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How to Propagate Pothos in Water (10 Expert Tips)

Woman holding jar with pothos plant cuttings with roots ready to be planted

FPothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a popular houseplant in part because of its beautiful foliage. Its other nicknames give you another clue that explains why many people like this plant. A species called Devil’s Ivy, Money Plant, or Marble Queen commands your attention. It’s easy to grow alongside many cultivars to suit several purposes.

A trait many find desirable is the ease of propagating various species, which also says something about how carefree they are. If they can live long enough to reproduce, the chances are you’ll always have plants.

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The 2 Tips on Growing Conditions

1. Partial or Full Shade

Pothos plant
Image credit: Sandeep Handa, Pixabay

Pothos is a tropical species native to the Society Islands in the south Pacific Ocean and southeastern Asia and other countries in this area. It’s a cultivar that has found a home in many other places, including the United States.

It’s an evergreen vine that is sometimes invasive. It grows in areas where sunlight is indirect or partially shaded. It fares best if you can replicate those conditions in your home.

2. Slightly Acidic Conditions

Soil and water chemistry is vital to growing plants successfully. Pothos prefer slightly acidic conditions, around 6.1–6.5 pH.1 You can check your water’s chemistry with a test kit.

If you have a softener, it’s an excellent way to ensure that the pH is within the species’ preferable range. Freshwater aquarium conditioners can help you hone in on the ideal range if your water is off the charts.

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The 8 Tips on How to Propagate Pothos in Water

3. Stems for Cuttings

Pothos Plant Branch Being Cut Off for Propagation
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Plants vary with the part you should use to start new ones. You can cut hostas or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue to get new plants. You can use leaves for jade. Stems are your starting point for pothos. As you may surmise, you can propagate a lot of plants from a single specimen.

4. 50° F or Higher

The native habitat of pothos should give you all the information you need to help this plant thrive. It lives in tropical and subtropical areas. It thrives in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b–11,2 which means there are extremely cold temperatures of 25℉–30℉. Your home doesn’t get anywhere near that range. However, that also applies to drafts. It can spur a plant to go into dormancy which won’t help you propagate new ones.

5. Sharp Sterile Tool for Clean Cuts

Professional sharp trimmers
Image Credit: Yuriosav, Shutterstock

It’s essential to realize that the outer covering of plants serves the same function as our skin. It acts as a barrier to pathogens or disease-causing microbes. Therefore, you should use a sharp steel tool to cut stems from the main plant to propagate new ones. A blade with an edge will minimize the damage and pathways for bacteria to enter the plant.

6. No Water Contact for Leaves

Water is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that can harm your cuttings. A plant’s leaves have tiny openings for gas exchange called stomata. That’s a good thing when it comes to photosynthesis. It’s not so good when it becomes a conduit for pathogens. Therefore, you should keep the leaves from the stems out of water. Better yet, remove the lower leaves.

7. Several Inches of Root Growth

rooting system for pothos plant in water propagation
Image Credit: AngieYeoh, Shutterstock

The goal of propagating pothos in water is to get them in the ground. That means giving them the best chance to survive. Proper nutrition is imperative to a plant’s survival from the start when its stress is off the charts. That means several inches of root growth to make the transition from water to soil. It’ll give the plants the best chance to make it for a plant that is sensitive to this change.

8. Patience! Patience! Patience!

Plants—not just pothos—often shut down and go dormant when conditions get tough. It doesn’t make evolutionary sense to invest energy in growth if the long-term survival is uncertain. Propagating cuttings is a stressful experience. Plants will devote resources to ensuring they can survive, which means root growth. However, it’s going to take time. So, be patient while your cuttings get through the transition.

9. Weekly Water Changes

Cuttings of Pothos Leaves in Clear Glass of Water being Propagated
Image Credit: Kristen S, Shutterstock

Weekly water changes are imperative to keep bacteria growth under control. Stuff floating in the air can become pathogens if they sit in the water holding your stem cuttings. Make sure to rinse the container to keep everything clean so that your pothos gets the best start.

10. Well-Draining Soils for the Next Forever Home

It’s essential to keep your end game in mind when propagating pothos. That’s going to mean well-draining soils that fit its nutritional and pH needs. Replicating the conditions in the water will make the transition easier. Remember that transplanting isn’t built into a plant’s DNA. It usually stays put in relatively stable conditions.

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Other Things to Know About Pothos

While pothos are popular houseplants, they are also toxic to dogs and cats. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. They have sharp edges, which can cut your pet’s mucous membranes in its mouth, resulting in drooling and injury to its GI tract. Fortunately, the effects are self-limiting and resolve relatively quickly.

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Propagating pothos in water is easy. You can easily get some more plants from stem cuttings. It does take time for roots to sprout long enough that they can take hold in the soil to start their next life stage. It’s essential to keep things clean and sterile to make the transition easy without the added stress of bacterial or fungal diseases.

Featured Image Credit: JulieK2, Shutterstock


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