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If you look at a list of easy-to-care-for indoor plants, pothos will be one of the top-ranking ones. These beautiful vines are super easy to care for and will produce impressive growth. But what should you do if your plant becomes large, leggy, or you want to gift some to a friend?
You can quickly propagate pothos by placing the nodes of the pothos into water or in soil. If you want to water-propagate your pothos, you cut between the stems and put them in water. Plant it into a well-draining, moisture-retaining soil and watch it grow if you want to give it a forever home!
The above mentioned is the simplified way to look at propagating pothos – but not to worry! This guide will show you the ins and outs of pothos propagation and give you some valuable advice on ensuring propagation success (even as a beginner!).
First, let’s start with why you should propagate your pothos.
While these plants don’t require frequent trimming and maintenance, growing a healthy and full-looking plant is lovely.
Here are the top 6 reasons you want to consider propagating your pothos:
- It’s an easy way to create more of the same plant you already love.
- If you have unhealthy pothos, propagating it can generate various thriving pothos.
- It’s an easy way to experiment with propagation methods due to how easy it is to propagate them.
- You can gift the propagations to friends and family or trade them for other plants you want.
- It’s a simple way to clone a healthy plant specimen.
- If you’re super advanced in botany (or happen to create a plant mutation), you can create hybrids and cultivars.
Propagating pothos is a great learning experience, even if you’re only just getting into the groove of plant propagation.
You’ll also get a few pretty-looking plants out of the learning experience – what’s not to love?
So, you’re excited about propagating your plants, but you’ve read up on plant propagation and noticed that most websites recommend propagating your plants in the summertime.
Fortunately, pothos is a plant you can propagate year-round. The only difference, you’ll likely see more growth in the summer months versus winter months.
While you can viably propagate pothos any time of the year, it’s best to do it during springtime. Spring months will have longer and warmer days, creating an environment conducive to growth.
No matter when you propagate, you want to take a cutting of a node that’s already created some aerial roots – you ideally also want there to be a leaf or two.
Place the container in a warm area that receives bright but indirect light, and you can observe as the roots grow.
If you’re propagating in cooler months, you can increase the humidity and heat around the plant by placing a plastic bag over the container – this way; you’re creating a mini-greenhouse.
Okay, yes, propagating pothos seems simple, but when is the plant in the best space to handle being propagated?
As mentioned before, pothos is one of the easiest plants to grow.
You also don’t have to worry about when you can propagate your photos: If you see a node with aerial roots, you can propagate it!
You’ll find other reasons to propagate your pothos below:
Sometimes you have to cut back your pothos – they tend to grow super-fast and run the risk of overcrowding your space.
These are the most common reasons people cut back their pothos:
- Pothos grows super-fast, so you can essentially trim it back by propagating the plant.
- Pruning pothos will create a fuller and more lush-looking plant.
- You can remove leggy-looking plant growth caused by low-light growth.
- Pruning any plant stimulates and promotes healthy growth.
- If you want to replant your pothos to a new pot, pruning it can make the transfer process a bit easier by removing some of the lengths of the plant.
So, pruning your pothos is a viable option, but how should you approach pruning your pothos?
Pruning back your pothos is super simple.
You want to use a pair of sharp, clean scissors (alternatively a knife) and cut just below the node of the pothos.
If you want to create a fuller-looking plant and encourage bushy growth, prune close to the base of the plant (leave about 3-4 nodes before cutting).
Doing this will encourage the pothos to grow new vines.
If you want to shorten a vine, cut wherever you want it. Just remember that it will produce a new vine from the node and eventually start to become fuller wherever you cut it.
So now that you’ve pruned back your pothos, what do you do with all the leftover plants?
Fortunately, there are a few quickfire ways to grow yourself a larger pothos collection.
3 Surefire Ways For Pothos Propagation
Propagation is a simple way to increase the number of plants you have without sacrificing too much of their size – especially not if you’re propagating a pothos.
Most of the time, you’ll see the best propagation results when doing it in soil – but some plants, like pothos, will not only propagate in water but, with the suitable soil medium, grow permanently.
In fact, you can propagate most Aroid plants in water. The most popular indoor plant examples include:
- ZZ plants
If you look at the ancestry of these plants, you’ll see that original aroid plants grew in swamps, which encouraged them to adapt to flooding environments.
