If you’re trying to find a low-maintenance plant that is very easy to care for and looks beautiful, we suggest a pretty type of pothos cultivar called the Harlequin Pothos. This plant offers a very striking pattern on the leaves, and this gorgeous plant is great for anyone who normally isn’t a green thumb when it comes to keeping plants healthy. However, locating one may be a challenge.
Not only is the harlequin pothos a very pretty and low-maintenance plant to have, but it’s also very rare. Many collectors want to get their hands on one, and this is much easier said than done right now. It gets more challenging when you consider the fact that many pothos plants get mislabeled as harlequin pothos because they look so similar.
If you do manage to find one, this is for you. We’re going to outline everything you need to know to care for this plant correctly to ensure that it remains beautiful and thriving for years to come.
The harlequin pothos is a very pretty and unique-looking plant that has a lot of white mixed with the green. Pothos by ProBuild Garden Center / CC BY-ND 2.0
Harlequin Pothos Care Overview
|Common Issues:||Leaf burn and overwatering|
|Fertilizer:||Feed them each month during the spring or summer months|
|Humidity:||50% and higher|
|Lighting:||Indirect with bright to low levels|
|Other Names:||Epipremnum Aureum Harlequin|
|Soil:||Well-draining with perlite mixed in|
|Temperature:||64°F to 77°F|
|Watering:||Check weekly and water when the top inch of soil dries out|
|Where to Buy:||Online or from collectors|
Defining Harlequin Pothos
Harlequin pothos is a much more rare pothos type that falls into the Araceae family alongside Calla Lilies. It’s one that is native to the Southeast portion of Asia, and it gets the name due to the unique pattern on the leaves. The leaves are highly variegated with big white patches splotched in the green foliage.
Along with how striking this plant looks, the scientific name is Epipremnum Aureum Harlequin. This can help ensure that you actually get a harlequin pothos when you shop because a lot of people mislabel other pothos types as the harlequin series, especially the Manjula pothos, or Epipremnum aureum Manjula.
Harlequin Pothos vs Manjula
The harlequin pothos looks extremely visually similar to Manjula, they are actually two different plants. The confusion comes around because both offer very close variegation on the foliage. The main difference that allows you to tell them apart is that the harlequin pothos leaves have more white and less light green than you’ll see on Manjula.
When you compare these two plants, it’s also worth noting that harlequin pothos are much more rare as a general rule than manjula. This can lead to people mislabeling the more common manjula as a harlequin, both accidentally and on purpose. However, both are very pretty plants that are low-maintenance, and you can’t go wrong with having either one.
Three Other Visually Similar Plants
Along with manjula, there are three other types of pothos plants that commonly get mistaken for the harlequin. Knowing which ones they are will reduce your chances of buying one. They include:
- Golden Pothos – This plant is extremely popular and it’s found in both commercial and domestic decorative displays. It’s very lovely without requiring a huge amount of care, and it’s a very pretty trellising plant that you can drape gently over shelving or display in a hanging basket. Golden Pothos has a reputation for being almost impossible for you to kill.
- Jade Pothos – Epipremnum aureum ‘Jade’ is the scientific name for this plant that is better known as the Jade Pothos. It hails from Asia, but you can find it growing throughout Florida. You can grow it on a taller trellis and allow the pretty, dark green leaves that are heart-shaped to creep up it.
- Marble Queen Pothos – Marble Queen Pothos is very easy to care for when you get it. It offers vining foliage with eye-catching cream and white variegation that makes it stand out. It likes to be in indirect sunlight that is bright to medium, but it does well in low light too. You want to avoid direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves. You also want to keep it clear of your pets or kids because it can be mildly toxic.
Harlequin Pothos Care Guidelines
Because this plant is so easy to care for despite being rare, it’s very popular. It’s one plant that many people recommend to beginners who want to start taking care of houseplants. It can tolerate a huge range of conditions as it grows, and this makes it ideal for those who don’t have a ton of plant-caring experience.
Even if you forget to water it for a few weeks, it should bounce back nicely. However, it won’t thrive if you full-out neglect it, so the following are to help you get the perfect conditions so you’ll have a healthy and thriving plant.
You want to fertilize your harlequin pothos roughly once a month during the active growing season from spring until fall. You can use a liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets to accomplish this. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label so you don’t overdo it because adding too much fertilizer can cause root damage.
Harlequin pothos grow best in more humid environments, but all pothos types thrive when the humidity levels are higher. So, if your climate naturally has lower humidity levels below 50%, you can add a humidifier to increase the humidity in the air. Grouping the plants together will also work, or you can put your plant on a pebble tray with water to increase the relative humidity. Misting is also a short-term option.
