Unraveling The Mysterious Harlequin Pothos + Plant Care Tips

Varieties of Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are often hard to tell apart, and they’re sometimes even mislabeled in stores. For example, Harlequin is a rare Pothos variety often mistaken for the patented variety Manjula.

Its origins are obscure. Some people think it’s the same variety as Manjula Pothos, others think it’s a highly variegated form of Manjula, and others believe it is a different variety altogether. 

There is little information out there to untangle its ancestry. Still, whatever it might be, Harlequin Pothos (or scientific name: Epipremnum aureum ‘Harlequin’) is a gorgeous plant that will brighten up any indoor space.

What Does a Harlequin Pothos Plant Look Like?

Each of the leaves on an individual Harlequin Pothos plant has a different amount of variegation. Some are marbled, but most have a small amount of medium or dark green splashed on the white leaves. 

Harlequin vs Manjula Pothos

manjula pothos plant variety
Manjua pothos plant.

The main difference in variegation between Harlequin and Manjula pothos is that there is more white and less light green in Harlequin than in Manjula. There is never any gold, yellow, cream, or gray color in its foliage – it is strictly bright white with some green. 

The heart-shaped leaves with pinched tips have smooth edges, unlike Manjula, which has wavy margins. Indoors, it is fast-growing and can reach 5 to 10 feet in length. 

Care of Harlequin Pothos Plant

Like other Pothos varieties, Harlequin pothos care is relatively easy to care for. It has slightly different needs because of its high amount of variegation, but in all, it is an easy-care plant for any indoor gardener. 

Light

Because Harlequin has a high percentage of white variegation in its leaves and not much green, it needs a lot of light to be able to photosynthesize enough and produce food energy to sustain its growth. 

Pothos are native to the French Polynesian forests, where they are understory vines that receive bright, indirect sunlight. As a highly variegated indoor plant, Harlequin needs the brightest indirect light you can give without exposing it to direct sunlight. 

It can exist in low light conditions but may revert to all-green to photosynthesize if it doesn’t have sufficient light. So a grow light may be a good solution if you don’t have enough bright indirect light in the windows.

If you bring your Harlequin outdoors during the summer, be sure to keep it in an area out of the direct sun that can burn its delicate leaves (read more about pothos sunburn). For example, under a tree or on a porch or patio that gets bright light would be a safe place to put it.

Temperature

Pothos plants grow best in household temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Outdoors, they can handle temperatures up to 90 degrees and down to 50. 

Be sure to bring your plant to a cooler location during a heat wave and bring it indoors when the temperatures begin to drop in the fall.

Your Harlequin will not appreciate either cold or hot drafts and may droop and drop leaves. Keep it out of the way of a hot air or air conditioner vent, and move it away from a cold, drafty window in the winter. 

Humidity

Harlequin pothos will adapt to low humidity in a household, which is usually in the 30 to 40 percent range, but because of its tropical heritage, it prefers 40 to 60 percent humidity.

Use a humidifier to boost the humidity. or set the pot on a pebble tray with water, or even in a high-humidity area of the house, like the kitchen or bathroom.

Soil

Little girl showing the best soil for pothos plants.

The best soil for pothos Harlequin is a loose, well-draining potting mix, amended with some perlite, cocoa coir, peat, or orchid bark for even better drainage. It prefers a slightly acidic pH in the 6.1 to 6.5 range.

Make sure that the pot you choose has at least one drainage hole. Excellent-draining potting mix will be far less effective in a pot without a drainage hole, and water buildup in the pot could lead to root rot.

Water

Watering your Epipremnum aureum ‘Harlequin’ correctly is crucial to its growth and well-being. It likes its soil to be slightly moist but never soggy.

Water it when the soil is dry 1” to 2” down from the top, or use a moisture meter to determine when it’s time to water

Your plant must be watered every 7 to 10 days during the spring and summer when it’s actively growing, and the temperatures are warmer. It will need less water during the winter when it is not growing.

Water only the soil and keep the leaves and stems dry to prevent fungal or bacterial infections from taking hold of the foliage. 

Rainwater or distilled is healthiest for Epipremnum Harlequin since tap water often has chlorine and other chemicals, and highly variegated plants are susceptible to problems with these chemicals.

Fertilizer

You can fertilize your Harlequin to give it an extra boost of nutrition. Use a liquid fertilizer or slow-release granules once a month per package instructions during the spring and summer. 

Don’t fertilize it at all during the winter when its growth has slowed down to avoid burning its roots.

Pruning

Your Pothos is a vine and will grow up to 10 feet long indoors. Keep it at a manageable length by pruning it between the nodes (where the leaves join the stem) with clean scissors or shears. 

Propagation

propagating pothos plants

You can easily propagate the cuttings you have made from pruning your pothos plant, and it’s a great way to increase the number of plants in your home. 

