Top 10 Reasons Why Your Pothos Cuttings Aren’t Rooting In Water

While it’s normal to find one or two cuttings dying off, (and this is the reason why you make more cuttings than you think you need), it’s unusual to see your Pothos cuttings fail.

It’s very frustrating when this happens, as Pothos is one of the easiest houseplants to take cuttings from. It’s also a sign that the conditions you’re giving the cuttings aren’t right.

While you could just give up on making more cuttings and getting more and more frustrated, it’s worth taking a look at why Pothos cuttings (or any other species, for that matter) are failing in the first place.

Maybe you’re not seeing any roots at all, and the cuttings still look healthy. Or maybe your Pothos plants are rotting before they can root, or they’re looking very sickly with yellowing or wilting leaves.

But half the battle is knowing what’s going wrong, and how you can fix it. The advice in this post applies to nearly every type of plant you’re trying to make cuttings from, and you will see a difference once you know what’s going on.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Reasons Why Your Pothos Cuttings Fail

The Cuttings Don’t Have Nodes

If the cuttings don’t have nodes, they won’t grow! The node is the part where the leaf meets the main vine, and this is the part where both roots and new vines form. 

Without at least one node, Pothos cuttings (or pretty much any species) will not be viable.

The Cuttings Are Too Long

If you took a whole vine off your Pothos plant, and it’s more than several inches long, you’re overdoing it.

You need to make sure that your cuttings aren’t too long, otherwise, you risk the plant not being able to root as it doesn’t have enough water.

If you think about it, the longer the vine is, and the more leaves there are, the more water, light, and nutrients the cutting needs to survive and produce roots.

Just putting the tip of the cutting into water is not going to help it. So if you have a large vine, make it into several smaller cuttings.

Don’t forget that you can take single-node cuttings, which consist of one leaf, a little stem, and a node. 

By far, this is the most efficient method of maximizing the number of plants you’ll get per cutting, as each one will produce its vine.

Cuttings Are Old Or Unhealthy

If you take cuttings from a sickly-looking plant, this will mean that they are less likely to root. Always take the healthiest cuttings possible to give your cuttings a head start.

At the very least, take more cuttings than you think you need, and this will help improve the chances of at least some of the plant material rooting.

Try to avoid very old vines, ones that look sick, or vines with no leaves at all. If you can, keep one leaf per cutting, which helps support the cutting with the energy it needs to root.

Poor Light Conditions

Remember that just because plant material doesn’t have any roots or soil, doesn’t mean that it will survive in conditions that a normal plant wouldn’t.

If you keep your cuttings in a dimly lit area with no natural light, they will not root. Cuttings need to be near a window to root, otherwise, they will not have the energy to do so.

But there also needs to be a balance. Do not sit your cuttings in direct sunlight, as they will cook!

It’s Too Cold

Plants like Pothos need warm temperatures, and this also applies to any cuttings you take from the plant. 

Established Pothos plants will struggle in colder temperatures, and for cuttings, this is even worse, as they don’t have the resources they need to survive.

To make sure as many cuttings root as possible, keep your cuttings in a warm room. Ideally, aim for temperatures above 68°F (or 20°C) to get as many viable plants as you possibly can.

You’re Not Waiting Long Enough

It may be that your cuttings are healthy, but they don’t seem to be doing anything. As long as they are not dying, and they have nodes underneath the water line, they will do something eventually.

While Pothos cuttings are quick to root in ideal conditions, sometimes within a few days, they can take much longer, even as long as a few months.

You’ll notice that even the most seasoned houseplant propagator will check their cuttings every few days to see if they root. While it is a waiting game, it’s hard to resist checking the cuttings for progress!

You’re Trying To Propagate In Winter

Propagation in winter can be difficult if your cuttings root at all when you live somewhere that gets cold winters.

Cuttings need plenty of light and warmth to be able to root, and both light and temperature tend to be much lower during the winter. This slows down root production if they will root at all. 

But have some patience. Sometimes cuttings will still root in winter, as long as they look healthy, and the leaves are still green, leave them to it.

Using The Same Water For Too Long

The reason why you should use fresh water with cuttings is to make sure that the cuttings have plenty of oxygen in the water.

Replacing the water replenishes the oxygen levels, which means that cuttings will root.

If you’ve left a glass of water out for a while, and you notice bubbles collecting on the sides of the glass, this is because oxygen and other gasses escape as the water sits.

Replacing the water also helps get rid of any build-up when one cutting rots, preventing the other cuttings from going the same way. Ensure that you clean out the container thoroughly if this happens.

You’re Using Soft Water

Water softening systems are notoriously bad for plants. They replace magnesium and calcium in the water with sodium.

Sodium is toxic to plants, so always avoid this! 

Air Drying Cuttings

Another mistake you can make is to treat tropical, leafy plant cuttings the same as succulent cuttings.

This will end in disaster. While succulent cuttings need to air dry so that the wound closes up, this will actively kill leafy tropical plant cuttings before they can start.

For tropical plants like Pothos, you need to place the cuttings in water or damp soil as soon as possible when you remove them from the plant.

Ideally, prep the container beforehand so that you can transfer your cuttings immediately. The more moisture your cuttings retain, the more likely they are to root.

Final Thoughts

While it’s easy to kill off your cuttings, it’s also fairly easy to stop this from happening, once you know exactly where you are going wrong.

Remember that all cuttings need a sufficient amount of light and warmth to be able to root, as well as fresh water. 

If you can provide them with all three, and perhaps some humidity too, you’ll have the best success with Pothos cuttings or any type for that matter.

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