Terrariums have captivated plant lovers as a way of incorporating greenery in interior spaces. The glass containers house miniature ecosystems, including a variety of plants, soil, rocks, and decorative elements.
As one of the most popular houseplants, it is no surprise that Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a favored choice in terrarium creations.
Pothos Plant Profile
Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, has gained popularity as a decorative and low-maintenance houseplant. A dynamic grower, Pothos exhibits a trailing or climbing growth habit and will quickly fill a space with cascading vines.
Its leaves are deep green to bright green and have gently rounded lobes, resembling a heart. Many varieties feature distinctive variegated patterns in shades including gold, yellow, white, cream, and silver.
In its native habitat of the Solomon Islands, Pothos vines use trees as support to climb towards the canopy and access filtered light. Once established in the upper reaches of trees, they begin to extend their vines downwards.
Like with other tropical plants, Epipremnum aureum thrives in warm, humid environments. However, it is also highly adaptable and can tolerate a range of conditions.
There are several Pothos varieties available, each with its own leaf color, variegation, and growth characteristics:
- Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): One of the most well-known varieties featuring variegation from deep green to gold.
- Marble Queen Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Marble Queen’): Distinctive variegation in white, cream, and pale yellow.
- Neon Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’): Vibrant, bright green leaves.
- Jade Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Jade’): Solid, deep green leaves.
- Pearls and Jade Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Pearls and Jade’): Smaller, compact leaves with white variegation.
- Snow Queen Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Snow Queen’): Similar to Marble Queen but with more pronounced white marbling.
Note: The common name ‘Satin Pothos’ actually refers to Scindapsus pictus. Whilst Scindapsus and Epipremnum both belong to the Araceae family, they are separate plants with their own characteristics and growth habits. Pothos refers to species within the Epipremnum genus.
Can Pothos Grow in a Terrarium?
Pothos’ popularity as a trendy and low-maintenance houseplant naturally extends to its use in terrariums. Several of its attributes make it well-suited as a terrarium plant:
- Adaptability: It is known for being tolerant to a range of growing conditions.
- Low-light tolerance: It can grow well even with limited access to natural light.
- Low watering needs: Pothos is both drought tolerant and comfortable with moisture.
- Air-purifying qualities: Its ability to remove toxins from the air can contribute to a balanced and healthy microclimate in a terrarium.
- Aesthetic appeal: The vines grow quickly and can trail or climb other structures and decorative elements.
- Propagation: Cuttings root and establish easily.
Terrariums (Open and Closed)
The two types of terrarium are differentiated by the environmental conditions they provide to the plants within.
Closed terrariums are fully sealed environments within a glass container, creating a self-sustaining system where moisture is recycled. They require little maintenance and infrequent watering.
Plants suited to closed terrariums thrive in high humidity and low lighting conditions:
- African violets
Related Article: World’s Oldest Sealed Terrarium by David Latimer
Open terrariums are unsealed environments that allow for air exchange. They may require more watering than closed terrariums as moisture can evaporate.
Plants that prefer drier climates, such as succulents or cacti, are suited to an open terrarium:
- Aloe vera
- Air plants (Tillandsia)
Choosing a Terrarium
Open or closed: Pothos can do well in both open and closed terrariums. However, the plant may require frequent pruning to avoid outgrowing the limited space – an open terrarium is more accessible for this kind of maintenance.
Some even allow for the vines to trail outside of the container. If planting in a closed terrarium, choose one with a hinged lid.
Size: Pothos is a rapid grower that may be restricted in a small container. Choosing a terrarium with room for growth will allow the plant to develop more naturally.
Shape: Both tall and wide containers can work well, allowing the vines to trail or climb.
Cultivating Pothos in a Terrarium
- Place a thin layer of small pebbles, clay pellets / leca, or gravel at the bottom of the container to improve drainage.
- Add a layer of well-draining potting mix. The depth of the soil layer will depend on the size of the terrarium – ensure there is sufficient room for the roots to develop.
- Make a small hole in the substrate and plant each cutting 1 to 2 nodes deep. Space cuttings around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) apart.
- If using larger cuttings or established small plants, arrange the vines within the container. Add branches or trellises as climbing structures.
- If desired, incorporate companion plants. Choose moisture-loving plants for closed terrariums or drought-tolerant plants for open terrariums. Consider color, texture, and growth habits to create a harmonious display.
- Add any decorative elements, such as stones or bark.
- For closed terrariums, add a layer of sphagnum moss to improve water retention.
- Mist and water.
Soil: Prefers a well-draining, nutrient-rich substrate. Incorporate perlite or vermiculite into the potting mix to increase aeration.
Light: Best in a location that receives bright indirect light. However, can also handle low lighting.
Humidity: Tolerant of a range of humidity levels. Will benefit from the airflow of a partially closed or open environment but will also do well in the high humidity of a closed terrarium. May require misting in an open terrarium.
Pruning: Prune regularly to maintain shape and prevent outgrowing the container.
Fertilization: In an open terrarium, use a diluted, balanced fertilizer during the growing season. Plants in closed terrariums require less fertilization as nutrients are recycled.
Epipremnum aureum is relatively low-maintenance and will withstand a range of growing conditions. However, several issues can arise when grown in a terrarium.
- Yellowing leaves: May be a sign of overwatering. Consider letting the soil dry out in between watering. Less likely to be an issue in an open terrarium.
- Wilted leaves: May be a sign of underwatering. Check the moisture levels and adjust the watering schedule. Less likely to be an issue in a closed terrarium. Excessive heat can also cause wilting. In this case, relocate the container to a cooler position.
- Leggy growth: Can be caused by inadequate lighting or overcrowding. Position the terrarium in a location that receives enough light. Ensure cuttings are spaced sufficiently and prune any overgrowth.
- Mold and mildew: In closed terrariums, excessive humidity can cause mold and mildew. Improve airflow by occasionally opening the lid.
Pothos’ adaptability, lush foliage, and ease of propagation make it an excellent choice for growing in terrariums.
Due to its rapid growth, it is important to consider the size and shape of the container so that the plant is showcased at its best rather than restricted or overcrowded.
With proper care and the right companion plants, it is possible to incorporate a Pothos plant as part of a thriving miniature ecosystem.
Stephanie is a horticulturist specializing in interior plants. While living in Germany, Stephanie worked at a hydroponic herb farm, assisting in the research lab that developed new ways of growing. She gained her horticultural certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and wrote for a German gardening publication. Her interests are in medicinal herbs, community gardens, and eco-therapy. Linkedin