What Fertilizer to Use for Pothos in Water: Expert Guide

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Growing pothos in water is a popular way to enjoy this beautiful plant without the hassle of soil. However, to keep your pothos healthy and thriving, it’s important to use the right fertilizer. In this article, we’ll provide an expert guide on what fertilizer to use for pothos in water, including the best types of fertilizers, when and how to apply them, and common mistakes to avoid.

Understanding Pothos Plant

Pothos, also known as Epipremnum aureum or Devil’s Ivy, is a popular and versatile houseplant. This hardy plant is often a great choice for beginners due to its ease of care and ability to adapt to various growing conditions.

Growth Habits

Pothos are characterized by their trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves. The leaves can be found in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, and variegated patterns. These plants are known for their rapid growth and can quickly cover a large area when given the right conditions, such as adequate light and water. Pothos plants thrive in a wide range of environments, including low light, making them suitable for growing indoors.

Water Propagation

Sometimes it is desirable to grow pothos plants in water instead of soil. Water propagation involves taking a cutting from an existing plant and placing it in a container of water. To successfully grow pothos in water, a healthy vine with at least three nodes should be chosen, avoiding any yellowing or brown leaves (Epic Gardening). The leaves below the node should be removed to prevent decay and suffocation of new roots. Regular fertilization is crucial for water-grown pothos plants, as water alone does not provide the necessary nutrients for the plant’s growth and well-being (Plantophiles).

When it comes to fertilization, it is important to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (Houseplant Authority). To make the process more sustainable and eco-friendly, natural fertilizers can be used, such as a mixture of banana peels, compost, eggshells, aquarium water, and rice water (Plants Craze). This combination provides essential nutrients while promoting healthier growth for your pothos plant.

Basic Nutrient Needs for Pothos

Pothos plants, like most plants, require essential nutrients to support their growth and overall health. These nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are often found in a balanced fertilizer formula. Nitrogen plays a significant role in leaf growth, phosphorus aids in flowering and fruiting, while potassium supports root growth and photosynthesis (Petal Republic).

When growing pothos in water, it’s important to provide these essential nutrients through a water-soluble fertilizer. A balanced liquid fertilizer is highly recommended for pothos plants. One popular example is the 20-20-20 all-purpose fertilizer, which provides equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (Plant Care Today).

When fertilizing pothos in water, it’s crucial to follow the package directions and dilute the fertilizer appropriately. Over-fertilizing can harm the roots and hinder the plant’s growth (Houseplant Authority). Some key tips for fertilizing pothos in water include:

  • Use a water-soluble, balanced fertilizer
  • Dilute the fertilizer according to package instructions
  • Provide consistent and appropriate amounts of nutrients

Paying attention to these fundamental nutrient requirements and guidelines will lead to healthy and thriving pothos plants in water.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer

When it comes to selecting the best fertilizer for your pothos in water, it is crucial to understand the options available and how they affect your plant’s growth.

Liquid Fertilizer Options

Liquid fertilizers are highly recommended for pothos grown in water due to their easy absorption and fast-acting nature. A few popular liquid fertilizers for pothos include Peters All Purpose 20-20-20 Fertilizer and Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1. It is essential to follow the package directions and slightly dilute the fertilizer to prevent root burn.

Balanced vs Unbalanced Fertilizers

Balanced fertilizers, such as those with a 20-20-20 ratio, contain equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, generally offering optimal nutrition for pothos plants. On the other hand, unbalanced fertilizers have different ratios of the three elements, which can be beneficial in certain situations, like improving poor soil or targeting specific growth stages. However, for pothos in water, it is recommended to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer (source).

In conclusion, to maintain a healthy pothos plant in water, it is essential to choose the appropriate fertilizer that offers adequate nutrition. Liquid, balanced fertilizers tend to be the most suitable option for this purpose.

Fertilizing Schedule and Dosing

Caring for pothos plants in water requires a proper fertilizing schedule and dosing to ensure their growth and overall health. This section covers the frequency of fertilizing and how to dilute fertilizer correctly for pothos in water.


Fertilizing pothos in water should be done every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain proper nutrient levels (Epic Gardening). However, some sources suggest fertilizing every two weeks (ShunCy). The key is to monitor the growth and appearance of your pothos plants and adjust the frequency as needed. Pothos are not heavy feeders, so it’s important not to overdo it with the fertilizer.

How to Dilute Fertilizer

In order to provide adequate nutrients without harming the plant, it is crucial to dilute the fertilizer properly. A liquid houseplant fertilizer with a 4-3-4 NPK value is suitable for pothos and can be diluted by adding ½ a teaspoon in two cups of water (Petal Republic). Another option is a 1-1-1 liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, which is also suitable for most houseplants (Petal Republic).

If you’re growing pothos in water, a fertilizer with a balanced ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 is ideal for healthy growth (Necps). This fertilizer contains essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium necessary for plant health. To mix the fertilizer, you can add a teaspoon of the fertilizer to a gallon jug, fill it with water, and then use this solution when needed (Ohio Tropics).

Remember to follow the package directions for specific concentrations and application rates. Using too much fertilizer can burn the roots and damage the plant, so it is important to measure and mix carefully.

Common Mistakes and Tips

When growing pothos in water, it is important to avoid certain mistakes and follow best practices to ensure successful growth.


One common mistake is over-fertilizing the pothos, which can lead to an accumulation of excess salts and nutrients in the water. This may cause damage to the roots and reduce plant growth. To avoid over-fertilization, it is essential to use appropriate amounts of liquid fertilizer according to the product instructions.

Additionally, monitoring the pothos’ growth, color, and overall health can help identify signs of over-fertilization. If such signs appear, adjust the fertilizer usage and change the water frequently to maintain healthy conditions.

Signs of Nutrient Deficiencies

Without the right nutrients, pothos may exhibit certain signs of deficiencies. Some common symptoms include:

  • Yellowing leaves: May indicate a lack of nitrogen.
  • Brown leaf tips: Can be due to low potassium levels.
  • Stunted growth: Might suggest insufficient phosphorus.
  • Weak or wilting leaves: Could be a result of inadequate calcium or magnesium.

To prevent nutrient deficiencies when growing pothos in water, it is essential to provide a consistent supply of water-soluble nutrients. Follow the recommended dosage for your chosen fertilizer and replenish the water periodically to ensure proper nutrient absorption and uptake.

By avoiding the mistakes of over-fertilization and addressing nutrient deficiencies, your pothos can thrive and grow healthily in a water-based environment.

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