Pothos are natural climbers but indoors are not their native habitat. To learn how to make a pothos climb, you need to understand how they grow in the wild, then replicate those conditions.
The natural habitat for pothos and similar tropical vining plants is rainforests. These plants put out aerial roots that attach to the bark of trees as they climb towards the dense canopy in search of sunlight.
The good news is that all varieties of pothos are easy to train to climb indoors, or outside in your garden.
Explore the guidance notes below outlining the steps to take to transform your trailing pothos into a natural sturdy climber in any warm, humid climate.
How to make a pothos climb
To make a pothos climb, it needs an anchoring system such as bamboo canes or a moss pole to attach to. It can latch onto a wall though. Bright grow lights above the plant gives it a reason to climb. Pothos naturally grow toward the light.
How to train a pothos to climb
Pothos do not climb if there is no need for them to climb.
Indoors, if you have them on a shelf or the top of a bookcase, there is no need for the vines to climb.
Instead, the natural thing pothos do is to trail. That is why these are referred to as trailing vining plants.
To train pothos plants to climb, you need the light above them, and to have something for their aerial roots to anchor onto.
When to start training a pothos to climb
It is easier to make a pothos climb once it is already like a long-haired plant. If you were to start a cutting in water, it will take a year to two years before you would have enough for growth.
Use the guide on how to make pothos grow faster, then when you have enough growth to wrap around a pole or give it a start at climbing a wall, that’s when to start training a pothos to climb.
Not from when you initially root a cutting. Pothos is an easy houseplant to propagate, but in their early years, they put on faster growth when left to trail. Then, once the stems are strong enough to support bigger leaves, make them climb then.
You need growth to give it a start. These grow better as climbing plants once they’ve exhausted their growth as trailing vines.
Essentially, when you start to see new leaves grow smaller at the end of long vines, start training them then to climb.
Providing an anchoring system for pothos to climb up
The aerial roots on pothos plants serve two purposes. They help the plant extract nutrients from the air, and they act as anchors by latching onto solid surfaces.
Aerial roots help the plant grow, and they are delicate. The most damage they can do to indoor walls is ruining the paintwork.
As the aerial roots are thin, they do not root deeply into surfaces, such as penetrating through drywall to anchor onto timber joists.
It is possible to create a living wall indoors using pothos plants.
Train it to climb the wall, spread across the wall from a shelf, or in a hanging basket to drape down from the ceiling. Use a combination if you want to fill your entire wall.
Pothos climb to reach light only when they need to, and when they have something to anchor onto.
Indoors, the walls can be the anchor. Growing away from a wall will require you to provide a suitable anchoring system.
The materials that help train pothos to climb
Numerous materials can help to train pothos plants to climb.
Popular choices include:
- Bamboo canes
- Metal poles
- Moss poles or totem poles
Those materials help train pothos to climb. Eventually, they will reach the top of a trellis, cane, or pole, at which point you have another decision to make on how to display the extra growth.
Common choices for indoor climbing pothos are to anchor the vines to the walls using 3M command hooks, brass picture hooks, or wrapping vines around a wire that gets stapled to the wall.
Using moss poles helps climbing pothos grow bigger leaves
Moss poles are what to use to grow climbing pothos with the biggest leaves. Any variety of pothos, too.
The bigger the leaves the plant can produce, letting them climb up a moss pole gets the biggest leaves because of the extra humidity.
Vining plants that climb best on moss poles are:
They all make good options for climbing indoor vines, but they have different light requirements.
Any pothos that has variegated leaves, such as the Golden Pothos that has yellow and green variegated leaves turns solid green when the light is not bright enough for it.
Each type has different pothos plant care requirements with regards to light. The one thing every pothos has in common is they grow best as climbing vines once the stems are matured enough to support the weight of bigger leaves.
Most varieties of pothos require bright, indirect sunlight. Indoors, placing grow lights above them provides the plant with the light it needs and gives it a reason to climb.
The moss pole gives it an anchoring medium to attach its aerial roots onto as it grows.
Frequently Asked Questions related to making a pothos plant climb
Do the aerial roots of a pothos plant attach to indoor walls?
Pothos can anchor to wall surfaces, helping them naturally climb upwards for light, or drape down. To prevent aerial roots anchoring to your interior walls, use alternative anchors. Picture hooks, 3M Command hooks (self-adhesive hooks), or string can be used as alternative anchors.
Is it better to make a pothos climb or trail?
The leaves on pothos grow bigger when they’re trained to climb. Growing in a hanging basket as a trailing vine will mean that there is less light on the lower portion of leaves. By training your pothos to climb, the leaves get more light, allowing them to reach their fullest potential leaf size.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.