Growing Pothos in water can be tricky, but it certainly isn't impossible. Here are my tips for growing perfect Pothos plants!
Houseplants like Pothos (Epipremnum aureum), also known as Devil’s Ivy, Golden Pothos, or variegated philodendron, can improve indoor air quality by removing CO2 and other contaminants from the air around them and provide supplemental oxygen. This tropical plant is very hardy and can withstand quite a bit of neglect. In some countries and states, it is considered to be an invasive species as it can compete with native plants. However, there is no danger of Pothos taking over your home!
Because potting soil can be messy and neglecting to water the plants can sometimes be disastrous, I've decided to grow my Pothos in a vase of water. It's easy because all I need is a cheap vase or jar, some tap water, and Miracle-Gro! The process doesn’t involve expensive pumps, containers, or special fertilizer, and Pothos easily grows from cuttings.
This is a guide on how to grow Pothos in water, how to care for it, and how to prevent problems that are common to maintaining this plant.
Devil's Ivy Growing Conditions
|USDA Hardiness Zone||Temperature||Sunlight||Fertilizer|
10 through 12
70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C)
Bright to moderate light (no direct sunlight)
A few drops of all-purpose fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks
What You'll Need
- A glass jar, vase, or bottle
- Clean water
- All-purpose fertilizer (liquid is preferred)
How to Grow Pothos (Devil's Ivy) in Water
1. Select a glass jar, vase, or bottle.
These can be found at very low-cost thrift stores, such as Goodwill. Clear ones are best to start with so that you can see the roots emerge. After that, it is better to choose a darker color vase that will block out some light and slow the growth of algae, otherwise you'll find yourself cleaning algae quite frequently.
2. Fill the jar with clean water.
Tap water is usually fine. Plants can survive fairly well on it most of the time. However, if your tap water is chlorinated, you’ll have to let the water sit in an open container for about a day to let the chlorine evaporate before pouring the water into a jar with a new plant or watering an existing plant.
3. Add fertilizer.
Simply add a few drops into the water before adding the plant. Any kind of liquid fertilizer will suffice for growing Pothos. I use Miracle-Gro, which is the most commonly available liquid fertilizer in most stores. They produce a liquid fertilizer for African Violets, another common houseplant, and this mixture of nutrients is sufficient for most house plants as well.
4. Add the plant.
Place your cutting in your container, making sure that the cut ends are covered with water. Wait a few weeks, and you’ll begin to see roots forming on your cuttings. In time, these roots will grow longer, and the cuttings will then be able to support new growth.
5. Change the water every 2–3 weeks.
Water loses oxygen over time, so I recommend pouring out the old water and adding in fresh water every couple of weeks.
6. Make sure roots are below the water line.
Some roots or sections of roots may be exposed to the air; this is beneficial. However, most of the roots should be submerged below water. This can be easy to take care of and involves no guesswork as to how much water you should add. Just look at your container and fill it to an appropriate level.
7. Add fertilizer every 4–6 weeks.
Dilute the fertilizer to about 1/4 of the recommended strength on the container (1 part fertilizer to 3 parts water). Add this diluted fertilizer mixture into the container about every 4 to 6 weeks.
8. Clean algae as often as needed.
While you can use chemicals to kill the algae, chemical products may also harm the Devil's Ivy. It’s best to use something like an old toothbrush or a cloth to scrub the algae off the glass. You can also rinse the vase out periodically. While you clean out the container, you can transfer the plant to another vase full of fresh water or even a bucket of water.
How to Propagate Devil's Ivy From Cutting
To plant a new Pothos from cutting:
- Choose a healthy vine to cut from (avoid brown and yellow leaves)
- Cut below the node (the brown stub that grows opposite the leaf stem on the vine). Roots will form right below the node when placed in water. Make sure your stem has at least 3 nodes but no more than 4. The cutting can only support so many leaves until it forms new roots.
- Remove all the leaves below the node so that the leaves won't decay in water and suffocate the newly emerging roots.
- Place the cutting in a jar or vase full of clean water, making sure that the water covers at least the bottom 1 or 2 nodes.
- Place in indirect sunlight (near a window but not directly in sun). Roots should emerge after 1 month.
- Once the roots are about half an inch long, refill the vase with clean water. Make sure the roots are fully submerged. Add fertilizer if needed.
