The Rare & Beautiful “Sleeping” Shangri La Pothos Care Guide

The Shangri La Pothos is one of the most intriguing houseplants you’ll encounter. It’s only been on the market for a couple of years, yet already it’s causing a divide among plant lovers. Some people take one glance at its rolled-up leaves and see an ugly plant that looks like it’s struggling to stay alive. Yet others see beauty in its crazy looks and crinkled foliage.

Love it or hate it, this low-maintenance tropical vine can be very fun to grow. It’s resistant to most pests and diseases, is unpretentious about temperature and humidity, and can make an eye-catching statement piece in any home. But due to its unusual leaves, its care and propagation requirements differ slightly from other pothos varieties. 

Read on to discover more about how to care for the Shangri La Pothos and keep it thriving indoors. 

What Is Shangri La Pothos?

sleeping shangri la pothos plant in pot

Shangri La Pothos (Epipremnum aureum ‘Shangri La’) is a cultivar of the Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy. It’s an unusual plant with dark green, rolled-up leaves, and ribbed or crinkled foliage texture. The best way to describe it is by comparing it to cooked spinach or kale. 

This pothos variety has several common names, including:

  • Sleeping Pothos
  • Ooh La La Pothos
  • Green Javelin Pothos
  • Godzilla Pothos
  • Spinach Pothos

Shangri La Pothos was developed in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan by plant breeder Teruno Ito, from Teruno World. This family-owned business specializes in pothos cultivars with unique foliage texture and mesmerizing variegation and is currently breeding some of the rarest pothos varieties worldwide. 

In many ways, Pothos Shangri La is the embodiment of wabi-sabi. This Japanese aesthetic finds beauty in imperfection and impermanence. This plant’s scrunched-up leaves, which sometimes tend to unfurl, may not fit everyone’s idea of beauty. But it is precisely the imperfect look of the foliage that gives this cultivar its unique charm. 

Is Shangri La Pothos Variegated?

The classic form of Shangri La Pothos has dark green leaves. Occasionally, the foliage will display faint streaks of white or golden variegation. However, this coloring is unstable and will fade out in the newer leaves.

Luckily, Teruno World also breeds two variegated versions of the Pothos Shangri La: Teruno Sunshine and Teruno Love Song. 

Teruno Sunshine has golden-yellow foliage with dark green variegation. Unfortunately, it is a rare and expensive cultivar and may be difficult to find outside Japan.

Teruno Love Song looks like a rolled-up Snow Queen Pothos, with white leaves, dark green streaks, and speckles. It is still undergoing production, but, according to the breeder, it should become available on the international market in 2023. 

Shangri La Pothos Care Guide

shanghai la pothos plant

With a few small differences, the Shangri La Pothos has similar care requirements to other pothos cultivars. So, let’s take a closer look. 

Light 

This houseplant grows best in bright indirect light. Therefore, a room with eastern or western exposure would be ideal for this plant. However, avoid putting keeping it in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the foliage and cause the leaves to open up. 

On the other hand, low light will make this pothos grow slower and can also result in bare, leggy stems. If you have a variegated cultivar, keeping it in a dark room will also make the leaves lose their colors and patterns. 

Soil 

Plant in a well-draining potting mix. A combination of equal parts universal potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark would do the job nicely. 

If you don’t have any orchid bark to hand, you can use a ratio of one part perlite or pumice to two parts potting soil. This mix tends to retain moisture for longer periods, so make sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Water 

Shangri La Pothos has moderate watering requirements. To keep it healthy, water it when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil feel dry to the touch. Test the soil with your finger, then give the plant a deep, thorough soak. 

When in doubt, it’s better to let this plant go thirsty for a couple of days rather than water it too often. The Sleeping Pothos is very sensitive to overwatering. If the soil stays wet all the time, it can become a hotbed of pests and diseases, and cause fungal problems such as root rot. 

Temperature 

Shangri La Pothos is not too demanding about temperature. Just ensure that the thermometer is reading 64°F (18°C) or higher, which will be enough to keep this plant happy. 

In the greenhouses of Aichi Prefecture in Japan, where this pothos cultivar comes from, temperatures often exceed 104°F (40°C) in the summer. So if you live in a region that also gets hot, humid weather, don’t worry, your plant won’t mind the extra heat.  

Humidity 

Shangri La Pothos is a tropical plant that enjoys growing in a humid environment. Try keeping the humidity in your home around 50% – 60%, and the plant will thrive. 

If your home is a bit dry, you can place the pot on top of a pebble tray half-filled with water. Or you can try growing it next to other humidity-loving plants, such as Calatheas and ferns.

Avoid misting your Sleeping Pothos. This will do very little to increase humidity, and can also damage the foliage. Water and moisture can become trapped inside the curled-up leaves. If your home lacks excellent air circulation, this can result in bacterial leaf infections, which can prove fatal to your plant.  

Fertilizer 

Shangri La Pothos has a slow growth rate, so it doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. You can feed it once a month, from early spring until early fall, when the plant is actively growing. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for foliage plants, diluted to half strength.  

Pruning

Spinach Pothos needs very little pruning. However, if the vines get too long, you can trim them in spring or summer, and use the cut stems for propagation. You can also remove the yellowing leaves from the bottom of the vines, which helps keep the plant tidy.

