There is nothing better than growing an entirely new plant yourself, completely from scratch and at absolutely no cost. In my experience, Pothos plants are incredibly easy to propagate via stem cutting. Simply snip off a four-inch-long part of the stem below a node and leave it in a glass of water or a pot filled with propagating mix. Roots should emerge within 1-2 months, after which point the cutting can be transplanted or left in water to grow long-term. Follow this guide to grow even more of your favorite houseplant.
Can All Pothos Plants Be Propagated?
Many types of Pothos are available (including variegated pothos cultivars), each with its own quirks and characteristics. But, whether you have a Snow Queen Pothos, a Pearls n Jade, or anything in between, you can be sure they are all easy to propagate.
All Pothos plants can be propagated thanks to their similar growth habits. Each vine has various nodes along the stem where new leaves emerge. When placed in water or soil, these nodes will produce roots that grow an entirely new vine separate from the parent plant.
Some types may develop roots slower than others due to their slower growth habits. But all are certainly able to produce roots and grow into full-fledged plants under the right conditions.
Level of Effort
Propagating plants can be a tricky task, depending on which plant you’re dealing with. Luckily, when it comes to ever-popular Pothos, propagating couldn’t be easier.
All you need is a healthy stem and a glass of water to get started. The process is not technical or time-consuming either – simply snip off the stem in the right place and you’re ready to root. As long as the stem is healthy, these plants have a high chance of rooting, increasing your odds of success.
As the process is easy to understand and quick to do, Pothos propagation is ideal for houseplant owners new to propagation or new to houseplants in general.
Can Pothos Grow in Water and Soil?
Pothos plants can root in both water and soil easily. Water is the most popular, thanks to interesting glass propagation stations that turn the process into a décor feature, but soil rooting tends to be more reliable.
Rooting in water
Rooting in water comes with several benefits:
- The roots are visible through the glass, allowing you to track the progress of root growth.
- The roots grow quicker.
- Problems with soil-borne pests and diseases are eliminated.
- Water propagation stations make interesting display pieces while the plants are growing.
Unfortunately, these benefits come with one caveat – the roots aren’t particularly strong. As there is no resistance to growth as there is in soil, Pothos roots grown in water are far thinner and more delicate.
If you plan on transplanting into soil at a later stage, these delicate roots can struggle to adapt to the conditions in the soil, causing a potential risk of transplant shock.
Rooting in soil
Rooting in soil is the more reliable method for long-term plant growth. The roots may develop slower in soil, but they will be stronger and better suited to soil conditions than those grown in water.
But, when growing in soil, there is no way to check the progress of the root growth. You can pull gently on the cutting to check for resistance to being pulled, but this can disturb the newly grown root system and interrupt growth.
You also need to remember to keep the soil moist while the roots develop. If you often forget a houseplant watering or two, it’s best to stick to water propagation.
For more, see our essential guide to repotting pothos plants.
Does Pothos Grow Faster in Water or Soil?
As there is no resistance to root growth, Pothos plants will grow roots quicker in water. In water, roots should develop in 2-4 weeks. In soil, the process typically takes 4-6 weeks.
The speed of root growth will also depend on environmental conditions like light and temperature. Ensure you place your cuttings in their preferred conditions for the fastest root growth.
Can You Propagate From Just a Leaf?
Some plants can be propagated from a single leaf, developing roots at the base of the leaf or from veins in the bottom of the leaf.
Unfortunately, Pothos is not one of those plants. You need a piece of a stem with at least one node for successful propagation. As the node is the point where the roots develop, you cannot propagate a Pothos without it.
Can You Move a Pothos Cutting From Soil to Water?
Pothos plants grown in water can be transplanted into soil, but it doesn’t work the other way around.
Cuttings rooted in soil are used to those conditions. If they are moved to water, those soil-grown roots will start to rot due to the excessive moisture.
Water-grown roots can adapt to the conditions in soil later on – soil-grown roots cannot adapt to water.
How to Propagate a Pothos Plant
Clean Your Tools
Before you start propagating, you need to ensure all the tools you will be working with are completely clean. Dirty tools are a haven for bacteria and harmful germs that can transfer to your cuttings and inhibit growth.
Clean and disinfect your pruning shears or scissors with a 5% bleach solution if they have been recently used, or wash them with soap and water if they were previously disinfected.
