Pothos is a popular, unfussy houseplant. Thanks to its interesting vining habit and attractive foliage the plant has become a fascinating addition to any home or plant collection.
Often described as an ideal plant for beginners, this low maintenance specimen thieves in low light positions and tolerates some neglect. If you want to learn more about caring for the plants our How to Grow Pothos guide is packed full of useful information.
Like many indoor plants, Pothos, also known as Epipremnum Aureum or Devils Ivy rarely reaches maturity. This means that you can’t propagate the plants by seed. Instead, the most reliable way to learn how to propagate Pothos is to take cuttings. This is easier than it sounds.
This guide to how to propagate Pothos will take you through 3 different propagation methods. Each can be applied to any variety of Pothos.
Easy to follow, the methods outlined below can, once mastered, also be applied to a number of other plants. As well as explaining how to propagate Pothos in water, soil and sphagnum moss, we will also explain how to select your cutting, how to make the incision and highlight some of the more common reasons why propagation can fail. This is your complete guide to learning how to propagate Pothos.
A popular houseplant, Devil’s Ivy is easy to propagate.
Before You Begin
Always clean your tools and pots before you propagate a plant. This helps to prevent the accidental introduction of harmful pathogens.
If you are using garden scissors or a knife, wipe the blade with bleach or Winner Alcohol Prep Pads.
As well as cleaning your tools, you will also need a healthy mother plant. The specimen should be vibrant and full with no yellowing, wilting or dying foliage. It is advised that, if possible, you avoid propagating barren or leggy plants. While you can still successfully propagate these plants, the process takes longer.
Your chosen plants should have strong green stems that display no visible signs of disease.
Take cuttings at a 45° angle. They should be 4 to 6 inches in length.
What are Nodes?
An important part of learning how to propagate Pothos is knowing how to identify nodes.
Look closely at the stems of the plant. You should see lots of gray-brown nubs or bumps. These are called nodes. They occur at every point where the stem intersects with a leaf. It is at these points that the most cellular growth occurs in the plant.
Nodes develop at junctions on the stem. Close Up on Stems by UCCSBiology / CC 2.0
From the node a new leaf or node forms. This is because nodes have high amounts of meristematic tissue cells. These are groups of stem cells, their presence enables roots or leaves to quickly develop.
In the right conditions nodes can be encouraged to produce stems, leaves or roots.
The presence of nodes on the stem of the Devil’s Ivy plant enables it to thrive and spread quickly in the wild. For many plants this form of propagation is quicker and, often more reliable, than allowing the plants to set flower before harvesting and sowing seeds. The presence of the nodes also makes learning how to propagate Pothos easy.
When to Propagate
The best time to learn how to propagate Pothos is in the spring or summer when the plants are actively growing. In southern or warm climates, propagation can be attempted at any time of year.
Do not attempt to propagate the plants during the fall or winter months. At this time of year the plants are not actively growing, meaning that they are not producing the necessary energy to develop a new root system. Propagating during the winter also makes it harder for the mother plant to recover.
When learning how to propagate Pothos remember that like the mature plants, cuttings and young plants thrive in warm, humid environments. Adult plants prefer a temperature range of 65 to 86 ℉ and a relative humidity level of 50 to 70%.
The best time to learn how to propagate Pothos is when the plant is healthy and actively growing. Pothos Plant by Pro Flowers / CC 2.0
How to Propagate Pothos in Water
Learning how to propagate Pothos in water is both easy and visually interesting. Children in particular enjoy watching the roots emerge.
You will need:
- A healthy plant,
- A small jar or vase,
- A small pot,
- Potting soil.
Allow the water to stand for a while before using. Like other houseplants, these specimens can be sensitive to the chlorine which is present in tap water. Allowing the water to stand for a few hours gives the chlorine or any other chemicals present in the water time to dissipate. Alternatively, use purified bottled water or harvest your own rainwater.
To propagate Pothos in water take a cutting from a healthy stem. The stem cutting should have 2 to 3 nodes or small bumps on it.