There are two ways you can do it: water or soil propagation.

Water Propagation

Take a cutting that has 4 or 5 leaves and put it in a clean jar with clean water. Remove all leaves below the waterline and set the cutting in a warm spot in indirect light. Don’t forget to change the water every 4 to 5 days to keep algae from growing. 

Your cutting should begin to grow roots in 2 to 3 weeks, and you can plant it in loose, well-draining potting mix after the roots are 2 to 3 inches long.

Soil Propagation

Take a cutting with 2 to 4 leaves and remove at least one leaf at the bottom. Stick the cutting in fresh, loose potting mix with perlite in a pot with drainage holes. Keep it moist, and set it in a warm spot in indirect light. It should begin to grow roots in 2 to 4 weeks.

As an option, you can dip the end in rooting hormone to encourage growth before sticking it in the soil. 

Note: Only use stem cuttings to propagate Harlequin Pothos since leaf cuttings will not retain the white variegation and will produce dark green leaves.

Pests

Highly variegated plants are more susceptible to pests than all-green ones, and Harlequin can be attacked by spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, fungus gnats, or scale. 

Spider mites, Aphids, and Mealybugs

These pests can cause your pothos leaves to turn yellow, be distorted, weaken, and even drop off. Spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs can be controlled with insecticidal soap or Neem oil spray per bottle instructions. 

You can also wipe the plant down with rubbing alcohol.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats will lay their eggs in the potting soil, and when the larvae hatch, they feed on the organic matter in the soil, including the roots. When they mature into adults, they emerge from the soil as flying insects, then lay their eggs in the soil and the cycle starts again.

Fungus gnat eggs are often present in bags of potting mix and grow into larvae when the soil is kept too wet. Control for these critters has to be twofold:

1. Treat the potting mix before use by microwaving or baking it briefly to kill the eggs. You can also treat it by watering the soil with 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts water which will kill the eggs and add oxygen to the soil.

2. Trap the adults with sticky traps so that they don’t have an opportunity to lay eggs back in the soil.

Scale

Scale can be controlled by hosing the plant to knock off as many bugs as possible and then wiping the plant down with rubbing alcohol.

Diseases

The primary diseases of Harlequin pothos plants are root rot and bacterial and fungal leaf spots.

Root rot

bunch of marble queen pothos root rot and healthy roots

Root rot is a fungal disease most commonly caused by overwatering the soil. The air spaces in the soil become filled with water, and the roots can’t get enough oxygen, so root rot takes hold. 

The best thing to do about the pothos root rot problem is gently removing the plant from the potting mix and washing the roots to see what they look like.

Healthy roots are white and firm, but if any roots are black, spongy, and smell foul, cut them off with clean scissors or shears. 

Wash the remaining roots in hydrogen peroxide and water or with a fungicide like Neem oil, then plant them back in fresh potting mix in a clean pot with a drainage hole.

 Bacterial and Fungal Leaf Spot

These diseases don’t usually infect houseplants unless they are set outside in the summer, and the infection spreads from nearby plants to your Harlequin. 

Remove any badly damaged leaves and treat the plant with a bactericide or fungicide with copper in its list of ingredients. Neem oil is also a fungicide and is effective against some pothos bacterial leaf spots in addition to fungal leaf spots.

Prevent these diseases from infecting your plant by keeping it away from dense plantings and ensuring enough air circulation around the foliage.

Toxicity

cat with pothos in background

All plants in the Arum family, including Harlequin Pothos, are toxic to people and pets (cats and dogs). Make the houseplant inaccessible to little hands and paws, such as in a hanging basket, to keep all family members safe.

What is a Harlequin Pothos plant?

Harlequin is a rare Pothos variety often mistaken for the patented variety Manjula. Its origins are obscure. Some people think it’s the same variety as Manjula Pothos, others think it’s a highly variegated form of Manjula, and others believe it is a different variety altogether. 

There is little information out there to untangle its ancestry. Still, whatever it might be, Harlequin Pothos) is a gorgeous plant that will brighten up any indoor space.

Is Harlequin pothos and Manjula pothos the same plant?

Researchers are still unsure whether these two plants are the same. But, the main difference between Harlequin and Manjula pothos is that there is more white and less light green in Harlequin than in Manjula. There is never any gold, yellow, cream, or gray color in its foliage – it is strictly bright white with some green. 

Author & Editor | + posts

Nancy has been a plant person from an early age. That interest blossomed into a bachelor’s in biology from Elmira College and a master’s degree in horticulture and communications from the University of Kentucky. Nancy worked in plant taxonomy at the University of Florida and the L. H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University, and wrote and edited gardening books at Rodale Press in Emmaus, PA. Her interests are plant identification, gardening, hiking, and reading.