How to Grow Pothos Faster
Devil's Ivy is an invasive plant and grows really fast on its own. But, if you want to speed up the growth, here are the best tips to help Pothos grow faster:
- Give the plant plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
- Keep the temperature in the room on the warmer side of the ideal range, which is 70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C). I recommend 80°F-90°F if you want it to grow fast.
- Give the plant fresh water every two weeks and a few drops of fertilizer.
Problems Associated With Growing Pothos in Water
Natural result of sunlight and water
Use a darker-colored vase to minimize sunlight.
Yellow or brown leaves
Too much sunlight; excess or inadequate amounts of fertilizer; dirty water
Place your plant near a northern-facing window and use curtains to minimize sunlight; fertilize every 4–6 weeks; change the water every 2–4 weeks
Stunted leaf growth
Temperatures are too high or too low; not enough fertilizer
Don't leave the plant in direct sunlight or next to an A/C; fertilize every 4–6 weeks
Tips for Maintaining Pothos in Water
- Periodically, you should change the water and rinse out the vase/jar/glass that you have your Pothos growing in. This will prevent the water from becoming stagnant and foul.
- If there is any algae buildup, clean the sides of the container.
- If your tap water is treated with chlorine, be sure to have some prepared in advance to refill your containers.
- As your Pothos plants grow, they may begin to grow rather long. Simply cut the tips off and root them in water. Soon, your Pothos will be growing dense and lush in whatever container you use.
- Dyer, Mary H. (2018) "Fertilizer For Water Grown Plants – How To Fertilize Plants In Water." Gardening Know How. Accessed November 3, 2018.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is Devil's Ivy safe for cats?
Answer: Devil's Ivy is not safe for cats or dogs. However, from my own experience, our family's cats have never bothered to try eating any of our plants. Observe your pets, and if they tend to get too curious about Devil's Ivy, I'd simply relocate the plant(s) to a place that's out of reach.
© 2012 Jeremiah Simpkins
Sunil Anand on June 29, 2019:
Very informative and I unshakeably beneficial to fight with indoor pollution
Melinda on April 07, 2019:
My pothos root rot in water also and soil i have changed soil water plant light making extra holes in pots.i dont know what to do.
Sru on March 09, 2019:
Why my devils ivy root rot when I put it in water or even in soil? Pls help me.
BeamTeam on November 29, 2018:
It is common for people..including me..to put Pothos cuttings in an aquarium filter. The Pothos is beneficial by taking nitrates from the water in the tank. And it adds beauty to your aquarium.
firstname.lastname@example.org on January 04, 2018:
will the plant grow without fertilizer?
Joel Burrell on December 26, 2017:
Can you do this with any Pothos? Like Epipremnum Snow Queen? Or just Devils Ivy.
Jonayla on November 07, 2017:
My pothos were growing just fine in water, I even had to separete a few in new vases so that they had enough space to grow, but then I moved to a new appartment and they just started to apparently die, the lower leeves are turning yellow and die, it's been 10 days since the move and this started to happend... any ideas of what it could be? is the same city so the tap water is exactly the same
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on September 26, 2017:
Hi Lara, my grandmother kept a Betta fish in hers for a few years and neither seemed to mind. She would still feed the fish its normal food. I would suggest keeping the plant and a Betta in a larger sized vase to give both plenty of room.
Lara on September 26, 2017:
do you think you could put fish in the bowl with the plant
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on August 06, 2017:
Hi, golden ivy will root readily in water. Just get a few sections from a healthy golden ivy plant and they'll do the rest. :)
jean on August 06, 2017:
How are the plants started?
Ebee on May 10, 2017:
My pothos is growing new leaves while in the water but roots are not forming
Daniel on May 06, 2017:
@Shannon - Did you put fertilizer in the water? It could be too much. If not, the plant might need nutrients. Did you let the water sit for a day before using it? Is there sunlight in the bathroom, and not just a light bulb? Do you always let the water sit when changing it, so that the chlorine can evaporate? Do you re-add nutrients during a change?
Sean on April 11, 2017:
Do the roots need to be cut back? Have a pothos with lots of roots in water and heard you can trim the roots back too
Shannon on April 09, 2017:
I cut a recently purchased pothos (as instructed, below a node, and with at least 3 or 4 mature leaves), and put it in water in my bathroom... indirect light, and I change the water weekly. The sprouting leaves haven't developed, and the current leaves have gotten yellow and brown spots :( the original plant is fine.. what's wrong with the clipping? Supposed to survive in water but it doesn't seem to be happy
Nancy on December 20, 2016:
Pond snails in a glass vase will eat algae and turn it into fertilizer for the plant.
