The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
R. T. Poole, L. S. Osborne and A. R. Chasel
University of Florida, IFAS
Agricultural Research Center Apopka
ARC-A Foliage Plant Research Note RH-1983-G
This plant must have a criminal background, it has so many aliases.
Exotica and Tropica show pictures of several Scindapsus and Epipremnum
species and Hortus III also lists species of Scindapsus and Epipremnum.
Sales catalogs feature names like Devil's Ivy and Golden Pothos. The
most common is Epipremnum aureum (alias Scindapsus aureus alias Pothos
aureus). 'Golden Pothos' is a golden, yellow-green variegated vine with
waxy leaves. When grown in optimum conditions, such as the tropics,
leaves will grow to two feet in length. 'Marble Queen' has smooth waxy
leaves with white variegation. A third "Pothos" is still botanically
described as Scindapsus. Scindapsus pictus usually goes by the name of
Pictus and has thick leatherlike leaves, obliquely ovate, dark green
with green-silver blotches.
Pothos will survive a wide range of environmental conditions, but
grows best at 70-90F in 1500-3500 ft-c supplied with 4 Ibs of nitrogen/
1000 ft2 monthly from a 3-1-2 analysis fertilizer, plus micronutrients
such as 18-6-12 or 9-3-6. Slow release and liquid have been successfully
used. The growing mix should be well aerated and overwatering avoided.
1) Loss of variegation
Symptoms Stock plants begin to lose variegation with leaves becoming
Control Frequently cutters remove the most desirable vines, leaving
poorly variegated vines to expand.. To provide best leaf color, cut
above a node with a leaf of the proper variegation. Occasional
roguing of undesirable vines also maintains desirable variegation.
Light intensities of less than 1000 ft-c also contributes to loss
2) Discolored leaves
Symptoms Leaves have scattered brown patches, usually located in
the center of the leaf.
Control Low temperatures or abrupt change from very high temperatures
to moderate temperatures can cause this discoloration, especially
if plants are succulent and growing vigorously. Maintain even,
Professor Plant Physiology, Assistant Professor Entomology, Associate
Professor Plant Pathology, Agricultural Research Center, Apopka,
3) Small leaves
Symptoms New growth produces medium size to small leaves.
Control This phenomenon, caused by lack of fertilizer and/or low
light, rarely occurs in the nursery and can be controlled by
fertilizer application and increased light.
4) Decaying roots
Symptoms Roots brown or nonexistent.
Control If not caused by pathogens, reduce irrigation frequency
and/or improve aeration of the soil mix.
Exceptfor root rot, Epipremnum (pothos) is one of the most disease-
free foliage plants grown today. Although the number of serious diseases
are quite few, the losses caused by them can be quite high. Pythium root
rot and Rhizoctonia root and stem rot are probably the most commonly
encountered diseases of pothos. Despite their severity, chemical and
cultural controls are very effective and disease-free pothos can be
1) Bacterial leaf spot (Pseudomonas cichorii and sometimes Erwinia -
Symptoms Bacterial leaf spot is characterized by rapidly spreading
water-soaked lesions formed anywhere on the leaves. Under wet
conditions, the centers of these spots may fall out. Sometimes
leaf spots have a yellow border.
Control Bacterial leaf spot can be controlled through elimination
of water on leaves. This is almost impossible during rooting of
cuttings and preventative applications of streptomycin sulfate
may aid control. Choice of clean cuttings and strict sanitation
are very important also.
2) Soft rot (Erwinia spp.)
Symptoms A mushy soft rot of the lower end of a cutting.
Sometimes the plants have a fishy, rotten odor, characteristic of
Control Same as above.
1) Root and stem rots (Pythium and Rhizoctonia spp.)
Symptoms Cuttings usually show poor rooting and may have yellow
leaves, especially for Pythium infections. Examination of the
stem and roots reveals a mushy black rot extending from the cut
end into the upper portions of the stem and leaves. Root and
stem rots usually occur in patches on a propagation bench where
it spreads into uninfected cuttings. Rhtzoctonta has also been
found causing a leaf spot which is very wet and resembles bac-
terial leaf spot. Laboratory diagnosis is recommended for
accurate control treatments.
