How to propagate pothos

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While some plants can be tricky to propagate, there are a few that are downright easy! And fortunately for tropical plant lovers, pothos is one of the easiest plants to propagate.

Pothos is a vining tropical houseplant that can be propagated easily via cuttings or by division. Pothos cuttings are generally trimmed off the end of a young stem and then placed in water or soil to develop roots. Larger pothos plants can be split apart using root division to create 2-6 smaller sections which can then be repotted individually.

Keep reading if you currently have a pothos plant and want to propagate it and grow your plant collection. This article will cover the basics and methods of propagating pothos.

How to propagate pothos

The basics of propagating pothos

Pothos plants are among the easiest plant to propagate by rooting stem cuttings. Propagating pothos with cuttings is a great project for beginner gardeners as it opens the door to propagating more difficult plants down the road. Pothos is also a great plant for learning to divide plants by root division, as these plants are quite forgiving.

The best time to propagate pothos is in the spring. That said, you can take cuttings at any point while it is actively growing. Most indoor gardeners avoid propagating houseplants with cuttings in the winter as plants are less active during the cooler months when sunlight levels are decreased.

Pothos stem vine - where to take cutting

Methods of propagating pothos plants

There are a few methods for propagating pothos plants; however, taking stem-tip cuttings is the most popular method.

1. Stem-tip cuttings

Stem-tip cuttings is the process of cutting 4-6 inches of the healthy stem off your plant for propagation. There are detailed step-by-step instructions for propagating pothos by stem-tip cuttings in the following section, but here are the basics:

Start with a healthy pothos plant with long vines that are actively growing. Look for signs of fresh growth like young vibrantly green leaves. Choose young stems with healthy tips for your cuttings as these will propagate best. When the cuttings are potted up into planters, it’s common to put 3-5 cuttings into one planter, so plan how many cuttings you need to take accordingly (based on how many planters you have to pot up).

Cut your pothos stem 4-5 inches from the tip, removing all the leaves except for the last leaf at the tip of the stem. If using a longer stem, you can leave a few leaves on the end. If you have a very limited amount of young stem, the stem can be cut into small pieces by making a cut through the stem between each leaf. Pothos cuttings tend to root well even if there is only a small bit of the main stem and at least one leaf.

2. Division

Root division is the process of dividing up the whole mother plant into smaller sections, each with its developed root system. Since each portion has its own set of roots, it is easier for it to adapt to the soil and propagate a new plant.

3. Offsets/runners

Offsets and runners are parts of the mother plant that grow horizontally from the main part of the plant. These lateral shoots can form new buds separate from the mother plant and are used in propagation. However, this propagation method is not as popular as the offsets need to start to develop their root system before being removed from the mother plant. 

Propagating pothos housepalnts

Propagating pothos in water

Materials you need to propagate pothos in water

To properly propagate Pothos in water, you will need a few materials.

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Rooting hormone powder
  • Clean container with fresh water

How to propagate pothos in water

  1. Disinfect your scissors using a dilute solution of alcohol or bleach. Disinfecting your scissors prevents bacteria and other debris from contaminating the fresh-cut stems.
  2. Pick the stems you want to cut off your plant. Make sure these stems are young with healthy tips as these are optimal for propagation. Choose 3-5 stems per the number of planters you have.
  3. Cut off the tip of the stem, which is around 4-5 inches long. Then, cut off all the leaves on the stem, except for the leaf at the tip of the stem. If your plant doesn’t have a lot of vines, you can cut a single vine into multiple cuttings. Make sure each cutting has a portion of the main Pothos plant plus a leaf so that the plant will propagate correctly. Place your cuttings on a clean surface. Repeat until you have enough cuttings.
  4. Trim the base of each stem cutting, making the cut right below a leaf node if possible. Make a clean cut so that the base of the stem remains healthy and well-suited to root development. Cuttings can be as small as 2-3 inches long and still produce roots.
  5. Dip the cut end of each stem into rooting hormone powder. This is optional; however, it can be helpful if you’re new to propagating houseplants.
  6. Place the stem base into a clean container filled with fresh water. Place each stem in its container or group a few in larger containers. Make sure the cuttings are not crowded and the air circulation is good. (The easiest way to monitor root development is through clear glass containers to see the Pothos cuttings.
  7. Move the cuttings to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  8. Monitor the plants every few days, changing the water and looking for root development. Remove any yellow or mushy cuttings and plant the healthy cuttings into planters once they have emerging roots.
  9. Put the rooted cuttings into groups and place them into a planter with organic potting soil. Water the cuttings, making sure the water drains freely.

Propagating pothos in soil

Materials you need to propagate pothos in soil

To properly propagate Pothos in soil, you will need a few materials.

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Hormone Powder
  • Planter pot with moist potting mix

How to propagate pothos in soil

Propagating Pothos in the soil is extremely similar to propagating in water. Repeat steps 1-5 from above and then continue by using the following steps for propagating the cuttings in soil. 

  1. Fill the bottom 1/3 of a planter pot with moist high-quality potting mix. Make sure your pot is at least 4-6 inches wide and has good drainage holes at the bottom. Tropical potting mix made with coco coir and perlite works well for propagating Pothos plants. 
  2. Place several cuttings into the planter pot. Usually, about three cuttings fit into a 4-inch wide planter, while five cuttings suit a 6-inch wide planter. The base of each cutting should be resting on the bed of potting mix.
  3. Fill the rest of the planter with potting mix. Fill the remaining space surrounding the Pothos cuttings, leaving around an inch of space at the top. Then, water the planter, making sure the water is draining well out of the bottom. Keep in mind, the soil may settle after watering, but this is entirely normal. 
  4. Move the planter to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  5. Monitor the plant every few days, watering before the soil becomes too dry. Pothos cuttings grow best in moist, not soggy, or muddy soil. 
Propagating pothos - golden pothos plant

Problems that can occur while propagating pothos

  1. Cuttings can burn in direct sunlight. To remedy this, place your cuttings in bright yet filtered light so the foliage doesn’t burn.
  2. Pothos can develop root rot if overwatered or placed in a poorly draining planter. To remedy this, use a high-quality potting mix for soil aeration, such as a mixture of coco coir and perlite. Once the cuttings have developed roots into the soil, you can let the top inch of soil dry out in between waterings. Any more drying out can cause the plant to wilt.
  3. If you propagate with an unhealthy plant, your cuttings will not regrow. To remedy this, make sure your plant is actively growing and healthy so that the cuttings will be healthy as well. Try propagating during the spring and summer, as this is when your plant is photosynthesizing the most. 
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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.