For today’s blogpost, we are taking a closer look at one of the post popular types of Pothos at the moment — the Manjula pothos. As a houseplant, it’s commonly marketed as either Pothos Manjula or Epipremnum ‘Happy Leaf’ + is a patented variety developed by the University of Florida. It’s part of the Araceae family + is a cross between two types of Epipremnum aureum — n’joy + marble queen. As a disclaimer here: these plants do have a bit of a reputation for being more finicky than other pothos varieties. But don’t let this put you off, because with a good care routine in place, they really can flourish + become a plant that will be in your collection for many years to come… which is precisely why I wanted to put this post together! I’ve been growing mine for around 4 years now, in a number of locations + in this time, I’ve worked out some tips + tricks that helps to keep my plant healthy + happy.
Visually, these plants have those characteristic ‘wavy’ undulating leaves of the pothos n’joy, but with larger foliage overall. The patterning is a real cross between n’joy + marble queen in that there are larger blotches of cream + green, mixed up with the more delicate variegation that is typical of a marble queen pothos. I’ve even noticed some grey-blue tones coming through in some of the patterning which is extremely eye-catching. I’ve also got a Pothos varieties: identification guide + care tips blogpost if you fancy a look at the different types of pothos in my collection (I have quite a few!).
In today’s care guide we are going to be covering the topics of:
- humidity + leaf care
- potting mix (+ pots)
- pruning + propagation
As a group, Pothos plants are well known for being adaptable to a variety of lighting conditions. With its pronounced variegation, the Manjula prefers an indirect light position to keep the foliage splashed with a range of tones — from cream all the way through to green. I’ve had the most success with growing mine either close to an east facing window, or a western exposure if it’s protected by a net to soften the brighter afternoon light that appears in rooms of this orientation, or it can be moved further back from the light source to enjoy a bright, indirect light position. Currently, my plant is around 2 metres from a west-facing window that is slightly frosted + has been really enjoying it! In a brighter position, crisping can occur on the tips of the Manjula foliage, along with leaves that are washed-out in appearance, so that’s something to be mindful of in the Summer months. You might also find that the lightest cream parts of the leaves have more of a tendency to scorch if the light is too intense, which can look unsightly.
The Manjula pothos is a pretty slow growing plant with a trailing growth habit which makes it a great option for smaller spaces. The variegated leaves mean that they have less chlorophyll in them, which means that less food is needed to aid more speedy growth. That’s why solid green plants are faster growers than variegated ones. In colder temperatures, growth will slow considerably too — over Winter I do notice my plant just enjoys a bit of a rest! In lower light, the foliage can often start to revert to darker tones + you might also notice smaller leaves too.
Bear in mind that these are the conditions that are personal to my current environment + are used as a guide for you to compare with your own home. It’s important to also remember that windows can be pretty different in size + if you live in a built up area, with other buildings close by, or if there are obstacles like trees outside, this all has an impact on the intensity of light.
An appealing aspect of pothos plant care is just how forgiving they are! They can certainly handle periods of neglect better than other houseplants, though try not to forget about these plants too often! They are pretty good at showing you visually when they require watering as they can start to either look a little lacklustre, or the leaves will start to droop.
If you haven’t watered your plant for a long time + the potting mix has dried out, the leaves will also curl up, but even at this point, the plant can likely be saved. Just water thoroughly + over a few days, the leaves will often unfurl + the plant will pick up. Prolonged under-watering is not great for your plant though as it will dry out the root ball which can cause problems.
I wait until the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry before watering with tepid (room temperature) water. You can either use your finger to test the soil under the surface layer of potting mix, which should be slightly moist (but not soggy or saturated), or use a hygrometer if you feel like you struggle to get houseplant watering right.
Remove your plant from the cache pot if it’s in one + water thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage hole… don’t be tempted to let your houseplants sit in water inside their pots! If you live in an area with hard water, you might notice some marks on the leaves (these can be wiped away with a soft cloth). The variegation on these lovely Manjula leaves is quite forgiving in that respect + doesn’t show up water marks very clearly like non-variegated plants might. Using rain water or filtered water can help to prevent some brown crisping at the leaf edges too. I’m looking forward to getting a water butt fitted when my drainage gets installed here for all my plant watering!
