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Pothos Not Rooting? Top 10 Secrets Why You’re Failing

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Are your Pothos not rooting in water and you’re not quite sure why? You’ve probably also heard that Pothos is actually one of the easiest houseplants to propagate, which is true, and this makes it even more frustrating!

This post will solve all of your Pothos water propagation problems, so have no fear! I’ve compiled 10 potential reasons why YOUR pothos cuttings are not rooting.

pothos propagation

Whether you’re just not seeing any root growth, or worse yet, your Pothos is yellowing, wilting, drooping, or rotting in water, this post will solve all your woes.

Chances are that you’ve done at LEAST one of these things, but read through all of them because they’re all important tips for propagation in general!


1. Your cuttings are too long

If you trimmed your Pothos and your cuttings were a foot long or more, this is much too long. Remember, you just chopped off a big section of vine, and your cutting still needs moisture to survive.

The only water available to the long cutting is from the small root tip in the water! Chances are, if you have really long cuttings, they’ve probably wilted and some leaves have yellowed.

Now you know why!

To increase your chances of rooting, make cuttings that are no longer than 4-6 inches (10-15cm) or so. Better yet, do single node cuttings!

This way you will get a very full plant and maximize the usage of your cuttings. Each cutting will produce a vine!

pothos propagation
Single node cutting with a new vine starting

On that note, let’s talk about nodes.

2. You didn’t include a node

What is a node? It’s the part where the leaf meets the vine. See the illustration below.

pothos propagation

The node is where your cutting will form both roots AND a new vine! You can see the roots forming below the node arrow, as well as the new vine forming right above the node arrow.

3. You’re keeping your cuttings too dark

Don’t keep your cuttings in a very dark area. Keep them close to a window, as long as it’s warm, or near grow lights.

Just avoid areas that are dark, but also areas that have too much direct sun while they’re rooting.

4. You tried to let it callous over

Callousing your cuttings only applies to propagating succulents! I’ve heard many people make this mistake.

For those of you not familiar, when you take cuttings of succulents, you want to let them air dry for a couple days or more so that the cut dries or “callouses” over.

This helps prevent succulent leaves, which contain a lot of water, from rotting.

For leafy tropical plants like Pothos, you will quickly kill your cuttings this way.

Once you make your cuttings, they should go straight into water or soil to propagate.

5. You’re lacking patience

If your cuttings still look green and healthy, but just haven’t rooted yet, you may just be lacking patience!

I’ve seen root growth in Pothos cuttings in water in as little as a couple days, to a couple weeks or more.

It all depends on your conditions. Be sure to heed all the tips in this post though for greatest success!

pothos propagation

6. You’re keeping your cuttings too cold

Pothos likes warms temperatures to grow, so if you’re keeping your cuttings too cold, it will hinder root growth!

Aim to keep your cuttings above 68F (20C) for best results, but make sure there is still some light present!

Before we replaced the window in our sunroom, it got pretty chilly in the winter and my pothos plants sulked and barely budged.

Imagine trying to take cuttings under these conditions. They will just sit there and do nothing if it’s too cold.

7. You’re trying to propagate in the wrong season

By the “wrong” season, I mean wintertime when many houseplants slow down. Although your pothos will probably still root, it may take much longer than you’d like!

As long as your cuttings look OK and are still green, just keep waiting. They will eventually root for you.

8. You made cuttings from old or unhealthy vines

Always make cuttings with healthy portions of your pothos vine. And make multiple cuttings because not every one will be viable!

Avoid really old vines, vines that look sickly or yellow, and even bare vines with no leaves.

The vines you choose to make cuttings from should be healthy and have green leaves.

pothos propagation

9. You’re not changing the water

Roots need air in order to grow. You should try and change the water with fresh tap water every 2-3 days or so for best results because oxygen in the water will be depleted.

Water coming out of the tap has dissolved oxygen in it. As it sits, oxygen and any dissolved gases that are present will come out of the water and be depleted.

Have you ever left a glass of water out and noticed bubbles on the side of the glass? This is why!

Changing the water also has the benefit of keeping things clean as well, such as if one cutting goes bad and makes the water dirty.

10. You used soft water

Most home water softeners remove calcium and magnesium ions from hard tap water and replace them with sodium.

Sodium is toxic to plants! Therefore, you should never use this water for your plants.


These tips apply for many other plants other than Pothos (Epipremnum aureum).

You can use these same general tips to water propagate any of the following plants:

Heart Leaf Philodendron

Philodendron ‘Brasil’

Scindapsus pictus

Epipremnum pinnatum ‘Cebu Blue’

Monstera siltepecana

Monstera adansonii

And many others! If you’d like to explore growing Pothos permanently in water, check out my blog post showing exactly what you need to do to be successful with growing Pothos in water.

Hopefully you have discovered at least 1 or 2 things that you can change so that you can be successful if you’ve had problems in the past with your Pothos not rooting.


Monday 9th of October 2023

Hi! My pothos is rooting well in water but keeps failing when I then transfer to soil. What am I doing wrong?!


Tuesday 10th of October 2023

Can you describe the process that you use to pot them up? How long were the cuttings in water before you transfered to soil?


Monday 12th of June 2023

Hi This is a great page! I successfully propagated several Devil's Ivy leaves and they have been in soil for about 2 months now, but none of the cuttings have developed new shoots and leaves. Is this normal? Thank you Rachel


Monday 12th of June 2023

Glad you enjoyed it Rachel! It can take them a while, but you should start to see growth soon. Are your plants right in front of a window? Warm temperatures?


Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Love your site. Can you take a stem cutting from pearl and jade with no leaves and root it in water?


Thursday 23rd of February 2023

@Raffaele, Thank you. I will try it and let you know how it goes.


Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

Hi Margaret! I'm so happy that you're enjoying my site :-) You can definitely try it. Sometimes they will take, and sometimes they won't, but it's definitely worth a try!


Monday 20th of February 2023

This is a fantastic resource!!!! I’ve had my lovely pathos for a decade. It’s happy and always growing. I’ve done cuttings for years and at times, some won’t make it and NOW I know why. Thank you!!!


Monday 20th of February 2023

So glad you enjoyed my post Sam!

Ima Plant

Friday 10th of February 2023

Thanks for all your articles. I’ve found them quite informative.

I have some overlong pothos that I’d like to reduce in length. If I wrap the vine back to the pot and place some of the vine’s air roots in the soil, will it grow? Note that I’m not cutting the vine, just bringing it back to the soil in the pot.


Friday 10th of February 2023

Yes that will work! Just make sure it has contact with the soil. You may want to pin the vines down somehow (maybe take a paperclip and make a U shape out of it to pin the vine down so that the aerial roots are in contact with the soil).