If you’re in the market for an unusual but easy-to-care-for houseplant, look no further than the Shangri La pothos.
This strange beauty is unique among its potted peers for its odd-looking, curled-up leaves and gorgeous gold variegation. Indeed, its appearance has even earned it two very cute nicknames, namely, “spinach pothos” and “sleeping pothos”.
And while it may be an enigma in the pothos family, you’ll be pleased to learn that this plant is hardy and fast-growing, even in less-than-ideal conditions. In this article, I’ll take you through everything there is to know about the Shangri La, from its origins to its care needs, to where you can find one to purchase.
Ready? Let’s dive right in.
What is a Shangri La pothos?
A Shangri La pothos is a rare cultivar of Epipremnum Aureum bred from the Golden pothos, which originated in Southeast Asia. It has dark green, curled foliage with specks and splatters of gold or cream-colored variegation and can spread or vine up to 3 feet (1 meter) in ideal growing conditions.
Like most varieties of pothos, the Shangri La is tropical and evergreen, making it a great choice to brighten up your home all year round. For avid collectors and beginner gardeners alike, its charm lies in its wild-looking foliage and low-maintenance attitude. If you happen to get your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed by how well it grows.
Keep in mind: One thing to note is that the Shangri La Pothos can be hard to find. Considered rare, you won’t come across one in your local nursery. Instead, you may need to find a specialist supplier online who can sell you a juvenile plant or a healthy cutting.
Named after James Hilton’s fictional Shangri La valley, this beauty certainly lives up to its mystical and harmonious nomenclature. Even in maturity, its leaves remain furled (with proper care) as if it is sleeping or hiding. Adding to its ethereal aura is its fine-patterned variegation, which it inherited from its parent plant, the Golden pothos.
As part of the aroid Aureum family, the Shangri La pothos is a breeze to grow and care for, which we’ll look at in more detail shortly. First, let’s clear up some confusion around its various nicknames.
Shangri La pothos vs Sleeping pothos
There is no difference between the Shangri La and the Sleeping pothos. They are two names for the same plant, with both terms referring to Epipremnum Aureum’ Shangri La,’ which is a cultivar (or hybrid, if you will) of the Golden pothos – a popular and easy-to-obtain houseplant variety.
As mentioned, the Shangri La pothos is a plant of many names. Because of its odd foliage, it goes by “sleeping pothos” or “spinach pothos.” In some circles, it’s even referred to as the “Godzilla pothos” because of its upward-facing, whimsically-growing leaves.
For the romantics among us, it earned this moniker because it always seems to be only half-awake and rarely fully “open.” For those who have seen it called the Spinach pothos, this is because it also looks a bit like a wilted green.
Is Shangri La pothos variegated?
The Shangri La pothos is a variegated cultivar of pothos, although the spread can vary in magnitude and spacing depending on the light in its growing environment. A healthy Shangri La has gold-cream variegation in narrow, trailing patterns, both on the top and bottom areas of its leaves.
Dreamy, creamy variegation adds to the Shangri La pothos’ wild beauty. As a consequence of its parent plant, the Golden pothos, this patterning gives the impression that the Shangri La has been splattered with paint that has filled in its grooves and crevices.
As with all variegated pothos plants, access to light can impact how variegated your Shangri will be or remain, but we’ll unpack that more in the following sections.
How do you care for Shangri La pothos?
To care for a Shangri La pothos, make sure that its basic needs are met. This requires ensuring it has access to sunlight, water, good soil, and plenty of humidity. It also requires occasional feeding and pruning. To keep your Shangri La looking its best, consider whether it should be left to trail or given a climbing pole.
Any pothos collector will tell you that their ease of care is the best thing about them. They are perfect houseplants because they can pretty much be left to their own devices, provided you have a good routine in place. They are also resistant to pests and diseases.
In the following sections, we’ll investigate each aspect of their maintenance in detail, but while this doesn’t vary from regular pothos care, one thing to note is the impact light can have on them. It’s also worthwhile to remember that all pothos, including the Shangri La, can be toxic to animals and humans.
