If you’re a fan of pothos, otherwise known as Devil’s Ivy, you might want to know more about how you can propagate the plant for years to come. Thankfully, Devil’s Ivy is one of the easiest plants to propagate, and this tropical plant can live for well over ten years!
In my own experience, I’ve grown a single pothos for over 14 years (and that’s including having moved twice!). It’s one of the most gorgeous trailing houseplants I’ve ever witnessed.
If you want to keep your pothos propagating, I’ve put together a simple guide below – covering where and how to take cuttings, how to care for them, and what to expect as they develop.
Want to know how to propagate Devil’s Ivy, but have never been too sure where to start? Let’s dive straight in.
Is my Devil’s Ivy ready for cutting?
Your Devil’s Ivy needs to be healthy in order to take cuttings. If you have just acquired a Devil’s Ivy plant, with a view to propagation, it’s likely you have been attracted by the foliage – but is it necessarily in good shape?
Pothos has heart-shaped leaves that develop along stems which either tumble in a downwards display, or are trained to climb along a frame or pole. Depending on how many cuttings you aim to take, it’s best to turn the container and check the all-around growth of your donor plant/s.
First, look at the plant’s overall health, and check for damaged leaves. These may be malformed due to being crushed by neighbouring leaves, or even starved of light or water. Do also examine your donor plant for pests!
Handy Tip! Turn the container of your donor plant, or if it’s large and heavy, walk around the plant to consider the balance of its current shape.
Try to visualise how your plant will look if part of it is removed. Mature, healthy, bushy plants with plentiful leaves and strong stems should easily recover from surgery!
You may find it difficult to find where you took cuttings after a few days – if the donor plant is growing excessively on one side, the plant may have determined where you can take cuttings from. Cutting can restore balance!
Start preparing for propagation
You will need the following tools and items for propagating pothos:
- Clean scissors
- Glass containers to house the cutting(s)
- Dechlorinated water
- A container with compost
- A support pole and/or hanging basket if you wish
- Somewhere to store cuttings before they root
Handy tip! I don’t recommend setting up compost or growth poles before they’re needed. Compost can dry out, and saturating it amongst tender new roots can make life tough for them!
When it’s time to pot up cuttings, moisten your compost by trickling in water from their glass container(s).
Removing and storing cut stems and leaves
Having decided where to snip off cuttings, place your glass(es) of water nearby. Your water should ideally be room temperature – too warm or cold will stress the cuttings.
For the same reason, whilst they will need a well-lit spot for several hours a day, don’t put them in strong sunlight. Tender cuttings need a little time to recover from being cut away from parent plants!
Snip off cuttings so they’re at least three inches long (longer is better), and before you put them in water, make sure the cut stem has a sloping angle of around 45 degrees. This offers a bigger surface area for the stem to absorb water than a straight cut. Pothos cuttings are happy to share containers until roots become long and may become tangled up.
Return the parent pothos to a comfortable spot for its ‘wounds’ to heal. Place your container(s) of cuttings where you can access them easily.
You will need to turn the containers to check root development and to top up with fresh water and remove any debris.
When should I put rooted cuttings in compost?
Once viable roots have formed! I recommend waiting until several have appeared, reaching three or four inches long. The bigger the cutting, the more root formation needed.
Again, don’t be too hasty on using your compost right away. If it dries out, it’ll be no use at all! Give your cuttings time to build up length and then move them across.
Can I put multiple cuttings in one container?
You can, provided your container is big enough! Ideally, you should place each cutting in its own cavity rather than risk roots tangling together. Try to ensure the root depths are approximately the same, too.
It’s also a good idea to either group cuttings together with approximately the same length in stems or try to visualise how they’ll look uneven. For example – setting six cuttings of even length in a hanging basket should provide you with a fairly balanced cascade of tumbling leaves and stems!
For a floor-standing pot with a tall pole, you may decide to set the longest cuttings in the centre next to the pole. Then, by adding a few smaller ones by the perimeter of the container, you could have some tumbling stems falling down towards the floor.
What’s more, you might want to try training alternate stems along the perimeter to trail back towards the pole and/or centre of the container. This means you have Devil’s Ivy growing upwards to spiral the pole and horizontally to cover the growth medium of the container!
If that all sounds complex, don’t worry – it normally isn’t in practice! Devil’s Ivy is a fantastic decorative plant that is really easy to train.
Aftercare for Devil’s Ivy cuttings in water
Once you have your cuttings, place them in containers full of dechlorinated water. This is water that’s free from harmful chemicals that can stunt growth.
To dechlorinate water, simply fill containers out of the tap and leave for around 24 hours or even overnight. This will allow chemicals to dissipate naturally, making water healthy for plants.
You should ideally submerge your stems at least up to one node, but try to avoid getting leaves wet. Place your cuttings in a bright, warm spot, but don’t give them too much direct sunlight.
You should start noticing your roots developing after a week or so, but before this happens, make sure to change the cuttings’ water every time it looks a little murky. I recommend refreshing cutting water every week.
When those roots are at least two inches long, it’s time to pot them.
