Wondering how to propagate pothos cuttings? Pothos propagation is easy, and I’m going to teach you how to propagate pothos in water, moss, and LECA so you never have to buy it again!
How to propagate pothos cuttings
As much of a plant lover as I am, I have to admit that I often opt for low-maintenance indoor plants. I first wrote this post when my daughter was a newborn, so I was up to my eyeballs in stress. And I was also coming off the heals of pregnancy, during which I was really sick and let a ton of stuff die.
And I sold a bunch of plants on Facebook to lower my stress levels. Some of the bigger plants to make room for baby stuff, but also some of the harder-to-keep-alive varieties.
And by harder to keep alive, I mean stuff you have to remember to water more than once every few weeks. I replaced pretty much everything with mostly cacti, snake plants, rubber plants, and pothos varieties.
And let me tell you what. The pothos plant is the all star of managing to thrive when suffering from painful neglect. Here is a full post about how to care for pothos plants—but as long as they are in well-draining soil and you don’t overwatering them, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous growth!
How to navigate this post…
This is a longer post…I have a lot to say about pothos! So if you want to skip ahead, feel free to do so below. You’ll be missing lots of pothos tips and pretty pictures though 😉
- Pothos growth examples
- Where I have pothos plants in the house
- How to take a good cutting
- Will pothos grow after cutting the stem?
- Method #1: How to propagate pothos in water
- Pothos water propagation FAQs
- Method #2: How to propagate pothos in LECA
- Pothos LECA propagation FAQs
- Method #3: How to propagate pothos in sphagnum moss
- Pothos moss propagation FAQs
Pothos growth examples
Here is a pothos plant I’ve had for years. I took the first photo below in 2016 when we first moved into our first home. It’s a lovely mix of golden and jade pothos.
And then about 2 years later, it looked like the below picture! And that is WITH constantly taking cuttings from it to propagate. I love all the green up against the black wall…even if it is now pretty much covering up the gold. But that’s a good sign because it means it’s thriving.
And don’t tell anyone, but this is also while the plant was potting without any drainage holes! Yes, I know. Boo, hiss. This will start some serious debates, but the plant was happy and I couldn’t be bothered with repotting it.
When it eventually did need repotted, I just put it in a plastic nursery planter with drainage holes and a hook. This makes it super easy to water the plant in the sink and wash off all of the foliage—something I do with my long, bushy, trailing plants to keep them happy.
And then now, as I’m updating this post, it is November 2022. I have clipped this plant more time than I can count. There is no way I could even hazard a guess…but if I had to, I’d say I’ve trimmed it roughly every month during the spring and summer.
I trimmed it to propagate for a while, sometimes adding the cuttings to the top of the plant to increase bushiness. Other times I planted them in their own new pots or just gave them away. Most of the time I had to cut it because it had reached the floor and was becoming a nuisance.
Like this? Check out my post about 11 Pothos Varieties to Check Out!
Where I have pothos plants in the house…
I also put pothos in many places throughout my home. And many of these started as other plants! Or I regularly clip them to propagate. Have a look through to see how versatile the plant is.
I have them in bright rooms, dark rooms, rooms that get artificial light, rooms that get natural light. I have them in pots with and without drainage. I have them hanging, I have them on shelves. In bathrooms, in bedrooms. Outdoors on the patio. Super versatile.
Pothos propagation: The first step is taking a good cutting!
Before I dig in to the different pothos propagation methods, let’s go over how to take a good cutting. Taking a good cutting is essential. If the cutting doesn’t have growth points on it, it will not root.
I like to make my cuttings about 4-6 inches long. That way there will be plenty of plant left above the soil when you replant it. If the cutting is too long, it might struggle to root.
Make sure the cuttings have nodes (growth points) on them. Most areas you can cut from will have them. These growth points can be the little brown spots on the stems (see below). Or you can take a cutting and remove the bottom-most set of leaves to expose those growth points.
If you want a big, bushy plant, take several short cuttings. This will take longer to get a mature-looking plant, but it will be worth the wait! Don’t forget that pothos plants grow like weeds with just a little bit of care, so a small plant will becoming a large plant in no time.
Will pothos grow after cutting the stem?
Yes! It won’t grow from exactly the point you cut the branch, but it will grow from the closest node on the stem. It will branch out a bit. That it why one way to help fix leggy pothos plants are by pruning and propagating the thin areas.
