How to Propagate Pothos Without Rooting Hormone

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In this post, you’re going to learn exactly how to propagate pothos easy and step-by-step.

The best part?

You don’t even need expensive rooting hormones to achieve phenomenal success. Whether you’ve never propagated anything or you’ve been at it for some time, you’ll find this article super helpful. I’m going to discuss the propagation principles that demonstrate why propagating your pothos without a rooting hormone is not only easy but quite possible.

You’re also going to learn the rooting environment in detail, essential co-factors, water and soil propagation, and even how to transplant your pothos from water into the soil.

Does this sound like something you’d want to read about?

Let’s get to it:

Principles of Plant Propagation (Pothos)

If you’ve been studying plants for a while, you might have come across the term plant totipotency. If you haven’t, this is the inherent potentiality of a plant cell to give rise to a whole plant, a capacity that is retained even after a cell has undergone final differentiation in the plant body.

Totipotency is the basic principle that makes the propagation of virtually all the plants possible.

Besides, plants naturally produce specific hormones that aid in root and shoot formation. These hormones are Auxin and Cytokinins respectively.

For pothos, auxin is naturally manufactured within the vine and the leaves while cytokinin is produced in the roots. Now, most commercial rooting hormones such as IBA and NAA are made up of artificial auxin.

But given the right conditions, the pothos plant can produce enough auxin hormone to stimulate root formation on its own. This means you don’t need a rooting hormone to succeed in propagating pothos or even other plants.

Let us look at the right conditions in the next section:

How to Propagate Pothos Successfully - Start Right

Start with a healthy plant

I’ve had a lot of experience with plant propagation and one thing is for sure. You’ll fail or succeed even before you start. Sure enough, pothos is amongst the easiest plants to propagate but you’ll be surprised how many people fail at it.

If you start with the right conditions, your chances of success increase drastically. As we’ve already learned, plants produce their own rooting hormone – but the level and effectiveness of the hormone will depend on other co-factors.

Before you start making cuttings to propagate, make sure the source or mother plant looks as healthy as possible. Additionally, check to ensure the following conditions are right.

Watering – Water your pothos mother plant thoroughly before you harvest your cuttings. Turgid mother plants will result in cuttings that root vigorously while water-stressed mother-plant reduces the rooting vigor.

Temperature – Avoid extreme temperatures as much as possible before harvesting your cuttings. Too much temperature will hasten the biosynthesis process and hence the exhaustion of food reserves required by the young plants.

Light – Make sure the source plant is receiving enough lighting that promotes vegetative growth. Bright indirect sunlight on the windowsill will do the job.

Mother plant nutrition – Also, ensure the source plant is well-fertilized preferably a week before you harvest your cuttings. The cuttings will need enough food reserve to root and shoot into beautiful young plants.

If you want to learn more, we have a complete beginner’s guide to pothos plant care.

How to Make the Propagation Cuttings

how to propagate pothos - making the cuttings

Once you’ve tipped the scales of success in your favor by selecting a healthy source plant, it’s time to make your cuttings.

Remember, it’s possible to propagate pothos from both leaves and stems without leaves. As long as the internodes look healthy, a leafless vine could still be used.

To make the cuttings, cut the vine one centimeter below and above the leaf (as shown in the picture above). If your vines don’t have the leaves, then it should be 1cm above and below the node. Repeat, until you have several cuttings.

It is advisable to only use medium-aged leaves. Leave out the older and younger shoot.

How to Propagate Pothos in Water and Soil

You can easily propagate a large number of pothos plants simply by taking stem cuttings and rooting them in water or suitable potting soil.

If you’re a beginner or just want to learn how to propagate pothos at home, it’s probably best to do it in water instead of the soil. This is because it’s the easiest of the two options and the success rate is quite high.

Root the cuttings in a glass full of clean water and make sure to change the water frequently and transfer the seedlings into a pot after the roots emerge. We’ll discuss how to transplant pothos from water into the soil towards the end of this article.

