Water Propagation for Plants

INSIDE : Learn tips and techniques for growing new baby plants from existing plants using simple Water Propagation for plants!  I love multiplying plants in this way.  Plus it’s so fun to see those plant roots growing each day.

Propagating Plants with Water

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This post has been updated since it’s original April 2020 publish date.

What is propagation?

Propagation in simple terms is growing new plants from old plants.  Hello, best thing ever!  Plants are amazing because not only are living growing things in your home, but if done properly, they can regrow completely new plants from parts of themselves – it’s pretty amazing.

Water Propagation new roots

What plants can be propagated in water?

This is a great question.  Not all plants can be propagated in water.  And not all parts of plants can just be stuck in water with propagation success.  Recently, I had a friend say she cut off a random piece of a leaf and a week later it had turned into black mush.  Sadly, you can’t just snip and pick a piece of leaf in water and expect it to grow roots.

Plants that do best with water propagation is a huge list, but some of the more common ones are Pothos, Avocado, Ivy, Fiddle leaf fig, Coleus, Christmas cactus, Polka dot plant, Snake Plant, Mint, Basil, Sage, Lemon Verbena and Rubber Plants.

I’ve also water propgated Angel Wing Begonias!

Water Propagation in a vase

How do you propagate plants in water?

I always start by taking a cutting from a healthy plant of mine.  For example, my Pothos plant grows so quickly and now and again I give it a hair cut.  The pieces that I cut off, I then remove the lower few leaves, exposing the nodes.

The nodes are the area that the plant naturally grows new leaves or roots from.  If you look on a cutting or a stem, this is the bump out or slightly enlarged spot on the stem.  This node will eventually become your new plant’s root system.

Next, place the cutting in a jar filled with water.  You want to make sure the node is fully submerged at least an inch or so.  Make sure if you can that there are no leaves also in the water, as the leaves will slowly start to rot.  Many people suggest using a rooting hormone, but I have found success just in going straight into water – so that’s what I typically do.  However, there is no harm in using a Garden Safe root hormone if you prefer.

Place you cutting and jar of water in a warm, bright location.  Do your best to avoid direct sunlight as your new plant is very fragile right now and too much light could kill it.  About once a week, I change out the water to get fresh oxygen in the water.

Another bonus is, you can typically mix and match cuttings together in water.  Below I have Pothos cuttings and one Snake Plant cutting in a jar of water.  I added these into water sometime in February.  You can see by the labels that by March 11th, the Pothos roots had grown about an inch or two.  And the snake plant had a few tiny roots and was growing a leaf… only about half an inch in height.

Water Root Growth

Another month later, on April 27th and the Pothos cuttings were quite long.  I had to make sure to add more water to my glass jar each week, so that all the roots were still submerged.

Water Propagation root growth

I’m just amazed at this water propagation process and how quickly roots begin to grow.  Here is another side by side to show their growth.

Water Propagation Pothos roots

And check out this amazing Snake Plant root growth!  After growing just a few small roots, the Snake Plant grew a LEAF!  I didn’t even notice the leaf for a few weeks because it was all under water.

Water Propagation Snake Plant

What kind of light do I need when propagating in water?

For the first few weeks, I had my plants sitting on our kitchen countertop.  They got very indirect light in late afternoon.  It’s important that your water propagated plants receive some light, but bright indirect light with no direct sun is important.  They are growing new root systems and are fragile.

Once I had crossed the month mark, I moved my glass jar to the top shelf on the same side at the windows.  So… it’s direct sunlight really went down.  I think since both Pothos and Snake Plant are lower light plants, it worked out.  But, do as I say… not as I do in most cases here.  (ha)

Looking for more helpful plant tips like this?  Check out my Plant Care page with TONS of tips for healthy growing plants.

Water Propagation Sunlight Needs

How do I transfer a plant from water to soil?

Once your plants have grown substantial root systems through water propagation, you can move them into soil OR you can leave them in water.

A few days ago, I took two of the Pothos cuttings and planted them together in a pot of fresh garden soil.  Make sure to give them a nice deep watering.  Keep watering until you see water run from the bottom of your pot.  You want their transition from a jar of water to soil to be a smooth one.  Keep an eye on your plant and slowly transition it to a weekly watering schedule.

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My Happy Houseplants ebook talks about how to not kill all the plants and includes:
– A helpful checklist for the 6 steps to keep your plants alive + thriving.
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Happy Houseplants ebook
Water Plant propagation

How long does it take to root a plant in water?

The amount of time that it takes a plant to grow roots while in water really varies based on the plant.  Pothos grow roots fairly quick, as you noticed in my images above.  Within a month roots were popping up.  However, some plants can take multiple months to even begin growing roots.

As long as your plant is still alive and healthy while in the water, you can leave it in there to do it’s root growing magic.  Be sure to change out the water, weekly and be patient.

Water Propagation for Plants

I have had many people ask me about propagating succulents, so I wanted to touch on that briefly, too.

How to propagate succulents

Propagating succulents is a fun and simple way to grow new succulent and cacti plants.

To take a succulent leaf for propagation, just gently twist the leaf off the stem. Make sure it’s a clean pull, leaving nothing on the stem. Make sure you get all the way down to the stem.

Next, let the leaf dry out a little bit about one to three days, so it can scab over.  If you skip this step, the leaf will absorb too much water the first time you water and rot. If the cutting starts to shrivel up a little, it’s okay.  This means it’s time to start watering your new succulent leaves.

Lightly water or even better mist them every day.  If you give them too much water, they will begin to rot and die.  It’s best to set them on top of soil in a low pot or even a plate.  Make sure their ends don’t actually touch the soil and water them each time the soil dries out. I found a spray bottle is the best for this step.

Your new succulent cuttings will start to make new roots and leaves within a few weeks!

Water Propagation : Pothos Roots

Water Propagating in glass jars

Water propagating in glass jars is a popular and a very simple way to watch for that new root growth from your cuttings and it allows you to know when it’s time to transplant.

There are numerous other benefits of propagating in a glass jar. Water propagation avoids the mess of soil and requires less frequent watering. You simply add water as you notice it evaporating. It seems to be about once a week that I add just a few inches of water to my jars.

Glass jars can also add a touch of beauty to your home while showcasing the developing plant. You can repurpose various glass jars, making it an eco-friendly option.

Water Propagation : Rubber Plant Roots

However, not all plants propagate well in water.  Make sure to research your specific plant’s needs beforehand. Another important tip to propagating in a glass jar is choosing a jar with enough space for the cutting’s future root growth. I used these large juice jars that are 8″ tall so there is plenty of room for roots.

Use filtered or spring water, as some chemicals in tap water can harm roots and place the jar in bright, indirect sunlight and maintain warm temperatures (around 70°F).

Replace the water every 1-2 weeks to keep it fresh and prevent rot.

Remember, different plants have different needs. Research your specific plant’s requirements for water propagation success!

Need some more plant care posts?  You’ll love these : 

11 Hard to Kill Houseplants
Best Plants for your Bathroom
Best Sunlight Levels for your plants
Best Indoor Plant Pots
How to clean your Houseplants
Best Online Houseplant Shops

You might like these other Propagation posts –

How to Root a ZZ plant in water, Homemade by Carmona

Propagating Angel Wing Begonia Angel-Wing-Begonia-Propagation

How to Propagate Pilea

Pilea Propagation

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