Best Soil and Fertilizer for Golden Pothos

Soil and fertilizer are the primary elements when it comes to planting. But, let us face the truth, the task can be equally daunting when you do not get the right one.

Honestly, I have been there, and it pains me to say that I have killed many of my pothos. The primary reason was using the wrong Golden pothos soil and fertilizer.

But fortunately, with time and experience, I have learned about the best Golden pothos soil and fertilizer.

Golden pothos does well in well-draining potting soil consisting of perlite, coco coir, orchid barks, and adequate organic matters. The ideal soil pH is around 6 to 6.5, and excellent fertilization includes once in 1-2 months with organic or N.P.k fertilizer (10-10-10).

Variegated Pothos
Variegated Pothos (Source: Wikimedia)

If you want to grow pothos without messing up its soil and fertilizer prerequisite, continue reading the article.

The article will provide detailed information regarding the best Golden pothos soil and fertilizer.

What Kind of Soil does Golden Pothos Need and Why?

Pothos is called Devil’s Ivy, a hardy plant that is difficult to kill.

But, it is wrong of you to expect your pothos to thrive without maintaining the proper soil and fertilizer composition. 

As a tropical plant, Golden pothos requires light, porous, well-draining, nutrition-rich, warm soil that is slightly acidic to neutral and holds optimum moisture.

Light and Well-draining soil mix for pothos (Source: Unsplash)

You might think of using pure garden soil or cacti and succulent mixes, but let me remind you, they are not proper soil mixes for pothos.

Garden soil causes substantial soil compaction and poor aeration. Similarly, cacti succulent mixes cannot retain the correct moisture required for the Pothos.

To learn more about the optimal soil condition for Golden pothos, look at the table below. 

FactorsSpecification
Soil TypeLight, porous, and well-draining soil
Soil MaterialBlend of regular soil, peat moss, orchid barks, perlite, organic compost, etc.
TextureLoamy, dark, and less compact
Drainage Capacity 1-2 inches per hour
Soil pH Slightly acidic around 6-6.5
Soil CompactionLight
Water Retention CapabilityAbout <40%
Soil Temperature Around 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Nutrients Enriched N.P.K along with micronutrients like iron, nickel, calcium, sulfur, and Copper-Boron
Soil ToxicityExcessive use of Pesticide and chemical fertilizer might cause Aluminum, Lead, and Chromated copper arsenate toxicity
Soil Change Requirement Once every 1-2 year

1. Soil Texture and Structure

Soil texture and structure are important factors playing a crucial role in determining the quality, aeration, and compaction in the soil.

Golden pothos needs light and rich soil composed of rounder aggregates that enhance water and airflow in the soil.

different soil texture
Soil Textures (Source: MRGScience)

Likewise, talking about the structure, choose slightly granular or chunky soil for pothos. This type of soil is a good source of ventilation to water and soil, allowing healthier roots to develop.

Golden pothos prefers light loamy granular soil or soilless potting mix containing an adequate amount of peat moss, perlite, and organic fertilizer. 

Adding organic materials such as compost, bark, dried grass, and wooden chips helps to optimize overall soil quality.

2. Good Soil Drainage 

In poorly draining soil, water replaces the tiny air pockets. Remember, your Golden pothos’ roots detest sitting in a pool of water.

Lack of oxygen flow leads to anaerobic activities in the soil, which invites bacterial and fungal growth. Consequently, your plant might die due to root rot. 

The ideal water draining capacity of the soil for the Golden pothos plant is 1-2 inches per hour. 

Soil drainage
Soil drainage (Source: UCANR)

Hence, choose a well-draining, light, and porous potting mix to prevent such shortcomings for your Golden pothos.

In the same way, peat moss, perlites, and a layer of gravel at the bottom of the potting mix aid in good drainage.

For Golden pothos, choose a pot made of clay or terracotta that drains well and breathes well. If not, use a plastic pots or any other type with multiple drainage holes.

3. Moisture Locking Capacity

Golden pothos comes from a tropical climate; hence they love slight moisture in the soil.

Besides, moisture in the soil acts as a catalyst in nutrition absorption. Hence, choose a potting mix that drains all excess water while retaining slight moisture.

To improve the moisture-locking capacity of the soil, you can add cocoa coir, compost, vermiculite, or peat moss to your soil.

Water Cycle and Soil Moisture Relation
Water Cycle and Soil Moisture Relation (Source: Free SVG)

Most importantly, remember that your soil holds some moisture but is not waterlogged.

