Pothos Cigarette Smoke Exposure: Effects and Remedies for Plant Health

As awareness of the importance of indoor air quality grows, many people are looking for ways to create a healthier environment in their homes. One solution that has gained popularity is the use of air-purifying plants, such as the Golden Pothos. But what happens when these plants are exposed to cigarette smoke? This blog post will discuss the effects of pothos cigarette smoke exposure on Pothos plants and how you can protect and enhance their air-purifying abilities while addressing common concerns about secondhand smoke.

Key Takeaways

  • Cigarette smoke can have a detrimental effect on Pothos plants, with nicotine and other toxins being absorbed through leaves and roots.

  • Strategies such as relocating the plant, providing adequate ventilation/air purification, using protective barriers or covers, and consistent watering & fertilization are suggested to protect your Pothos from smoke.

  • Pairing it with companion plants like Peace lilies enhances its air purifying abilities for a healthier indoor environment.

Understanding the Impact of Cigarette Smoke on Pothos

Golden pothos plant with cigarette smoke in the air

Cigarette smoke is a noxious mixture of gases and particles released when a cigarette is burned. It contains numerous hazardous chemicals, including nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Research has shown that plants exposed to tobacco smoke for 30 minutes per day grew fewer leaves, and many of those leaves browned and dried out or dropped off sooner than leaves on plants in a control group. Concentrated doses of smoke, which can be a risk factor for lung cancer, can have a detrimental effect on plants.

One might wonder if plants have the ability to absorb nicotine and other toxins from cigarette smoke. Indeed, plants are known to capture and retain nicotine and other compounds in the air, soil, and water. They can take in nicotine from cigarette smoke through their leaves and roots, as well as through glass tubes in laboratory settings.

So, what is the recommended way to smoke in order to minimize any potential health-related issues to plants? Smoking outdoors is the suggested approach to minimize the impact on plants and maintain fresh air indoors. This action significantly reduces the exposure of your Pothos and other houseplants to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.

Strategies for Protecting Your Pothos from Smoke

Snake plant and golden pothos as protective house plants

There are various strategies to safeguard your Pothos from cigarette smoke. One effective method is to position other great air purifiers, such as Aloe Vera, Schefflera, or Snake plant, close to the Pothos. These plants can help absorb some of the toxins present in cigarette smoke, thus reducing the burden on your Pothos.

Another strategy to reduce the Pothos plant’s exposure to cigarette smoke is to:

  • Relocate the plant to a different room or area away from the source of smoke

  • Provide adequate ventilation and avoid overcrowded areas

  • Position the plant near air purifiers, other filtration systems, or close to a bamboo palm to minimize its exposure to smoke particles.

Protective barriers or covers are also available for Pothos to shield it from smoke and chloride ions present in the air. One option is to use a shrub jacket made from tear-proof and breathable fabric, which allows air and moisture to reach the plant while providing protection from smoke. Another option is to use a floating row cover or plant blanket fabric, which provides UV and heat protection in the summer and also helps to shield the plant from smoke.

Consistent watering and fertilization also helps shield Pothos and other houseplants from smoke damage.

  • Providing adequate watering ensures that the plant receives enough moisture to remain hydrated and sustain its vitality.

  • Fertilizing provides essential nutrients that bolster the plant’s immune system, making it more resistant to diseases and pests.

  • Moreover, fertilizers promote healthy growth, aiding the plant’s recovery from any smoke-inflicted damage.

Addressing Common Concerns: Pothos and Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke can adversely affect the growth and health of indoor plants, contributing to sick building syndrome. But which components of secondhand smoke have an effect on Pothos plants? Benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide are the main culprits that can impact Pothos plants.

The effects of secondhand smoke on Pothos plants go beyond just their appearance. It has been observed that short-term exposure to secondhand smoke can decrease photosynthesis in golden pothos plants by up to 50%. This reduction in photosynthesis can lead to stunted growth and weakened overall health of the plant.

But fear not, as there are ways to protect your Pothos from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, as discussed in the previous section. Implementing protective strategies and enhancing the air-purifying abilities of your Pothos ensures a healthy and vibrant indoor environment.

The Science Behind Pothos and Smoke Absorption

The ability of Pothos to absorb smoke is scientifically based on its inherent capability to break down and eliminate hazardous chemicals like chloroform and benzene from the atmosphere. This capability has been further augmented through genetic alteration, making it similar to dracaena plants in terms of air-purifying abilities.

Pothos utilizes a process known as phytoremediation to process and neutralize smoke particles. It absorbs smoke particles through its leaves and roots, and then metabolizes the hazardous compounds, such as benzene and formaldehyde, present in the smoke. This helps to purify the air and enhance indoor air quality, similar to the snake plant.

Pothos plants possess the capability to filter air pollutants like smoke through their biological mechanisms, such as the utilization of their root microbiome and plant microorganisms. These mechanisms aid in eradicating pollutants, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Regarding effectiveness, Pothos is demonstrably superior in absorbing and filtering smoke compared to other houseplants. Research has indicated that pothos plants can successfully filter volatile organic compounds and toxins from the air, including smoke, and remove benzene. It is ranked among the highest plants for eliminating cigarette odors.

Companion Plants that Enhance Pothos’s Air-Purifying Abilities

Numerous companion plants, such as the spider plant, can enhance the air-purifying abilities of Pothos, thus improving their ability to purify air. Some suitable companion plants that can enhance the air-purifying abilities of Pothos include:

  • Peace lilies

  • Snake plants

  • Dracaena

  • Asparagus fern

  • Jade plants

  • Begonias

  • Ficus benjamina

  • Butterfly palms

By pairing Pothos with these companion plants, you can create a healthier and more purified indoor environment.

Planting companionship can have a positive effect on air purification by:

  • Increasing the overall number of plants in a given space

  • Leading to an increase in photosynthesis, resulting in higher oxygen production and lower carbon dioxide levels

  • Enhancing the overall effectiveness of air purification by planting companions with complementary air-purifying qualities

Known for their ability to absorb airborne pollutants and convert them into harmless substances, house plants like the peace lily, Chinese Evergreens, and Philodendrons improve indoor air quality and maintain fresh air.

The positioning of companion plants near Pothos can significantly enhance its air-purifying abilities. Plants such as:

  • Peace lilies

  • Snake plants

  • Philodendrons

  • Bamboo palm

Plants are renowned for their air-purifying properties and can be used to complement Pothos in improving indoor air quality by enhancing air flow.


In conclusion, the Golden Pothos is a powerful ally in the quest for cleaner indoor air, even in the presence of cigarette smoke. By understanding the effects of cigarette smoke on Pothos, implementing protective strategies, and using companion plants to enhance its air-purifying abilities, you can create a healthier indoor environment for yourself and your loved ones. Let Pothos and its companions be the guardians of your home’s air quality and breathe a sigh of relief.


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