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A Complete Guide To Pothos Cold Tolerance

A Complete Guide To Pothos Cold Tolerance

Pothos plants are known for being extremely easy to keep and grow, so should pothos cold tolerance be something to worry about if you live in a colder environment?

From my own experience with a golden pothos, you can generally keep a pothos anywhere down to 50°F-60°F and it will survive without showing signs of cold damage. Below this range, you may start to notice symptoms such as dying or dropping leaves.

What Temperatures Can Pothos Tolerate?

Pothos plants are native to Southeastern Asia and thrive in temperatures between 70°F and 90°F.

Regarding tolerating lower temperatures, anything down to around 50°F will still be fine, but I wouldn’t expect to see much growth at this level. The key word here is tolerate – pothos are incredibly hardy plants that will put up with mistreatment, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for suboptimal conditions.

Difference Between Tolerating And Thriving

As I previously mentioned, the temperature needs to be between 70°F and 90°F and humidity around 60% (or higher) for a pothos to thrive. A thriving pothos will grow at a decent rate, producing new leaves regularly and maintaining any variegation.

If you expose your pothos to lower temperatures it may tolerate it for a while, but it will be very unlikely to see any growth whatsoever, and over time it will start to deteriorate. The rate of deterioration will correlate to how much lower the temperature is than the ideal range.

For example, I notice that my golden pothos goes stagnant during the winter as the temperature in my apartment approaches the 50°F-60°F range. There’s very little, if any, growth during this stage but generally, most of the leaves maintain their appearance.

If the temperature were to drop any further I would expect to see signs of cold damage.

Symptoms Of Pothos Cold Damage

Tolerating a temperature is one thing, but if the temperature dips below the 50°F you should expect to see cold damage on your pothos.

There are several symptoms of this that you need to look out for.

Droopy Leaves/Vines

If you have any experience with pothos plants you’ll know that the first indication that something is wrong is usually when the leaves and vines start to droop.

From my experience, this occurs in the summer when a pothos is underwatered and in the winter when the temperature drops too low.

Curling Leaves

This is caused by the lower humidity levels that occur when the temperature drops. As the plants dry out due to the lack of moisture in the air, they will begin to curl as the edges dry out first.

This can be addressed simply by increasing the humidity, which is relatively straightforward to do.

Discoloration

When you start to notice your pothos leaves turning black or dark brown it’s time to take some serious action. This occurs when the temperature is far below the ideal range and is usually a result of the leaves freezing.

A pothos will not survive for very long if the temperature drops this low, and you should think about changing the position of the plant to help it recover (more on this later).

Unfortunately, most leaf damage from cold temperatures is permanent and all you can do is wait to prune them once they die.

How Long Does It Take To See The Effects Of Cold Damage?

If temperatures are freezing you can see the effects of cold damage within a matter of days or less, but this is of course under the most extreme circumstances.

If the temperature drops below the 50°F mark you can expect to see signs of damage within a week, but it depends on how long the temperature stays under this level. In most situations, you’ll be able to tell if your pothos is suffering from issues relating to cold temperatures within one to two weeks, on average.

How To Protect A Pothos From The Cold

If you know that the temperature will drop into the 50°F-60°F range or lower, you can do a few things to protect your pothos.

Change The Placement

Every home has a warmer area.

For me, this is the kitchen and main living room where we are more likely to use the heating during the colder months, where I place my golden pothos during this time of year.

Windows are also great for increasing temperature if they receive sunlight, but they will still be cold to the touch so keep your pothos a few inches away from the glass. Remember that pothos prefers indirect sunlight as well, so east or west-facing windows are preferable.

You should also do this gradually, rather than drastically changing the environment overnight.

Reduce Watering

When it’s cold pothos will require less water than in the warmer months.

This is because the growth will slow down considerably, so the plant requires fewer nutrients and water. Always check the top few inches of soil, and if it’s dry you can go ahead and water.

Increase Humidity

When it gets colder humidity can drop substantially, and sometimes as low as 10%-20%.

This is something that a lot of people don’t think about, and I was actually guilty of this myself when I went through my first winter with a pothos.

To increase humidity a humidifier or pebble tray are the best options. Misting can work, but you’ll need to mist several times per day to see any real effects.

Fertilise Less

Similarly to water requirements, pothos will also need less fertiliser during the colder months for the same reason.

If the temperature is going to be very low, you’ll find that you don’t need to add any fertiliser at all. If you are still noticing some growth then you can go ahead and supplement this with a small amount of fertiliser.

Final Thoughts

Pothos are very hardy and can definitely tolerate some cold temperatures, but it is not ideal for the plant and you’ll start to notice symptoms of cold damage within a week or two in most cases.

Avoid freezing temperatures altogether and aim to maintain a temperature of at least 50°F, as this is the minimum for a pothos to go dormant rather than suffer from cold damage.