Potting up Devil’s Ivy cuttings
First, ensure you have a well-draining compost or growth medium that retains a little moisture. Previously, I’ve mixed a little perlite to help stimulate growth.
Once your medium is potted, poke a few holes evenly spaced, and then prepare to plant your cuttings. Some plant parents use rooting hormone on the nodes to help ensure they take root, but I haven’t always found this necessary.
Bury your leaves’ nodes and keep the medium tight to hold up your cuttings. Then, cover up your container with a plastic sheet (a shopping bag will do), but make sure your leaves are clear.
As with your water containers, keep your cuttings somewhere warm and bright, but don’t let them dry out. Ideally, you should keep watering your cuttings to keep them moist, but not waterlogged or arid.
When should I fertilise cuttings?
I don’t really advise you fertilise cuttings at all, but if you’d like to give them a kickstart, add a small amount of diluted liquid feed to the soil or compost around three or four days after planting.
Remember that, while new, cuttings will always be subject to shock if you overwhelm them. Treat them kindly and give them a few days to adjust to their new environment.
Can I divide Devil’s Ivy?
Yes, it’s certainly possible to propagate your pothos by dividing its rootball. I prefer the traditional method, but division can be quicker and less hassle
for many people.
First, ensure your plant is sufficiently watered and pre-compost well-draining containers. The medium should be nice and moist and ready to drain if needed.
Loosen out your root ball and carefully remove with a knife around the inside if it appears pot-bound. Then, carefully move the roots apart and remove any surplus soil. I’d recommend using pruners if things get tough.
Then, simply pot the divided roots into your containers, pack down, and water lightly. As always, transfer your new plants into somewhere warm and bright, but with no direct sunlight.
Watering your Devil’s Ivy cuttings
You should change the water of your cuttings (when they’re still trying to root in water) every five or six days. Water planted cuttings with small amounts of H2O, too, and sprinkle a little once a week until the planted cutting takes hold.
From here, you can water more in the growing season and less over winter. Always remember that centrally-heated rooms create desert-like conditions for young tropical plants! They’ll benefit from light misting.
Troubleshooting and tips
As a seasoned plant parent, I know too well that propagation doesn’t always go to plan immediately. If you’re struggling to care for Devil’s Ivy over time, check out our complete devils ivy care guide for more information.
Here are a handful of common problems I’ve faced, along with a few quick fixes.
Why are my pothos cuttings going rotten?
You may have allowed leaves to slip beneath the water level – submerged leaves will have changed colour, meaning they will rot.
Planted cuttings will rot if too cold and/or too wet. If you overwater them and saturate the growth medium, they have simply become overwhelmed! Put it this way – you wouldn’t give a new baby a three-course meal!
Once you place them in compost, watering little and not too often is better for young cuttings. When potting up, I recommend a small amount of water every five to seven days. Remove any dying cuttings as soon as possible to avoid the spread of disease.
Why is the water going cloudy?
You may not have changed water frequently enough and/or some part of the cutting is beginning to decay. Remove the stem in question, and it feels soft, squishy and/or slimy, it is no longer viable and is deteriorating.
However, all is not lost – you may be able to retain the part above the water level. If that piece has retained its integrity, snip a little above where the water level will have reached.
By doing so, you will cut off any of the internal damage the outer part of the stem may be hiding!
Then, simply place the shortened stem in a clean container (with clean water) and wait for roots to emerge. Don’t quit without trying this first – because plants do fight for their lives given a second chance!
Why is my potted cutting leaning?
Either it does not like a companion or neighbour plant, or it’s affected by light. It may not be getting enough light even alone in a pot, or a companion plant may be hogging the light and/or drinking all the water!
I recommend you check the compatibility of plants or adjust the position of a loner – draughts can cause leaning and similar problems, too.
Why are the leaves of my potted cutting falling off?
It is likely your plant is overwhelmed and/or undernourished. It may have sustained root damage, too – which could result from disease or pests in the growth medium.
If that’s the case, I advise you to check the soil or compost’s moisture levels – if you have forgotten to water your cutting, this may be a simple solution.
Otherwise, get a sheet of newspaper and tip the plant out of the container. Tap away the growth medium from the roots and check what’s happening to them – are they firm, healthy, and white?
If they are disintegrating, you will need to rinse them off and discard the growth medium. Try giving the cutting a chance to recover by keeping it in a fresh glass. If new leaves and roots begin to form, your rescue has succeeded!
Pothos propagation: a few final points
Pothos is a delight to grow and propagate, but, as with all other plants, it does have a few quirks, expectations, and requirements. For example, you’ll ideally need to house pothos in a space that’s between 16 to 28 degrees C.
Once your pothos starts growing, it’ll typically demand fertiliser every week and a half or so. Of course, you’ll need to slow this down when the cold weather kicks in. Speaking of which – as always – keep your Devil’s Ivy far from direct sunlight wherever you can.
Devil’s Ivy is wonderful to watch growing, and as a seasoned plant owner, it’s really exciting to create new green life just by cutting and splitting. Naturally, you’ll come across a few problems here and there to start, but simply by following my tips above, you’ll have a wonderful set of pothos ready to show off in no time.