As one of the most eye-catching and popular pothos varieties available, neon pothos is a very low-maintenance houseplant that can brighten up any space or small corner of your room. It’s native to the tropical Solomon Islands, and this plant gets characterized by bright neon green leaves that grow in an attractive heart shape with a vining growth habit. The best part about neon pothos is that it’s extremely easy to care for, and this makes it great for beginner gardeners or anyone who doesn’t have a ton of time to devote to caring for high-maintenance houseplants.
It’s a variety of the common golden pothos, and every part of the neon pothos plant, from the tips of the leaves on the vines to the roots, are toxic to dogs, cats, and humans if you happen to ingest them. So, you’ll want to exercise caution if you have these plants in your home around your kids or pets. Below, we’ll outline how to grow and care for neon pothos so you can add this attractive plant to your collection.
Neon Pothos – Family and Origin
Neon pothos is a cultivar or subspecies of the Epipremnum Aureum species that falls into the Araceae family. It’s very similar to Jade Pothos, and this plant is a vining grower that has several names attached to it. You may hear it referred to as Golden Pothos, Money Plant, or Marble Queen, but several species go by the Money Plant name.
But neon pothos is also sometimes incorrectly called Lemon Lime Philodendron, even though it’s unique in its own right. Since it comes from the Solomon Islands located in the South Pacific, it loves a more tropical climate. However, it can adapt very well to any home environment. Many stores accidentally label this plant as a philodendron, but the neon coloring on the leaves should clear up any confusion.
Neon Pothos – General Overview
|Bloom Time:||Spring and summer|
|Botanical Name:||Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’|
|Common Name:||Neon pothos|
|Flower Color:||White and green|
|Hardiness Zones:||11a, 11b, 12a, and 12b|
|Mature Size:||3 feet wide and 10 feet long indoors|
|Plant Type:||Vining perennial|
|Soil Type:||Moist, loamy but well drained|
|Toxicity:||Toxic to people and animals|
Average Size and Growth of the Neon Pothos
Outside, neon pothos can easily reach 20 feet or more in length. They can spread out over very large areas on the forest floors. Inside, you can easily trim and prune your plant back so it stays in a one or two foot area without damaging it. If you give it space as a hanging plant, it can reach down to the floor, even if the pot is six feet or more from the floor.
Neon Pothos Care
This bright colored pothos plant is very easy to care for and low-maintenance. They can adapt to a large range of lighting, and while they appreciate a regular watering schedule, they can bounce back from drought and neglect. When you grow them inside, the vines can easily get up to 10 feet long, so while pruning isn’t 100% necessary for this tropical vine, you may wish to prune it periodically to keep the vines under control. The following outline will help ensure you get a healthy and thriving plant:
Ideally, you’ll fertilize the neon pothos plant once a month using a well-balanced fertilizer during the spring and summer months. Don’t fertilize your plant during fall or winter. Doing so in the spring and summer will ensure that your plant grows as quickly as it can. A balanced houseplant fertilizer works fine. If you’re not sure what fertilizer your soil needs, you can get a kit and test it to find out.
Some gardening shops may have soil testing kits that you can buy that will tell you exactly which nutrients are missing and which are plentiful in the soil. Many plants require 16 core nutrients to survive and grow, and many decent fertilizers have all of them. Something important to know is that inorganic fertilizers have significant nutrient enhancement in the soil that can stimulate the growth of your plant very quickly.
On the other hand, an organic fertilizer may take more time to enhance your plant’s growth, but they keep a healthy growing medium and nutrient balance for longer. Of course, whichever one you end up picking out, you’ll want to read the directions on the package to ensure you use the correct amount for the container size your neon pothos is growing in.
Ideally, the humidity level around your neon photos will be over 50%. So, a kitchen or bathroom would be a better place for this plant as you get slightly more humidity here. Brown leaf tips can indicate that it’s too dry around your plants, and neon pothos will only survive in lower humidity levels for a short time as they’re tropical plants that much prefer higher humidity.
If you assume that your plant doesn’t look well due to a lack of moisture, you want to fill a saucer with pebbles and put water in it. Set your container with the plant on the pebbles and allow the water to evaporate. This will raise the relative humidity around the plant to higher than 50%.
This plant grows naturally in the forest on the floor, so it’s a plant that can easily adapt to a broad range of partial lighting conditions. This being said, you really want indirect but bright lighting if you can help it to keep the leaves the vibrant neon yellow color and avoid leggy growth.
Neon pothos is a plant that likes well-draining soil that has perlite and peat mixed in as well as regular potting soil. It’s critical the process you use to initiate your new plant. The first time you get this plant, it’ll be in a smaller pot, and you’ll have to repot it as the plant gets bigger. If you plan on growing your neon pothos outside, you should get it a soil that is both moist and efficient.
Indoors, neon pothos grow best in a pot with soil that is regularly and well-drained. It’s also worth noting that this plant can be developed in water jars. However, the roots will respond very negatively when you transfer it from the water into soil and then overwater it. Water-grown neon pothos will grow, but it has a much slower growth rate than a more traditional soil-grown one.
