I’ve Owned 30-Plus Plants—This Is the One I’ve Never Killed

A black thumb’s dream.

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For the frequency at which I go plant-shopping, you would think my home would be filled with far more greenery than it is. For the frequency at which I kill plants, you’d think I would be a bit more hesitant to repeatedly buy them. I’ve overwatered and underwatered my at-home greenery so many times that, over the past five years, I’ve probably (tragically) killed at least 30 poor, helpless plants. There’s one, however, that has thrived through it all: the simple pothos.

I bought my first pothos at a holiday market one December, admiring its fuss-free leaves and cheerful shade of green. Along with it, I picked up a sturdy concrete pot. Once I plunked it into its new container, I positioned the plant in a vintage shell-covered hanger by my south-facing window, set against my semi-sheer white curtains. Then, I kind of forgot about it.

My pothos, hanging in front of the window, kept to itself. I watered it occasionally but otherwise paid it little mind. It wasn’t until about six months later, that I noticed that my small plant was now rightfully medium-sized, a few leafy tendrils making their way down to the windowsill. A year later, the plant had grown a full three feet. I’ve never achieved such a great horticultural milestone before

This plant is low-maintenance enough to pair well with my tendency to either care too little or too much about my plants, and the care I gave it translated into a lush tangle of leaves that I can brag about, as they had unfurled under my sometimes watchful eye.

Of course, like all plants, a few tips can go a long way in helping your little green friend thrive instead of just survive. Here are some pointers I picked up in the care and keeping of my pothos.

Don’t Start Too Small

photography by aaron bengochea

Okay, I will admit that I have also owned own or two pothos that haven’t fared as well as my original buy. The problem, however, was this: the subsequent pothos I purchased was a tiny thing picked up at the grocery store, not a plant vendor, and it came in a shallow clay pot, with little room to grow.

Smaller plants, The Sill notes, require more attention than larger ones. Small plants in small pots dry out faster, so you have to be a bit more mindful about watering. Far too often, I only noticed that my small pothos needed water after it appeared to be really dry, which was a lot for the weaker plant to handle. My greenhouse skills simply weren’t strong enough to grow a small plant into something extra-lush, but a slightly more established, small-yet-sturdy pothos proved to be perfectly fine.

Light Is Everything

photography by aaron bengochea

Even if a plant can tolerate low light, that doesn’t mean that it likes low light. When you put a pothos in a window that gets plenty of natural light, it’s far more likely to grow than one that’s kept in a more moderately lit location.

But too much harsh light can make a plant dry out and lead to yellow or brown crispy leaves. The Sill recommends not placing this plant in direct sunlight—so, for my pothos, I used my curtain as a filter, subduing the sunlight just enough to prevent harm, but still allowing in plenty of light.

Movement Yields Movement.

photography by aaron bengochea

Once your pothos starts to grow just a bit, you might realize that it looks a bit lopsided; some areas can flourish more than others. While plants’ leaves do naturally move to gather the light they require, a bit of human help can make a difference, too.

Some experts recommend rotating house plants every two weeks to better distribute sunlight, but I shifted my pothos’s planter every with slightly less frequency, to reasonable results. After about two years by the window, I moved my flourishing plant to a different, less sunshine-filled spot in my room, where it continues to grow and thrive, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Now, I just need to get my hands on my next sturdy-yet-small pothos, and then I’ll start the growing process all over again.

See more plant stories: How to Care for Your Monstera Plant It’s Official: These Are 2019’s Trendiest Plants Hacks We Learned From Our Favorite Plant-Filled Homes

Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.