Is your golden pothos losing variegation? Don’t worry, I’ve kept a golden pothos for a few years now and it’s very normal to lose some variegation along the way.
This is due to a lack of sunlight and is quite a common mistake as many assume that all pothos’ do well in shaded areas. Types of variegated pothos, like the golden pothos, require more sunlight to maintain their variegated leaves.
In this guide, I’ll share how to keep variegation on your golden pothos based on my own experience with this plant, and some tips for producing new leaves with variegation. I’ll also explain why sunlight is so important for variegation by diving into the science behind it.
Why Do Golden Pothos Lose Variegation
Variegated types of pothos, like the golden pothos, are very popular amongst houseplant owners due to their unique appearances. I can attest to this as I have kept a golden pothos now for several years.
When your golden pothos starts to lose variegation it can be very worrying as this is usually the main talking point about the plant; but why exactly does this happen?
In order to understand why plants lose variegation we’ll have to dive into the science (don’t worry, I’ll keep this part simple).
Variegated areas of a golden pothos leaf don’t contain any chlorophyll – the green pigment responsible for the green color in the rest of the leaf. Chlorophyll is used to absorb light (usually sunlight) that is used in photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide from the air and water into glucose. This glucose is then combined with other nutrients from the soil for the growth of new parts of the plant.
If your golden pothos is not receiving enough sunlight, it will start to produce more chlorophyll to meet its energy demands. In this process, variegated parts of the leaves change color to green as the new chlorophyll is produced.
Still with me? Less sunlight = higher requirement for chlorophyll = less variegation.
How To Prevent Loss Of Variegation
So, now that you understand how variegation is lost let’s look at how you can meet the sunlight requirements to prevent it from happening.
Provide Enough Sunlight
Hopefully, after reading through the science behind variegation you’ll understand why sunlight is so important in maintaining it.
Although pothos can survive well in low-light conditions, this only applies to varieties of pothos that have no variegation. When it comes to golden pothos, providing plenty of bright indirect sunlight is the best method for maintaining variegation.
Ideally, you should be providing at least 8 hours of this type of sunlight each day. If you notice that your golden pothos is losing variegation then introduce an hour or two of direct sunlight each day and monitor the plant closely.
In some cases, this can work perfectly well to maintain variegation, but there will be a small risk of sun scorch which is why you should check the leaves each day. If the leaves get scorched then switch back to bright indirect sunlight only.
Can Golden Pothos Variegation Come Back?
Once a leaf has lost its variegation it will not revert back, even if you provide enough sunlight.
All hope is not lost, however, as there is still a way to encourage variegation on new leaves.
Use Pruning To Encourage Growth Of Variegated Leaves
Before you jump into this method, it does require that there is still some variegation on your golden pothos, and ideally on multiple leaves (even if only a small amount).
The details for the method are laid out below:
- Identify vines that have variegated leaves. For this method to work you’ll ideally need multiple vines with variegated leaves.
- Use a pruning tool to remove vines where all of the leaves have reverted to green.
- Place your golden pothos in a location with more sunlight. Remember, bright and indirect sunlight is best as too much sunlight can also lead to problems.
- Ensure the other conditions for growth are optimal and monitor the growth of new leaves for variegation.
The idea behind this technique is to remove any vines that have lost variegation completely and encourage new growth on those that have variegated leaves.
A Quick Summary Of Optimal Growth Conditions For New Leaves
It’s important to get the conditions right for growth as the sooner new leaves start to grow the sooner you’ll be able to tell how successful it has been. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:
- Temperature – Golden pothos can tolerate cold temperatures, but for new leaf growth keep the temperature between 70°F and 90°F.
- Humidity – Golden pothos thrive in high humidity around 60%.
- Soil Type – Well-draining soil is crucial for golden pothos.
- Fertilizer – Complete fertilizers are ideal as they contain nitrogen that is responsible for leaf development.
- Watering – When it comes to watering a golden pothos I usually only water when the top few inches of soil are dry. This helps to prevent overwatering while still providing enough moisture for growth.