Pick a well-draining and average potting soil for the best growth. They enjoy a soil with a pH range of 6.1 to 6.5, but they won’t have a hugely adverse reaction if the pH levels in the soil is slightly below this range. Once you plant your neon pothos, you should take the time to pick out a pot that offers good drainage. Good soil with a higher nutritional value that drains well will improve how any potted plant grows, not just this one.
Ideally, your neon pothos will be in a space where the temperature ranges from 70°F to 90°F. Since it originates in the Solomon Islands, it makes sense that this plant embraces higher temperatures and humidity levels. You should ensure that you can find a space in your home for your plant where it has these higher temperature readings to keep it happy.
It can thrive and grow much better in this temperature range, but it can tolerate temperatures that dip as low as 55°F without any damage. However, if it goes below this temperature, you’ll stunt your plant’s growth and the leaves can start to turn black and die off.
Water your neon pothos plant just enough to keep the soil moist, but it shouldn’t be saturated or soggy. Having a watering schedule in place will help you not overwater or underwater your plant. Don’t be overly concerned if you forget to water this plant as it’s forgiving and it can tolerate missing a watering session once in a while without any damage.
If you let your neon pothos sit in saturated or waterlogged soil, it will turn the leaves yellow and start wilting. One trick you can use to help decrease the risks for root rot is to allow the plant to drain after you water it and then clean out the tray under the pot. Use containers that have ample drainage holes to help wick away excessive moisture.
However, be aware that underwatering the plant can lead to stunted growth. The leaves will become lifeless and start to curl, and they can drop off too. This particular plant likes the soil to dry out between watering sessions. The roots should stay damp, but they shouldn’t get flooded with water between your watering schedule. Once the top two inches of soil dry out, you should water them again.
Propagating Neon Pothos
As with many other pothos varieties, it’s very easy to propagate this one using stem cuttings. This is a great way to reuse any stray cuttings you have sitting around when you prune the plant, and it can help you get a fuller-looking plant by putting the cuttings back into the original pot. Or, you can use the cuttings to get completely new plants to share. To propagate your neon pothos, follow the steps below.
- Sterilize your pruning shears and take a stem cutting from an established plant, making sure it has four or five nodes.
- Remove the bottom two or three leaves from each cutting to leave two leaves at the top of every cutting.
- Fill a small glass jar with water and put the cuttings into the water. The exposed nodes at the bottom of the cutting should go under the water while the leaves stay above the water.
- Put your cuttings in a space where it gets medium to bright but indirect lighting and swap out the water once each week to keep it fresh.
- Watch for the roots to start forming in roughly a week or two. Once the roots reach an inch long, you can transfer your cuttings back into the soil. Remove the cuttings from the water and pot them in a well-draining, pre-moistened soil mix.
- Place your freshly potted neon pothos cuttings in the same spot, and keep the soil consistently moist for the first two weeks after repotting to help the roots acclimate to the new soil.
- After two weeks, you can resume your normal watering schedule for the cuttings, and you care for them as you would the parent plant.
Repotting Neon Pothos
Repot your neon pothos plant once every two or three years. As the vines keep growing, the root system will get larger. You want to water it a few days before you repot it because you don’t want to stress it out during this process. Place your plant on its side and press down on the pot to remove the root ball. Fill the new pot with the amount of soil mix you need to cover the top of the root ball or even just below the lip of the pot.
Ideally, you’ll use a pot that is four to six inches larger than the current pot’s diameter. If it gets bigger than six inches across, you can swap the pot six to one that is 10 inches in diameter. Pot size doesn’t matter as much with the neon pothos plant, but keeping a note of the current size will help you pick out the next size up. Make sure there are drainage holes in the pot to help get rid of excess water right away.
Pruning Neon Pothos
You can prune neon pothos by taking stem cuttings. It would help if you get into the habit of cutting the vine a few inches above each leaf. The region where the leaf joins the vine is called a node, and after you prune it back, your plant will send out a new vine in this area.
You don’t want to leave any leafless vines on your plant when you prune it, and it’s a good idea to prune any out you see. Keep repeating the same process until each vine has selective pruning and you like how the plant looks. If you want to do a light pruning, you can snip the vines off wherever they’re too long.
Common Pests and Diseases
There are a few pests and diseases that are very common to have with this plant, and they include but are not limited to:
Bacterial Wilt Disease
You typically see bacterial wilt disease in commercial propagation of the neon pothos plant at a single node rooting point where infected cuttings fail to root. This disease will cause the leaves on the plant to wilt, and the stem veins will turn a black color. The bacteria will multiply and spread very quickly, and you’ll have to sanitize the plant to save it. If you have an outbreak, the pots, seeds, and soil should get packed and discarded. Any equipment or benches you use should be sanitized before you replant anything.