However, propagating pothos in water has its fair share of drawbacks. For instance, it’s much tedious to it on a large scale since you have to keep checking your water pH and changing it frequently.

In such cases, it’s better to propagate your pothos in the recommended potting soil.

All the same, whether you wish to propagate in water or into the soil is a matter of preference and no hard rules on which is better than the other. Whichever option you choose, make sure the rooting environment is conducive for rooting to take place.

The pothos rooting environment

At the beginning of this post, we discussed pre-conditions for the mother plant that guarantees rooting vigor. But now, you’ve already made the cuttings and propagated them. The next thing we need to address is the rooting environmental factors for your propagated cuttings.

Let’s check them out:

  • Don’t allow the cuttings to wilt – this especially important if you’ve propagated your cuttings in the soil. To prevent your cuttings from wilting cool them by misting frequently. However, take care not to overdo the misting. Too much mist will cause a drastic temperature drop. Instead use short mist-intervals and only when the weather is warm.
  • Where possible heat the root zone. Alternatively, cover the cuttings with plastic to conserve acceptable temperature levels around the root area.
  • Expose your cuttings to adequate indirect sunlight to aid in photosynthesis activity. Place your cuttings next to a window that receives adequate indirect sunlight.
  • For the cuttings propagated in water, change the water frequently to avoid root infections or salts building up.
  • Whatever you do, make sure your cuttings get as minimal stress as possible.

As soon as the first roots/shoot begin to emerge, you need to start thinking about hardening your pothos plants.

Acclimatize or harden the cuttings after rooting

Days prior and during rooting, your main goal is to minimize the stress on your cuttings as much as possible. However, after rooting has taken place, you need to start exposing the cuttings to a bit of stress gradually. This is what is referred to as acclimatization, weaning, or hardening.

Begin the hardening-off as soon as the roots start to develop.

You can do this by; reducing the misting frequency, reducing the amount of light exposure, and starting feeding them with a low concentration fertilizer.

Do this for 7 – 10 days.

In essence, you’re preparing your pothos plants for the real environment which is often harsh than the rooting environment.

Also, remember to learn how to fix pothos leaves curls before it happens.

How to Transplant Pothos from Water into the Soil

As soon as your water-propagated cuttings are well hardened and the roots are 2 – 4 inches in length, you may want to consider transplanting them into the soil. Anything shorter is as good as propagating in the soil, anything longer and some of the roots will get injured during the transplanting.

Besides, the longer you let the pothos remain in water the longer they will take to adapt to their new environment in the soil. Again, you can take the gamble and find out what works for you. It’s just that for most people 2 – 4 inches seems about right.

You can use pots that are twice the size of the root area which means for the 2-inch-long roots, use a pot size 4 inches, and for the 4-inch-long roots, use 8 inch-sized pots.

For the potting soil, use a normal houseplant potting mix that contains peat moss or coir, and vermiculite or perlite. This combination will guarantee adequate moisture retention with good drainage capacity.

If you want to learn more, we have a complete beginner’s guide to pothos plant care.


You’ve just read how to propagate pothos without having to use rooting hormones. You’ve also learned the basic principle of plant totipotency and the natural hormones that make it possible.

To summarize, we’ve covered, pre-factors required to successfully propagate your pothos, how to make the cuttings, how to propagate those pothos cuttings in both soil and water, how to create a favorable rooting environment for the vigorous growth, hardening, and lastly transplanting.

I hope that you’ve found this article both helpful and actionable.

If so, please don’t hesitate to share it and as always, let me know your thoughts or if I’ve left anything important out and I will make the necessary update.

All the best and happy gardening.

4 thoughts on “How to Propagate Pothos Without Rooting Hormone”

  1. Hi its spring so do I need to use a heat mat under my cuttings in water to maintain a constant 20%C.

    • Hi Billy, when the temperature is optimal for the better part of the day such as it is (spring), you don’t have to use a heat mat.

    • Hello Claire, yes it’s possible to propagate pothos by tissue culture since they have one of the best totipotent properties.

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