Control Control should be based on use of disease-free propagation
material, sterile potting media and raised benches. Preplant
treatments with fungicides such as Benlate (for Rhizoctonia) or
Truban (for pythiaceous fungi) aid in control. After rooting
has started, applications of Ridomil (for pythiaceous fungi) are
effective. Many other fungicides are registered. Reducing
water applications to the minimum level for good rooting also
reduces root and stem rot diseases.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF BACTERICIDES AND FUNGICIDES.ON.EPIPREMNUM
Agri-Strep Maneb compounds
Banrot 40WP Ornalin 50WP
Benlate 50WP Subdue 2E
Captan 5OWP Truban 25EC
Chipco 26019 Truban 5G
Copper compounds Truban 35WP
Daconil 4.17 F Zyban 75WP
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
MAJOR INSECT AND MITE PESTS
Insects and mites are seldom serious problems on Pothos. The major
arthropod pests include caterpillars, mealybugs, mites, scales and thrips.
Mealybug, mite and scale infestations are typically the result of bringing
infested plant material into the greenhouse. Moths and thrips have the
ability to fly and,thus, invade the greenhouse from weeds and other
infested plants outside. In the control section for each pest, a few of
the many registered and effective pesticides will be listed. For a com-
plete listing, please consult the references at the end of this report.
1) Caterpillars (worms)
Symptoms Infestations are easy to detect because worms, their
excrement, and the damage they cause are usually visible to the
unaided eye. Damage appears as holes in the center or along the
edges of leaves. Old damage can be distinguished from new by the
calloused appearance of the damaged areas (worms are usually gone
by this time).
Control Lannate, Orthene, Dursban, Sevin, Dycarb, Mavrik and
Bacillus thuringiensis are effective in the control of various
Symptoms Mealybugs appear as white cottony masses in leaf axils,
on the lower surfaces of leaves and on the roots. Honeydew
and sooty mold are often present, and severely infested plants
become stunted and plant parts begin to die.
Control Systemic materials are preferred. Examples of chemicals
which have systemic activity are: Cygon, Disyston, Metasystox-R,
and Orthene. Ficam or Dycarb appear to be as effective as some
of the systemic materials. Control of root mealybugs is
accomplished with soil drenches. Diazinon and Vydate are the
only insecticides registered for this purpose, but both can cause
phytotoxicity. When pesticides are applied to the soil, care
must be taken to assure that pots have good drainage and no
saucers are attached or phytotoxicity may result.
3) Spider mites
Symptoms Spider mites are very small and go unnoticed, until plants
become severely damaged. Damaged foliage turns yellow or becomes
speckled due to the feeding of mites. This discoloration is
difficult to see in some varieties of pothos because of the y
appearance of healthy leaves. Mites are not common on pothos.
Control Mites can be controlled with Mavrik, Pentac or Vendex.
The critical point in any control program is thorough coverage
with the pesticide. The best control program is to minimize the
possibility of introducing mites into the growing area on infested
Symptoms Infested plants become weakened or stunted and begin to
die. Scales can be found feeding on leaves, petioles or stems.
Their shape, size and color are variable and many are hard to
distinguish from the plant material on which they are feeding.
Control See Mealybugs
Symptoms Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with
silver-gray scars or calloused areas where feeding has occurred.
Control Many materials are registered and effective at controlling
PHYTOTOXICITY OF PESTICIDES ON EPIPREMNUM
SAFE QUESTIONABLE UNSAFE
Bacillus thuringiensis Diazinon EC Omite WP
Cygon EC Malathion EC Ambush EC
Dursban EC Vydate L
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
1. Chase, A. R. 1983. Phytotoxicity of some fungicides used on
tropical foliage plants. ARC-Apopka Research Report, RH-83-2.
2. Short, D. D. 1978.
to foliage and woody
Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides
ornamental plants. Extension Entomology
3. Short, D. E., L. S. Osborne, and R. W. Henley. 1982. 1982-83
Insect and related arthropod management guide for commercial
foliage and woody plants in Florida. Extension Entomology
4. Simone, G. W. 1982.
Disease control pesticides for foliage
Extension Plant Pathology Report #30.
Mention of a commercial or proprietary product or of a pesticide in this
paper does not constitute a recommendation by the authors, nor does it
imply registration under FIFRA as amended.
Pesticides should be applied according to label directions. Those pesti-
cides listed in the control sections for each disorder but not listed in
the phytotoxicity charts are registered for the given pest but HAVE NOT
been tested for plant safety at the University of Florida.