Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, is one of the most commonly seen indoor plants in the western countries.
But, have you ever wondered, can pothos live outside in an outdoor garden?
Well, the one word answer is yes! But, it’s not that simple.
There is a lot more to think about before making a conclusion about whether you can grow pothos in your outdoor garden or not.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know before making that decision. I will be covering topics including,
- Can pothos grow outside?
- Ideal outdoor conditions for pothos
- Advantages of growing pothos outdoors
- Disadvantages of growing pothos outdoors
- Lot’s more.
Without any more fluff, let’s get straight into the content.
Can Pothos Grow Outside?
Although it is widely known to be a houseplant, pothos can also be a success in your garden or even suspended in a container on your balcony. If the external climatic conditions of your surroundings are in the range of what Pothos wants, then pothos can thrive in your outdoor garden without any issue.
If you travel to south asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, etc you can easily spot Pothos plants grown outdoors in their balconies or even in gardens. Their external climate is warm and humid throughout the year similar to pothos plants’ natural habitat.
With that being said, the conditions of your outdoors are not easily controllable for you like indoors.
For example, if your room has very low humidity, all you have to do is just add a humidifier near your plant to improve the humidity for pothos. But, if outdoor humidity is less, improving it is not as easy as adding a humidifier.
And, that is the main reason why the majority of people here in the west prefer growing their pothos plants indoors where conditions are far more controllable.
Ideal Outdoor Conditions For Pothos
The ideal conditions for pothos plants to thrive does not change whether it is grown outdoors or indoors. But, there are some minor changes that you can make to adjust your outdoors to accommodate pothos.
1. Temperature Requirements
Due to their tropical native, pothos require a temperature between 21° C and 32 °C in a humid environment.
Even though they are rated as a plant that is very hard to kill, Pothos become intolerant to temperatures below 10° C. That implies, if you are living in localities where the winters are harsh, then the best care during colder months is to relocate the plant indoors; otherwise, it might die in a cold outdoor environment.
2. Light Requirements
Pothos require sunlight but not direct sunlight and won’t do well in the latter. When indoors, it is very easy to adjust the intensity of light by just moving your plant away or closer from the window.
In the outdoors you have to plan a perfect slot for it to receive indirect filtered light. So, It is advisable to grow them under trees or taller vegetation in your outdoor garden.
Hanging pothos on your dooryard or your balcony is also a brilliant idea for preventing the decolorization of the leaves.
3. Soil Requirements
When people talk about growing pothos outdoors, one of the common questions they have is whether pothos grow in the normal garden soil or not.
The short answer is yes and no. If your garden soil is very hard, then it is not a good option for pothos. On the other hand, if it’s very light and has good aeration, then your pothos can grow in it without any issue.
In the natural habitat, pothos plants are covered by leaf mold. So, if you can get some leaf mold, peat moss or coco coir then add that to the base of your pothos plant to accelerate the growth.
If your garden soil is very hard and not suitable for pothos, then you can plant your pothos in a pot and still grow it outdoors. While mixing your own potting soil, be sure to read about the best soil for pothos plants.
4. Fertilizer Requirements
Adding fertilizer for your outdoor pothos is the same as how you do it for indoor plants.
You just need to be feeding the plant once in a while as they are not the kind of plants that need too much fertilizer.
During the growing season, 2 times in a month is adequate for the plant as long as you provide it with any balanced all-purpose plant boost. But during dormant months, it is not recommended to add any fertilizer.
5. Water Requirements
Watering Pothos should be done in 1-2 weeks but let the soil dry out between watering.
But watering your outdoor pothos plant should be based on how much rain your locality gets. If you live in a city with pretty high rainfalls, then it is not advised to grow your pothos outdoors.
Advantages of growing pothos outside
All pothos are known to be climbing vines, and they do best outside. And, there are a lot of advantages that an outdoor pothos has over indoor grown plants.
Let’s take a look at them one by one.
1. Outdoors are natural habitats
Pothos’ natural habitat is not a room with fluorescent light but an open space with bright natural light. It thrives well in the bright outside light as long as it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
To take advantage of this, it is advisable to place it in a place that aligns with its requirements.