To avoid overwatering, check the soil moisture before watering the plant. Insert a stick about 2-3 inches deep in the soil, and water the plant only if the soil feels dry. 

Water your Golden pothos once a week in summer and 2-3 times a month in winter. It helps to maintain ideal soil moisture and also avoid overwatering issues. 

4. Soil Compaction and Aeration

Highly compacted soil or highly dense soil can harm your Golden pothos. 

Generally, high soil compaction negatively affects the water infiltration rate and soil aeration and also injures the roots mechanically. 

soil aeration illustration
Illustration for Soil Aeration (Source: Pinterest)

Whenever you water the plant, the soil is pulled down and compacted.

Subsequently, after a long period of constantly watering, the soil gets compacted while emptying the tiny air pockets present in the soil. 

Such highly compacted soil deprives proper airflow in the soil inviting anaerobic activities. 

According to BMC plant biology, soil aeration also helps to reduce or counteract the negative effect of Sodium Chloride (Salt).

Here are a few signs of highly compacted soil.

  • The soil is firm and seems densely packed.
  • Water does not drain properly and forms puddles instead of being absorbed.
  • Unusual or stunted growth. 

The best way to avoid high soil compaction is to loosen the top layer of the soil once in 10 days.

You can do so with a kitchen fork or simply poking a few holes with a stick. 

Adding perlite, pumice, pine barks, and charcoal helps to naturally boosts higher soil aeration and hence lower the soil compaction. 

5. Soil Temperature

As your Golden pothos come from a tropical zone, you need to mimic the same environment for their proper growth.  

The recommended soil temperature for your Golden pothos is roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

In extreme temperatures, moisture is quickly evaporated from the soil, which messes up the nutrition and water uptake.

Soil temperature range
Appropriate soil temperature range (Source: University of British Columbia)

Similarly, lower soil temperatures brutally hinder the water and nutrition absorption rate.

It alters the photosynthesis process; consequently, low energy leads to sluggish growth and, in some cases, might even kill the plant.

Hence, if winter is approaching in your region, it is always best to bring your outdoor pothos indoors.

You can insulate the top layer of the soil using much such as dried grass, straw, etc, to prevent temperature loss from the soil. 

Also, avoid using excessively hot or cold water to prevent temperature fluctuation in the soil.  

6. Correct Soil pH

Did you know that soil pH affects toxin filtration and nutrition absorption rate?

According to QldGov, soil pH affects the solubility of chemicals and nutrients in the soil, consequently affecting the nutrients uptake by any plant.

So, if you want to maintain an ideal pH for Golden pothos, retain it within a range of 6 to 6.5. 

Soil pH and availability of nutrients
Soil pH and availability of nutrients (Source: Agriculture and Food Journal)

If the soil is too alkaline, it increases sodium concentration. It results in stunted growth, leaf burn, and yellowing of foliage. 

Similarly, if the soil pH is below 5.5, chemical toxicity might be an alarming problem.

Here is a table listing chemical toxicity in pothos due to low pH (Acidic soil) and their signs. 

Chemical Toxicity due to Highly Acidic Soil Impacts
Aluminum toxicityAffects root development causing stunted growth and yellow leaves.
Manganese toxicityLeads to browning of roots and also lower leaves and stems
Calcium Deficiency Degeneration of root tips and stunted growth
Magnesium Deficiency Causes chlorosis

Adding crushed sulfur and some nitrogen fertilizer with an ammonium basis can lower the pH of the soil; adding lime and dolomite can raise it.

7. Nutrients and Organic Matter 

Getting a proper soil mix is incomplete without essential nutrients. So, you need to provide Golden pothos with the best soil and fertilizer for better growth. 

The soil of the Golden pothos must possess micronutrients, macronutrients, and other additional nutrients.

Lack of nutrients shown in plant
How lack of each nutrient affects the plants. (Source: Wikimedia)

Here is a table consisting of the nutrients that your Golden Pothos requires.

Essential NutrientsSpecifications
Macronutrients (Primary nutrients)Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium
Micronutrients (Minor nutrients)Iron, Boron, Chlorine, Copper, Zinc, etc.
Secondary Nutrients (Secondary nutrients)Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphur, etc.

Plants in the wild get their natural nutrition from the soil. However, if you are growing your Golden pothos in an enclosed container, it gets challenging.