Repotting Shangri La Pothos

Sleeping Pothos doesn’t mind being a bit rootbound. But if you can see the roots come out from the top of the pot or through the drainage holes, it’s time to upgrade to a larger pot. Use a container one size bigger or 2 inches (5 cm) wider. Also, ensure the new pot has drainage holes, or the excess soil moisture will lead to root rot. 

It’s worth repotting your Sleeping Pothos once every three years, even if it hasn’t outgrown its current pot. In time, the soil will lose its texture and ability to retain moisture and can also accumulate a buildup of fertilizer salts. Regular soil change is a great way to preserve root health and encourage new growth.

Shangri La Pothos Propagation Guide

The easiest way to propagate Shangri La Pothos is using stem cuttings. Try using this method during the plant’s active growth cycle in spring and summer. 

For best results, always propagate Sleeping Pothos cuttings in water. Due to its rolled-up leaves, this variety takes longer to grow roots than other pothos cultivars. Rooting it in water allows you to keep an eye on the process and poses a lower risk of stem rot compared to soil propagation. 

Also, remember to be patient. The cuttings can take at least six weeks before they start growing roots. To ensure the best survival rate for your cuttings, always wait until the roots are at least 2 inches (5 cm) long before transplanting them into a well-draining potting mix.

Check out our complete pothos propagation guide for more tips and tricks. 

showing how to propagate pothos in water

Common Problems

Shangri La Pothos rarely suffers from any severe health problems. However, due to the shape and texture of its leaves, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if the plant is sick or wilting. 

Here are a few common problems and frequently asked questions to be aware of.

Pests

The Shangri La Pothos is generally pest-free but can suffer from the occasional outbreak of spider mites, mealybugs, and thrips. Unfortunately, treating pest infestations can be tricky. The rolled-up leaves make it challenging to apply insecticidal sprays, which means that the pests can continue to thrive inside the folds.

In this case, prevention is the best cure.

Always inspect the plant thoroughly before buying it. If you’re buying the plant in person, check the stems and the leaf creases for any signs of discoloration, wilting, webbing, or sticky residue. If you’re buying it online, don’t be shy about asking the seller for close-up photos of the leaves, especially if the plant is very cheap.

If you notice any signs of pests after you bring the plant home, it’s best to trim the sick leaves and vines. 

Last but not least, provide your pothos with ideal growing conditions. A healthy plant has a higher tolerance to pests and is less likely to suffer from severe infestations. Provide it with the right amount of light, avoid overwatering and underwatering, and try keeping the humidity in your home above 40%.

Yellowing Leaves

Shangri La Pothos leaves turning yellow can indicate a problem with your watering routine, low light, or a pest infestation. The most common cause is overwatering, which is easy to prevent by regularly testing the soil moisture with your finger.

Slow Growth

Shangri La Pothos is a slow-growing cultivar, so don’t expect it to put out long vines at the same rate as other pothos varieties. However, if you don’t notice any new growth, especially in spring and summer, this could be a sign that your plant is not receiving enough light. Try moving it to a brighter location, and it will start vining in no time. 

Why Are My Shangri La Pothos Leaves Unfurling?

The leaves of Shangri La Pothos will occasionally start unrolling or opening up. According to breeder Teruno World, this behavior is normal, and it’s part of the plant’s physiological characteristics. However, the most likely cause for the leaves’ unfurling is exposure to too much sunlight.

In one of their social media posts, Teruno World suggests that the Shangri La leaves are more likely to open in June, then start to roll back again in July. The breeder also recommends that the new, unrolled leaves should not be removed. 

Some people report that their Pothos Shangri La leaves started unfurling, then curled back after a few weeks. Others report that the leaves stayed completely flat after opening. And some say that the leaves never opened up in the first place. Everyone has a different experience with this cultivar, which is part of the joy of owning such an unusual plant.

Keep in mind that, with some varieties of Shangri La Pothos, it’s normal for the leaves to stay unfurled. The leaves of Teruno Jack, for example, are only slightly rolled up. 

FAQ

Is Shangri La Pothos Toxic?

Like all Epipremnum plants, the Shangri La Pothos is toxic to cats and dogs. Suppose your pets accidentally eat some of the leaves and stems. In that case, they can experience excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Always keep this plant on a high shelf or in a room where your pets can’t get to it. 

How Rare is Shangri La Pothos?

Shangri La is a rare pothos cultivar. It’s also a bit more expensive than other varieties, especially if you’re looking for a specimen that has variegated leaves.  

Does Shangri La Pothos Climb?

Yes. Shangri La Pothos loves climbing. If you can, try growing it on a moss or coir pole. If not, don’t worry, your Sleeping Pothos won’t mind if you leave it hanging or trailing. 

Shangri La Pothos vs Philodendron Shangri La: What’s the Difference?

Although the names pothos and philodendron tend to be used interchangeably, the Shangri La Pothos and Philodendron Shangri La are two completely different plants. The easiest way to tell them apart is by checking the foliage.

Shangri La Pothos has small, rolled-up leaves. Meanwhile, Philodendron Shangri La has large leaves that can be up to 2 feet long, with well-defined splits on the edges. When you put these two plants next to each other, you’ll notice that they look nothing alike.  

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.