How to Propagate Pothos: Best Guide for Beginners & 3 Mistakes to Avoid

how to propagate pothos plants

Editor’s note: Propagating plants is essential as plants are the key to healthy ecosystems. The following article shows how to propagate a pothos plant. It’s an excellent plant to learn from, and use this skill to create more plants for free.

Propagating pothos is a fast, cheap, and easy way to get more houseplants. This beginner-friendly vine is a vigorous grower and will benefit from a regular trim. Our how to propagate pothos guide will discuss the best methods with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

Getting Started

Before getting started, here are some essential tips for propagating your pothos successfully.

Materials You Will Need

You only need a few supplies to propagate pothos, and you can easily pick them up from a hardware store or gardening center.

Here’s a quick shopping list:

  • Sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears;
  • Small glass or jar (if propagating in water);
  • Pot with drainage holes;
  • Chunky soil mix is made from fresh potting soil, perlite, and coco coir.

Tip: Pothos cuttings root very fast and don’t usually need rooting hormone. 

When to Propagate Pothos

You can propagate pothos all year round. For best results, try propagating pothos in spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing. Pothos cuttings grow roots faster during the brighter, warmer months and will root slower in winter. 

Tip: The same method can be used to propagate all types of pothos. This includes the classic golden pothos and varieties such as Marble Queen, Pearls and Jade, Neon Pothos, Manjula, Cebu Blue, and even Satin Pothos (Scindapsus pictus).  

How Many Pothos Cuttings Do You Need?

To make a bushy pothos plant, you will need at least 3-4 cuttings per pot. For a 6-inch pot, five cuttings should be enough. This will give the roots space to develop and give the pothos a fuller look. 

Tip: You can propagate pothos from a cutting without leaves. As long as the stem is at least 2 inches long and has a growth node with a visible aerial root, you can put it in soil or water, and new roots will grow. 

How to Cut the Pothos Vine for Propagation

showing how to cut pothos vine for propagation

Start by untangling your pothos plant, and pick 3-4 of the longest vines for propagation. Each vine should have at least 6-7 leaves. 

You can either cut a long vine into single-node sections or take individual cuttings from several vines. All leaves should be healthy, with no pests or diseases, so check them thoroughly before taking any cuttings.

Next, locate the growth node on the vine. It will look like a small lump where the leaf petiole joins the main stem with a woody aerial root. 

Take your scissors or pruning shears and wipe them with isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the blade. Cut the pothos vine at an angle, half an inch above and below the node. That’s it: you now have a pothos cutting! 

Tip: Never cut more than ⅔ of the pothos plant. If you miss too much, the parent plant can go into shock and take several months to start growing leaves again. 

Step-By-Step Guide for How to Propagate Pothos

The easiest pothos propagation methods are rooting cuttings in water or soil. Here’s what you need to do. 

Propagating Cuttings in Water

  1. Use a sharp, sterilized blade and cut the pothos vine ½ an inch above and below the growth node.
  2. Cut at least three cuttings per pot for a bushy pothos plant
  3. Half-fill a glass with room temperature water.
  4. Put your pothos cuttings in the glass, ensuring that the growth node is submerged, but the leaves stay above the water level.
  5. Keep your glass of cuttings in a warm, bright room but away from direct sunlight. 
  6. Change the water in the glass once every 5 to 7 days to prevent algae and bacteria buildup.
  7. After 7 to 10 days, the cutting will grow roots.
  8. Wait until the roots are at least 2 inches long, or another 3-4 weeks. Then, transplant your rooted pothos cuttings into a well-draining, chunky soil mix, and water them well.  

Tip: Pothos cuttings can speed up water propagation for other plants. Their roots release water-soluble hormones that promote cell division and rapid root growth. So if you’re propagating other houseplants in water, put 1-2 pothos cuttings in the same glass. 

Time Lapse of Pothos Propagation in Water

This video is a time lapse that will show you what the various stages of root growth will look like.

Propagating Cuttings in Soil

  1. Cut the pothos vine half an inch above and below the growth node, using a shard, sterilized blade.
  2. Take a pot with drainage holes and fill it with a chunky soil mix.
  3. Stick each cutting in the soil one inch deep and gently press the soil around it so that the cutting sits upright.
  4. Water the soil slowly and evenly until the water starts dripping through the drainage hole.
  5. Put the pot in a warm, bright room, and keep the soil moist.
  6. Pothos cuttings take longer to root in the soil. After 3-4 weeks, give them a light pull. If you encounter resistance, it means that the cuttings have developed roots. 

