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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.

Looking to purchase a special Pothos? There are so many varieties! One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the Pothos selection (link to Etsy) today!


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.

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:



Monday 27th of September 2021

Hi, I'm Varadharajan from India, I'm a new for indoor plants, growing pothos, syngonium, caladium and a jade. Let me know why one of the 12 inch pothos one leaf tip turns brown and furl. This happened over water or under water. Plants all kept in balcony away from direct sunlight.


Monday 27th of September 2021

Hi Varadharajan. What kind of potting mix do you have your plant in? That usually happens if your soil has gone too dry. There are other causes but this is the most common. Could this be the case with yours?

Kate Rose

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Please could you help? I've had maybe 8 or 9 cuttings that have rooted perfectly, but they just will not take when I move them to soil. Roots were 4-10cm. I've tried keeping the soil more or less damp but eventually they just turn yellow and keel over. I thought these were meant to be easy!!


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Hi Kate! Sorry you're having issues with that! I would recommend not waiting until they get that long. Maybe pot them up when the roots are about 2-3cm long. When you potted them up, what kind of potting mix did you use? Can you describe the light situation that you placed your plant in? And any other growing conditions (temperature, etc.)


Sunday 25th of July 2021

I have a cutting with several nodes that I cut a year ago. The leaves are healthy and green. Roots grew in water. But in the last year the cutting has not grown or died. What could be wrong?


Sunday 23rd of May 2021

I received a cutting from a patient last June. I put in water and got roots. I placed in soil and it has never grown at all but it hasn't died either. I did place in different pot and soil about a month ago. Any thoughts? I have successfully propagated pothos in the past and don't want to lose this cutting.


Monday 24th of May 2021

Hi Michelle! Give it a little bit of time. Depending on how long your cutting was in water and if you had a single-node cutting or not, just have a little patience and it will get there. Make sure you keep it in front of a window to provide enough light. Sometimes they take a while to get going :-)

Vicki Bosworth

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Mine got roots just fine but its hasn't grown at all since being planted not one new leaf and its been a couple months


Monday 24th of May 2021

Are you giving your plant enough light? This is the single most important factor. Also, if you did single node cuttings, it will take a bit of time before a vine forms.