Can Pothos Live Underwater? Exploring Aquatic Plant Adaptations

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Pothos is a popular and versatile houseplant known for its easy care and adaptability to various growing conditions. While pothos plants are commonly grown in soil, they can also thrive in water. But can pothos live underwater permanently? In this article, we’ll explore the conditions required for pothos to grow in water, the benefits and drawbacks of this growing method, and some tips for success.

Can Pothos Live Underwater?

Pothos, a popular and easy-to-grow houseplant, is well-known for its ability to thrive in various environments. But can it live underwater? In fact, it can! Pothos plants can grow in water and even live their entire lives in water-filled containers, as long as they receive the necessary care and nutrients1. They are versatile plants that can easily adapt to a water-based environment, lasting five to ten years with proper care2.

When growing pothos in water, it is important to provide them with the nutrients they need, as well as to manage the water conditions. The water should be changed regularly to ensure a healthy environment for the plant3. A well-maintained pothos plant can greatly benefit aquatic ecosystems, such as fish tanks, by absorbing harmful nitrates and mimicking a natural habitat for the fish4.

So, can a pothos live underwater? Yes, it certainly can5. By providing the right care and water conditions, you can enjoy this versatile plant in a unique underwater setting.

Adaptations of Pothos for Aquatic Environments

Pothos, an evergreen plant, can adapt to various environments, including aquatic ones. However, there are certain factors to consider when discussing the plant’s ability to grow in submerged conditions. This section discusses two key aspects: root formation and oxygen exchange.

Root Formation

When growing in water, pothos can develop special roots known as aerial roots. These aerial roots help the plant draw necessary nutrients and water from its surroundings. Although pothos can survive and grow well in water, they usually demonstrate a slower growth rate compared to when they grow in the ground. This is due to the limited availability of oxygen and carbon dioxide underwater, which are essential for optimal growth and development (Houseplant Authority).

Oxygen Exchange

The leaves of pothos do not possess the necessary adaptations to thrive fully submerged underwater. These adaptations include having fewer cuticles and stomata, structures that usually facilitate gas exchange in plants. Since pothos leaves lack these features, they cannot access sufficient oxygen or carbon dioxide underwater, which consequently affects their growth rate (Bloom and Bumble). Pothos can still grow underwater, but it will be slower than if they were grown on land due to the absence of essential atmospheric gases (Houseplant Authority).

In conclusion, pothos plants can indeed adapt to aquatic environments by developing aerial roots and utilizing the limited oxygen and carbon dioxide available underwater. However, their growth rate will be slower compared to when they grow on land because of the restrictions in gas exchange.

Benefits and Applications


One of the primary benefits of pothos plants in aquariums is their ability to absorb nitrates and other harmful nutrients from the water, leading to a significant reduction in algae growth in the tank over time1. This improved water quality is advantageous for both the fish and the aquatic environment as a whole.

Pothos plants also contribute to creating a more natural habitat for aquatic creatures, making them feel more comfortable and less stressed4. Their fast-growing rate can provide cover for fish, which potentially encourages a healthier social interaction among the tank’s inhabitants.

Water Gardens

Water gardens can similarly benefit from the integration of pothos plants. As in aquariums, their ability to absorb excess nutrients and decrease algae growth helps to maintain an ideal water environment for various forms of aquatic life. Their pleasing appearance and cascading tendency can add a visually appealing element to a water garden as well.

Another advantage of using pothos plants in water gardens is their adaptability to both soil and water-breeding circumstances. They’re able to effortlessly transition from soil planting to water immersion or vice versa, making them a versatile choice for water gardens with diverse needs and requirements2.

Challenges and Limitations

While pothos can be used in aquatic environments, there are several challenges and limitations to consider when incorporating them into an underwater setting.

Plant Maintenance

Caring for pothos in an underwater environment requires extra attention to ensure the plants remain healthy. One crucial aspect of plant maintenance is replacing the water every two to three weeks or whenever it appears brackish. This helps to prevent the buildup of algae and potential harm to the plant.

Regularly inspecting and trimming the roots of the pothos is also essential. Removing dead or damaged roots can promote healthier growth and help to maintain the overall wellbeing of the plant(Houseplant Authority).

Potential Hazards

Despite the hardiness and adaptability of the pothos plant, there are potential hazards to be aware of when submerging it underwater. First, it is crucial to note that pothos plants do not grow well completely submerged. The leaves should always be kept above the waterline to prevent rotting and any potential harm to the aquarium’s inhabitants(Plant Index).

Another potential hazard is the impact of intense sunlight on the plant. Too much direct light can stunt growth or cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow(Gardening Know How). Monitoring and adjusting light conditions can help maintain the health of the pothos plant in an underwater setting.

Lastly, it is important to consider the compatibility of the pothos plant with the aquarium’s inhabitants. Pothos plants are better suited for freshwater aquariums, where they can contribute to the microbiology of the tank(Plant Index).

Pothos Varieties Suitable for Aquatic Settings

Pothos plants, also known as Devil’s Ivy, can survive underwater and are often used in aquariums and hydroponic systems. However, some varieties of pothos are better suited for aquatic environments than others. In this section, we will discuss the pothos varieties that thrive in underwater settings.

One suitable variety for aquatic environments is the Jade pothos. This pothos plant variety features solid green leaves and can adapt well to growing in water. Its vigorous growth makes it a popular choice for aquarium hobbyists who want to add some greenery to their aquatic setup.

Another pothos variety that thrives in aquatic environments is the Neon pothos. Known for its bright yellow-green leaves, the Neon pothos adds a vibrant pop of color to any underwater setup. Its ability to grow without soil makes it an ideal candidate for aquariums and other water-based systems.

The Golden pothos, with its attractive variegated foliage featuring green and yellow patterns, is yet another variety that can grow well in submerged conditions. This pothos variety is known for its hardiness and adaptability, making it an excellent choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Other pothos varieties, such as the Cebu Blue pothos, can also be used in aquatic environments. The Cebu Blue pothos has attractive arrow-shaped blue-green leaves, making it an interesting addition to an underwater environment(source).

In summary, Jade, Neon, Golden, and Cebu Blue pothos are some of the top varieties of pothos plants that can thrive in aquatic settings. These plants offer a range of colors, shapes, and textures, which can greatly enhance the visual appeal of any underwater environment.

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