Once you trim and root the leggy parts, you can repot them with the plant for a fuller look. Like the gorgeous plant below that started as a small bunch of rooted cuttings planted closely together.
Method 1: How to propagate pothos in water
One of the great things about pothos plants is that they are really easy to propagate in water. It’s a plant I actually favor water propagation for. Other plants like hoyas do not do as well with water propagation for me. But pothos? It does!
You can even keep your pothos plant cuttings in water. They’ll grow slowly, but they’ll do just fine. If you want them to grow as normal, you can add nutrients to the water (check out hydroponics for more—but I am not super into that).
And why complicate things if you don’t have to? Here’s all you need to propagate pothos in water:
- Cuttings with growth points
- Container (clear is great to help you monitor root development
First, add the cuttings to the container
Stick the cut end of the pieces into a jar with water. They should be fully submerged. I like using a clear mason jar because I can easily tell when I need to add more water and see when roots sprout. The first photo below is right when I put the cuttings in.
After a few weeks, you’ll see new roots sprouting from the cut part of the pieces. Those roots are what prevents the plant from dying when you transplant it into new soil.
The second and third photos below are the cuttings after about a week in the water. See the little whiteish roots sprouting from the stems? That’s the start of the new roots. I like to let the roots get a few inches long before transplanting.
It can take longer to root if you are propagating in the fall or winter, too. So keep that in mind. Have patience and monitor for signs of rot. If you notice signs of rot, clip it off and start over. Refresh the water roughly weekly.
Once the roots are several inches long, it’s time to transplant them in soil. Or you can be like me and let the cuttings chill for upwards of a year! I just let them do their thing sometimes. They still look pretty while they are rooting.
And I know I said to take shorter cuttings, but I have an example below where I rooted very long cuttings. I had these in this jar for over a year. They were in my office when the world shut down, and they still did fine until I could go in to get them (someone in security must have been adding water!).
Next, transfer the cuttings to soil
When the roots are long enough (or when you feel like it), you can transfer the cuttings to fresh, well-draining soil. Make sure you bury the cuttings deep enough to keep them stable—but they might be a bit flopping until the roots make themselves at home.
The roots are very fragile, so be very gentle. If the new roots break off, the piece will probably have a higher chance of wilting and dying when you transplant it into the soil.
I recommend keeping the soil moist for a few weeks while the water roots convert to soil roots. Once the plant begins pushing out new growth, back off the watering and treat the plant as you would any normal pothos plant.
Pothos water propagation FAQs
Although the plant is easy to propagate in water, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are a few pothos plant propagation tips and issues you might encounter.
Why does my plant look droopy after planting the cuttings?
One of the things to keep in mind is that these are water roots. Water roots are different from soil roots. That’s why pothos can root and grow in water, but an overwatered pothos in soil will die from root rot. Water roots are white and fuzzy, while soil roots take in water differently.
The water roots might take in a bit too much moisture when you first transplant the rooted cuttings to soil. So give it a few days to adjust after you transplant it. If it looks a bit weepy for a few days, don’t panic.
Sometimes plants need some time to rebound after being repotted. Make sure you don’t water it too much thinking that the droopiness means it is thirsty. This is a fast way to kill your new plant! Only water it against once the top few inches of soil dry out.
How long does it take for pothos to root in water?
It takes about 2 weeks for pothos cuttings to root in water. However, if it’s cooler—like during the fall or winter—your propagations will likely take longer. The spring and summer are always the best time to propagate plants, but I have propagated pothos all year. Just have patience.
Does pothos grow faster in water or soil?
Pothos can root and even live in water. However, it grows faster in soil. That’s because water does not have all of the necessary nutrients that soil has (unless you add nutrients to the water like you do for hydroponics).
That said, this is such a patient plant! I took several pothos cuttings from a plant to put in water for my office cubical. I had those cuttings in water for about a year and they lived very happily. However, they grew very slowly.
Why are my pothos cuttings rotting?
If your pothos cuttings appear to be rotting (yellowing, browning, drooping), it’s likely too cold. Pothos plants live happily in warm, humid temperatures. They do not do well in cold temps.