Water vs. Soil Propagation: Which Is Best?

Water propagation is the fastest and easiest way to root pothos cuttings. Compared to soil propagation, your cuttings will root up to 3 weeks faster, especially in a warm, sunny room. 

Keeping the cuttings in water also makes it easier to see if and when the roots have started growing. And if you remember to change the water at least once every five days, you won’t have problems with rot, a common issue in soil propagation. 

Overall, we recommend using the water propagation method for your pothos cuttings. But if you want to root them in soil instead, there are no rules against it.  

Troubleshooting Common Propagation Mistakes

Scindapsus pictus or satin pothos being propagated in pot
Scindapsus pictus – Satin Pothos

Let’s look at some of the most common pothos propagation problems and how to fix them.

Cuttings Are Not Rooting

There are several reasons why your pothos cuttings are not growing roots:

  • The cutting has no growth node. You can’t propagate pothos from just a leaf, so always make sure the cutting has a node.
  • Cuttings are not getting enough light. Keep them in a bright, indirect light room but away from the intense afternoon sun.
  • The cutting is too long. Try using single-node cuttings instead or vines shorter than 6 inches.
  • It’s too early. Pothos cuttings take between 1 and 4 weeks to start growing roots. They will root faster in water, and if you propagate them during spring and summer.

Cuttings Turning Black

Pothos cuttings can be susceptible to stem and root rot (PDF), which causes them to wilt and turn black. If propagating in water, change the water once every five days. 

For soil propagation, use a well-draining potting mix, and allow the top half-inch of the soil to dry out before watering again.  

Cuttings Wilted After Transplanting

If pothos cuttings are drooping after transplanting to the soil, this is usually caused by too much or too little water. Keep soil moist but not soaked, and always use a well-draining potting mix. Also, avoid sudden changes in temperature, which can also cause the cuttings to wilt.

Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap on our how to propagate pothos guide. Enjoy your baby plants, and remember to check our in-depth pothos care guide to keep your plants thriving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you propagate pothos straight into soil?

Yes, you can propagate pothos straight into the soil. It is mentioned in this article. It may save you some time transplanting from water, but it will take longer and is a bit more risk for problems. Water is the preferred method.

How long does it take for pothos to propagate in water?

You will usually see root growth after 7-10 days. Once the roots are 1-2″ long you can transplant into soil, or keep in water with a good quality liquid fertilizer.

Can you propagate pothos without leaves in water

You can propagate pothos without leaves using a root or stem cutting. But, as stated above, it is usually better to select a healthy section with 6-7 leaves for best results.

What to do about pothos propagation root rot?

Root rot is usually caused by fungal diseases or overwatering. Roots will have a foul smell and be brown or black. These damaged sections should be cut off. Then, place the pothos into new sterile potting soil.

Can pothos propagate from just a leaf?

No, you will need a node that can grow roots. Just using a leaf will not work.

Can pothos live in water forever?

If you enjoyed propagating your pothos in water, don’t feel like potting it in soil. You can leave it in water, and it will happily live out its days. But, you will need to ensure proper care, such as using liquid fertilizer to ensure it is getting the nutrients it needs.

This article was originally published on

Drought-Tolerant Plants For Every Landscape & Plant Type

drought tolerant plants in a front yard

This article was initially published on We’ve republished it because a part of healing water is reducing the amount of water that is used on landscape irrigation. Drought-tolerant native plants are the key to making this work, along with many other benefits. Plus, they’re beautiful and require less maintenance. Enjoy! I hope it inspires you to plant drought-tolerant plants and help save our water supply.

Drought sounds like a gardener’s worst nightmare. But despite the common association of gardening with watering cans or hoses, many plants can tolerate periods of drought once they are established. 

So many that it would be impossible to survey them all here. Instead, we’ll go over a few of our favorite drought-tolerant plants. Plus, we’ll offer some tips for additional ways to make your plants more drought-tolerant.

A Quick Definition

Before we dig into specific types, let’s start with a quick definition to define the meaning of drought-tolerant plants.

A drought-tolerant plant is any plant that can survive long periods without water. You can identify many of these plants by the appearance of visible characteristics that help them resist drought and harsh sun rays. 

Some plants use a silver leaf color to reflect harsh sun rays. By reflecting sunlight, this foliage reduces the water loss that would otherwise occur via transpiration. 

On other plants, fine hairs protect stems and leaves. These hairs help trap moisture at points of delicate plant tissues. They also function as a physical barrier that limits air movement across the leaves, thus reducing transpiration. 

Succulent leaves and taproots store water, helping plants to tolerate dry spells. 

