How Long Can Pothos Live in Water? A Helpful Guide

Pothos is among the best houseplants out there because it offers a unique blend of beauty and hardiness that makes it ideal for beginners and advanced users alike!

In fact, one of the most special aspects of the plant is that you can easily propagate them in water before planting them. But exactly how long can pothos live in water?

Surprisingly, pothos are among a few plants out there that can technically live in the water forever if you take good care of the plant. This includes changing the plant’s water consistently, cleaning its container, and replenishing the water with proper nutrition.

In today’s article, we’ll take a deep dive into how you can grow your pothos in water and whether it’s a better alternative to growing them in the soil to help you choose the right one for your needs!

How Long Can Pothos Live in Water?

Pothos can live for the same amount of time in the water as it can when it’s grown in soil. In other words, a typical pothos can live in water for anywhere between 5 to 10 years, provided that you maintain them in proper condition and take care of their water and nutrition.

In fact, if you have pothos in your house, you’ll notice that keeping the plant in water for a while shouldn’t be a problem at all.

However, the properties of pothos growth, as well as care requirements, will vary from soil to water.

In other words, while pothos can live for its entire lifespan in water, keeping it alive all that time can be slightly tricky and requires special care.

How to Keep Your Pothos in Water Forever

hanging potted pothos
Devil s ivy decorated on wall

Now that you know that pothos can actually live in water for as long as they can live in soil, you need to know that keeping them in water for as long as possible requires special care in terms of the container used, water, light, nutrition, etc. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Get a Suitable Container

The first thing you need to do when keeping your pothos in water is to bring a clean container that is large enough to hold your plant. This container can be just about any one that will hold up well.

Ideally, the container should be opaque to avoid the formation of algae as well as certain types of bacteria inside the container.

This is because algae will consume the nutrients in the water, which heavily impacts the growth rate of your plant.

However, transparent containers, such as large glass jars, can help you keep track of the health of the roots as they grow and give a unique look.

If you prefer growing them in transparent containers, make sure that you properly clean the container every couple of weeks to prevent the growth of algae.

Step 2: Fill the Container with Water

Next up, you’ll need to fill the container with water. While adding water, the most important thing is to make sure that the water is clean.

Unlike water used for watering, water used as a growing medium needs to be free of heavy impurities that can damage the plant’s roots.

So, if you’re using filtered or regular tap water, make sure that the water sits in the container from 12 to 24 hours before using it, which allows minerals and chlorine to dissipate or break down in the water.

If you’re unsure about your water’s quality and need to make sure that it’s suitable for your plant, you can always use a regular drinking water test kit to check its purity.

Step 3: Propagate the Cutting in the Water

Now that you have the container filled with water, it’s time to prepare the pothos in order to transport your plant to its new home.

Ideally, you can do that by preparing a cutting from your original pothos plant. If you don’t have one, you could ask any of your friends who already own the plant.

To prepare the cutting, you can trim a healthy part of the stem while making sure to include nodes in your cutting.

The ideal way to cut the pothos is by keeping a few growing nodes (about 2 to 4) within the cutting, which is a brownish nodule that grows opposite to the leaf, then trim the leaves on the stem, keeping 1 or 2 leaves from the top to make photosynthesis and provide the plant with energy for the first few days.

Make sure that the leaves trimmed aren’t the top-most part because leaves underwater might suffocate and rot.

It could take the pothos up to a week in order to grow roots in the container, especially if you don’t use rooting hormones. Once the plant grows roots, you should be good to go.

Step 4: Add Fertilizers in the Right Quality and Quantity

Nutrition is extremely essential for pothos to grow healthily in water. However, too much fertilizer encourages pests and algae to thrive, so you have to add the fertilizer in the right quantity and quality.

The best kind of fertilizer that would work in this case is an all-purpose liquid fertilizer, especially when diluted properly.

However, any fertilizer with balanced Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium ratios should do. For proper dilution, you’ll need to follow the instructions on the product’s packaging.

The instructions will also provide you with a helpful chart to determine the proper amount of fertilizer to add to your plant as well as the frequency of adding them to the water.

Step 5: Make Sure the Plant Get the Right Amount of Light

Lastly, you should make sure that your plant is getting the right amount of light. Luckily, pothos is a decently hardy plant that can survive full and partial shade, making it an ideal indoor plant.

However, if the plant doesn’t get enough light, its rate of growth will be greatly diminished, so you need to provide the plant with plenty of indirect sunlight in order to thrive.

The best way to do that is by keeping them behind lace curtains by the window or exposing them to artificial light for a minimum of 12 hours a day.

How to Maintain Your Pothos While in the Water

Potted pothos
Golden pothos in the pot isolated on white background with copy space

Keeping your pothos healthy in the water is a bit tricky, as you’ll need to take care of several aspects in order to make sure that the plant grows at a steady rate. Here are some of the essential tips that you’ll need to take care of:

  • Keeping the water clean should be your top priority if you want the plant to live long and thrive without diseases. Ideally, you need to change the water in the container once every two weeks to re-oxygenate the medium.
  • While emptying the container to refill it with clean water, make sure that you clean the container from any signs of algae.
  • If you find algae in the water between water cleaning cycles, you’ll need to pour the water off as soon as possible, scrub the container with soap to kill the algae, rinse it, then refill it with clean water again.
  • If the liquid fertilizer doesn’t specify the frequency of use, you should add it once every month for proper growth.

Growing Pothos in Soil vs Water: Which One is Better?

From a technical point of view, both water and soil work perfectly fine for pothos. Since pothos will happily grow in either growth media, the rate of growth and the health of the plant depends mainly on the level of care you provide to the plant.

Ideally, it’s easier to grow pothos in soil and get a decent growth rate. However, you can match the soil growth rate of pothos in water if you take care of your plant and provide it with the right amount of nutrition, light, and water.

However, in most cases, average-level care means that the water-grown pothos will grow healthily but not as quickly as soil-grown pothos.

This makes them ideal for those who don’t want the plant’s roots to grow large, which requires trimming and transporting the plant in a larger container.

Even though pothos growing in water can be a bit slower than average pothos in soil, with proper care and nutrition, they can still grow pretty quickly. If you want to keep the plant limited to the size of the container, pruning is the way to go.

However, you’ll first need to sterilize your bypass shears using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to prevent plant infections.

Final Thoughts

Row of pothos plants in pots
photo of golden pothos vines with the vase

This wraps it up for today’s guide about growing pothos in water and how long you can keep them there.

As you can see, pothos is a pretty hardy plant and among the few that can actually live in water as long as it can live in the soil.

Growing them in water means that they’ll more likely to grow slower but equally healthy, which makes it easier for those with limited space and saves yourself the hassle of trimming them more often.