As a result, the descendants can grow in water, too.
If you want to see the most growth from your aroid plants, you’ll still want to plant them into the soil over the long term.
The easiest way to propagate your pothos is by taking a viable cutting (a stem with a node and a leaf) and placing it in a jar of water.
To maintain the plant, you want to change out the water every other week and add a liquid fertilizer into the mix to supply it with the nutrients it needs to grow.
If you get tired of having it in a container filled with water, you can also choose to repot it in soil once there’s a good root structure (minimum 1 inch of roots).
You can easily transplant your pothos cuttings from water or start by putting the cuttings in soil.
It will take the pothos around 4-6 weeks to establish their new home in the soil.
Remember to thoroughly saturate the soil with water if you’re transplanting it, and allow the soil to dry out between watering.
If you want to attempt a more experimental way of propagating your pothos, look no further than propagating it in LECA.
LECA, also known as Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, is a clay pebble that can be used as a growing medium (instead of soil or water).
It works by adding the LECA to a container with water – the pebbles absorb water and help to improve the flow of oxygen to the plant’s roots.
Unlike water propagation, you can grow your pothos in LECA indefinitely. The LECA will help the pothos develop proper roots, which won’t happen in water (i.e., the plant will establish water roots that may take time to adjust to soil environments).
But what’s the difference, and is it truly that important if the pothos develops water roots versus soil roots?
The main difference between water roots and soil roots is their physical structure.
Water roots are prone to be thin, small, and fragile. Compared to water roots, soil roots are thicker, can permeate more profound into the ground, and will access water reserves as needed, rather than have an abundance of it.
The deeper the root grows, the more nutrients it will get from the soil, resulting in a healthier plant.
Because they have an abundance of water (bonus if you add some fertilizer to the water), water roots require little energy and time to grow and will generally have finer root hairs compared to soil roots.
Root hair is very important in water absorption, so it makes sense that a pothos that’s grown only in the soil would require more hardy hairs than water roots.
Water roots are also unique in that they can naturally extract oxygen from the water source they’re placed in – something that soil roots can’t do.
Soil roots cannot extract oxygen from water is why it tends to suffocate and rot if the plant becomes waterlogged.
Overall, if you want to grow a healthier plant for longer, you probably want to grow it in soil – this way, the pothos will grow roots that seek out their own nutrients.
Fortunately, propagating pothos is a really simple job.
They’re generally not too fussy about light, water, or fertilization frequency, so you’ll have new pothos in no time.
To propagate a pothos, you’ll need viable root nodes (the part where the leaf meets the stem). You’ll likely already see aerial roots forming at the nodes.
If you don’t see any aerial roots, you’ll likely be able to feel little bumps on the node – those are your future roots, so don’t throw away a cutting if you don’t visibly see aerial roots.
To propagate your pothos, you’ll need the following:
- A scalpel/sharp pair of scissors/sharp knife sterilized with rubbing alcohol.
- A jar filled with warm water (between 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit) OR
- Small containers filled with a houseplant soil mix (soil, perlite, compost)
- A sharpie or chopstick to create a hole in your soil mix
- Pothos vine
- Optional: A rooting hormone
Let’s see how you’ll use these tools to create a plethora of pothos.
When you have the abovementioned tools lined up, it’s time to start propagating your pothos.
Here are the steps you want to follow:
- Place your pothos vine in front of you on a hard surface.
- Count back one to three leaves and cut the stem (the vine part) using your scalpel at a 45-degree angle.
- Keep the top two leaves of your pothos and remove the bottom leaf (leaving behind the node) using your scalpel.
If you’re making single-leaf cuttings, do not remove any of the leaves.
- Place the nodes into a container filled with warm water.
- Place the container close to a window that receives a lot of natural light but no direct sunlight.
- Change out the water every other week, or the instance you see signs of algae growth.
- Fill your container with a potting soil mixture that consists of soil, perlite, a bit of compost, and sand (essentially, a soil mix that will drain well but still retain moisture).
- Wet the soil before adding the cutting.
- Using a sharpie, poke a 1-inch hole into the soil.
- Dip the node of the pothos into a rooting powder if you’re using it.
- Place the node into the hole you created in the soil.
- Cover the hole with a little handful of soil and gently pat it down.
- Water the cutting when the soil has dried out.
And there you have it!
