Rehabilitating Bertha Pothos


Bertha Pothos had been with me for over 5 years, before Is ent her to stay with a friend in the summer of 2017, while my family and I rented vacation homes that summer. When I came to fetch her, that friend insisted she wanted to keep Bertha, since she brought so much life to her dreary post-divorce bachelorette pad. So, I left Bertha there, on my friend’s mantle. She was full and green, and she was well.

Take a look at Bertha now.

Almost 2 years later, Bertha Pothos is unrecognizable. Her soil is littered with white fungus, calcium, and lime deposits. She is this, her leaves sparse and her vine nearly bare.

She’s sick.

I hadn’t been to my friend’s place since the fall of 2018 (and for good reason), so I was trepidatious when asked to stop by. And the first thing I noticed was Bertha. So, on my way back to G3HQ, I saved this poor plant from an eminent doom, and immediately entered her into Pothos Rehab.

How to Save a Pothos

Step 1: Trim the length

The first thing I did was cut Bertha’s vines, keeping just the mostly new growth in the bowl and close to the root.

Step 2: Prepare for Propagation

Next, we sat with the vines, and cut each leaf and its nodes –– those little brown nobs you’ll find throughout the vine. Each leaf has it’s own node, the closest one near the point where the leaf meets the stem. To propagate, cut below the node, leaving it in tact. Then, we separated the segments into two bouquets, wrapped them gently with ponytail holders, and placed each in a glass of water. For the next 4 to 6 weeks, these segments will be kept outside, out of direct sunlight. The water will be changed every few days, and the roots will grow happily. Once that happens, they will be planted a new pot, in new soil.

Step 3: Replant the Base

Though the plant base is sparse, I decided to save it (and its roots) by replanting it in new soil by Miracle Grow. Though the plant was in trouble, the roots were still decent, and with a little nutrition, natural sunlight and atmosphere, I believe the base will begin to come back to life while our segments are sprouting roots of their own.

First, I emptied the bad soil, and then, cleaned out the planter. This planter is plastic, so I will only use it as a nursery for this sick Pothos. Once the base is healthier and our segments are ready for soil, I will transfer it all to a clay pot. In the interim, I added stones to the base of the planter, in order to create a reservoir, since this planter has no holes for water leakage.

Then, I added the soil, and created a pocket for our sickly Pothos base. I loosened its roots, removed excess dirt, and slipped it into the pocket. Next, I filled in the empty spaces and the top of the root base with additional soil. I added a little bit of Diatomaceous Earth to the first couple inches of soil, just in case any bugs stop by.

What’s Next

Big Bertha is more of a Sad Sally, right now. So, over the next month or more, she will live on the patio at G3HQ. She’ll be watered once a week and stay out of direct sunlight. My hope is that we will see some new growth over time, and in about a month, I’ll be able to add our segments to the soil — but in a clay pot — to form a newer, fuller version of Bertha.

Plus, I feel like after all of this, she’ll need a new name, too! I am open to suggestions.

homeElisabeth Ovesen