Rooting cuttings in water

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Plants That Root In Water – What Are Some Plants That Can Grow In Water

Even the most novice gardener knows that plants need water, light and soil to grow. We learn these basics in grammar school, so they must be true, right? Actually, there are a ton of plants that root in water. They will eventually need a nutritive medium of some sort, but cuttings that root in water can stay in their aquatic environment while they develop a full root system. Read on for some types of water rooting plants and tips on the process.

About Water Rooting Plants

We can all agree that free plants are the best and what better way to multiply your collection than starting your own plants. You may have a friend or neighbor with a species you desire or just want more of your favorites. Many types of cuttings produce roots growing in water. This is an easy way to grow some species.

The old avocado pit suspended in water, or a glass of roots growing in water from a piece of wandering jew are common enough sights in a sunny kitchen window. Most grow in tap water, but a denatured water may be best for sensitive plants. Cuttings that root in water must have the liquid changed frequently and aerated once in a while.

A simply drinking glass, vase or other container that is large enough to hold the cuttings are sufficient. In most cases, tip cuttings are best and should be taken in spring when plant material is actively growing. Depending on the variety, the leaves need to remain above the water and may require support. Set plants that root in water in a bright but indirectly lit area.

Why Root Plants in Water?

Many plants do not come true from seed or are difficult to germinate, but there are plants that can grow in water very easily. The resulting new plants will be true to the parent plant because they are clones made from its vegetative material.

The best part of starting plants in water is that pest and disease issues are reduced versus soil propagation. Soil is prone to fungal issues, soil gnats and other problems. Clean water has none of these pathogens and, if changed frequently, will not develop disease. Once plants have a full healthy root system, they can be moved to a soil medium. Rooting usually takes place in 2 to 6 weeks.

Plants That Can Grow in Water

Many herbs are easy to grow in a glass of water. These might include mint, basil, sage or lemon verbena. Tropical and sub-tropical houseplants also do well when propagated in plain old water. The easiest to grow are:

  • Pothos
  • Swedish ivy
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Baby’s tears
  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Grape ivy
  • African violet
  • Christmas cactus
  • Polka dot plant
  • Begonia
  • Creeping fig

The roots of these coleus cuttings are far too long: pot them up without delay.

For generations, gardeners have been rooting cuttings in a glass of water placed on the windowsill. And it works… sometimes. But it’s still not the best way to root cuttings.

You see, cuttings grown in water get too much of a good thing: H20. Yes, they need moisture to root, but they also need oxygen. And as water sits on a windowsill, it becomes more and more stagnant (oxygen-depleted). Also, most stem cuttings give off their own rooting hormone… that is diluted and therefore less effective when they sit in water. Plus harmful bacteria start to form on stems sitting in water, coating the stem and new roots in a gooey sludge, while rot-causing fungi, which do best in an oxygen-depleted environment, tend to move in and work their way into the stem. Fast-rooting plants (coleus, begonias, etc.) do all right in water, but other cuttings seem to start well, then go downhill. As well they might, given the declining state of their environment.

Secondly, even when the cuttings root successfully in water, people tend to leave them there far too long a time. Soon the glass is full of roots that are impossible to transplant intact, especially fine roots, which clump together when you take them out of the water and tend to break when you spread them out as you pot them up. Your newly rooted plant can lose half its roots or more as you plant it and each wounded root can possibly lead to rot: not such an auspicious beginning!

Rooting Cuttings in a Substrate

Root cuttings directly into a substrate.

You’d do better to root your cuttings in a tray or pot of some sort of substrate: it just needs to be well-aerated and fairly sterile. Potting mix, seedling mix, vermiculite, coarse sand and perlite are good choices. (Pelargoniums especially seem to prefer sand or perlite). Soil fresh from the garden is not a good choice, contaminated as it is with microbes! You can apply rooting hormone to woody cuttings, but just slip green ones right into a moistened substrate. You’ll find more information on rooting cuttings in a terrestrial environment in Now is the Season to Take Houseplant Cuttings.

Transfer cuttings from water to a terrestrial environment as soon as you see the first signs of roots.

Still Sticking With Water?

Old habits die hard and if you wish to continue rooting cuttings in water, that’s your business. Just don’t wait too long before potting them up. As soon as you see small white or yellow nubs appear on the stem (these are future roots), transfer them to potting soil so they can start their life in an appropriate terrestrial environment. In some cases, that means your “cuttings in water” will need to be potted up in just 3 or 4 days!

Growing a garden is a fantastic way to add some fresh touches to your life every day, either through a quick dash of herbs to a meal or fresh flowers on the table. Starting an herb garden, though, can be expensive if you go out and buy all new plants. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be expensive, or even difficult, to start your own garden by growing plants from cuttings. We’ve got a list of plants that grow from cuttings to make it easy on you to get started.

It’s possible to propagate, or grow, many herbs and plants from cuttings. This process basically clones the parent plant, which sounds like something out of science fiction, but all it means is that when you cut a piece off of the mother plant, that part of the plant regrows itself.

Plant cuttings that can regrow are fairly common in nature, and we’re sharing some of our favorites here. Growing herbs from cuttings is easy, but you can also grow different types of cuttings, including flowering plants, houseplants and succulents.

Here is a list of plants that grow from cuttings.

Our List of Plants That Grow From Cuttings

Mint is another herb that will grow almost anywhere its planted. With its soft stem, you can easily regrow a mint cutting in water. Once the new cutting has grown roots, transplant it into some potting soil and watch the herb grow.

