How to Propagate Pothos in Water with a Propagation Station

Pothos Cutting Propagating In a Jar of Water

The main types of plant propagation are cuttings, layering, division, budding, and grafting -- but the beginner houseplant lover only needs to worry about cuttings to propagate pothos cuttings.

For this houseplant propagation guide we'll focus on propagating house plants using cuttings in water.

How to Propagate House Plant Cuttings in Water

Understanding Plant Biology

Pothos Plant on Stool

A plant is made up of roots and shoots. The roots are the part of the plant that normally lie below ground. They are absent any leaves and nodes. Roots serve to absorb water and nutrients, store nutrients, and secure the plant to the soil. The shoots are the parts above ground, notably stems, leaves, and petals.

The plant stem is composed of nodes and internodes. The node is from where the leaves, branches, and aerial roots grow. Internodes are the spaces between nodes.

When propagating house plant cuttings you must take extra special care of these nodes, because most houseplant propagation will fail without a healthy node.

Plant Growth Regulators

Sometimes you may see recommendations to put rooting hormone on your plant cuttings. When propagating houseplants cuttings in water, like using a Hoydadendron Propagation Station, rooting hormone is often unnecessary. The pothos plant will naturally produce its own rooting hormone contained within the small volume of water in the tube.

I normally avoid adding plant growth regulators because most rooting hormones are intended for cuttings being placed directly in soil. They may contain additives that can alter the water's pH, or encourage mold or fungal growth.

What is a Node / Identifying the leaf node of plant cuttings?

The node is the bump located at the end of house plants stems where house plant leaves develop from buds.

Identifying the leaf node (the bump) is important because that will be where your new house plant growth comes from, not from anywhere else on the house plant stem. If your cutting doesn't have a node (for most plants, but definitely pothos), it will not root.

The easiest way to identify a node is by looking for an existing leaf. That leaf grew from a node! If you don't have an existing leaf, you can find the node bump opposite a growing aerial root, or by looking carefully along the stem for the "eye" of the node. This small bump will eventually form the new leaf and start new stem growth.

Cutting Your Plant

  1. Gather a pair of scissors or knife, and some alcohol.
  2. Begin by identifying where you will cut the plant. A cutting requires a minimum of one node, but it is easier and quicker to grow if you include a node that has an existing leaf -- or better two nodes with leaves on each. For the quickest growth of the new plant, take a top cutting. This is a cutting that includes the existing top growth point from the mother plant. Once rooted, growth will continue from this point. In a normal stem cutting, the plant must not only grow new roots but activate an auxiliary growth bud. Once grown both types of cuttings produce wonderful plants, but the stem cutting will take longer to start.
  3. Sanitize your scissors with the alcohol. You are creating a wound on the plant, and it is possible for the plant to get sick if exposed to pathogens.
  4. Cut safely above a node, but close to the node. This will encourage the best chance of that node activating in the mother plant.
  5. If necessary, trim internodal space from the cutting. Excess internodal stem can encourage rot.
  6. Place the new cutting in water to root.
  7. Keep an eye on the wound on the mother plant for a few weeks to ensure it heals.

Letting it Grow

Plant Cuttings Growing in Glass Jar of Water

The cutting will need to sit in water for several weeks before it starts to form roots. During this time, you will need to carefully balance the need to keep the water clean from contaminants with the plant's natural growth hormones.

As the cutting sits in water it is releasing hormones that help the development of roots and activation of new growth. By keeping the cutting in a small volume of water that is rarely changed, these hormones are in high concentration and rooting happens quicker.

At the same time, natural mold, fungus, or other contaminants on the plant stem are sitting in the water -- and the opening of your container is exposing the water to more every day. It is important to change the water whenever you see any signs of mold, fungus, slime, or rot.

I prefer to leave the same water as long as possible, topping up as the water evaporates or is absorbed by the plant, so I like to use plant propagation stands with small thin glass like the Hoyadendron Monstera Albo Propagation Station. Each cutting is isolated from others neatly in the tall glass tube, safe from unnecessary exposure.

Avoid containers with odd neck shapes that are significantly smaller than the main container. The plant will grow to fill the space and you won't be able to remove it without damaging roots.

Transplanting the cuttings to soil

Once the cutting has developed roots that are several inches long, you can remove it from the propagation container and plant in your preferred medium.

These roots are used to water, not soil, so there can be some transplant shock -- but by growing well established roots in water first, you are giving the plant a strong start at establishing healthy new soil growth.


Lots of Hanging Plants Growing in Sunny Window

As houseplants go, pothos is incredibly easy to propagate by cuttings. Once rooted, these house plants are prolific growers. If you don't have any cuttings now, just wait! As your own plant gets too long, take a cutting. This will not only give you a new plant, but encourage additional growth on your mother plant.

What are you going to do with all of your extra pothos cuttings? Have you considered a propagation wall? Enjoy a wall of plant greenery while growing house plants to give away as gifts!