Ideally, you’ll place your harlequin pothos in a space that gets indirect but bright light. If you have lower natural light, you can supplement with grow lights. It can tolerate a broad range of lighting conditions, but it won’t do well in complete darkness. If you’re unsure if you’re giving your plant enough light, take a close look at the leaves. If the foliage is browning or yellowing, this is a sign that you’re not giving enough light.
The pothos plant can survive a range of light conditions, but it won’t do well if you have it in a very dark area.
The best pH range for harlequin pothos is between 6.1 and 6.5, and this indicates that this plant prefers to be in acidic to neutral soil. If you find yourself regularly adding new soil or repotting it, the pH will be less of an issue than if you were to grow it outside in the ground.
Since this is a tropical plant, you shouldn’t be surprised that it likes warmer temperatures. The ideal temperature range to keep it healthy and thriving is between 60°F and 75°F. If the temperature dips too low, the leaves on this plant will start to drop off and turn a light brown color.
One of the most important aspects to focus on when you’re taking care of your harlequin pothos is the watering. You want to water this plant each time the top two inches of soil dries out, and you can poke your finger into the dirt to double-check. This works out to watering it roughly once a week. You don’t want to overwater this plant as it can easily lead to root rot.
Potting Harlequin Pothos
Plants in the Epipremnum genus can do very well in standard potting soil. However, they do require excellent drainage in their container. A simple ceramic pot will usually do, and you’ll need to make sure it has a few drainage holes to prevent the excess water from suffocating the root system.
Harlequin Pothos Repotting
Moving your harlequin pothos to a bigger container gives the roots much more room to grow. You can usually tell when it’s time to repot your plant if you see the stms turning a dark brown color or feeling mushy. You should aim to repot this plant once every one or two years, depending on how vigorously it grows for you. When you fill the new pot, replace the nutrient-deficient, old soil with a fresh batch that drains very well.
You shouldn’t have to repot your harlequin pothos each year unless you use very restrictive and small pots. Repotting Pothos Plants by Phillip Stewart / CC BY-SA 2.0
Propagating Harlequin Pothos
There are a few ways you can propagate your harlequin pothos plant. To get the best chances possible of growing a healthy plant, there are three methods you can try, and they include:
Division is a very common propagation technique for plants that produce pups by the roots. You can follow the three simple steps below to split the stem clusters from your harlequin pothos and root them:
- Gently remove the plant from the container and shake the dirt from the roots. Look for the natural plant divisions.
- Gently separate the parts using your fingertips, and you may need a sharp and sterile pair of scissors to trim any tangled roots.
- Remove the pups and plant each section in a new pot filled with the same soil they were in. Water vigorously and treat it like the mother plant.
Stem Cuttings in Soil
Planting your stem cuttings right into the soil is a common approach for growing harlequin pothos plants. If you don’t already have this plant, you should be able to get cuttings online. It’s best to try and propagate this plant in the spring or late summer months, so this is the time when you’ll have more luck sourcing a cutting. This gives the cuttings time to recover from the shock of transplanting. To use this method, you:
- Get a clean pair of pruning shears and remove a healthy part of the plant. Ideally, any cutting you have will be a minimum of three inches tall and have a few nodes and leaves on it.
- Bury your stem’s nodes into a pot or container with moist potting soil. Use wooden skewers to gently pin around the cutting to keep it stable and upright. Too much movement can slow down root development.
- Put your container by a window that gets bright, indirect light. Don’t forget to keep your soil moist.
You should start to see new roots forming within two or three weeks. When you see a developing sprout, you know you’ve successfully got a stem cutting with a root system growing.
Stem Cuttings in Water
You can propagate your harlequin pothos in water using the following steps:
- Cut – Cut a section from the parent plant’s stem with new grow that has a minimum of one node.
- Submerge – Put your cutting in a glass of water or in a transplant container so you can see the new root development.
- Maintain the Cutting – Keep your new cutting in a shaded, bright area that offers good airflow.
- Refill the Water – You want to replace the water every three to five days to avoid bacteria growing and infecting the cutting.
- Transplant – In two weeks, check your cutting’s progress. If you have roots that are around an inch long or longer, put the cutting into a sterile potting mix.
- Wait – It’s common for new cuttings to look very wilted at first, but this is just the roots adjusting to the soil. Avoid adding fertilizer or any treatments until your plant perks up and starts to stabilize in a few weeks.
