Pothos in water root rot is a common problem that appears when you try to propagate pothos cuttings in water.

phothos in waterThe roots of the pothos plant are designed to absorb water from the soil, but when they are submerged in water for extended periods of time without any proper maintenance and plant care, they will begin to rot, break down, and eventually, die.

If you have faced the same problem while propagating pothos in water, then we are here to help you. In this care guide, we will discuss the common causes of pothos in water rot and then some prevention techniques.

Symptoms Showing Root Rot in Pothos

There are a few signs that you can look for root rot in pothos. These include yellowing leaves, wilting, and brown or black roots. If you see any of these symptoms, it’s time to take action. It is possible to see black leaves on your pothos before the black roots.

However, don’t worry, pothos cannot live in the water forever. The roots of the plant need to be able to breathe, and if they are constantly submerged in water, they will eventually rot. If you want to keep your pothos plant healthy, it’s best to only put it in water for short periods of time.

Causes of Water Root Rot

Pothos is a popular houseplant because they are easy to care for and tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions.

Pothos can easily be propagated in water and soil but a lot of people prefer water propagation over soil since it is quicker and more rewarding to look at. But if the conditions are not favorable, the cuttings of pothos in water can root rot. We will now look at the causes of why pothos suffer root rot in water:

– Overcrowding the Cuttings of Plants

When pothos are propagated in water, they are usually placed close to each other in a single container. This can lead to rotting roots since they need space to grow and breathe. If the pothos roots are too crowded, they will start to break down and die.

– Lack of Oxygen

Oxygen is essential for the roots of pothos to stay alive either in soil or water. In soil, you can aerate the roots by introducing earthworms to the soil but when it comes to water, aerating it is a bit difficult. One way to aerate water is by bubbling air through it using an aquarium pump. If the water is not aerated enough, the roots will suffocate and start to rot.

– Nutrient Deficiency 

Another reason pothos in water may suffer from root rot is due to a lack of nutrients. When pothos are grown in soil, they can get nutrients from the soil but when they are grown in water, they need to get their nutrients from somewhere else. One way to provide pothos with nutrients is by using a fertilizer designed for aquatic plants.

– Lack of Water

Another cause of pothos root rot is too much water or poor drainage. Pothos grow best in moist soil but they do not like to sit in water for long periods of time. If you leave the cuttings in water for a long time and the leaves are touching the water level, the water will get contaminated and in turn, cause the roots to rot. To maintain healthy roots, make sure you have good drainage.

– Low Light

Pothos need bright, indirect sunlight to grow well. If they are not getting enough light, they will begin turning yellow and their growth will be stunted. When you are growing pothos in water, make sure to put the water container in a well-lit spot. This will increase the growth of your plants and will also kill any germs and bacteria in the water.

– Using Too Much Fertiliser

Fertilizing pothos is important but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Especially in water when the plant doesn’t need as much soil as it needs in the water. If you fertilize pothos too much, the roots can start to rot. Adding any foreign solid material like soil and solid fertilization in the water containers may also cause the root rot.

– Not Changing the Water Regularly

Still water can get smelly and harbor bacteria and germs. It’s important to change the water in pothos cuttings every few days. If you don’t, the water will get dirty and cause the roots to rot.

– Fungi Development in Water

Fungi development is the most common cause of root rot in pothos. Root rot is caused by a variety of fungi, including Phytophthora, Pythium, and Rhizoctonia. . The fungi enter the plant through the roots and spread throughout the pothos, causing yellow leaves and eventually it dies.


As we have established earlier, root rot is very common when you are propagating pothos in water. We have looked at the causes of root rot as well. But how to tackle root rot is a whole new other game. To help you save pothos here are some treatment options to tackle root rot in pothos.

– Remove the Affected Plant

Remove the affected plant or cutting from the water, clean up all the dead roots and put it in a fresh pot of water or pot it in a fresh, sterile potting mix. Be sure to remove all pothos leaves that are affected by the root rot. If the plant is too far gone, you may have to dispose of it.

– Change the Water Regularly to Avoid Pothos in Water Root Rot

This is probably the most important step to take to prevent root rot. Water that sits in the pot will start to stagnate and will become a breeding ground for pathogens that can cause root rot. Be sure to empty out any water that has accumulated in the drip tray under your pothos and replace it with fresh water.

– Shift the Rooted Cuttings to Soil

pothos that has been growing in water for too long will develop weak, spindly roots that are not capable of supporting the plant in soil. To prevent your pothos from toppling over when you transplant it, cut off any long, stringy roots and pot the cutting in a fresh potting mix. Water it well and see it grow

– Make Space for the Cuttings to Breathe

To allow for proper air circulation, which pothos need to stay healthy, you should only have two or three pothos per pot.

If your pothos is looking crowded, it’s time to repot into a larger container. You can also divide your pothos by carefully removing them from the pot and dividing the root into multiple pots so each cutting can grow properly.

– Add a Fungicide

More often than not, pothos in water root rot is caused by a fungus that can be incorporated into the water through leaves or stems or even the container itself. To prevent your pothos from getting any diseases, add a fungicide to the water when you transplant it.

You can also dip the cutting in rooting hormone before potting it to help prevent root rot. If you don’t have rooting hormone, you can use cinnamon powder at the end of the cutting, this will kill any existing bacteria and prevent the future ones as well.

 Clean Your Shears Before Taking the Cutting

When you are taking the cutting of your pothos to grow in water, make sure that the shears or cutters you are using have been sterilized.

This is very crucial because if the shears are dirty or carry some bacteria, they will be carried to the water in which the cutting is being propagated. Because of that possible bacteria, the water can get contaminated and eventually rot the roots of your pothos.

– Fertilising Pothos Cuttings In Water

It is a common myth that pothos can grow in water without any supplements but pothos cuttings do need fertilizer to function well. The best fertilizer to use in the water propagation of pothos is a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.

Pothos Plant Cuttings with Roots in Glass Jars

You can find this type of fertilizer at your local garden center or nursery and you can even ask the nursery center to guide you about which fertilizer will be best for pothos in water. Apply the fertilizer according to the package directions.

5/5 - (16 votes)