Humidity + Leaf Care
Browning of the foliage is often caused by dry air or watering with water that is too cold… tepid water is always best! Small brown spots (not on the edges) can sometimes appear which can signal under-watering. Also, giving the plant a shower every few weeks can help keep the plant free from dust + looking vibrant.
I’ve experimented with my Manjula pothos in different humidities over the last three places I’ve lived + have found that they can grow well in typical home conditions without any supplemental humidity. In terms of my own environmental conditions for reference, the humidity is generally around 60% during Spring/Summer + in Winter is somewhere in the region of 70%. This is often the case in older houses, newer builds tend to be on the drier side. A humidity monitor is an affordable piece of kit + something I’ve used for years to keep track of any seasonal fluctuations + potential concerns.
Be mindful of draughts, heaters or sudden drops in temperature too; pothos roots are very susceptible to frost damage, so bear this in mind in Winter months, especially if you live in a colder climate. Yellowing leaves is a sign of overwatering at this time of year too so make sure the compost doesn’t become waterlogged. Your Manjula will cope better with under-watering than it will over-watering!
If you do have a suitable location though, an increase in humidity can really give the plant a boost. For a few months last Spring, the plant lived in my bathroom around half a metre from the window, trailing over to the bath. It was that sort of bobbly bathroom glass that was very frosted, so the light was softer + it came from a north-westerly direction. In that position I noticed steady growth + larger foliage + in the space of a few months, the plant was flourishing + growing roots right out of the drainage holes!
As a slower growing, variegated plant, Manjula pothos will certainly appreciate regular feeding during the growing season. Feeding your houseplants can help with plant growth of course, but will also contribute to keeping them healthy + more resistant to any potential pest pressures in the long term. I fertilise my plant around once to twice a month with a balanced liquid houseplant feed at half the recommended dilution rate, checking first that the potting mix is not excessively dry before feeding. If it is, water the plant before feeding to prevent any potential fertiliser burn. Also, it’s important to note that if your climate is quite different to mine + your plants grow consistently year-round, then more regular fertilising is absolutely okay — the easiest way to judge whether or not to feed is if your plant has new leaves growing! Between October + April, I generally pause feeding my houseplants until I notice signs of active growth again as it’s very cold where I live over the Winter months.
Prevention is better than cure + a good care routine really will keep your houseplants more resilient to any potential pest issues. The most common reason for a pest outbreak is often as a result of incorrect care alongside very low humidities, coupled with high temperatures. If you are new to plants, it’s always best to take time to consider what types of plants will work for your lifestyle + importantly, your household conditions.
Another easy way to help reduce the likelihood of any pests lurking in patches of dense foliage is to trim your plants regularly to encourage ventilation around the leaves. Airflow might not be something you’ve thought about, but it can contribute to keeping your plant healthy + strong + discourage pests from congregating in hard to reach areas.
The most common pests that occur with the Majula are mealy bugs + spider mites — none of which are much fun to attempt to eradicate. Some pointers that help to keep pests away are making sure you regularly clean the leaves (front + back) of your plant — this doesn’t have to be a laborious task, just making a habit of a regular shower or pressure spray can really help keep your Manjula pothos free from dust, which can attract pests.
Brighter light locations can also exacerbate any lurking pest problems so if you have a recovering plant, it’s best to keep in a more ambient light spot. When I bring a new plant into my home, I will always quarantine it for a few weeks + give it a thorough inspection in good light + often a soil change before introducing it to my other plants. As I have a lot of plants, this is an important step in ensuring my collection is not compromised by pests brought in by new plants + it’s totally worth the slight inconvenience of having a ‘new plant gang’ hanging around on the kitchen table.
If you have noticed a pest problem though, an insecticidal soap spray + bath (roots + all) is a good starting point, before showering down. After any treatment, I like to use SB plant invigorator either as a ready to use spray, or you can also get a concentrated bottle to dilute into a spray bottle yourself, but be extra careful on more delicate foliage + always test a part of the plant first. I spray the front + backs of the foliage as some extra post-treatment care, but be careful to keep out of direct light as the leaves will be more sensitive after any pest treatment. I’ve also used a neem oil solution which is also very effective for something more widespread, or if it’s something very minor, a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol can also work. It might sound unconventional, but beneficial insects can really help to bring a more widespread outbreak under control + are becoming more widely available as a method of pest management, but I have not tried this myself. When I’ve had a pest issue with my plants, I always isolate them for a number of weeks in my kitchen/quarantine zone + monitor before reintroducing near my other plant gang. If you discover a pest issue, it’s always best to carry out a thorough check of any pots that were located nearby, or any ones that are generally more sensitive to an attack.