Remove all the lower leaves from the cutting. All that should remain are the top 1 or 2 leaves. Removing unwanted foliage creates more nodes from which roots can emerge.
Place the cutting in a small jar filled with fresh water. The leaves should sit above the water surface. The nodes should all be submerged.
Put the jar in a light, safe place. Change the water once a week to keep it fresh. Roots typically emerge in a few weeks.
When the roots are 2 to 3 inches long remove the cutting from the soil and plant in a small pot filled with well draining soil mix. Water the cutting well and place in a bright, indirect light position.
Continue to water the new plant regularly. Keeping the soil evenly moist for the first 2 weeks helps the plant to settle.
Change the water around the cuttings regularNjoy Pothos Tropical Houseplant Water Propagation by Dan Jones / CC 2.0
Once established, and new growth is visible, continue to care for the planted cuttings as you would a larger plant.
Other plants that can be propagated by rooting cuttings in water include:
How to Propagate Pothos in Soil
Our second how to propagate Pothos method is similar to rooting cuttings in water.
You will need:
- A healthy plant,
- Rooting hormone,
- A small pot,
- Potting soil.
Take a stem cutting that has some leaves and 3 to 4 nodes. Remove the lower leaves allowing only 1 or 2 pairs to remain at the top of the stem. The excess leaves can either be cut or pulled away from the stem. When pulling away the excess leaves, take care not to damage the stem.
Dip the cut end of the stem in Hormex Rooting Hormone Powder.
Fill a small pot with a well draining potting soil mix. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger and plant the cutting. Plant deeply enough that all the leaf nodes are buried. After planting, gently firm down the soil.
Root cuttings in pots filled with a well draining potting mix. Water the Plant by Francis Chung / CC 2.0
Place the cuttings in a position filled with filtered or indirect sunlight. Avoid a direct sun position, too much harsh light can burn the foliage. A north facing window is ideal. Alternatively, place the cutting close to a south or west facing windowsill.
Water the soil well.
Continue to water the cuttings regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist. Don’t allow the soil to get too wet, this is one of the most common causes of cuttings failing. If you are unsure, a soil moisture sensor can help you to work out when to water your plants.
After a few weeks, once the cutting is starting to establish itself, gradually reduce the amount of water you apply.
Knowing how to take cuttings enables you to propagate a range of plants including:
What Sort of Potting Medium Should I Use?
A well draining potting soil is ideal. You can make your own by combining equal parts perlite, compost and potting soil. A combination of 2 parts Miracle-Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss, 1 part fine pine bark and 1 part perlite is also ideal.
You can also root the cuttings in an even blend of cactus or succulent potting mix and compost.
All these combinations make a well draining potting medium.
Is Propagation Better in Water or Soil?
Learning how to propagate Pothos in water is quicker than planting cuttings straight into the soil. Typically it takes 3 to 5 months for roots to develop in water compared to 2 to 3 months in soil. Learning how to propagate in water is also more visually interesting.
Rooting cuttings in water has both benefits and drawbacks. Pothos Propagation by incommunicado / CC 2.0
However, rooting cuttings directly into the soil often results in more vigorous plants that are less prone to transplant shock. While this is a bonus, soil rooted cuttings are often more susceptible to rotting at the base. They can also, sometimes, fail to develop roots.
How to Propagate Pothos Using Sphagnum Moss
A slightly more unusual way to propagate cuttings, learning how to propagate Pothos with sphagnum moss is just as easy as the methods outlined above.
You will need:
- A healthy plant
- Sphagnum moss,
- A jar or vase,
- A bowl of water,
- A pot,
- Potting medium.
Before using it, soak the sphagnum moss, also known as peat moss, for 20 to 30 minutes. This rehydrates the sphagnum moss. The easiest way to soak the sphagnum moss is to fill a bowl with water and submerge it entirely.
As the sphagnum moss soaks, turn your attention to the mother plant.
Take stem cuttings from a healthy Pothos plant. Each cutting should have 3 to 4 nodes on the stem. Cut away all but the top few leaves from the cutting.
