Can You Grow and Keep a Pothos in Water?

Rooted pothos cuttings in water in a glass cup next to a clay pot and other potted plants on a white kitchen table.

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Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are some of the most popular and well-known houseplants available. They are low-maintenance, stylish, and there are lots of different kinds to choose from. Not only are they fun and easy to grow, but they are also incredibly versatile. They do well when grown in various different conditions and environments and can be acclimated to a number of growing mediums. Besides soil, one popular growing medium for pothos is water. 

While there are no inherent benefits of growing pothos plants in water versus soil, many people enjoy growing pothos in water because they like to watch the roots grow and develop. You can also use pothos as semi-aquatic plants for fish tanks or other indoor water features. Growing pothos in water is not only fun but can be an interesting way to diversify your houseplant collection, and is great for those who have a hard time remembering to water their plants on a regular basis (no "watering" is required here!). 

What You Need

To grow a pothos in water you will need a healthy pothos plant, a pair of clean scissors or pruning shears, some fertilizer, fresh water, and a container. You can choose any type of container as long as it is watertight. Many people enjoy growing their plants in clear or colored glass since it allows you to watch the roots grow, but you could also use a completely opaque container if you wish. Grower’s choice! 

How to Transition a Pothos to Water

Before getting started, it is important to know that when you grow a pothos in water, you will only be submerging its roots - not its stems and foliage. While pothos leaves can survive submerged in water for short periods of time, they do best when they are grown above water so that they can receive the air circulation that they need.

Start by taking a few stem cuttings from your plant using your scissors or pruning shears. Just like during propagation, ensure that each cutting has at least 3 to 4 nodes along the stem. Then, remove the bottom 1 to 2 leaves from each cutting so the bottom nodes are exposed on the bare stem. This is done so that the bottom of the stem can be submerged in water without the leaves. 

Next, fill your container with fresh water (tap water is fine but if your tap water is highly chlorinated or hard with minerals you may wish to use filtered water instead) and place the cuttings in the water so that the stems are submerged and the leaves are above the water. You can also add some decorative elements like pebbles or figurines to the container if you want, just keep in mind that anything submerged will grow algae over time and will need to be cleaned regularly. 

Place the container in a location that receives bright, indirect light. After a couple of weeks, you should begin to notice small white roots growing from the nodes along the stem. Eventually, the whole container will be filled with roots.

Three clear glass vases with pothos cuttings growing in water against a white background.

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Caring for a Pothos in Water

Caring for a pothos growing in water is pretty simple. Every couple of weeks you should change out the water to keep it fresh, and occasionally you will need to clean the container the plant is growing in as it may develop some algae or hard water buildup over time. The most important part of growing any plant in water, however, is providing it with appropriate nutrients.

Fertilizing Pothos Grown in Water

Plants that are grown in water versus soil are completely dependent on added nutrients since they are not able to absorb nutrients from the soil. This means that using a good quality water-soluble fertilizer on a regular basis is super important to your plant's health. Water-soluble fertilizers are designed to dissolve in water quickly and are known for being fast-acting. They also tend to be less concentrated than other types of fertilizer which protects you from over-fertilizing your aquatic plants. Look for fertilizers that are specifically advertised as water-soluble, or designed for hydroponics.