For potting substrate, a chunky well-draining mix is what I’ve grown my Epipremnum aureum ‘Manjula’ in for the last few years. When it came from the grower, it was in straight coco coir + it was too dense. Amending your potting mix as an element of indoor plant care is one that can often be overlooked, but getting to grips with soil alterations can be a game changer in keeping your houseplants happy + most importantly will provide the right conditions to allow them to thrive in the long-term.
For my Manjula pothos, I like to use my standard mix I concoct of peat-free houseplant compost, orchid bark + some perlite, with a sprinkling of horticultural grit if I have it. This will ensure that the plant has plenty of aeration + moisture, without the risk of over-watering a very dense water-retaining potting mix that will likely lead to root rot. Pothos plants can be susceptible to fungal diseases like botrytis + leaf spot if consistently overwatered, or if the plants are in an overly heavy potting mix.
A NOTE ON POTS:
The type of pot you choose to use is also intrinsically connected to your mix + watering requirements. For me, I prefer to use nursery pots with the majority of my houseplants because I find they dry out far too quickly in terracotta, especially my leafy plants like my pothos gang. Terracotta is much more porous + will wick the moisture away from the plant. If you want to use terracotta for display or plant styling reasons, you can always use the terracotta as a cover (cache) pot. This is personal preference of course + if you are a big time over-waterer, you actually might find terracotta can be corrective in helping to manage your over-zealous watering efforts! But it’s a hard one to judge so be careful with plants like pothos that require regular watering.
As a slower growing plant, I’ve only needed to re-pot my Manjula pothos twice in four years of growing here at houseplanthouse. The root stystem of these plants is relatively small for the size of the growth above soil level so don’t go for any large pot upgrades in an attempt to make your plant grow faster (a rookie mistake!). A new pot that’s one size larger than the existing one is generally the way to go with pothos.
A tell-tale sign that your plant might need repotting is if you notice it is drying out more quickly than what is usual for you. That might mean it looks a little bit floppy, a bit washed out, or there are dry tips on some of the leaves.
Another consideration with hanging plants such as these is that you might have it displayed in a hanger or on a shelf where you actually don’t want to go up a pot size. That invites the conundrum of how to keep both the plant + your plant display looking good! If the plant is potbound, with roots circling around the bottom of the pot, looking for somewhere to grow, you can do one of two things. Either separate the crowded plant into divisions + simply re-plant one of these into the existing pot, whilst also planting up the the division(s) into a new pot… or prune the roots of the existing plant so that it fits back in the original set up. Just be sure to use sterilised snips + add in some fresh potting mix to give your plant a refresh.
When you are planning to re-pot, it’s good practice to water in the few days before repotting because manipulating a very dry plant can sometimes cause transplant shock. Remember to check whether or not your compost has any slow release fertiliser in it, so that you aren’t double feeding.
Pruning + propagation
Please note here that the Manjula pothos is a patented variety which means that you are not allowed to trade or sell cuttings or plants grown from propagated cuttings. So always buy your plants from a reputable source + keep your plant as part of your own personal collection. To keep your Manjula looking neat (they can get a bit straggly after a while), regular pruning can help to encourage new growth + keep the plant looking full. In terms of variegation, parts of the plant that are less variegated can be chopped off to encourage more variegated leaves to grow too, but if a lot of the leaves seem to be reverting to greener tones, it’s worth considering if your plant is receiving adequate light.
So there we have it, I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit more about how I care for my Manjula pothos + have taken away some tips on how to keep yours looking its best! Out of all the varieties, the Manjula is definitely one of my favourite types of pothos to grow at home + I am currently looking for the perfect position here in the new place for it. You can find this post under my ‘Plant Care Guides’ tab on my homepage if you wish to refer back to it + here are some pins to share or save too:
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