Is Pothos a Tropical Plant?

Pothos Tropical plant

Is Pothos a Tropical Plant?

Have you ever wondered if your lovely Pothos plant brings tropical vibes to your home? Somehow most of the gardeners get confused if pothos is a tropical plant, or not. Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, are tropical in origin. Although it is now one of the most popular plants to grow indoors! So, the question is, if it is a tropical plant, is it suited for indoors actually?

Well, pothos made a great adaptation to indoors. In this article,  you’re diving into the world of Pothos plants. So let’s uncover whether they truly are tropical wonders now or not.

What are tropical plants?

Pothos Tropical plant
Pothos: A Tropical Plant


Tropical plants are a diverse group of vegetation that thrives in tropical climates and are typically found near the equator. Do you know what Tropical climate is?

Well, these climates are characterized by warm temperatures throughout the year and high levels of humidity. And this extreme heat makes a huge impact on the ecosystem there. Less water in the soil, high salinity levels, and higher rates of evaporation are common phenomena.

Tropical plants have evolved to adapt to these conditions, developing unique characteristics that help them survive and thrive in these environments.

7 Adaptive Features of Tropical Plants

  1. Broad Leaves:

    Many tropical plants have broad leaves to capture sunlight efficiently in the dense canopy of the rainforest. These leaves often have a waxy surface. It helps them to prevent quick waterless.

Broad waxy leaves of Monstera- a tropical plant
Broad waxy leaves of Monstera- a tropical plant

2. Epiphytic Adaptations:

In rainforests, where competition for light is intense, some plants have evolved to grow on the surfaces of trees rather than in the soil. These are called epiphytic plants! Like, it’s better if you can’t grow fast alone, go and catch up with a gigantic tree!

Epiphytic orchid growing in tall plants
Epiphytic orchid growing in tall plants

They have adaptations such as specialized roots that help them anchor to tree branches and absorb water and nutrients from the air and rain.

3. Diverse Flowers and Fruits: Tropical plants often produce vibrant and diverse flowers to attract pollinators like birds, bats, and insects. The fruits they bear also come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and colors, designed to entice animals into dispersing their seeds. Winged Seed is a very interesting one among them! 

4. Tolerance to Moisture: Given the high humidity levels in tropical regions, many tropical plants have adaptations that help them cope with excess moisture. This might include waterproofing mechanisms on leaves and stems to prevent waterlogging. As I mentioned earlier, most of them have waxy leaves!

5. Climbing and Vining Adaptations: Some tropical plants, especially in dense forests, have evolved climbing or vining adaptations to reach sunlight by growing on other plants or structures.

Vining plants
Vining plants


6. Adaptations to Low Light Levels: Due to the dense canopy of tropical forests, many plants have evolved to tolerate lower light levels. Some have larger surface areas on their leaves to capture more light, while others have adapted to photosynthesize efficiently with less direct sunlight.

7. Diverse Plant Families: Tropical regions are home to a vast array of plant families, including palms, orchids, ferns, bromeliads, and countless others. These plants exhibit a wide range of shapes, sizes, and growth forms.

Is pothos a tropical plant?

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), also known as devil’s ivy, is considered a tropical plant due to its natural habitat and characteristics that are adapted to tropical environments. Here’s why pothos is classified as a tropical plant and how it fares as an indoor plant.

wall hanging Pothos or Devil's Ivy
wall hanging Pothos or Devil’s Ivy

Tropical Adaptation of Pothos or Devil’s Ivy

Pothos is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, including countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In its natural habitat, it typically grows in the understory of rainforests, where it receives filtered light and thrives in humid conditions. Its tropical adaptations include:

  • Broad Leaves: Pothos leaves are broad and heart-shaped, which is an adaptation to capture as much diffused light as possible in the shaded conditions of tropical forests.
Pothos Tropical plant
Broad leaves of pothos
  • Vining Growth: Pothos exhibits vining growth, allowing it to climb trees and other structures to reach available sunlight in the dense forest environment.
Vining growth of baby Pothos plant
Vining growth of baby Pothos plant
  • Aerial Roots: This plant develops aerial roots that help it cling to trees and absorb moisture from the air, an adaptation useful in humid tropical climates.
pothos aerial roots
Aerial roots of pothos

Characteristics of Pothos as an Indoor Plant

Pothos is a popular indoor plant for several reasons:

  • Low Light Tolerance: Pothos is known for its ability to thrive in low light conditions, making it well-suited for indoor environments with limited natural sunlight. This is a characteristic inherited from its tropical habitat where it grows beneath the forest canopy.
  • Air Purification: Pothos is recognized for its air-purifying properties. It can help remove indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene from the air, contributing to improved indoor air quality.
  • Easy Care: Pothos is considered a relatively low-maintenance plant. It doesn’t require frequent watering and can tolerate occasional neglect, making it a great choice for beginners or those with busy schedules.
  • Versatile Growth: Pothos can be grown in various settings. It can trail down from hanging baskets, climb up trellises, or be placed on shelves, making it a versatile option for interior decoration.

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How to Grow Pothos Indoors?

Here are some tips for growing pothos as an indoor plant:

  • Light: While pothos can tolerate low light, it thrives in bright, indirect light. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as this can lead to leaf burn.
  • Watering: Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out between watering. Pothos prefers slightly moist soil but can suffer from overwatering.
  • Humidity: Pothos can adapt to average indoor humidity levels. But misting the leaves occasionally or placing the pot on a tray filled with water and pebbles is recommended. It can provide some added humidity.
  • Container: Choose a well-draining pot and soil mix to prevent waterlogging.
  • Propagation: Pothos is easy to propagate through stem cuttings placed in water or soil.

Overall, pothos is a versatile and attractive indoor plant. It brings a touch of tropical aesthetic to indoor spaces while being relatively easy to care for.


Why Pothos are called “Devil’s Ivy?”

The term “Devil’s Ivy” is somewhat ironic actually. While the plant’s scientific name is Epipremnum aureum, it is commonly called Pothos or Devil’s Ivy. This is due to its resilience and ease of growth.

The “Devil’s” part of the name can be attributed to the plant’s seemingly “devilish” ability to survive and grow in challenging environments. Pothos basically grow in tropical areas, that might be unsuitable for most other plants.

But this is a FUN name only. It doesn’t imply any negative connotations towards the plant; rather, it highlights its ability to flourish even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Pothos plants are popular choices for indoor and beginner gardeners. Because, they can thrive with minimal care, making them an excellent choice for those who are just starting to explore the world of plants.

Tarek Siddiki Taki

Hi! This is Tarek Siddiki Taki, a plant science graduate, passionate about biotechnologies and their role in addressing environmental issues. I aim to contribute to the advancement of plant science, particularly in horticulture, climate, and gene behavior. I am dedicated to sharing my knowledge and insights with others through my writing and research.