Propagating Pothos: Step by Step Guide (with photos) & Troubleshooting

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Propagating pothos is quick and easy! They’re one of the best plants to learn how to propagate with because it’s not often a cutting doesn’t take. I recommend these plants for beginners for several reasons, but most notably due to the fact that they root so well (which is encouraging if you’re new to the propagation game).

If you have a pothos that has long and leggy vines trailing down, the best way to make it full and bushy again is to propagate it!

There are a few different ways you can propagate a pothos (most varieties are all done the same way), but there are some important pieces to keep in mind for most success.

Here’s a step by step guide about how to propagate a pothos and a few tips to ensure it will work every time! 

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How to Take a Pothos Cutting

You can see the node at my pinky finger

The most important thing to remember when propagating a pothos is you must take a cutting around the node.

Pothos will not grow roots from a leaf or any other part of the stem – only the node.

To find a node on a pothos, look for a swollen, bumpy area a few inches down the stem from a leaf. There’s almost always one or two brown bumps protruding from this area and this is the node.

You will likely have several nodes on one single pothos stem. 

With a pair of sharp shears, snip about half to one inch both below and above the node.

Always remember which way is facing down (the inch below the node). This is the side you want to place in water or soil. 

Inside tip – when I’m making several cuts on one stem, I place the cut side facing toward me on the table so I also know they’re in the proper direction. 

Placing the Cuttings in Soil

Freshly planted cuttings in the soil (you can see the stems sticking out)

From here, you can plant these cuttings directly into the soil of the mother plant or a new pot of soil.

Simply push the cut side down into the soil so that the node is just below the surface.

You will have a small piece of the stem above the node poking out of the soil.

Propagating pothos in soil is the best way to get a full, bushy plant. 

>> Related: Learn about the different types of variegated pothos + care tips

Placing the Cuttings in Water

The method I like best is growing pothos cuttings in water, and I always recommend this route if it’s your first time.

This is because you can watch the roots grow and can easily tell when they’re ready to plant in soil.

As long as your cuttings are in a bright and warm location, you should start to see roots developing after about 1 to 2 weeks.

They should be long and healthy enough to plant in about 4 to 8 weeks (the length depends on how much sunlight and the time of year). 

Use a Clear Jar/Vase

The best type of jar is something shaped narrow at the top and wider at the bottom, something like this one (they can even attach to the wall).

And don’t allow any of the leaves to be submerged or else this can cause rot. 

Keep the Water Fresh

Make sure that you replace the water at least once a week, ideally every 3-5 days if you think of it.

Roots need plenty of oxygen to fully develop, so replacing your vases with freshwater from the tap will give them all the air they need and prevent the roots from trying to grow in stale water.

Keep the Roots Warm

Remember to keep them in a relatively warm and sunny location in your house, as roots need cozy temperatures to properly grow.

The bathroom or the kitchen are great spots and avoid drafty locations like window sills.

However, the temperature of the water is actually more important than a sunny location.

The water should remain lukewarm or room temperature and never any colder, especially in the first few weeks.

If your home is a little on the colder side, a heat mat for plants is a perfect solution. 

Pothos roots should be at least 4 inches long before planting, but you can allow them to grow longer if you wish. 

If your pothos roots are developing little white fuzzy spots while in water, this is just more roots forming and nothing to worry about.

If you’ve been changing the water regularly, it’s likely not fungus – it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. 

Growing Pothos in Water vs. Soil

Soil propagation allows you to create a more full-looking plant, and sometimes this can be the faster route for propagation.

The downside is you don’t know what’s going on under the soil and you won’t know if the cuttings are successful or not for a few weeks until they start showing signs of growth or decay. 

When propagating pothos in water, you can literally set them and forget them and they will be ready whenever you are.

Rooted pothos can continue to live in water for months on end as long as you change the water regularly and give it a bigger vase as the root system gets bigger. 

Propagating pothos in water instead of soil is not necessarily better, it’s more of personal preference, comfort level and experience.

Water propagation is always recommended for beginners, though. 

Propagating Pothos in LECA (clay pebbles)

Pothos propagation in LECA (clay pebbles) is another technique that’s even more hands off.

These lightweight clay pebbles help deliver more oxygen to the roots and regulate the water intake more efficiently.

Since you can keep pothos cuttings in LECA for months (even years), it can also be an aesthetically pleasing piece of décor in your home or office.

Since the roots aren’t completely submerged in water, the transition to soil is also much easier. 

To grow pothos roots in LECA, rinse off and soak your LECA. Place the clay balls about half way up the jar. Position your cutting(s) in the center. Add in more LECA to stabilize the stems and then fill the jar with water about a third to halfway up. 

Continue to replenish the water and occasionally (every 1 to 2 weeks) pull all the LECA out, rinse everything (including the cuttings and roots) and then replace. 

Plant Your Rooted Cuttings in Soil

After several weeks of sitting in water, your rooted pothos cuttings are ready to be planted in soil.

Pothos need well-draining soil so I like to use a mix of regular indoor potting soil with some perlite and a little bit of cactus soil thrown in. 

When transplanting cuttings from water, it’s a good idea to lightly moisten the soil first, since the roots are used to being in a wet environment.

Ideally, plant several cuttings in one pot to grow a full and bushier plant. I usually aim for about 10 to 12 cuttings per small pot.

When placing the stems in the soil, try to line up the bottom of the stems so that they’re all equal and level. Some will have roots longer than others, but ensure the stems are level when placed in the soil.

Keep the soil relatively moist for the first couple of weeks while the roots acclimate and then start the cut back. 

Common Problems and Mistakes to Avoid When Propagating Pothos

Pothos roots that turn brown or black are a sign that they’re rotting.

The biggest culprit is bacteria growth, usually due to stagnant water.

Remember to change the water once a week (at minimum) which introduces fresh oxygen to the roots. 

If after several weeks you have roots but they keep rotting in water, your water might be too harsh.

Try switching to distilled or rainwater (make sure it’s room temperature) and switching it out at least every 3 days. 

If your pothos cuttings are not rooting it’s likely due to the water being too cold or during the wrong season.

Remember that warmer water is more important than the amount of sunlight the roots get in the first few weeks of propagation.

In addition, it’s always recommended to propagate during spring into early summer or in the fall. This is when the parent plant is growing and you’ll have the most success for developing roots. 

In summary, the pothos is one of the easiest plants you can propagate so have fun with it! As long as there is a node, roots will grow.

Stay Green!

Read next >> How to Propagate a Monstera in Water (5 easy steps)