If you still have the cuttings in water and the rot seems to be around the growth point, try trimming it and rooting from another growth point instead. (If there is one, that is.) Let the cut end callus over for 24 hours before putting it back in water.
Method #2: How to propagate pothos in LECA
Another way to propagate pothos cuttings is in LECA. If you haven’t heard of LECA, they are basically clay balls that hold moisture. You nest the cuttings in them, and roots sprout.
I love rooting plants in LECA for a bunch of reasons. You do have to buy LECA, but it’s reusable forever because you can sanitize it after using it. LECA also provides a more stable base when compared to water.
And the reason I love LECA the most is that it helps you grow stronger roots that respond better when you transfer the cuttings to soil. Here’s what you need to propagate pothos in LECA:
- Cuttings with growth points
- Clear container
First, add a bottom layer of LECA to the container
LECA propagation uses water as well, but the process is a bit different. You create a reservoir of water in the bottom of your container. Then, you nest the cutting just above that reservoir.
The cutting shouldn’t touch the water. Instead, the LECA balls will soak up the moisture from the reservoir. The cutting will respond by sprouting new roots from its growth points. These roots grow throughout the LECA.
Next, transfer the cuttings to soil
Monitor the water levels to make sure it doesn’t evaporate completely. I don’t flush our the LECA while I am rooting cuttings; instead, I wait until it is almost gone and just pour some more in the top.
When the cuttings have some nice long roots, you can transplant these to soil. No need to keep these as moist as you would with water-rooted cuttings. The roots are stronger since they aren’t technically grown in water.
Pothos LECA propagation FAQs
LECA propagation has the additional step of procuring LECA, but it’s often worth it! Here are some questions you might have about the process. (See my full LECA propagation guide for more.)
Where can I find LECA?
I bought a large bag of LECA clay balls from Ikea years ago. I haven’t had to buy anymore because it is reusable. However, if you can’t find it at your Ikea or aren’t close to an Ikea, check your local nurseries.
I’ve noticed they’ve started carrying LECA more these days. If all else fails, you can buy a small bag online. Remember that you don’t need much since it is reusable.
How do I clean LECA?
After using LECA to root your pothos cuttings, simply boil it on the stove to sanitize it. After boiling it, lay it out on a towel to dry before storing it in a bag.
Method #3: How to propagate pothos in sphagnum moss
Finally I want to cover how to propagate pothos in sphagnum moss and perlite. Moss is my favorite way to root cuttings of many plants, including varieties of hoya and many philodendrons. It’s often overkill for pothos plants since they root so easily.
However, it’s what I use when I want to pretty much guarantee my propagation will be a success. Rooting plants in moss creates very strong roots, so they experience very little shock when moving to soil. Here’s what you need.
- Cuttings with growth points
- Small container
- Sphagnum moss
- Clear baggie
First, dampen the moss and mix in perlite
For your cuttings to root successfully, you’ll want to dampen the moss. I like to soak it in a bowl and then wring out every bit of water I can. Mix with some perlite and put it in a small container.
I like to use small cups and sometimes even use a DIY plastic propagation box if I want to root multiple cuttings at once. Add the cutting into whatever contain you’re using, making sure the growth points are buried.
Then put a clear plastic baggie over the cutting and container. This will help keep humidity high and prevent the moss from drying out too quickly. You’ll notice roots sprouting pretty quickly. Make sure the moss stays damp.
Next, plant the cutting in soil
When the roots are several inches long, take the cutting out of the moss and gently pick off the pieces of moss from the roots. It can be hard to tell if things are roots or moss, so take it slow.
Then plant the cutting in fresh, well-draining soil. Water the plant and treat it as you would any other pothos plant. You should notice minimal drooping with your strong new roots.
Pothos moss propagation FAQs
Moss propagation is fairly straightforward, but here are a few questions I often get about it. See my blog post for a detailed sphagnum moss and perlite propagation guide.
How do I keep the humidity high?
You can use a clear plastic baggie to keep the humidity high. I also use a DIY plastic propagation box if I am rooting multiple cuttings at once. You can use any sort of clear box…I have used an old lunch meat container, too.
Why are my cuttings rotting?
If you notice that the cuttings are rotting, your moss might be too wet. Make sure it is damp, not wet. Squeeze out all of the water. You also want to give the cuttings some fresh air, occasionally taking the bag or box’s lid off to air things out.