Illustration: Ellie Schiltz/Getty Images
If you’re a fan of indoor-jungle-meets-tropical-oasis interiors—think the homes of Hilton Carter or Plant Kween—you need to know how to propagate pothos plants. Beautiful vining plants are key to the aesthetics, and pothos vines are among the best houseplants to execute look. Plus, pothos plants are great vining plants for beginners because they are so easy to maintain: The plant species typically thrives in low-light conditions and even tolerates some neglect. They are altogether low-maintenance, even therapeutic, in terms of their plant care.
But how to get started in propagating pothos plants? To better develop your pothos-making skills, we talked to some plant pros. “Pothos is one of the easiest plants to propagate, and you can do this via stem cuttings in water or soil,” says Vladan Nikolic, plant expert and creator of Mr. Houseplant. So, whether you’re just hoping to add some new houseplants here and there or opting for a full indoor jungle, follow along with this guide below to start your pothos plant propagation journey.
Supplies You’ll Need to Propagate Pothos Plants
A healthy pothos plant
Pruning shears or scissors
Container for water
Container with drainage holes
Step 1: Cut an existing pothos plant vine
Most plant propagation starts with the healthy stem of an existing plant, and the same is true for pothos. Start by finding a pothos stem with at least 2–3 leaves that are fuller in size and richer in color. Skip any stems that have yellowing leaves or new leaves that are just starting to grow. If you cut a vine with leaves still growing, you could place undue stress on the stem, and it could be less likely to sprout roots.
Where do I cut a pothos plant to propagate it?
The stem you pick should have several nodes (what look like little bumps where future roots will appear). “When propagating pothos, you want to cut just below a node,” says Autumn Hilliard-Knapp, marketing coordinator and horticulturist at Perfect Plants Nursery. Use pruning shears or scissors to make the cut. “Nodes are important because that is where the plant will develop new roots. Look for a healthy stem with several nodes to ensure successful propagation.”
Step 2: Place cuttings in water or soil
Option 1: Pothos propagation in water
After selecting the right stem, place the pothos plant cutting in a glass of water, ensuring the leaves stay above water. Here, it has all the nutrients it needs. “I recommend propagating your pothos in water and in a glass container,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers. “Keep your container in a spot that receives bright or moderate indirect light to encourage rooting.” Brighter and direct sunlight will help your new cutting take root faster. Remember to switch out the water every few days to keep the right amount of minerals required for the plant’s development. Replacing the water regularly also inhibits bacterial growth, which could harm the plant.
Option 2: Potho propagation in soil
If you don’t want to go the water propagation route, you can propagate in soil instead. “Plant parents can follow the same steps for cutting stems as they would for propagating in water,” says Palomares. Then place the cut end of the cutting in well-drained soil and in a container with drainage holes. This will help water move freely through the soil and avoid root rot. “Propagating pothos in soil can be more reliable in terms of successful root development,” says Hilliard-Knapp. “Using a well-draining potting mix and keeping it consistently moist helps stimulate root growth.”
Step 3: Plant the rooted cuttings in soil
Assuming you’ve chosen water propagation, once the pothos plant has rooted—that is, you can see new roots that are least 2–3 inches long—it’s time to move it to soil. You’ll want to use a well-draining soil mixture and small pot with drainage holes. Water it, then move back to the same location with bright or moderate indirect sunlight. You’ll need to water the plant regularly to keep the soil evenly moist during the first 1–2 weeks. Nikolic recommends watering the plant once every other day.
Frequently asked questions
If you’ve still got some lingering questions about pothos plant propagation, consider the following frequently asked questions.
Are some pothos varieties more difficult than others to propagate?
Generally speaking, most types of pothos plants are easy to propagate. “And certain varieties, such as the golden pothos, are known to be particularly easy to propagate due to their vigorous growth and high tolerance for different conditions,” Hilliard-Knapp adds. “These varieties often root quickly and easily, making them ideal for beginners.” Popular houseplants like neon and marble queen pothos are also easier to propagate.
On the other hand, there are a few slightly harder varieties to propagate at home. “Varieties like harlequin pothos can be more challenging because their distinctly variegated leaves are low in chlorophyll and somewhat delicate,” says Lauren Landers of Zero Waste Homestead.
Is it better to propagate pothos plants in water or soil?
As you likely noticed, you can propagate pothos plants in both water and soil. Both methods work, and yet each comes with its own set of pros and cons. With water, there’s the visual appeal of getting to watch your pothos roots grow. “Water propagation is also easier for beginners,” Nikolic points out. “There’s no need to think about watering, no need to think about humidity,” and “water propagation can be faster than soil propagation.”
However, with water propagation there’s the risk of the pothos dying when its finally transitioned into potting soil and repotted, says Nikolic. Which is why at this juncture it is important to water the pothos once a day every other day for the first week. This will help make sure the plant has enough water as it transitions to soil during the final plant propagation step.
As previously noted, propagating pothos plants in soil can be more reliable for successful root development, however there are some downsides to the method, too. You will need to water the cutting more frequently if you propagate pothos in soil, and you will have to monitor its humidity. “It is generally easier to first propagate the cutting in water until it grows a few inches of roots, before potting the cutting in soil,” says Nikolic. “A cutting that’s potted directing in soil, without rooting first, is generally more difficult to keep alive, because it has no roots to absorb moisture.” To make sure your cutting without roots doesn’t die, you would have to keep the soil consistently moist, until it grows some roots. “One way to increase chances of successful soil propagation is to cover the cutting with a plastic bag,” he adds. This increases the pot’s humidity around the cutting, which avoids water loss and helps keep the dirt moist.
“But it ultimately comes down to personal preference and what works best for you,” says Hilliard-knapp. To increase your chances of success, skip the standard garden soil, says Landers. “It is not a good choice for propagation as it is quite dense, and it can contain microbes that will infect cuttings.” Instead, choose sterilized, soil-free potting mix or damp sand to make your new plants.
Will pothos grow back after cutting?
Yes. In fact, pruning the mother plant promotes new growth, and it won’t hurt the new pothos plant either. “If your plant is healthy, growing fast, and getting a lot of bright light, you can cut as many stems as you like,” says Nikolic. “However, cutting off a lot of stems is only recommended for experienced plant parents,” he warns. If you are not familiar with pothos and generally lack a green thumb, you could risk cutting too many stems at once. This would lead to easily overwatering the plant and allowing root rot to take over. Why? “If you remove too many leaves, you are reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Less photosynthesis means less water absorption from the soil.” The soil will stay wet longer around the indoor plants, increasing the chances of root rot setting in.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
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