Finding the perfect soil for your plant is by far the most important step in plant parenting, unless you want to strictly grow it in water.
Pothos plants are one of the commonly seen houseplants in the US. And, easy to care for characteristics allow even an absolute beginner to grow it in their room.
But, we don’t want our plant to just survive, instead we want it to thrive.
So, what’s the first step you should take?
Well, choosing the right potting mix. And, this is exactly what I’m going to cover in this article.
Now, it’s time to answer the big question. What is the best soil for a pothos plant?
Pothos is a kind of plant that grows well in any kind of soil. But for the ultimate growth, a soil mix consisting of peat moss or coco peat are highly recommended due to its good water holding capacity, high organic content and good aeration.
Let’s have a detailed analysis of different potting mixes on pothos plants based on multiple research papers.
If you don’t have time to go through the entire article, use the following jump links to relevant parts.
- Characteristics Of Best Potting Soil
- Best Soil For Pothos Plant
- Make Your Own Potting Mix
- Premade Pothos Soil Options
Best Potting Mix For Pothos – Characteristics
It’s practically impossible to test all the different kinds of soils and potting media to find the best potting mix for a pothos plant.
Instead, Botanists have studied the natural habitat of pothos plants and came up with a list of characteristics that a potting media needs, so that pothos plants can thrive effortlessly.
If you are wondering what are the things to consider while choosing the best potting mix for pothos, here it is.
- Moisture retention
- Hold nutrients for long time
- Well draining
Best Soil For Pothos Plant
Best soil for pothos plants are the ones with a healthy mix of peat moss, coco peat and perlite. If you are not getting hands on any one of the above ingredients, you can replace it with leaf mold and expect similar growth.
Pothos plants come from the tropical rainforests and most of the time they are covered by a canopy of trees. And, many times pothos plants were found to be just growing above thick layers of bark without any soil.
This discovery has led to a plethora of research in which the growth of pothos plants in different potting media with sand and without sand was compared.
And, one such research paper was published in Assiut Journal Of Agricultural Science and it gave a lot of insights during my research for finding the best soil for pothos plants.
In a test environment, they kept similarly sized pothos plant in six different potting medias,
- Clay only
- Peat moss only
- Peat + Clay (1:1)
- Peat + Sand (1:1)
- Peat + Foam (3:1)
- Clay + Foam (3:1)
Apart from the potting media, all other environment conditions like light, humidity, temperature, etc were similar so that nothing else will skew the results. They also added the same quantity of generic NPK fertilizer to all the subjects.
This test was conducted in the months of April to August which lies in the growing season of pothos plants.
When I checked the results, I was really shocked. Why, because the highest growth rate was seen in the pot with just one element and that is peat moss.
The pothos plant with peat moss alone had increased plant height, number of internodes, number and size of leaves and diameter of the stem.
To be precise, the pothos plant in the pot with peat moss alone had a stem height of 22 inches which is considered to be phenomenal for a new plant in a new environment.
The second best results were for peat moss+sand combination with 16.1 inches. I will put all the data in a table below, so that you can easily refer.
|Pothos Potting Mix||Pothos Plant Height|
|Peat moss||22 inch / 55.7cm|
|Peat+Sand (1:1)||16 inch / 41cm|
|Peat+Foam (3:1)||11.8 inch / 30cm|
|Peat+Clay (1:1)||10.5 inch / 26.7cm|
|Clay||10.5 inch / 26.5cm|
|Clay+Foam (3:1)||6.4 inch / 16.4cm|
This shows that peat moss must be one of the the most important constituents in the pothos potting mix.
Botanists conclude that peat moss is very effective in the growth of pothos plants, because of it’s very high organic matter content (98.12) over other mediums like clay for example has negligible organic matter.
Apart from organic matter content, peat moss also has a pH value of 5.29 which is considered to be in the ideal pH range for pothos plants.
All is good, but peat moss is a non renewable form of potting media that is getting depleted at a fast rate. And, scientists and governments are trying to reduce the harvesting of peat moss across the western world.
So, you may ask, what is a better alternative of peat moss for a pothos plant?
There is a clear answer to this. And, it is coco peat or coconut coir.
On a different research published in American-Eurasian J. Agricultural & Environmental Science, coco peat alone is found out to be the best potting media for pothos plants in terms of plant height, root growth, number of leaves, leaf size, etc.
In this research, botanists compared a total of 22 different combinations of potting mixes with coco peat, peat moss, leaf mold and quartz-sand in different concentrations.