It’s relatively easy to propagate your harlequin pothos in water in a few short weeks to get a healthy new plant. Water Propagation by Qfamily / CC BY 2.0
Buying Harlequin Pothos
Harlequin pothos is currently one of the rarest types of pothos you can have, so finding one could be challenging. You do want to try looking at any specialty shops for plants, or you could talk to collectors directly as they’re likely to have cuttings. You may even be able to find them on Etsy.
The biggest reason you want to go to a plant expert if you really want a harlequin pothos is because there are a lot of plants that claim to be it, but they’re actually Manjula pothos. There is nothing wrong with this cultivar, and it looks very similar to the harlequin. It’s even easier to source and it can be slightly easier to take care of. Another option you have is to look for people who are selling harlequin pothos on Instagram by sorting through relevant hashtags. Just be careful and make 100% sure it’s a harlequin before you agree to buy anything.
Diseases, Pests, and Other Common Issues
Harlequin pothos plants aren’t resistant to common plant problems, diseases, or pests. We’re going to break down the biggest problems you can run into with keeping this plant healthy below.
When you think of aphids, most people think of them as tomato pests. However, you can find these bugs in clusters on your harlequin pothos. They can be red, black, yellow, white, or orange, and they multiply so fast that they can weaken your plant in a few days. Aphids are very attracted to new shoots, new growth areas, and flower buds. They tend to leave white or black splotches behind as they feed on the plant’s sap.
If you happen to spot the aphids on your plant, you want to take the plant and isolate it from any other ones. Give it a strong spray with some water to help dislodge them, and you want to cover the soil with plastic as you spray it to catch the bugs as they fall off. Get rid of the plastic away from your other plants. A quick spritze with neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil can also help take care of the aphids. However, you’ll have to repeat this process a few times to make sure you get rid of them all so they don’t reinfect the plant.
Brown Leaf Tips
There are several reasons why your harlequin pothos turn brown on the leaf margins. Excessive exposure to intense light can cause scorching, humidity that is too low, fertilizer burn, or exposure to mineral and salt buildup from chemically treated tap water can all cause this issue. So, it makes sense it may take a few tries to fix whatever is wrong.
Your leaves on your harlequin pothos may slowly start to droop if it’s not getting the correct amount of light or moisture it needs. Check the water and light sections we outlined above to see how you should take care of your plant and fix this problem. Drooping leaves can also be because of low humidity levels, so check and make sure they’re above 50% around your plant.
Fungus gnats are very tiny insects that feed on organic breakdown in potting mix, soil and other media containers. The larvae eat organic materials and fungus in the dirt, but they also eat plant roots, and this is bad for your harlequin pothos. A spritz of hydrogen peroxide will kill both the gnats and larvae on contact. Soil your plant’s oil in a solution with one part hydrogen peroxide and four parts water to get rid of this pest. Hydrogen peroxide will also reoxygenate the soil and promote healthy roots.
Mealybugs can quickly infest the harlequin pothos plant. These are tiny parasites that damage the plant by inserting a feeding tube right into the plant’s tissues and sucking out the sap. Eventually, this will weaken and kill your plant. Soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to get rid of them by manually removing them with it. You can then spray neem oil on the leaves to kill the bugs by suffocation.
Mealybugs are unpleasant-looking pests that can quickly infest your plant and cause a lot of damage. Mealybugs by Amante Darmanin / CC BY 2.0
A very common cause of death for the harlequin pothos is root rot, and this happens if you water your plant too much. You should only water when the top half of your soil is dry. Poor drainage is another leading cause of root rot, so this plant needs a very well-draining soil mixture to be happy. When you pick out a container for your plant, make sure that the drainage holes let the excess water escape. Unglazed ceramic planters and clay pots can absorb water and slowly release it.
Scales are sap-feeding insects. Adult scales are one that you can tell apart from other insects because they have the ability to stick to a single portion of your plant and stay there. On the petioles or stems of your plants, they can look like brown lumps that are called armored scales. To prevent them, you can dilute a teaspoon of neem oil into 500 milliliters of water and spray it on all of the leaves of your pothos plant. You can also release lacewings and ladybugs next to your plant and they’ll eat the scale insects.
There are many causes of yellowing leaves with this plant, so it can be difficult to narrow down exactly why your harlequin pothos is doing it. Lack of light can quickly deplete the nutrients and cause the leaves to turn yellow. Overwatering, underwatering, or an uneven watering schedule can also cause this. Remove any leaves that turn yellow so the plant can concentrate on developing green, new leaves.
The harlequin pothos is part of the easy-care pothos plant family. It offers mottled green and white variegation, and it’s the perfect addition to your plant lineup. Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or a novice indoor gardener who is interested in learning more about this rare plant, we hope we’ve given you everything you need to successfully cultivate the Harlequin Pothos.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.