If you want to transplant the water cutting to the soil, you should only do so once there’s at least 1-inch of developed roots. You can follow steps 7-12, and be sure to water it more frequently after the initial transplant.
The pothos will have created water roots and be used to having an abundance of water, so it will take some time for them to adjust to the new environment.
You want to make your cut on the long sections that don’t have any roots or leaves growing out of them. If you cut off the node, your pothos won’t be able to grow roots and propagate.
You can take any size cutting you want in terms of the number of leaves on your propagating vine.
It’s ideal to have a vine no longer than 3-4 leaves to allow the rooting node to grow before supplying the leaves with nutrients.
You can also create a cutting that only has one leaf and one node – it will just take a bit longer to start showing signs of impressive growth.
You can plant your pothos cuttings in about 4-6 weeks.
If they’re growing super fast or slow, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to repot your pothos cuttings when there’s at least 1-inch of developed roots.
You can do a few simple things to avoid messing up your pothos propagation.
Here are some common mistakes to look out for and fix as you see them arise:
- Pothos roots that turn brown or black are a sign that they’re rotting.
- If the water is green (this is a sign of algae), remove the pothos and clean out the jar with warm water and soap before refreshing the cold water.
- If your roots keep rotting, you may want to use filtered water, but avoid too high sodium in the water (too high amounts are toxic to the pothos cuttings).
- Try to keep the water relatively warm in the first few weeks of propagation – it will help place the cuttings on a warm windowsill that receives a lot of light.
While it doesn’t matter, you also want to try and propagate your pothos during the summertime – this way, you’ll see faster growth and reduce the chances of experiencing these abovementioned issues.
It can become overwhelming to know what to do and what works when propagating.
Below are detailed some of the most common questions people ask about propagating their pothos:
Unfortunately, you can’t propagate pothos without having a viable node.
You can definitely propagate pothos without leaves. It might take longer to grow, and the chances of success are lower, but it’s worth the shot.
If you’re successful, leaves will appear when you put the plant in the soil or water.
Other than the time you put into propagating (which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes if you’re water propagating), pothos will generally take between 4 to 6 weeks to create roots.
You can do the following to increase the speed at which your photos propagates:
- Use a growing nutritional medium.
- Provide sufficient bright, indirect sunlight.
- Keep the propagating container at room temperature between 70°F – 90°F.
- Change out the water once every other week.
Growing any plant will take time, so if you don’t see any growth in the first week, be patient – you’ll see roots forming as soon as one week and up to six weeks.
No, you can’t propagate pothos from just a leaf. It would help if you used stem cuttings that contain one or more nodes to allow for roots to grow.
There are a few reasons your pothos will take a long time to root.
Some of the most common reasons for slow root growth in pothos include:
- Your cuttings are too long – instead of one long vine, propagate at each node (at most every other node).
- You didn’t include a node in your cutting – without a node, your pothos will only last as long as fresh-cut flowers would in a vase.
- The propagation container isn’t getting enough light – the plant needs bright light to grow, so reducing the amount of light it receives will slow down growth drastically.
- You let your pothos cuttings form a callus – this technique only works on succulents!
- The cuttings are too cold – pothos cuttings will produce the most roots in warmer temperatures (over 68 Fahrenheit).
- You’re propagating in a cold month – this is when plants go dormant, which may slow down growth.
- You propagated old or unhealthy vines – while it mainly works out, sometimes the vines are too old or diseased to produce a viable specimen.
- The water is old – remember to change out propagation water every other week and clean the container if you see signs of algae growth.
Is It Better To Propagate Pothos In Water Or Soil?If your pothos isn’t growing roots super fast, it’s likely attributed to one of these common mistakes.
You’ll see roots sprouting anywhere from 7-21 days – it depends entirely on the growing conditions of the pothos.
Photos will quickly propagate in either water or soil. You do want to stick to one medium until the pothos has developed a substantial root system.
Propagating pothos is a fun experiment if you’re new to propagating any plant, as they’ll give you the highest success rate – if done right.
Remember always to take a cutting containing a leaf and a node. You also want to place it in an environment where it will receive a lot of bright indirect sunlight – regardless of if you’re water or soil propagating.
If you’re only starting with plant care and want to see what propagation method works best for you, try both! If anything, you’ll be left with more knowledge about propagation (and pothos plants) than you started with!