And if you’re investing in your Shangri La pothos for its unique looks, you also want to figure out ahead of time if you’ll be letting this lovely plant grow upwards (as it’s inclined) or leaving your pothos to trail.
1. How much light does a Shangri La pothos need?
Finding the exact right light for a Shangri La pothos is probably the most challenging part of its care. Because of its variegation, it needs 7 to 8 hours of moderate to bright light to produce chlorophyll and generate energy to grow. But too much can cause its leaves to unfurl, diminishing its notorious appearance.
Conversely, with too little light, the Shangri La tends to lose its variegation and take on a darker green color. This may also impact the speed at which it grows.
I find the best way to strike a balance is to position my Shangri La close to a window that brings in the morning sun and remains bright for the right amount of time each day. This way, my pothos won’t need to contend with harsh rays that can scorch it while still having access to plenty of indirect light, which it loves.
2. How often should I water my Shangri La pothos?
Shangri La pothos are hardy and quite unfussy, but they do like moisture and can get thirsty in their growing months. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t allow more than its top two inches of soil to dry out, or you run the risk of dehydrating it (dry, yellow leaves are a dead giveaway).
For those who like routine when it comes to how often to water your pothos, this means topping up your Shangri La every 7 to 10 days, depending on the warmth of the season. I usually keep a moisture meter on hand with my rarer plants to ensure I’m not overdoing it.
The reason for this is that Shangri La pothos can contract root rot if they are left to stand in soggy soil or pooled water. Root rot in pothos can be fatal to these plants, so keep an eye on how cloggy your soil is and err on the side of less is more if you’re unsure.
3. What type of soil does a Shangri La pothos need?
If your Shangri La hasn’t arrived pre-potted, be mindful of the soil you plant it in. This is a fundamental thing you want to get right to ensure its best chance of thriving. As an aroid plant, the Shangri La likes nutrient-rich soil that is fairly aerated to prevent suffocating its roots.
Mixing your own pothos soil at home is easy. Simply combine a top-quality potting mix with some perlite for aeration and moisture retention. Perlite is a type of volcanic matter than expands and holds dampness when it gets wet. For added nutrients, you can throw in some orchid bark.
When potting your Shangri La, ensure the soil around its root system is firm but not compact. This beauty has both terrestrial and aerial roots, but the care of both is equally important, so it’s vital that it has sufficient access to oxygen from the soil as well as moisture from the air around it.
4. Does the Shangri La pothos like high temperatures?
All pothos are tropical, which means they like a bit of heat. However, this is not make-or-break in the case of the Shangri La, as it will do just fine in regular room temperature environments too, and even in lower light conditions.
However, I always recommend placing pothos in sunnier spots if your apartment or home is on the cooler side. This added warmth will allow it to grow faster and more robust.
One thing to avoid is sharp fluctuations in heating conditions. Extreme heat, icy cold, drafts, and air conditioners can harm pothos and negatively impact their growth patterns. Similarly, if your home is below-average cold, consider investing in grow lights to help your pothos on its way.
5. How much humidity does my Shangri La pothos need?
Plenty of humidity will really see your Shangri La flourish. With their tropical origins and aerial roots, these jungle plants love moisture and crave it. Humidifiers, damp pebble trays, or grouping your plants together is a great way to supplement this without too much extra effort.
You can, of course, also mist your Shangri La lightly with a spray bottle once per week. This keeps them shiny and green, hydrates their aerial roots, and has the added benefit of chasing away any opportunistic mites or bugs.
If your in-home humidity level is above 60%, or if you’re growing your Shangri La in a greenhouse, you have nothing to worry about. Below this, you may need to give it a little extra care.
6. Should I fertilize my Shangri La pothos?
Occasional feeding is part and parcel of helping houseplants thrive. While it might seem extraneous and intimidating, there are easy ways to fertilize your plants that require minimal effort. Famously non-needy, the Shangri La is a pothos you can technically get away with not feeding at all – but it does help.
Personally, I only give my pothos a light dose of slow-release liquid fertilizer once or twice a year during their growing seasons (spring and summer). However, if they are thriving without extra nutrition, I hold off.
