Make a copy of this common office plant

Multiply by dividing.
three plants
Pothos are hardy plants that can grow in a variety of conditions from soil (left) to a Scotch bottle filled with water (right). All of these plants started off as part of the plant to the left. Jason Lederman

Your cubicle could use some greenery. Having plants in the office can make workers happy and relaxed. Many indoor plants also act as natural air filters, removing polluting compounds from the air. Plants: They work as hard as you do.

When looking for something to freshen up your office space, consider the pothos. Pothos thrive in low light, and they require minimal water and care. You definitely don’t need a green thumb to grow one, making it the perfect greenery for a whole host of situations.

Warning: The pothos is toxic if ingested. While it’s a fantastic choice for an office, don’t let pets or kids near it.

It’s also insanely easy to make two or more plants out of a single specimen. Pothos grow long vine-like stems, which can trail all over an office or cubicle (some have been taking over cubicles here at Popular Science for years). But if you prefer a more compact, bushy plant, you can easily trim back those stems—and in the process, you can get a few more plants in the process. There are a variety of methods for propagating a pothos, but the easiest involves just scissors, a plant, and a vase of water. Here’s how it works.

Tools and materials

  • A healthy pothos with stems that have at least seven leaves on them.
  • A vase or jar of water. Choose a clear vessel so you can watch as the roots start to grow.
  • Clean scissors. Plants can pick up diseases too, so make sure to scrub your cutter thoroughly.


Step 1: Identify a stem to cut

Identify a long stem. Jason Lederman

Pothos plants tend to grow long vine-like stems. To find a good stem for your new cutting, identify one that looks healthy (no withered or yellowing leaves) and is fairly long. This way, the whole stem—the part that remains on the original plant and the part that you transplant—can continue to thrive.

Step 2: Identify root nodes

root nodes
Root nodes are easily distinguished: Look for the brown nubs found at regular intervals. Jason Lederman

Along each stem, pothos plants have root nodes, which mark the locations where roots will sprout after you submerge the stem in water. The nodes look like brown stubs on the otherwise green tendrils and are usually located opposite each leaf. You’ll want your cutting to have at least two healthy root nodes.

Step 3: Make the cut

Cut at a 45 degree angle Jason Lederman

Using scissors that you have thoroughly cleaned, make a cut at a 45 degree angle below the last root node that you want to use. The steep angle will allow the stem to keep taking in water and nutrients while the roots grow. Your cutting should have somewhere between 5 and 7 leaves, and at least two healthy root nodes towards its base.

Step 4: Trim

Trimming leaves.
Trimming leaves. Jason Lederman

Now you have a cutting! Keeping three or more leaves at the top, trim off the leaves that will sit below the waterline in your vase.

Step 5: Water

Now sit back and wait for roots to sprout! Jason Lederman

Place your cutting in the vase of water, making sure no leaves rest below the waterline. Now, sit back and wait! Within a few weeks, tendrils of roots will appear from the root nodes, and you’ll have a new plant.

At this point, you can leave the cutting in the water, or transfer it to a pot of soil. But if you want to make the switch, do it relatively quickly: After a while, the pothos will get used to having all the water it can drink and won’t be able to adapt to soil as easily.

Happy planting!