The Candle Wax Hack People Use To Propagate Plants (& Should You Try It?)

Have you tried the candle wax hack that people are talking about when propagating plants? For those that haven't heard about this, there's a popular social media post on TikTok that shows the base of a pothos cutting being dipped in melted candle wax before being placed in a glass of water to root. The post mentions that this candle wax dipping means that you can pop the cutting straight into water instead of waiting for the end to cure. Now, with all that said, does it work — or could people be unintentionally harming their plants? Unfortunately, this hack won't promote root growth and is certainly not something that a professional propagator would recommend.

The idea of dipping the very end of a cutting in candle wax comes from a practice used by some plant sellers to protect the cuttings while they're in transit. It prevents moisture loss and stops bacteria from getting into the wound created when the cutting is removed from the original plant. Let's discuss all the things wrong with this hack so that you can learn how to actually propagate your pothos plants.

Why using the candle wax hack will not work

First, we need to address the assumption that using candle wax means that you don't have to wait for the cutting to cure. Cuttings taken from houseplants such as pothos don't need to cure. These cuttings can be placed directly into water or soil. You just need to ensure that there's at least one node — a small bump or knob-like bulge on the stem or the point where the leaves are normally attached to the stem — submerged in the water. However, if you know how to propagate succulents, you'll find that succulent cuttings do need to cure so that a callus forms over the cut end. This callus helps to prevent root rot while also helping to stimulate root growth. While sealing the base of a cutting with candle wax will certainly stop bacteria and fungus from entering the cut, it also stops the plant stem from being able to take up water, which means roots can't grow from this point.  

It's far better to dip the base of the cutting in rubbing alcohol to prevent root rot. Or you could give your cuttings a boost with Pinterest's hydrogen peroxide trick. To promote faster root growth, do what professional propagators do and dip the base of the cutting into rooting hormone. Rooting hormones contain a synthetic version of auxin which is a naturally occurring hormone found in plants. This hormone will help to stimulate new root growth.