2. Unlimited soil nutrients
If planted in a vase inside a room, pothos will use up the nutrients in the soil almost immediately and regularly need to add fertilizer. The soil outside will rarely run short of nutrients, and that means you will save on fertilizer.
3. Accessible to Rain Water
Tap water is often purified with chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, which do not work well on plants when ingested in excess. When pothos are grown outside, they get direct rainwater which is much more beneficial compared to tap water.
4. Chances of flowering
If you have only seen pothos grown indoors, you have never seen a full mature pothos. When grown outside, they grow to full maturity and even bear flowers.
Pothos blossom a number of erect flowers with a stalk together with a cream spathe and purple spandex. This is when the plant has a length of 35 feet and an abundant supply of minimum required conditions only possible when grown outside.
5. No root bound
When your pothos plant is grown outside in the ground, there are no restrictions for its root. It can expand and grow in whatever direction it likes.
In potted plants, root bound is a serious issue that needs to be addressed every one or two years. And, the only reliable way to fix root bound is to repot the plant which itself is a little tedious task for beginner houseplant owners.
So, when you grow it on the ground then you don’t have to worry about repotting as long as the plant is healthy without any pest issues.
6. Better Trailing
Another thing to consider is the availability of trees or other tall plants outdoors is an added advantage for the pothos plant to trail in whichever direction it wants to go naturally.
Pothos might proliferate in the availability of the requirements. It might be curling itself on your file cabinets, and you might need to trim them more often. This is not the case when growing outside. You only need to trail it in your desired direction. The more leafy and thick it is the better when they are outside.
Disadvantages of growing pothos outside
You might be thinking, there are a lot of advantages in growing pothos outdoors than indoors. So, is growing it outdoors the best way?
Maybe true for some, but definitely not for everyone.
You need to assess the climatic conditions of your locality before making a decision regarding growing the pothos plants outdoors.
As I already said, they are best grown outdoors in hot and humid climate regions. So, if you live in a colder country, then your chances of growing it outdoors is gone.
Another thing to note is about the pests which is a huge issue if it’s grown outdoors. And, in fact controlling the pest infection is very hard when pothos are grown outside.
Pothos plants are toxic to humans and animals. So, if your outdoor garden is visited by small household animals from the nearby farms or places, it may cause some health issues to those animals if they ingest any part of the plant including leaves.
Can Pothos Live Outside? – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Let me answer some of the most frequently asked questions on different forums about growing pothos plants outdoors.
Can pothos live outside in summer?
Yes, pothos plants can live outside in summer if the conditions are in favor of the plant. But make sure that the plant is in the shade without getting direct bright summer sunlight.
Can pothos take full sun?
No, pothos plants cannot tolerate full sun. In fact, a pothos plant will wilt and die if it is exposed to full bright sunlight for more than 3 to 4 hours a day. In their natural habitat, pothos plants are covered by a canopy of trees that filter the bright sunlight and only allow moderately bright shade light to reach the plant.
Can pothos stay outside in winter?
If you are in a locality where the winter temperature goes down to 500F (100C) or below, then you should not keep your pothos plants outside during winter. On the other hand, if the winter temperature is above 700F (210C), then you can safely leave the plant outside.
Between 500F and 700F, it is your choice whether to keep it indoor or outdoors. And, it won’t make much difference either.
Are pothos indoor or outdoor plants?
Even though you can grow pothos plants outdoors and indoors, the majority of the houseplant owners grow them indoors in western countries. In Asian countries, you can see them in outdoor gardens as well, but still a lot of them grow indoors as home decor. So, it is safe to agree that pothos plants are indoor plants.
There are a few cons of having pothos growing outside compared to the pros.
Pothos growing in a garden adds a tropical touch to your landscape. Apart from temperature, growing pothos outside is entirely faultless.
Unless you live in an area that doesn’t reach temperatures below 10° C, you can have this beautiful plant in your garden.
If the pothos’ natural habitat matches your garden’s, let the plant grow outside.
- Vitality of plants to live in the indoor environment by Mohd Mahadhir Suhaimi, A. M. Leman in AIP Conference Proceedings.
- Evaluation of potting media for production of Pothos by Mousa, G.T, El-Sallami, I.H. and Abdul-Hafeez in the Assiut Journal Of Agricultural Sciences.