Drought-Tolerant vs. Drought-Resistant

While preparing your gardens for harsh summer weather, you’ll probably come across the term drought-resistant. Drought-resistant and drought-tolerant do not indicate the same thing, even though people use the terms interchangeably. 

Drought-tolerant plants will survive on minimal rainfall for short periods. Drought-resistant plants can survive without water for long periods. 

You might also come across the term xeriscape or xeriscaping (PDF). These terms refer to a landscaping style that deliberately uses drought-tolerant plants to achieve water conservation goals. 

Similarly, water-wise indicates gardening that incorporates sensible water usage techniques. This strategy and associated gardening practices can also be called a dry garden, dry landscaping, water-smart, water-conservation, and desert landscaping. 

Drought-Tolerant vs. Heat-Tolerant

These two terms reflect often related conditions. However, they don’t refer to the same kind of tolerance. Remember: droughts can occur in the winter as well in the summer. The word drought simply refers to an extended period without moisture. 

Heat tolerance refers to a plant’s ability to endure heat stress rather than water scarcity. (Even under intense heat, heat-tolerant plants can sustain vital leaf gas exchange.) So, while many heat-tolerant plants are also drought-tolerant, the terms should not be regarded as interchangeable. 

Drought-Tolerant Plants For Pots

Potted plants typically require more water than bedded plants because there is less available moisture in the soil. It also means less space for roots to spread, limiting their ability to capture what moisture is available. The soil in pots has a higher temperature than ground soil, meaning it dries out faster. 

Nevertheless, if you want to grow a container garden, you have many options for drought-tolerant plants. Here are a few favorites: 


Blue Marguerite Daisy

Genus Name:Felicia amelloides
Features:Spring & Summer Blooms
Light:Part to Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings and Seed


Genus Name:Lantana
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:6-12″, 1-3′, 3-8′
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings and Seed

Morning Glory

This flower is a cottage garden classic. Loved for its trumpet-shaped flowers that blossom from summer to fall. Available in a range of colors, some also feature variegated foliage.

Grows well in warmer weather with structures such as trellises, arbors, and fences.

Genus Name:Ipomoea mauritiana
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:3-8′, 8-20′
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings and Seed


Zinnia is one tough annual and comes in various sizes and colors. Pollinators also love them. Use low-growing Zinnias for landscape or garden borders. And tall varieties for fresh cut flowers. Plus, they are deer-resistant.

Genus Name:Zinnia
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:3-8′, 1-3′
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings and Seed



Geranium’s often get confused with annuals (genus Pelargonium), but there are more than 300 varieties of perennial Geraniums. So, you can find one that will work with practically any spot in your landscape.

Genus Name:Geranium sp.
Features:Spring Through Fall Blooms
Height:6-12″, 1-3′, 3-8′
Width:6″ – 4′
Light:Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Division and Seed


Works great as a ground cover or in a container. Features shiny evergreen leaves with blue flowers

Genus Name:Vinca
Features:Spring Through Fall Blooms, Evergreen in Winter
Height:6-12″, 1-3′
Light:Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings and Division


Salvia is a relative of mint and features long blooms. Available in a range of colors and sizes. Make for excellent drought-tolerant planting that hummingbirds will love (along with pollinators).

Genus Name:Salvia
Features:Spring Through Fall Blooms
Height:1-3′, 3-8′
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings, Division and Seed



Also known as pot marigolds, the calendula resembles daisies and features great fall blooms. It is also a drought-tolerant edible plant, as you can eat the blossoms.

Genus Name:Calendula
Features:Spring & Fall Blooms
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun


Catmint is easy to grow and versatile. It features deep purple blooms that blossom at the beginning of summer.

Genus Name:Nepeta
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:6-12″, 1-3′, 3-8′
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division & Stem Cuttings


Lavender will delight with its aromatic oils. For more flavor and scent, choose darker flowers.

Genus Name:Lavandula spp.
Features:Summer Blooms
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed & Stem Cuttings


Genus Name:Rosmarinus officinalis
Features:Spring & Summer Blooms
Height:1-3′, 3-8′
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed & Stem Cuttings


This is also another drought-tolerant edible plant. Thyme is perfect for adding some additional flavor to food while also adding texture to the landscape. Some people even use thyme as a lawn substitute.

Genus Name:Thymus
Features:Spring Blooms
Height:Less than 6″, 6-12″
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Layering, Division & Stem Cuttings

Grasses & Ferns

Big Bluestem

When people think of big bluestem grass, they think of vast parries in the midwest. This grass will add color to your landscape year-round.

