All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize pothos plants


When we think of a houseplant, it is very likely that the first one that comes to mind is the pothos vines. She is responsible for decorating houses and offices around the world with her striking leaves and stems. These leaves are evergreen, and can be found in various colors, both light green and dark green, or with spots that can be white or yellowish. It can be grown both in pots with soil and directly in water, which is very practical. In this post, we will talk about using fertilizer for pothos, how and when to use it, as well as some basic care.


Although these are ideal plants to grow indoors, if the climatic characteristics allow it, they can also be grown outdoors. They are a very good option to accompany various designs or decorations outside your home. Pothos plants combine very well with pergolas, on balcony verandas, with exterior wood cladding, etc. Just keep in mind that these plants are susceptible to cold, so in winter you should better bring it home.

Fertilizer for Pothos plant
Fun fact: Indoor plants certainly provide many benefits, including harmonizing the environment, helping to create more relaxed environments, purifying the air, etc. Regarding the latter, NASA studies determined that pothos is the best plant for purification in closed environments.

1. What are the three numbers in a package of fertilizer?


If you ever had to go buy a fertilizer in a nursery, and you don’t have much experience, you may have been confused when choosing between one package or another. Perhaps the only notable variation that existed between one package and another was three numbers separated by a hyphen.

If you didn’t ask the seller what exactly those three numbers are, you may still have doubts. Well it’s your lucky day, here we will answer that question.

Pothos fertilizer
Pothos plant

The three numbers on a fertilizer package are what are known as NPK values. The letter N is given by nitrogen, the P by phosphorus and the K by potassium, these three being the most necessary nutrients for plants.

  • N: represents nitrogen, which is the most important nutrient for leaf development, and is also the main chemical involved in photosynthesis.
  • P: represents phosphorus, being responsible for the development of roots, stems, flowers and fruits in a more vigorous plant.
  • K: this last letter represents potassium, nutrient responsible for giving more strength to the plant. Contributing to a better initial growth, giving greater resistance to diseases, reducing possible stress.

So these NPK numbers represent the percentage of the total of each nutrient. Explaining in one example, in a 1 kg fertilizer package of a 10-5-15 mix, 10% is nitrogen (i.e. 100 g of the total), 5% is occupied by phosphorus (50 g) and 15% potassium (150 g).

As you may have noticed, it is a fairly simple concept. With this already learned, we can continue with our article.

2. How to care your pothos plant?


Since what we want from our website is that you can cultivate your pothos in the best way, it is that before fully entering fertilization we will discuss some of the most important care that needs to be done.

Please note that the following list is completely random. By this I mean that it does not have any order of priority, each care is as important as the previous and the next.

  • Soil: Although the pothos is perfectly adapted to hydroponics, when it is in the soil it is preferable that the soil have good drainage. Therefore, a mixture of peat, sphagnum, mulch, and coarse sand can work very well.
  • Transplanting: in case you see some roots start to come out through the holes in the pot, it’s a sign that you need a bigger pot. If so, wait until the first days of spring to transplant, it is also a good time to divide more plants.
  • Irrigation: You need fairly regular watering during the spring and summer, apply water whenever you notice the soil is drying out. You should never produce a puddle. On the other hand, the abundance of irrigation should decrease when autumn and winter arrive.
  • Pruning: Your pruning requirements are not excessive. But it is always a good resource to control its size and it also allows us to take cuttings for multiplication.
  • Pests and diseases: among the most common is that the roots are attacked by fungi when the watering is excessive. Also, when the environment is not humid enough, spider mites and / or aphids generally appear. Periodically check these pests to keep them under control.
  • Fertilization: this point cannot be missed among the care of your pothos. In the following sections we will develop it in depth. 😉

3. Best fertilizer for pothos


I know some people have their pothos in a pot for years without fertilizing or changing the soil. If you are one of those people, I assure you that the time will come when you start to notice that the growth of your pothos is not being normal. Its branches will grow more slowly and the coloring of the leaves will be less intense.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

To avoid reaching the point where the poor development of the pothos is already visible to the naked eye, it is preferable to carry out small and regular fertilizations. I say small since an excess of them will be much more problematic than a deficiency of nutrients.

We will divide this section in two; commercial fertilizers and homemade fertilizers. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so you can choose to make combined use of both.

3.1 Commercial fertilizer

Within commercial fertilizers you can find a great variety. Probably in each nursery you go, they will recommend that you buy a different one. Even so, before this you should know that the nutrients that this plant needs the most are nitrogen and potassium.