If it’s your first time using fertilizer on your Shangri La, always go in with a lower dose than recommended. Look out for any signs of chemical burn, like yellow or brown spots on your pothos, to make sure it can handle the extra supplements. If it seems to spurt in growth, you know you’ve found a good routine.
7. Should I prune my Shangri La pothos?
If your Shangri La pothos has brown or dying leaves, you should prune them off. Just always make sure your cutting tools are clean and sterilized (to prevent the spread of diseases), and make a sharp, neat cut at a 45-degree angle.
Think of pruning your pothos like going for a haircut. It’s a great way to get rid of old or damaged growth and make way for new foliage. It’s also one of the only ways to keep this wily beauty in tip-top shape.
I recommend only pruning before the growing season, rather than just before the dormancy of winter. Spring and summer is the perfect time because your plant will be feeling its most energetic and ready to bloom with new stems and leaves.
8. Does my Shangri La need a climbing pole?
Your Shangri La pothos don’t strictly need a climbing pole, given that they grow naturally upward. Ultimately, it boils down to your personal preference and the size of your plant. That is, smaller plants are usually quite happy to grow upward and outward and will eventually start to trail.
However, as they get bigger, you can opt to give them a little support.
Moss or coco coir poles are good options if you opt for the trellis route for getting your pothos to climb. Both are good sources of nutrients and easy for your pothos’ aerial roots to attach to. You can train your Shangri La pothos to climb by gently connecting it to its pole by means of thin twine or florist’s tape.
9. How often should I repot my Shangri La pothos?
If you notice your Shangri La pothos’s roots are appearing through the drainage holes of its planter, it’s time to repot. Only do this in the warmer months of the year, as the strain can be too much when it’s cold and not generating as much energy as usual.
Repotting any plant can be a harrowing process, as many plants suffer transplant shock while adjusting to their new pots or planters. However, it is occasionally necessary, especially with avid growers like the Shangri La pothos.
In good news, if you work gently and take care, your plant will be just fine. Make sure to use a good quality soil and give it lots of sun and humidity, and in no time, it should be back to business as usual.
10. Can you propagate a Shangri La pothos?
If you’re the proud parent of a Shangri La pothos, you’ll be pleased to learn that they can be propagated from stem cuttings to great success. All you need is a healthy cutting with one or two leaves and a solid node, and you can pop them straight into water or soil to root.
Just make sure they have loads of access to moisture or humidity. As cuttings, they do not have terrestrial roots and need to make up this lost energy by drawing in water from the air around them through their leaves and stems.
Is the Shangri La pothos rare?
The Shangri La pothos is considered rare, and you’re unlikely to find one in your local garden center or nursery. It is considered more of a collector’s plant than a standard houseplant and therefore isn’t in huge demand worldwide. To find a Shangri La pothos for purchase, you would need to find a specialized breeder or supplier.
As hard as it is to believe, rare and exotic houseplants haven’t always been in as high demand as they are today. Fortunately, as the number of green-thumbed hobbyists increases, so does the supply of enigmatic cultivars like the Shangri La.
While still considered rare, this beauty is now more readily available than before. Also, it grows exceptionally well from stem cuttings, meaning we’re likely to see them become more prevalent over time.
Where to find Shangri La pothos for sale
Shangri La pothos can be purchased from online suppliers, specialized breeders, or stores like Etsy and eBay. You could even find a cutting in your local area that someone may be willing to trade. However, before making a purchase, conduct proper research and read as many forums and reviews as possible.
Say what you will; houseplants are an investment. And when making any investment, you want to make sure you have all your facts straight.
Before buying a Shangri La pothos, consider that it will likely need to be shipped, which can impact whether you purchase a pothos cutting or a plant. Furthermore, take time to look at reviews or speak to the breeder to ensure you get the healthiest specimen possible.
Most plant enthusiasts are happy to help, so feel free to ask as many questions as you feel comfortable with.
What’s a standard Shangri La pothos price?
Prices for the Shangri La pothos can vary greatly and depend on the size of your plant or cutting, as well as your supplier. I’ve seen cuttings for as little as $20, but I’ve also seen mature plants go for over $150.
Cuttings cost less but are also a little riskier, as there is no guarantee they will root. As mentioned above, do your research.