The nutrients in the soil gradually deplete along with watering, so you need to provide additional boosts to the plant. 

Consider fertilizing your Golden pothos with a balanced N.P.K. fertilizer in the ratio of 10-10-10 once in 1 -2 months during spring and summer. 

Organic fertilizer can maintain the overall health of the plant and also maintain the soil quality by increasing healthy microbial activities in the soil. 

Preparing the Soil/Potting Mix

It chills our nerves down the spines to see plants grow happy and healthy. Preparing these plants’ soil is a different and exciting experience.

Golden Pothos requires porous, well-aeriated, well-draining, and nutrients rich soil.

Pot filled with soil besides plant
Best soil mix for pothos (Source: Instagram)

Continue reading if you are up for preparing the soils for your pothos. I will provide the perfect recipes that work amazingly wonderful for Golden pothos.

But, before that, let us look into the ingredients required and their properties. 

Components Required Properties
Coconut Coir1. Does not alter soil pH
2. Holds moisture in soil
3. Makes soil porous and light
Perlite1. Makes soil light and porous.
2. Improves drainage
3. Helps retain water
Peat Moss1. Retains soil moisture
2. Holds nutrients
3. Enhances soil aeration
Vermiculite1. Rich in nutrients
2. Supports microbial growth
Organic Compost 1. Encourages healthy microbial growth
2. Inexpensive
3. Nutrient packed
Sand 1. Helps in quick drainage
2. Inexpensive
3. Reduces soil Compaction

Recipe 1 

  • 1 part of regular potting soil
  • 1 part coconut coir/ Peat moss
  • 1/2 part perlite
  • 1/3 part organic compost/ Vermiculite
  • 1/3 part coarse sand 
  • And, 1/3 part of shredded sphagnum moss

Recipe 2

  • 2 parts of peat moss
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1/2 part organic compost/vermiculite
  • 1/3 part horticultural charcoal 
  • 1/3 part orchid bark

Common Signs that You are Using the Wrong Potting Mix

Despite being a tough and tenacious plant, the Golden Pothos cannot grow well in an improper base.

If your soil is wrong, it shows the signs explicitly. Hence, pay serious attention to your plant’s cues to identify and resolve problems in time. 

But, it is always better to inspect the signs and treat them in time rather than wait for more significant indications. 

Common signs of using the wrong potting mix include the following. 

Parameters of Inspection Specifications
Low water Infiltration Poor drainage capacity passing less than 0.06 inches of water per hour,
Indicated by brown and yellow leaf margins and tips
Higher Soil Compaction It affects soil aeration,
Roots are deprived of oxygen and hence exhibit lagging growth,
It kills microorganisms present in the soil and hence makes soil infertile
Waterlogged/ Soggy Soil High water saturation in the soil,
Mushy roots and stems and decaying them,
Limping, Yellowing, and degeneration of foliage
Bad Soil Odor Generally due to root rot,
A rotten Fishy odor comes from the soil,
Indicates poor drainage and low airflow
Soil Contamination Excessive accumulated fertilizer salts and bacterial and fungal infections cause soil contamination,
Discolored soil and bad odor from the soil,
Stunted growth, which if left untreated might kill the plant
Yellowing, Limping, and Drooping of leaves. Indicates waterlogged soil causing inadequate aeration,
If not treated, it might even kill the plant through fungal infection
Mold and Pests InfestationExcess humidity and wet conditions are a hub to attract molds and pests,
Leaf discoloration, yellowing, brown patches, and holes,
Mushy stems and roots

Best Soil Mix for Golden Pothos

Generally, it isn’t easy to find any commercial mixed labeled as soil for Golden pothos or pothos.

But, you can find a lot of potting mixes in the market that has the properties that Golden pothos soil needs. 

Consider using any commercial mixes that are light, porous, well-draining, chunkier, nutrients packed, and support good variation. 

Here are a few commercial mixes you can use for your Golden pothos.  

Soil MixFeaturesProduct Image
SunGrow Black Gold Organic PottingLight, porous soil that allows adequate soil aeration
Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixIt is ideal for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
Symbiotic fungus endo & ectomycorrhizae are present.
Miracle-Gro Potting Soil MixIt provides good drainage.
Nutrients enriched.
Glee Potting Mix HydraFiber Technology It comes with large packaging of 25 quarts which is ideal for plant parents.
The hydrafiber technology acts as an excellent method for moisture retention.

Does Golden Pothos Need Fertilizers?

