To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Pothos: The perfect plant for your dorm

The pothos, Epipremnum aureum or “devil’s ivy,” is the gem of the novice planter’s world. Observe the allure of its emerald leaves, waxy spades flecked in gold and the subtle spiral of its endlessly unfurling tendrils. A king of propagation, the pothos is undaunted by carelessness and such paltery forces as sunlight and entropy. If the water flows, so do the leaves, and it is for that reason that the golden pothos is the perfect addition to your depressing holdout in East.

Plants are a delight rarely afforded to college dorms, and that is a shame. Humans and plants are kin, and the mind is greatly enriched by the sight of healthy growth. We campus-going Brandeisians have at our disposal a wealth of gardens and forests within exploring distance, but the time to appreciate these things is often limited. Given that most students aren’t going to shell out cash for high wattage CFL lights and timers, keeping an indoor garden is seemingly impossible. This is where the pothos shines; the plant will remain green and lively even under extremely dim circumstances. It is said that the plant is called “devil’s ivy” because of its uncanny ability to remain bright and attractive even in darkness. It will certainly endure the caustic atmosphere and cave-like setting of the average dorm.

If this plant sounds familiar, that is because you have certainly seen one (if not hundreds) over the course of your life. The hardy specimen is likely one of the most popular houseplants of all time. They adorn the secretary desks of offices around the world. They hang from shelves and windowsills. The pothos rivals succulents for their ease and accessibility in the plant-care hobby. Next time you find yourself in an office or department store, keep your eyes peeled for a vine-like plant that droops from the pot in tangled curves. The heart-shaped leaves covered in a glossy finish will give the plant away. Once you know what it looks like, you will find pothos everywhere.

Growing a pothos is a secret pleasure of mine. A windowsill or a desk lamp is all the plant requires in terms of lighting. In my experience, the light doesn’t even need to be direct. The winter light that streams through the southeast facing window of my Mod has provided ample sustenance for my own pothos, and, judging by the emergence of fresh leaves toward the back of the plant, even the ceiling light seems to be enough to encourage fresh growth. Watching these leaves form has been a pleasure. New leaves unfold from existing stems like spontaneous paper butterflies, and the stems follow in an unfurling loop. The branch of a tree separates at a single point and grows outward like a spike, but the pothos unfurls new shoots like ribbons peeled from its own flesh. Disgusting image, beautiful result. The leaf and stem connect at two points along the father branch before snapping off and blooming into a glossy new heart of green.

You don’t even need soil. The pothos is aquatic, and it will take root in a jar of water. If the specimen you purchase happens to come with soil, then you do not have to overworry about overwatering; moist soil will not bother this plant. Drench the soil, let it sit for a week or two and the pothos will grow. Stem clippings placed in glasses of water will propagate entirely new plants, so sharing the love is easy. My own little dorm experiments are doing swimmingly! It is not uncommon for hobbyists to grow pothos from the top of freshwater aquariums to act as a natural devourer of nitrate. A vase of pothos is sort of like a vase of roses that doesn’t drown itself or attempt to stab you. My only advice is to let your water sit between waterings/refills in order to allow the chlorine in your tap water time to dissipate. Then again, the pothos can probably survive chlorine. Hell, these things could probably outlast a nuclear fallout.

An old pothos is like a tangle of living hair, a tendril mess of emerald growth that always overflows its container. The leaves, like frozen tears, hang erect from their verdant arms. My plant is still small. The leaves burst from the soil on solitary stems like a carpet of flat hairs, but already the process of splitting stems has begun. I eagerly await the day that my child will reach toward the carpet with locks of photosynthesizing potential. Each plant is a prophecy, a promise of clean air and happiness for the price of nothing. In the case of the pothos, the price is literally nothing. It is an abuse retardant creature, a flora that will forgive your failures for years on end. Do not delay! Find a snippet of this awesome plant and kickstart your own personal journey to tender bliss. Your drab room is desperate for it.

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