos is dormant.
Do Not Over Fertilize. You know… a little bit is good and a little more is better!
Comparing Fertilizer Types
There are five types of fertilizer:
- Used coffee grounds
Each fertilizer has its advantages and disadvantages, especially in regards to pothos plants.
Not only is coffee an essential part of the day, but the grounds provide vital nutrients to your plants.
Coffee grounds are more acidic and carry a higher nitrogen content than potassium and phosphorus. Use coffee combined with compost or liquid plant fertilizer that balances the ratio out.
NOTE: Some pothos enthusiasts use a small amount of coffee grounds during the dormant stage (winter) to ensure the plant will be ready for spring. Only try this if you have a lot of pothos plant experience.
Inorganic fertilizers are usually the most popular for those who aren’t keen on the smell of good compost. But, organic plant lovers may be reluctant to use them.
Compost is an excellent source of nutrients for plants, but the nutrient release isn’t balanced.
It is OK to add a little compost as a supplement to indoor Pothos. But don’t rely on it in place of a balanced-release fertilizer option.
Granular fertilizer is designed for use with outdoor plants. These granular fertilizers are pellets you add directly to the soil.
They release their nutrients all at once, which can be disastrous for an indoor plant such as pothos.
It’s best to avoid using this type of fertilizer for plants in a hanging basket or small container.
Liquid is the most popular type of fertilizer for pothos. Liquid houseplant fertilizer is easy to dilute and add when watering.
Whether you buy it as a liquid or powder, dilute liquid fertilizers by ¼ to ½ the labeled directions. Use a weak solution. The full concentration can give indoor pothos chemical burns.
Apply this type of fertilizer once per month to potted plants throughout the growing season. It is by far the most effective option for a pothos.
A balanced liquid fertilizer is our recommendation as to the best fertilizer for pothos.
- Peters All Purpose 20-20-20 Fertilizer
- Bonide 10-10-10 Liquid Plant Food
- Triple 10-10-10 All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer
This fertilizer is the indoor version of granulated fertilizer.
It has a special coating that releases a small amount of nutrients during each watering.
Feed a plant in early spring, and it will continue getting nutrients each time you add water.
Unfortunately, it’s another poor choice for pothos. The ratio of NPK released isn’t balanced.
Bonus Tip: Treating an Over-Fertilized Pothos
If caught early enough, you can save a pothos that’s had too much fertilizer.
The first step is to keep an eye out for leaves that look burnt or damaged roots.
If you see leaves turning brown or what appears as burns, it’s time to take action.
- Prune away any browned or burnt leaves so only healthy foliage remains.
- Drench the potting mix to flush and remove any excess fertilizer from the soil.
- Allow excess water to drain. More on How often should you water Pothos?
- Repot if you’re worried the plant is seriously ill.
- For plants still in good condition, remove the top inch of soil, and replace it with fresh, unfertilized soil.
- Finally, avoid using fertilizer for 6 to 8 weeks after treatment, so the plant has time to recover.