How to Grow Pothos (Devil's Ivy) in Water
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
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 to 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.
Use darker-colored containers to hinder the amount of light penetrating the sides of the container. This significantly slows the growth of algae.
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.
Questions & Answers
Is Devil's Ivy safe for cats?
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.Helpful 15