Is it not ironic to expect your pothos to grow long, bushy, lush green, and healthy without feeding them?

Golden pothos is not voracious feeders but needs periodic boosts for healthier growth.

It is ideal for fertilizing Golden pothos once in 1-2 months with diluted fertilizers.

Generally, the plant will grow dull and slow in lack of fertilizers. Likewise, nutrition deficiencies cause yellowing, limping, and drooping of foliage. 

Beware that the fertilizer contains all essential macro, micro, and secondary nutrition. 

Worm compost in hands
Worm Compost (Source: Flickr)

The following nutrients are more vital for Golden pothos overall development. 

NutrientsSpecification
NitrogenNitrogen is essential for the vegetative growth of the plant and also helps in the production of protein and enzymes.
PhosphorusPhosphorous assists in photosynthesis and is essential for healthy growth.
PotassiumPotassium is essential for the movement of water, nutrients, and carbohydrates in plant tissue.
Iron, Nickel, Copper-Boron, Zinc, Chlorine, and ManganeseIt helps in the bushier and healthier growth.
Assists in root development and encouraging soil microorganisms.
Calcium, Sulphur, and MagnesiumTrace elements help to maintain the plant’s immune system.
It boosts metabolism and helps retain nutrients.

Tips to Fertilize Golden Pothos 

  1. Water the plant thoroughly before fertilization. The moisture present helps better absorption of nutrients. 
  2. Dilute the fertilizer to 1/4 of its strength.  
  3. You need to avoid contact with fertilizer to stem or leaves as it might burn them.
  4. However, if you use any organic fertilizer, put the fertilizer on top of the soil. 

Only fertilize your Golden pothos according to the label’s directions printed on the pack. In plants, overfertilization is more problematic than under fertilization.

When you overfertilize the plant, the fertilizer turns into a salt residue with time.

If the salt build-up is excessive, it messes up the soil’s pH and causes leaf and roots tip burning.

To recover the overfertilized pothos, put the pot in a pool of lukewarm water for 30-45 minutes. The water flushes out the salts from the soil through osmosis. 

Best Golden Pothos Fertilizers: For Sale

Today’s capitalist market is crowded with various brands manipulating consumers’ behaviors. Be mindful before choosing any of the products. 

Long-term use of synthetic fertilizer degrades the soil’s quality. But organic fertilizer promotes the growth of healthy soil microbes.

Here is a list of a few fertilizers ideal for your Golden pothos.

Product Name Specifications Product Image
Espoma Organic Worm Casting It makes soil lighter and porous,
Encourage healthy microorganisms in the soil.
Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant FoodWater-soluble, which decreases the chances of root burns.
J R Peters 52024 Jacks Classic No.1.5It also contains additional nutrients like phosphate, boron, and copper
Boosts foliage size, growth, and green color.

Homemade Fertilizer

You can combine the following components in a compost bin to create organic fertilizer that is completely natural and made at home.

Let’s examine potential substances and their characteristics.

TypeFeatures
Banana Peels- Rich in potassium
- Slow-release natural fertilizer
Coffee Grounds- Rich in nitrogen but low in phosphorus and potassium
Green Tea- Rich in tannic acid
- Great for acid loving plant
Cow manure- Contains nitrogen
- Gives an unpleasant aroma
Eggshells- Helps to lower the acidity of the soil
- Increases calcium in the soil

Frequently Asked Questions about Golden Pothos Soil and Fertilizer

Can I Use Cacti and Succulent Mix for Golden Pothos?

Golden pothos is of tropical origin that like consistent moisture in the soil. But, cacti and succulent mix are designed to support quick drainage and hold less water.

Hence, it might not be an ideal choice to see cacti and succulent mic for your Golden pothos.

Do Golden Pothos Enjoy Coffee Grounds?

Coffee grounds can be an excellent organic fertilizer for plants that adore acidic soil. Since Golden pothos enjoys slightly acidic soil, you can use coffee grounds for them. 

Besides adding nutritional value to the plant, coffee grounds also improve soil structure, moderate soil temperature, and add humic substances.

Conclusion

If your pothos soil is poor, the plant cannot thrive well no matter how much you invest in other excessive and expensive care. 

The key to healthy Golden pothos is a correct soil composition and nutrition blend.

Get a suitable composition following the guidelines above and watch your plant grow effortlessly.

Learn more about, Best Soil and Fertilizer for Bromeliad, Begonia, and Kalanchoe here. 

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