Genus Name:Andropogon gerardii
Features:Fall & Spring Blooms
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division

Foxtail Fern

Genus Name:Asparagus densiflorus
Features:Attracts Birds
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division

Maiden Grass

Genus Name:Miscanthus
Features:Summer & Fall Bloom, Colorful
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division

Mondo Grass 

Many gardeners use mondo grass as a drought-resistant turf replacement in shady areas.

Genus Name:Ophiopogon
Features:Summer Bloom
Height:Less than 6″, 6-12″, 1-3′
Light:Shade, Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division

If possible, move container plants out of direct sun during periods of extended dryness. Warm soil aids the evaporation process, so shading plants (i.e. keeping soil temperatures down) is an easy way to slow moisture evaporation. 

Glazed or nonporous pots will also help your plants survive droughts by preventing water evaporation through the container. The mass of a substantial pot will also help keep the soil cooler. 

Drought-Tolerant Plants For Beds 

Although the soil in garden beds will dry out less quickly than the soil in pots, you still need to make considerations for drought tolerance. You can move pots to shady positions, but once you’ve planted your beds those plants will have to endure any sun that shines on them. 

In addition to considering the position of your beds, also consider which flowers you plant. For the most part, any drought-tolerant flower you plant in a pot will also survive in a bed. (The same cannot always be said the other way around.) 


California Poppy

Genus Name:Eschscholzia californica
Features:Spring, Summer & Fall Blooms
Width:Up to 12″
Light:Full Sun


Genus Name:Cosmos
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:1-3′. 3-8′
Light:Full Sun

Sweet Alyssum

Genus Name:Lobularia maritima
Features:Spring, Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:1-6″, 6-12″
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings, Seed



Genus Name:Echinacea
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed, Division

Dusty Miller

Genus Name:Jacobaea maritima
Features: Fall Color
Height:6-12″, 1-3′
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings, Seed


Genus Name:Sedum
Features:Fall & Summer Blooms
Height:1-6″, 6-12″, 1-3′
Width:6″ to many feet
Light:Part Sun, Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cuttings, Seed & Division

You can also plant herbs, grasses, and ferns in beds. Just keep in mind that some herbs (mint comes to mind) will spread prolifically if not contained within a pot. 

Drought-Tolerant Succulents

There is a reason succulents have skyrocketed in house-plant popularity. In addition to their cute and varied appearances, succulents thrive on little water. (In fact, too much water can ‘drown’ your succulent.) 

A quick scroll through an Instagram Influencer’s profile will show you succulents in attractive ceramic pots and elaborate macrame. However, you don’t need to confine your succulents to indoor gardens.

Here are some drought-tolerant succulents that work well as shrubs or ground cover. 



Genus Name:Agave
Features:Summer Blooms
Height:1-3′, 3-8′, 8-20′, 20′ or Larger
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Seed & Division


Below is Aloe vera. Another excellent variety is Aloe Arborescens.

Genus Name:Aloe vera
Features:Drought Tolerant
Light:Full Sun

Jade Plant

Genus Name:Crassula
Features:Spring & Winter Blooms
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cutting

Ground Cover

Lizard’s Tail

They are also known as Crassula muscosa.

Moss Rose

Genus Name:Portulaca spp.
Features:Summer & Fall Blooms
Height:Less Than 6″, 6-12″
Width:Up to 18″
Light:Full Sun
Propagation:Stem Cutting, Seed

Houseleek Sempervivums

In addition to their ability to tolerate dry weather, succulents also offer easy propagation – meaning you can take clippings from your flower beds to create a low-water indoor garden.   

Drought-Tolerant Shrubs

The key to successful shrub cultivation is to select shrubs based on specific growing areas. This selection pertains to your growing zone. But you should also base your decision on the soil quality and exposure of the precise location where you plan to plant your shrubs. (Also, be aware that many drought-tolerant shrubs are invasive plants.) 

Remember, even the most drought-tolerant shrubs require sufficient watering while establishing their root systems. But once they have formed mature root systems, shrubs such as the following will use water efficiently: 

  • Evergreen Shrubs: Adam’s Needle, Eastern Arborvitae, Evergreen Sumac, Juniper
  • Flowering Shrubs: Bougainvillea, Butterfly Bush, Cistus, Forsythia, Lilac

Popular Mediterranean herbs rosemary and lavender will grow to shrub size if given adequate room. When not contained by a pot, lavender can grow over two feet tall and four feet wide. At maturity, certain types of rosemary can reach a height of up to six feet and a spread of eight feet. So don’t be afraid to release these herbs from their pots!