Ensure you wash any glass or pot you plan to use, primarily if it has been used for other plants beforehand.
Remove a Stem
With your tools clean and ready, it’s time to choose a stem. Look for a healthy stem with plenty of foliage and nodes close together. Do not propagate any damaged or diseased stems as this will simply transfer to the new plant, preventing root growth.
Cut a piece of your chosen stem a minimum of four inches long with a few sets of leaves. Cut at a 45° angle just below a leaf node, but not so close you damage the node.
You can also cut a longer stem into separate four-inch pieces to propagate multiple cuttings. Make sure you remember the direction of the root growth when making your cuts to avoid planting the cutting upside down.
Remove the foliage from the bottom half of the cutting, ensuring there are still two or three healthy leaves left at the top for photosynthesis.
Any foliage left to sit in water or soil will rot and encourage disease, so make sure all leaves below the soil or water line are removed.
Root in Water/Soil
Gather your cuttings and prepare to root in water or soil.
To root in water, rest the cuttings in a glass or specialized propagation station filled with filtered or distilled water. The top half of the cutting should stay out of the water.
To root in soil, fill a pot with a light and airy propagating mix. A combination of coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite provides ideal conditions for quick root growth. Alternatively, you can buy a premixed propagating mix.
Plant the bottom half of the cuttings in the soil, leaving the remaining leaves sitting just above the soil line. Water thoroughly after planting.
Pothos plants rooted in water will need a consistent water top-up. Without additional water, the roots will begin to suffocate due to a lack of oxygen. As the water evaporates, the bottom half of the stem may no longer sit in water, preventing root growth.
Add water to the glass every couple of days and replace the water completely every few weeks or when it appears cloudy. If you notice any dirt or bacterial growth in the water, clean the glass and rinse the stems.
Pothos plants rooted in soil require consistent watering to keep the soil moist. Ensure the pot has plenty of drainage holes to stop the stems from rotting. Keep the pot in a spot with bright indirect light for the quickest and most robust root growth.
How Long Does It Take for Pothos to Root in Water?
Your Pothos should develop roots in water in about 2-4 weeks, possibly quicker depending on the conditions. They need to remain in water for slightly longer – another month or so – before they will be ready for transplanting.
Can Pothos Live in Water Forever?
With a few tweaks to the propagating process and consistent care, Pothos plants can live in water long-term. This is not ideal for strong growth, as these plants only grow in soil in their natural habitats, but if you’re not looking for a bushy and overflowing plant it is possible.
Plain water lacks one essential element of plant growth – nutrients. To grow your Pothos in water long-term, you will need to add nutrients to the water to keep them alive.
You don’t need special hydroponic nutrients to make it work. Any balanced liquid pothos plant fertilizer should be suitable. To avoid burning the roots, only add a few drops of fertilizer to the water every few weeks and change the water completely when you plan to add more.
With nutrients resolved, all you need is some sunlight and warm temperatures to keep your Pothos happy in water for several years. They may not live as long as plants grown in soil, but they make great features during their shorter life spans.
Common Problems and Remedies
Why are my pothos roots turning brown in water?
Pothos roots can turn brown from age, but suddenly browning roots that are soft and mushy indicate a problem with root rot.
This can occur if you’ve moved your cutting from soil to water or if the cutting has been exposed to the air for a long time before being placed in the water again. Keeping the cutting in old or dirty water can also cause the roots to brown.
Keep up cutting care by continually monitoring the water levels. Never expose the roots to air and always provide fresh water to ensure the roots get enough oxygen.
Yellowing leaves or leaf loss may also emerge on your pothos plant, typically caused by inappropriate temperatures, humidity, or light exposure.
Why aren’t any roots growing?
There are several problems that can result in a lack of root growth:
- The stem does not have any nodes
- The light levels are too low
- The temperatures are below 65F
- The water has not been changed
Identify which problem is the most likely and work to rectify that before moving on to the next resolution.
If the conditions for growth are perfect and you’re propagating in the peak growing season, you may just need a bit more patience. Roots may not always develop quickly, especially when rooting in soil. Give the cuttings a bit more time to establish before trying again.
If you have an extra five minutes of time and a healthy Pothos, there is no harm in trying Pothos propagation. Once you’ve successfully rooted a few cuttings, you can group them together to grow a brand new Pothos plant that looks just as good as the original.
For more, see our in-depth guide to pothos plant care at home.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.