The second best potting mix was a combination of sand and coco peat in a 1:3 ratio. Potting mixes containing leaf mold also performed very well in the overall test.
So, based on these two different studies, we can conclude that the best potting soil for a pothos plant will be the one with peat moss, leaf mold, coco peat and sand. If you add sand to your mix, then it should be the one with the least quantity.
How To Make Your Own Pothos Potting Mix?
If you are a kind of DIY person, then you probably are looking for a way to mix your own pothos soil than purchasing a premade option.
Based on all the information I’ve extracted from multiple studies, you know that it’s pretty easy to make the best potting soil for your pothos. All you need is,
- Peat Moss / Coco Peat
- Leaf Mold / Pine bark fines
If you got peat moss, you don’t need coco peat and vice versa. Similarly, you need either leaf mold or pine bark fines.
You can grow your pothos plant in peat moss or coco peat alone.
But it is a good practice to mix it with leaf mold or pine bark because it gives your plant a feeling of natural habitat.
So, here are some of the possible combinations you can try at home.
- Peat Moss + Quartz sand + Perlite (2:1:1)
- Peat Moss + Coco Peat + Quartz Sand (2:2:1)
- Perlite + Coco Peat + Quartz Sand (2:2:1)
Whenever you try to create your own potting soil mix, always ensure that the majority ingredient is peat moss or coco peat. Quartz sand, perlite and leaf mold must be of smaller quantity.
After mixing all these well in their dry form, add some water to make it moist. While adding water, you need to ensure that the potting mix is not wet because pothos plants are susceptible to root rot, if the potting media is wet.
Purchase Pre-Made Pothos Potting Mix
If you don’t have the time to mix your own potting mix, the only option is to go for a pre-made potting mix specifically made for pothos plants.
There are a couple of good options available online like Foxfarm Ocean Organic garden Potting Soil, Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix, etc which contain peat moss and coco peat as the main ingredients.
If these pothos specific potting mixes are not available, you can purchase a premade orchid mix or cactus mix. But, you must try and add some coco peat additionally to make it a better mix for your pothos plant.
Best Soil For Pothos Plant – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this section, I’ll answer some of the commonly asked questions related to the best soil for pothos plants.
Is succulent soil good for pothos?
Technically you can grow your Pothos plants in any conditions, including succulent soil mixes. But it is not recommended, because succulent soils drain very quickly with almost no water retention.
On the other hand, pothos plants thrive in a water retaining soil mix. If you can get some coco peat or leaf mold, add them to your succulent soil and grow your pothos there.
Which is better for pothos, water or soil?
For a pothos plant with an established root system, soil medium is considered to be better than water alone. Even though pothos plants are easy growers, it needs a lot more than just water.
If you want to grow it in water completely, it is possible but you may have to add all the nutrients to the water in the form of specialized fertilizers. Also, you must change the water every two weeks which is a task to remember.
But, if you want to grow a pothos cutting faster, then growing it in water is recommended. It is because pothos plants propagate faster in water than soil mediums.
Can you use orchid soil for pothos?
Yes, pothos is a terrestrial plant and orchid mix will work but not recommended.
Orchid mixes are for epiphytes and it will be too coarse for potted pothos plants. You can use it, but add some regular potting soil along with perlite or peat moss to improve water drainage and aeration.
Do pothos like acidic soil?
Pothos plants prefer acidic soil over basic one. Based on multiple studies, pothos plants are rated to thrive in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 which is slightly acidic but close to neutral. The best potting medium for pothos plants is peat moss, which has an acidic pH.
What to consider when choosing a soil for pothos?
Even though pothos plants are not that picky about their soil requirements, they will thrive in mediums that can hold and provide nutrients and water for a long time. Also, it must have good aeration so that your plant will get enough oxygen.
Now you know what is the best soil for pothos plants.
So, it’s time to get your hands dirty and mix the options that are feasible for you. But always give priority to peat moss or coco peat or leaf mold over other ingredients.
On the other hand, if you don’t have time to mix your own, you can purchase a pre-made pothos potting mix from your local garden center.
Choosing the right soil is just the first step in growing your pothos plant. Infact, there’s a lot more to it. Check out our library to read and learn more about pothos plant care.
- Evaluation Of Certain Potting Media On Pothos by Mousa, G.T., El-Sallami, I.H. and Abdul-Hafeez, E.Y., Assiut Journal Of Agricultural Science
- Effects Of Different Pot Mixtures On Pothos by M. Khayyat, F. Nazari and H. Salehi, American-Eurasian J. Agricultural & Environmental Science