Drought-Tolerant Trees

When correctly selected, trees are an excellent addition to a drought-tolerant garden. Once established in the ground, they will require watering much less frequently than a potted perennial. 

Choosing native trees will ensure that these new additions to your backyard are already suited to your region’s soil and climate. 

Also, look for small-leafed trees over large-leafed trees as smaller leaves aid trees in more efficient water usage. 

Here are a few favorites: 

  • Deciduous: Bald Cypress, Hackberry, Hickory, Oak, Paperbark Maple
  • Evergreen: Holly, Shortleaf Pine, Snow Gum, Virginia Pine

Generally, thin leaves allow evergreen trees to tolerate drought better than deciduous trees. However, this is not always the case, so check local recommendations before purchasing enough pines to form a small Christmas tree farm. 

How to Help Your Plants Survive With Minimal Water

Now that you’ve planted drought-tolerant plants, check out these additional tips for maintaining a garden with minimal water: 

  • Apply mulch to help keep the soil cool. A two- to three-inch layer on the soil’s surface will protect the roots of your plants from harsh sunlight and help the surrounding soil retain moisture. Mulch also prevents soil crusting. This prevention is a crucial benefit as soil crusting reduces water’s ability to penetrate soil down to the root system. Unlike sand or clay soils which reflect light and heat back up to surrounding plants, dark mulch with an uneven surface will limit reflectivity.  
  • Use organic matter to improve moisture availability (as well as soil drainage). Add organic matter to the soil before you plant drought-tolerant plants. 
  • Avoid fertilizer. Adding fertilizer to your soil will encourage plants to grow rapidly. This excess growth will require extra watering to prevent it from flopping in summer. It will also be more susceptible to frost in cold months. 
  • Plant small specimens early in the growing season. This advanced planting will allow your plants to acclimate to their environment over time. This gradual development will give them a better chance at defense when harsh conditions occur.
  • Weed your borders, beds, or pots. Although weeding by hand can be a literal chore, weeds suck up precious moisture (and nutrients) from your cultivated plants.
  • Shade plants that are more vulnerable to drought conditions. When planning your garden layout, try to place drought-tolerant plants in areas that receive the most sun and exposure.
  • Prune sparingly during a drought. (Pruning can encourage growth, requiring additional water usage.)

Additionally, try conserving rainwater. For those gardeners who are really dedicated to water conservation, keep a bucket near the shower to collect water as you wait for your shower to heat up. 

Top Tip: Avoid the temptation to water your lawn as this will consume huge amounts of water. If your lawn is established, its root system will help it survive droughts. Even grass that has turned yellow or brown will recover upon the next rainfall. 

Prioritize Your Watering 

Climate change is making droughts and record-breaking heat more common. To curb water usage during drive spells, some municipalities impose water-hose bans, mandatory water rationing, or water-wise landscaping incentives. 

Whether you want to maintain your garden within these limitations or just want to lower your home’s water bill, try to prioritize which plants you water (and how you water them). 

Especially if you water your garden with a hose, it can be tempting to water your garden indiscriminately. However, not all plants require the same amount of water. Creating a summer watering plan is another way to reduce water usage during hot months. 

Hint: The occasional thorough watering is more beneficial than a more frequent but less-thorough watering. 

Here’s a quick rundown of how often you should water certain plants during a drought: 

  • Once a Day: seedings, young plants, cuttings, anything not yet established
  • Once a Week: shallow-rooted plants 
  • Once Every Two Weeks: shallow-rooted shrubs
  • Do Not Water: mature shrubs, hedges, trees, lawns

Try to narrow your irrigation system so that you only water areas that require moisture. Sprinkler systems might be easier to use than a watering can, but they are highly inefficient – especially when compared to drip irrigation systems. 

If possible, water your plants in the early morning. This time will allow water to travel down to the roots before the sun heats the soil, hydrating them before the heat of the day. 

Particularly when using water sparingly, water plants at the base so that it will travel to the roots. Watering plants at the leaves will encourage evaporation before the water even reaches the roots. 


The video below will show you 50 more drought-tolerant landscaping ideas:

When In Doubt, Survive Drought By Keeping It Local

Selecting plants that are well-suited to your garden’s growing conditions is one of the best ways to make your garden more environmentally beneficial. Not only do native plants help the local ecosystem thrive, but they also tend to be drought-tolerant. 

Want to cultivate an attractive garden while also conserving water? Contact local universities or garden centers to learn about drought-tolerant plants native to your region.