Plant Graded

What Causes Variegation in Pothos?

Variegated Pothos is getting more and more popular as houseplants due to its easy-to-care-for schedule and its distinct dramatic color patterns. Every Pothos leaf is beautiful and unique, which makes it an exciting experience to watch this plant grow.

what causes variegation in pothos

Caring for your variegated Pothos is pretty much similar to a regular Pothos. The only difference is that you need to pay extra attention to the amount of light it gets and prune it regularly once some signs of it reverting to green are starting to show.

But have you ever wondered what causes variegation in Pothos?

What Makes Pothos Variegated?

When a plant has variegation, it indicates that it lacks the chlorophyll pigment. The green portion on plant leaves is filled with chlorophyll that lets the plant soak up the sunlight that will be converted to energy.

Variegation in your Pothos plant, or most plants for that matter, is typically a genetic mutation. Other people even refer to it as a deformity. When a Pothos becomes variegated, there are two competing cells. The first cell has pigment, which is green, while the second one doesn’t, which is the white part.

It is what you call chimeric variegation that is unpredictable and unstable most of the time. It means that you won’t be able to tell what type of variegation will come with every new leaf, or if there will be any variegation in the first place.

For many enthusiasts, this is what makes it fun and exciting to own a variegated plant. Good examples of chimeric variegation can be found on plants such as the Golden Pothos and Marble Queen Pothos varieties.

Blister variegation is another common form of variegation. You can find it in varieties like Satin Pothos or Scindapsus Pictus which is almost similar to an optical illusion. A layer of air can be found between the non-pigmented leaf and the green pigmented leaf making it look like it has shiny silver patches or spots.

Does a Variegated Pothos Grow Slower?

A variegated Pothos’ growth rate will depend on the amount of variegation on the plant and the light levels it receives. Generally speaking, variegated plants tend to grow slower compared to their non-variegated counterparts since they don’t have as much amount of chlorophyll in them.

But many variegated plants can also grow faster as long as they receive more sunlight. However, you still have to make sure that you keep your plant away from the direct hot sun.

In addition, leaves that have a bigger white portion, or the variegated part, compared to green, will not be able to photosynthesize quickly.

Since the white portions of the leaves don’t contain chlorophyll, the plant won’t be able to feed itself from there, resulting in slower growth.

Why Does a Pothos Lose Variegation?

Your Pothos will sometimes push leaves out that are fully green without variegation. It is because your plant already started realizing that the mostly green leaves produce the highest amount of energy.

Insufficient light will make your Pothos lose its variegation and revert instead. If the plant is unhealthy in general and is simply hanging on, your Pothos will do anything it needs to survive and thrive.

It means it will try to produce more leaves with a dominant green color in an attempt to photosynthesize. If your Pothos is located in an area in your house that is very cold or very hot, your plant will also stop producing leaves with variegation.

This is the plant’s attempt to stay alive during extreme conditions. Producing leaves that are all green is the most efficient and effective way to do just that.

How to Get More Variegation in Your Pothos

Increasing the amount of light that your Pothos gets is the best way to increase its amount of variegation. But if you plan to do this, see to it that you introduce more light little by little.

Remember that excessive sun may end up burning the leaves. For example, a Golden Pothos may have completely yellow leaves when it gets optimal sunlight conditions.

One more thing you can do is to propagate several variegated stems and try to grow a completely new plant. If you choose to propagate stems with nodes dominated by variegation, it increases your chances of making sure that the new plant will also produce mostly variegated leaves.

Can You Recover Lost Variegation?

You can try recovering lost variegation on your Pothos by moving it to a brighter spot and pruning off stems with little variegation or that are mostly green.

By doing so, there will be less competition for green leaves to take control. It might also encourage your Pothos to continue to produce variegated leaves.

Hold the green leaf you like to remove then follow it back down to the soil. Look for the spot where it began producing variegated leaves. It is the area where you should prune.

Placing your healthy plant in a pot with the right size and drainage holes, applying fertilizer occasionally, and making sure it receives the right amount of water can also help guarantee that your plant will be healthy enough and continue to produce variegated leaves.

Care Requirements of Variegated Pothos Plants

Here are some tips on how to care for your variegated Pothos plant:


Variegated Pothos requires a location with filtered sun. It can be west or south-facing window with opaque window film or sheer curtain.

Some varieties of variegated Pothos can endure more sunlight compared to others. For example, Golden Pothos and Neon Pothos will thrive in brighter locations.

Others with plenty of white variegation like Marble Queen will require bright light as long as it isn’t too harsh. White leaves are weaker and more delicate than green leaves and more prone to burn.


You need a soil mix that drains well since Pothos plants don’t prefer to sit in moist soil and like to be watered only when it is almost dry. Look for high-quality potting soil. Mix in some coco coir or perlite to give it the necessary drainage.

Humidity and Water

Water your variegated Pothos once the leaves start to appear droopy. Depending on how much light it gets, it can be once a week or less. While variegated Pothos plants don’t need lots of humidity, they generally do better in humid environments.