Can Pothos Be Fully Submerged? Aquatic Plant Guide

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If you’re a fan of indoor water plants, you may be wondering if your pothos can survive fully submerged. In this article, we’ll explore whether it’s possible and the best practices for keeping your pothos healthy if you choose to try it out.

Can Pothos Be Fully Submerged?

Pothos, a popular and hardy houseplant, cannot grow well when fully submerged in water. Although pothos plants can adapt to various environments, they do not thrive when completely underwater. The primary reason for this limitation is that pothos plants cannot tolerate overwatering conditions. Consequently, they will eventually rot and die if their leaves are submerged for an extended period.

It is possible, however, to grow pothos partially submerged in water. To achieve this, only the roots should be placed underwater, while the leaves remain above the waterline. This method ensures that the plant continues to receive the necessary air and light to perform photosynthesis and other vital functions. Placing pothos roots in water can also provide benefits such as reducing nitrate levels in the water and promoting healthy growth of the plant.

In aquarium settings, pothos plants can be a valuable addition as well, but only when they are properly situated. Place the rooted pothos plant near the opening of the aquarium, allowing its vines to spread outside of the tank. By doing this, the leaves avoid submersion while the roots remain in the water, helping to absorb excess nutrients and maintain water quality.

In conclusion, while it is not advisable to fully submerge a pothos plant in water, partially submerging it with only the roots underwater can be an effective and beneficial approach in various situations, including home decoration and aquarium maintenance.

Understanding Pothos Plant

Types of Pothos

Pothos, also known as Epipremnum aureum, is a popular houseplant that comes in various types. Some popular variations of pothos include Golden Pothos, Neon Pothos, Marble Queen Pothos, and Silver Pothos. Each type has distinct characteristics, such as leaf color and pattern differences. These plants are known for their air-purifying qualities and their ability to thrive in various growing conditions.

Growth Requirements

For pothos to grow successfully, they require certain conditions to be met. Here are some key factors to consider when growing pothos:

  • Light: Pothos plants tolerate various light conditions but thrive best in indirect bright light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it may scorch the leaves.
  • Water: Wait for the top inch of soil to dry out before watering your pothos. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Pothos could be grown in water, but only the roots should be submerged, and the leaves should float on the water surface or be exposed to air.
  • Nutrients: Use a balanced liquid fertilizer once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, usually from spring to fall. Reduce or stop fertilizing during the winter months since pothos plants have slower growth rates during this time.
  • Temperature: Pothos prefer a warmer indoor temperature between 65-85°F (18-29°C). Keep them away from cold drafts, such as air conditioning vents or open windows.

Regarding growing pothos submerged in water, it is crucial to remember that only the roots should be submerged, and the leaves should not be, as they may rot if submerged for extended periods (source). When used as aquarium plants, pothos can help filter and remove toxins from the water (source).

Submerging Pothos in Water

Possible Concerns

When considering submerging pothos plants in water, there are a few concerns that need to be addressed. Pothos plants cannot grow underwater if fully submerged, as they do not support overwatering. If the plant is left in water for too long, it can rot and die (source). It is also important to note that the leaves of pothos plants are unable to absorb nutrients from the water like true aquatic plants, so some of the vine’s leaves should be kept out of the water (source).

Another key concern is ensuring the water used for submerging pothos plants is clean and free of harsh chemicals, as these can damage or kill the plant.


Despite these concerns, there are some benefits to growing pothos plants partially submerged in water. They can still grow and thrive with only their roots underwater and their leaves hanging out of the water (source).

When used in an aquarium, pothos plants can help reduce nitrate levels in the water, which is beneficial for fish tank health (source). However, it’s crucial to only place the roots in the aquarium water, keeping the leaves outside the tank to maintain proper growth and prevent the plant from eventually dying.

In conclusion, fully submerging pothos in water is not recommended, and a balance between water exposure for the roots and sufficient air exposure for the leaves should be maintained in order to achieve optimal growth and benefits from the plant.

Alternatives to Full Submersion

Pothos plants cannot be fully submerged, as their leaves must remain above water to avoid rotting and eventual death. However, there are alternative ways to grow pothos in aquatic environments without fully submersing them.

Semi-aquatic Setup

A semi-aquatic setup allows for the roots of the pothos plant to be submerged in water, while the leaves remain above the surface. This method ensures proper nutrient absorption and access to air for the leaves. To create this setup, simply place the pothos plant in a container with water, ensuring that only the roots are beneath the waterline and the foliage is out of the water. Pothos plants can thrive in this environment, as confirmed in a forum post.

Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponic systems are another alternative for growing pothos plants without fully submerging them. These systems work by providing the necessary nutrients and water directly to the plant’s roots, while the leaves remain above water. An example of a hydroponic setup is placing the pothos cuttings into a container with nutrient-rich water and letting the roots grow and absorb nutrients from the liquid, as mentioned by The Gardening Talk.

In a hydroponic system, ensure the following:

  • Adequate water circulation and aeration: This can be achieved using an air pump to oxygenate the water.
  • Proper nutrient balance: Ensure the nutrient solution provides all necessary micronutrients and macronutrients for the growth and development of pothos plants.
  • Appropriate light exposure: Pothos requires indirect sunlight, so place the hydroponic system in a well-lit area while avoiding direct sunlight exposure.

By employing either a semi-aquatic setup or a hydroponic system, pothos plants can thrive in water-based environments without the need for full submersion. These methods not only accommodate the plant’s natural growth requirements but also create visually appealing displays of greenery in your home or aquarium.

Tips for Growing Pothos in Water

Pothos plants are versatile and can be grown in water, but they should not be fully submerged. To successfully grow pothos in water, it is important to follow a few simple steps to ensure healthy growth.

First, select a healthy vine from an existing plant. Look for a stem that has at least three nodes and avoid ones with brown or yellowing leaves. Make your cut right below a node, and remove all the leaves below that point. This is important so that the leaves don’t decay underwater and suffocate the developing roots.

When placing the cuttings in water, ensure that only the nodes are submerged, keeping the remaining foliage above the waterline. This is because pothos plants are not aquatic and do not have the ability to take in nutrients from water through their leaves.

In order to encourage strong growth, provide the following for your pothos cuttings:

  • Replace the water every one to two weeks to maintain oxygen levels.
  • Give your cuttings adequate light, avoiding dark corners.
  • Use a liquid fertilizer to supply essential nutrients to the developing roots.

Following these tips for growing pothos in water will help ensure healthy, strong plants that can thrive in their new aquatic environment. Remember to always keep the upper leaves of the pothos plant above the water, as they cannot grow if fully submerged.

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