Wendy on September 07, 2016:
What is the kind of jell I should I use in,the water? I've tried to see if sure-jell, the kind for canning, would work. But I don't want to try it and it kills my plant.
Manoj on August 17, 2016:
If I put some fishes with it , will it be beneficial to Pothos ?
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on April 23, 2016:
Hi Jessie, that's an interesting option, but looking into it, it seems more suitable for plants grown in soil. Pouring milk into a vase with pothos or some other plant growing in water only, it could lead to a very smelly, yucky mess. Some places online suggest it could also cause fungal growth and rot. A brief check online suggests that some have had success with keeping fish in tanks with pothos growing in them. If using a vase, I'd suggest a large one and keep the roots trimmed up so the fish has room to swim and not get crowded inside.
Jessie on April 22, 2016:
I heard that milk is good for plants, is it true?
I am planning to put some small fishes in the vase to live together with the porthos, is that goods to do so?
Tinypuffpastry on April 18, 2016:
Wow, I would've never thought of that. Thank you so much! I will use the coffee grounds since we have a ton here. :)
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on April 18, 2016:
Hi Tinypuffpastry! As ridiculous as this may sound, you could try sprinkling in a bit of soil as it will have some nutrients in it that plants need, although nowhere near enough what fertilizer would have. This could help, or also maybe sprinkling in used coffee grounds, which have a high nitrogen content. If the leaves started yellowing and fell off, it could be that nitrogen is what your pothos is missing.
Tinypuffpastry on April 18, 2016:
Hey there :) I have a piece of pathos that a friend gave me a year ago but recently the roots have root and after cutting them they have failed to grow back. There were five leaves when I first got them now there is only one. I dont understand, despite that i have never put fertilizer (my mom wont let me buy some) I clean the vase every time there is algae and i make sure it has enough sunlight, Is there anything I can do or use instead of fertilizer? It seems as if that is my major problem but I cant buy it.
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on June 07, 2015:
Hi Hickkat, you might want to try a bit of diluted liquid fertilizer. Has anything changed like the room that it is in or has it been moved near a vent?
Hickkat on June 06, 2015:
I have had my pothos ivy growing in a vase of water for two years with no problems. Recently the leaves started turning yellow and there are some brown spots on some of the leaves as well. I have never fertilized it and was thinking of trying to to see if it would help. Any ideas? Could it be a disease?
Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on May 27, 2013:
Great idea! I have some Pothos in the garden and I want some inside the house. Thanks for sharing;-)
kay on January 03, 2013:
I was just wondering if I could fully submerge pothos in water? I have really healthy ones growing in my bathroom, but wanted to attempt a clipping in my fish tank. It's a 3 gal little thing, and would like to have some live plants for obvious beneficial reasons for the plant and my fish. But don't want to put it in there if it will hurt the fish.
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on October 20, 2012:
Yes, changing the water every few weeks and adding a few drops of liquid fertilizer will help keep the plants healthy.
Seth on October 14, 2012:
Do We have to change water every weeks ensuring that the plant is healthy?
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on May 23, 2012:
cpagnew, it would help with the algae, however it could cause damage to the plant.
cpagnew on May 21, 2012:
would a drop or two of bleach help with the algae and not harm the plant?
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on May 17, 2012:
You can take a plant that's been rooted in soil, wash the soil from the roots and transplant the plant into water.
Me on May 17, 2012:
Sorry, I do not understand the "cuttings/rooting" section ): If I buy the ivy from the local nursery they already have roots, rooted in pot/soil so if I take them out of the soil, put in water, would this work?
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on April 14, 2012:
You're welcome pedrn44! Some plants are more difficult to root in water, yet Pothos doesn't need any encouragement. :)
Sandi from Greenfield, Wisconsin on April 14, 2012:
I love rooting plants from cuttings but usually don't have much luck. I usually use clear vases,and now understand the problems that may occur. Thanks for your suggestions!
Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on April 13, 2012:
That's definitely one way to reuse 'waste' aquarium water! The waste products generated by fish can definitely be used by plants, and is one reason why algae can take over fish tanks.
Amnonymous9 on April 13, 2012:
Yes indeed it is a great idea. In fact the "dirty" water from a gold fish bowl is truly an awesome fertilizer. I just empty the old water from the vase and replace it with the water from the fish bowl. I also noticed that the water in the vase is crystal clear when I pour it out after two weeks, and the foul smell is gone.