How to Propagate Pothos - Backyard Boss
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How to Propagate Pothos

Low-maintenance, forgiving, and unfussy, pothos make excellent beginner houseplants. They can thrive in a range of indoor environments, needing relatively little, indirect sunlight. And, with their ability to trail and hang from shelving and climb trellises, they are a great way to add texture and lushness to any room.

The best thing, they’re also easy propagate, so you can have many pothos, or gift one to a friend. In just a few easy steps, you can create entirely new plants to brighten up another section of your home.

This guide will outline the two most popular methods for propagating pothos. Both methods involve growing a new pothos from the cut stem of an existing plant; you’ll just need to choose whether you want to root the stem in water or soil. Keep reading to find out more!

What You’ll Need

Gardening tools and houseplants - still life
Image credit: Alena Brozova via Shutterstock

Before you start propagating your pothos plants there’s a couple things you’ll need for each propagation technique.

  • Disinfected, sharp pruning shears
  • Gloves and a long-sleeved shirt

If rooting in water:

  • A glass or vase
  • Room-temperature water (ideally, filtered or previously boiled)
  • A pot with high-quality potting soil for eventual transplant

If rooting in soil:

  • A plant pot with plenty of drainage holes
  • High-quality potting soil
  • Rooting hormone powder (optional)

Step 1: Choose a Method

Pothos cuttings in water
Image credits: Jacob Spaccavento via Unsplash

Some gardeners enjoy rooting a cut pothos stem in water because it gives them the chance to watch new roots form; it’s an eye-catching propagation station. This method tends to generate roots more quickly, but you will need to transplant the pothos to a pot with soil once it is ready. The roots will then need time to adapt to the soil.

Alternatively, you can root the stem directly in a pot with high-quality potting soil. This may mean your roots will take a little longer to start forming, but you won’t have to transplant the pothos immediately afterward. Because it’s already in the soil, the roots may take less time to become sturdy.

Step 2: Protect Yourself

Gardening gloves
Image credits: Mari Potter via Unsplash

As charming as the pothos may be, it is toxic to people and animals. The leaves and stems contain calcium oxalate that can cause irritation for both humans and pets.

Cover yourself with gloves and long sleeves while working to avoid skin irritation. If you have any young children or curious pets in the house, keep the pothos and their cuttings out of reach at all times, as ingesting this plant can cause serious harm.

Step 3: Make the Cuttings

Pothos stems and leaves
Image credits: Kara Eads via Unsplash

This method is for rooting in water: To give your new pothos the best possible start, make sure you cut an especially long, healthy stem. Your pruning shears should be as sharp and clean as possible to avoid damaging the stem or spreading bacteria.

You’ll want your cut stem to be at least four inches long and have a few good leaves on it. Count three or four leaves down from the tip of the stem. At the fourth or fifth leaf, make a 45-degree cut just below the node (the bump in the stem where the leaf emerges). Remove the bottom leaf.

If you want your new pothos to look thick and full, make several cuttings. You can plant these together in the same pot after they have rooted in water.

Step 4. Root the Cuttings

Pothos in pot
Image credits: Kelsey Brown via Unsplash

If rooting in water:

Fill your glass or vase with water and place a cut stem in it, being careful not to submerge any leaves. 

To avoid chemicals interfering with your pothos’ growth, use filtered water or water previously boiled and cooled instead of tap water. 

Now, place the glass in a warm location with indirect sunlight. If you’re propagating your pothos in the winter, avoid placing it next to a window as the cold air may prevent root generation.

Change the water every couple of days or whenever it starts to look cloudy. If the glass starts to appear moldy, give it a good cleaning.

Soon, you’ll notice tiny roots appearing.

If rooting in soil:

Fill your pot with potting soil mix. Poke the soil with a pencil or stick to make a hole for each cutting.

If you’re interested in propagating plants as a hobby, you might choose to invest in root hormone powder, which can help new roots form more quickly. If you have this on hand, dip the tips of the stems in the powder. If not, don’t worry – your pothos will likely do just fine on their own.

Place the cut stems in the holes, bury the first root node, and pat down the soil. Give the pot a good watering and place it in a warm location with indirect sunlight.

Water the soil every few days. After a couple of weeks have passed, tug gently on the stems. If they resist, they have successfully become rooted in the soil. 

Step 5: Transplant the Pothos (if You Root Them in Water)

Pothos on mantle
Image credits: Linmiao Xu via Unsplash

Once the roots of your pothos cuttings reach an inch in length, which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months, they are ready to be transplanted to a pot with soil. Don’t let them linger in the water for too much longer, or they will have a harder time adapting to the change.

Fill a pot with high-quality potting mix, and poke holes in the soil for each pothos stem. Press to secure each stem.

Over the next few months, keep the soil moist to encourage more root growth.

Now Watch It Grow

Potho propagation makes for a fun indoor project and a great introduction to plant propagation in general. Whether you’re looking for a unique and personal gift for a loved one or want to get more life out of your favorite houseplant, just give it a try!