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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!

WHY YOUR POTHOS CUTTINGS ARE NOT ROOTING

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!

CONCLUSION

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:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Elizabeth

Thursday 8th of September 2022

Does the end of the stem turn brown before roots come through? Or would it be helpful to clip the brown end off?

Raffaele

Friday 9th of September 2022

It can sometimes turn brown, but it's not typical. I would recommend changing the water more frequently to prevent this. If the end is soft and mushy, I would just remove it gently with your fingers if it comes off easily, and then rinse the cutting and the water propagation vessel and change the water.

Ramona Ryan

Wednesday 20th of July 2022

What can I put in rooting water so it doesn’t stink

Raffaele

Thursday 21st of July 2022

I would just change the water out and wash out the container.

Marti VanAllen

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Hi Raffaele,

I love all of the informative and instructive emails I receive from you. I always learn at least one new thing every time I hear from you. Amazon had your books listed for purchase. This week, your books “Moth Orchid Mastery” and “Houseplant Warrior” joined my library. The “Houseplant Warrior” has great photos and is very helpful. I highly recommend both books. My first two phalaenopsis orchids are doing quite well with your guidance from afar. Keep up the good work!

I appreciate knowing you are out there sharing your knowledge and helping keep my plants alive and thriving. Great tips on the pothos propagation.

Marti

Raffaele

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Thanks so much Marti for your kind words! I'm so happy that you are enjoying my books and that my content has been helpful to you! Good luck in your plant journey :-)

Gabriel

Thursday 17th of March 2022

Can i use a mature pothos vines? The ones with realy big leafs? An “adult plant”. Theres one at my local city

Raffaele

Thursday 17th of March 2022

Yes, it should still work! :-)

Bernita Green

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

I have a umbrella tree I need help

Raffaele

Thursday 16th of December 2021

What's wrong with your plant?