In the winter and fall months, this is when you most commonly see this damage. Ethylene makes the foliage on this plant take on a yellow color before turning tan and light brown. Although you’re watering it enough, your plant will wilt. Make sure you have adequate ventilation around your plant, and carefully apply ethylene treatment to help get rid of it and save your plant.
The toxicity of manganese is more common with older plants that you used to get new cuttings from. Older neon pothos plants get a yellow marking or flecking, and the leaves can drop when the veins darken. Stop using fertilizer with manganese mixed in right away, and don’t add any mixed trace elements. Use lime to boost your soil pH levels from around 6.0 to 6.5.
Mealybugs are a very common insect problem with houseplants. They are pink, and they have a very soft body that is covered in waxy, white, cottony content. The white fluff helps to shield the pests from a lack of moisture and intense heat. The feeding nature of this bug destroys the plants or stunts them and introduces foliar yellowing, rotting, defoliation, and plant decline. In some cases, the plant will die.
Prevention is the best way to handle houseplant mealybug infestations. You want to closely examine any new plants you bring into the house and keep them quarantined for a week or so. You can also use rubbing alcohol to get rid of them once they take hold, or neem oil.
The most common disease that impacts neon pothos plants is Phytophthora root rot. This disease usually appears due to imported cuttings. This root rot will cause the leaves to turn a very dark brown or black color as it progresses. In commercial growing situations, discarding any plants that show signs of this disease is the best way to control it.
Clear threads of this fungus are usually the first sign that your neon pothos has Southern blight. Feathery, white, fungal mycelial strands tend to grow along the surface of the soil and up the plant’s stems. It produces oxalic acid, cellulolytic enzymes, and pectolytic enzymes to break down the plant’s cellular walls. The fungus survives mainly through sclerotia. To save your neon pothos once it has this disease, you don’t want to store your potting mix right on the ground. It can colonize in wood chips and soil without needing a host plant. The disease uses infected soil to gain access to your plants.
Common Problems With Neon Pothos
Neon pothos is usually a very low-maintenance houseplant that is problem-free. However, improper lighting or watering conditions can cause a few problems, including:
- Brown Tips – Excessively dry conditions or underwatering can cause brown tips to form on your neon pothos leaves. Try to increase your watering schedule and avoid putting it near drafty windows or vents.
- Drooping Leaves – Drooping leaves are a sign that your plant is thirsty and needs water. Water it and the leaves should perk right back up.
- Leggy Growth – If your plant is starting to look a little scraggly and leggy with longer vines and few leaves, this is an indicator that your plant isn’t getting enough light. Try to move it to a brighter spot in your home.
Neon Pothos Frequently Asked Questions
Neon pothos may be an easy plant to grow, but it can look intimidating to beginners. This is why there are a few frequently asked questions about it floating around, and we collected them and answered them below. FAQs by by Dan Jones / CC BY 2.0
1. Do all pothos plants require direct sunlight?
If you suspect your plant isn’t getting enough light, be careful not to overcorrect it. Direct sunlight is far too strong for this plant and will burn the foliage. If the neon coloring dulls, it’s getting too much sunlight. Indirect but bright light is ideal for this plant to give it all of the sun-derived nutrients it needs to thrive. Setting them in a hanging basket a few feet from the window is a great way to have your plants thrive.
2. How often should you water your neon pothos?
One of the benefits of owning one of these plants is that it will usually let you know when it’s time to water it. Like most houseplants you can get, it’s resilient when it comes to neglect. So, if you forget to water it once or twice, it should bounce back nicely when you do remember. Overwatering is a much larger threat to your plant’s health than underwatering. Allow the soil to dry out between watering, and aim to water it once every other week or so.
The variegation on the leaves will get less vibrant and dull, and this signals that it needs a drink. It may prefer to be on the dry side, so don’t stress about missing a watering session. Situate one of your neon pothos plants a small distance from the window and moisten the soil to get it damp when needed.
3. Can a neon pothos be variegated?
It can have variegation on it, and you can most likely buy them from online nurseries, like those on Etsy. This being said, there are several instances where a variegated version of neon pothos reverts back to one solid color, so be aware of this if you’re paying a premium for the plant.
4. Do neon pothos grow fast?
Under ideal growing conditions like the ones we outlined earlier in this post, neon pothos can grow rapidly. Warmth and light are the two most significant factors when it comes to the growth rate.
4. How long does the neon pothos plant live?
This is one houseplant that can live indefinitely. If the vines get too bare, you can easily propagate new plants to keep it surviving.
5. Is Neon Pothos Toxic?
Yes, pothos plants have calcium oxalate crystals in them, and this makes them toxic to dogs, cats, and humans if ingested.
Neon pothos is one of the most vibrant cultivars of the pothos varieties you can buy. It’s a very easy-going plant that does best if you keep it in optimal growing conditions. As a trailing plant, you can grow it in hanging baskets and allow it to freely grow and cascade down the side, or you can put it in a container and prune it to keep it contained. Either way, this is a very resilient houseplant that will be a great addition to your existing plant collection. Make sure it gets enough light, warmth, and humidity so you can enjoy it all year-round.
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.