So a mix that works pretty well is 7-3-6. Remember what we saw in the first section on NPK values, and this will help you understand that this fertilizer has higher concentrations of nitrogen (7) and potassium (6). Phosphorus is left in the third place of concentration (3). Other mixes that work very well are 8-4-6 or 7-4-7.

Although what you need most is nitrogen and potassium, many are the gardeners who recommend a balanced mixture, that is, with the same concentration of the three nutrients. In general, they agree to recommend a 15-15-15 mix.

Finally in this recommendation of commercial fertilizers are those that are developed especially for pothos. As it is a widespread cultivation plant, there are many companies that are in charge of creating special fertilizers for pothos. This fertilizer can be a little more complicated to obtain in any nursery, but it is an excellent option.

3. 2 Homemade fertilizer

Just as there is a lot of variety in commercial fertilizers, the same thing happens with homemade fertilizers. And although they have the advantage of being cheaper, they have the problem of not knowing the exact concentration of nutrients.

Let’s look at a list of the most common home fertilizers you can use on your potos.

  • Homemade compost: it is undoubtedly one of the most widely used household organic fertilizers. In general, it is made from all organic leftovers that are produced in the home. Given its heterogeneity, its composition is very varied, although it always provides a good amount of nitrogen and potassium.
  • Earthworm Humus: You can easily make this fertilizer at home, you just have to get California worms. If you are lazy to do it, you can also buy it in any nursery, it is highly recommended to use it in your pothos.
  • Fish Tank Fertilizer: If you have a fish tank at home, you can use the water when you clean it. Apply it with irrigation and you will be making a good contribution of nitrogen.
  • Coffee-based fertilizer: and if we talk about giving nitrogen to this houseplant, another good option is through coffee. Save the coffee residue for later use as fertilizer.
  • Rice Wash Water: Use the rice wash water to fertilize your plants, this is a good source of nitrogen and potassium. It is recommended to use the water from a second wash, since the first one can contain pesticides and harmful bacteria for any plant.
  • Milk Fertilizer: Finally, we leave a classic, which is to use milk as a fertilizer. You can dilute it in a mixture of 90% water and 10% milk and apply it in irrigation and as a spray. In this way, you will give your pothos some nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.

4. How and when to fertilize your pothos?


Fertilizing your pothos will not be a time consuming task, nor will it make your life much more difficult. Depending on the size of the plant and the characteristics of the soil, the dose and the regularity of the same vary. As a general way, fertilization should start in May and end in October, requiring applications every 15 days.

You can use a common fertilizer for green plants, which generally have an NPK concentration of 7-3-6 (or the like). Although you should read the instructions on the package before applying it, the dosage is usually something like the following:

10 ml of fertilizer for every 10 liters of water.

As we said in the previous section, 15-15-15 or 10-10-10 fertilizers can also be used. Although most gardeners prefer to use those of mezlcas as 7-3-6.

In addition to the use of commercial fertilizers, you can increase the nutrient dose with some organic fertilizer in early spring. In the case of pothos, the use of earthworm humus is very useful. You can apply it directly to the ground or you can dilute it in water first.

Remember to water abundantly after each fertilization of your pothos. This will help the nutrients to be distributed more evenly in the roots of the plant.

5. Fertilizer for pothos in water


If growing your pothos in a pot is easy, doing it directly in a pot with water can be even easier. The peculiarity of this is that it must be somewhat more consistent with fertilization. This is because the water lacks most of the nutrients that this plant needs.

As a first point, it is better to use mineral or well water. Try not to use chlorinated water. Firstly, because chlorine is not something a plant needs. On the other hand, water treated for human consumption lacks many natural nutrients that are more than good for any plant.

Regarding fertilization, you should carry it out every time you change the water in the container or when you add it by evaporation. You can use a liquid fertilizer for houseplants (7-3-6) diluting it in 1/4 of concentration of what is recommended in the container.

Lastly, in case you see that the foliage starts to turn pale or the branches are somewhat weak, reinforce the fertilization by spraying the foliage with the same fertilizer that you add to the water. Do this once a week until the plant returns to the same vitality as before.

6. Pothos fertilizer – Video tutorial


To finish this publication, and as usual on our website, we have selected a video (in this case from the “Let’s Talk About Plants” channel). In it we will see how to fertilize indoor vines, fully applicable to your pothos. I have no doubt that this will help you understand more graphically what has been seen so far. 🙂

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

And with this we have already reached the end of this article. I hope it was useful to read it and that from now on you will have no doubts when fertilizing your potos. 🙂

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