Remove the sphagnum moss from the water and wring out to remove any excess moisture. The sphagnum moss should be moist but not soaking.
Fill a small pot or vase with the sphagnum moss and place the prepared stem cuttings in the moss. The leaves should sit above the sphagnum moss.
Press the sphagnum moss down around the cuttings to secure them in place. Whilst the sphagnum moss should not contact the leaves it should cover all the nodes.
Place the container in a safe position filled with bright, indirect light. It takes a few weeks for roots to form. During this period continue to regularly moisten the sphagnum moss with a watering can. Do not let it dry out.
Water the new plants regularly. Watering House Plants by Dan Jones / CC 2.0
Once the new roots are 2 to 3 inches long transfer the cutting to a pot filled with fresh potting soil. Most cuttings are ready for transferring after a month.
Place the pots in a bright position and care for the cuttings as you would a larger Pothos plant.
Common Reasons that Propagation Fails
Learning how to propagate Pothos is an easy process. However, sometimes things go wrong and the cuttings fail. The following are some of the more common reasons why cuttings fail.
Taking the Cutting in the Wrong Place
A common cause of cutting failure, when taking your cuttings make sure that there are nodes on the stem. There should not be too much stem below the lowest node. A long bottom stem section that contains no nodes will not produce any roots. It also makes planting the stem so that all the nodes are covered difficult.
Poorly selected cuttings are one of the main reasons propagation fails. Efeutute by Maja Dumat / CC 2.0
Always take cuttings from healthy, new growth. These sections of the plant are filled with the most energy, making new root production an easy process.
Do not take cuttings from old or damaged vines or stems. These sections are already struggling as part of a large plant, they are unlikely to possess the necessary energy to develop a healthy root system. If the damaged stems do root, the new plants are unlikely to be strong or healthy.
If you are learning how to propagate Pothos in water, make sure that you change the water on a regular basis. After a few days oxygen levels in the water become depleted. If there is not enough oxygen in the water the plants may suffocate.
Standing water also attracts bacteria and other diseases or pests. Their presence can stunt growth and rot cuttings.
Not Enough Light
Light is necessary for photosynthesis to occur. If the plants are unable to photosynthesise they will lack energy and struggle to produce new roots. Place your cuttings in a bright spot filled with lots of indirect light. If your home lacks enough natural light, grow lights can also be used.
The Cuttings are Not Warm Enough
Devil’s Ivy plants do best in warm, humid environments. These conditions promote rapid growth. Aim to place your cutting in a similar position. If your home lacks humidity, mist the foliage or place the plants on a humidity tray. A 9GreenBox Bonsai Humidity Drip Tray is ideal for small pots and provides an easy way to artificially raise humidity levels around the plants.
Attempting to propagate plants in a cold room or in the winter when growth is minimal is likely to fail.
Transplanting too Late
Allowing the cuttings to sit in the water for too long can, when you do transplant, lead to transplant shock. This causes the leaves to yellow and the roots to fail.
Transplant from the water to a pot as soon as the roots are 1 to 2 inches long.
Alternatively, you can gradually introduce the potting medium to the water. Add a teaspoon of coconut coir or perlite to the water every day, starting when the roots are around 2 inches long.
Continue to add the potting medium until the glass is full. At this point transfer the cutting and potting medium to a pot.
Adding potting medium to the water helps the young roots to settle quickly whilst reducing the risk of transplant shock.
The Cuttings Need More Time
Learning how to propagate Pothos is an easy process but it is not quick. Developing a healthy root system takes time. In ideal conditions roots are developed enough to be ready for transplanting after 4 to 5 weeks. In poor conditions, such as a cold or darker position, it can take even longer.
In time cuttings develop into healthy, vigorous plants. Variegated pothos by spurekar / CC 2.0
As long as the cutting looks healthy do not worry. Just let it develop in its own time.
Learning how to propagate Pothos is an easy process. A useful transferable skill, once you know how to propagate Pothos you can try propagating other plants in your collection.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.