2. Sage

The best way to regrow sage is to take cuttings from a garden in the fall and pot it over winter, then repot it in spring. You can also try to grow roots in water from the leaf cuttings since it is a soft-stemmed plant.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary will take over your herb garden if given the chance, so it’s a great herb to start with if you want to try and propagate a plant. You can use new growth in the spring or basal cuttings in the late fall. The greener the stem is, the easier it will be to regrow new shoots.

4. Thyme

Regrowing thyme is exactly like regrowing rosemary. The two are even close enough that you can regrow them using the same jar of water (just make sure there’s plenty of room in the jar).

5. Basil

Basil is hearty and is an easy type of plant to regrow in water. It’s best not to use basil that has flowered, and you’ll want to take off most of the lower leaves with only the top clusters remaining.

6. Oregano

Another herb you can regrow soilless in water, make sure you remove any flowers as well as all of the leaves except the ones right on top.

7. Lavender

Cut three inches off the tip of the lavender plant. If you take the stem cuttings in the spring, you’ll want to give them at least four to six weeks to grow new roots before you plant them in a garden bed. You can also take cuttings in the fall to replant in the spring.

8. Horseradish

You can regrow horseradish directly by simply dividing the root into three pieces and replanting the root cutting about a foot apart in your garden. Or you can plant it inside in moist, silty soil.

9. Geraniums

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When an indoors garden makes you happy 😆 every single morning ! Géranium cuttings in blooming just for the pleasure #geraniumcuttings #indoorsgarden #indoorsgardening

A post shared by Hélène Dugré (@spokyhd) on Dec 11, 2019 at 2:57am PST

Geraniums are one flower that can be regrown in water. In fact, it’s a flower you might want to start with if you’re unsure about propagating plants. Make the cuttings about six inches long and make sure all the leaves are above the waterline. It takes up to a month for geraniums to complete new root growth in water.

10. Fuchsia

Take the cutting in spring and regrow it in a moist compost and sand mix, keeping the leaves covered. You can replant it that same summer and get flowers that season.

11. Hydrangea

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Three of my hydrangea cuttings from last year my son presents me with random bits that he has taken from his in-laws gardens and tasks me with growing them on! 😁#hydrangeas #hydrangeacuttings #propagation #takingcuttings #newplants #somethingfornothing#thriftygardening

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Take about four inches off the tip of the plant. Leave two or three pairs of leaves, plant in moist rooting soil, and cover with plastic. You can cut the leaves in half to help stop moisture loss.

12. Begonia

Take a cutting about 1″ to 1 ½” long, and press it gently into moistened potting soil. You can also use a mix of perlite and vermiculite. Keep the cutting in a warm, humid and well-lit spot out of direct sunlight until roots begin to form.

13. Jade plant

Take a branch about 3 to 4 inches long and let it dry. Once the cutting has dried, plant it in a potting mixture and keep it just damp until it takes root.

14. Azalea

The best time to propagate azaleas is in the spring after the leaves are mature, when the wood is somewhere between soft and brittle. Clip about 5 inches off the end of healthy branches and trim the cutting just below a point of leaf attachment. Remove the flower buds from the entire cutting and remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting. Dip the end in a rooting hormone and plant in potting mixture. Keep the cuttings in bright, indirect sunlight.

Regardless of what plant or herb you want to re-grow, there are a few things you need to do to manage plant propagation successfully and get healthy plants and herbs with little cost.

The Steps of Propagating Plants From Cuttings Correctly

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So happy my experiment turned out successful! Tried to #propagate these store bought basil and they’ve rooted so quickly! Hopefully I can plant them in soil soon #basil #currentlypropagating #propagation #houseplants #urbanjungle #plants #plantsofnstagram #indoorplants #houseplantsclub #urbanjunglebloggers #herbs #herbsgarden

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Step 1

Once you’ve picked your favorites off the list of plants that grow from cuttings, you’re ready to get started. Choose a healthy part of the plant and make sure you get enough of the plant. The amount will depend on the particular herb or plant, but the general rule is to make sure you have enough for about half the plant to go in the propagation medium and half to stick up above it.

Step 2

Carefully take off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting. You can use scissors or a sharp knife, but if it’s an herb like rosemary or sage, it’s just as easy to pinch the leaves off with your fingers. If it’s a large-leafed plant like a hydrangea, cut the leaves in half to reduce moisture loss.

Step 3

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Regrow lettuce at home. Trying new things that I learn in youtube! Let’s go green! 😂🌱 #greatideas #greenveggies #newhobby #experiment #regrowplants

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Cut the stem right below a leaf node (the area where you pinched or cut the leaves off). If the plant is one that’s difficult to root, you might “wound” the stem, which just means cutting lightly on either side of the stem base. You can also dip the stem into rooting hormone to help the process along.

Step 4

Place the cut end in the correct rooting medium. For softwood cuttings with young stems like most herbs, a jar of water may be all you need. For semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings, with tougher, woody stems, you’ll need a potting mix of sand or soil. You can also grow cuttings in perlite, though once the cuttings have taken root, they’ll need transplanting again to soil.

You don’t need to add any kind of nutrient or fertilizer since the plant doesn’t have roots yet with which to take them in, but you do need to make sure each cutting can get enough air and light, so don’t crowd them. If you’re working with soil or sand, make sure it’s not too dense and drains water well.

Step 5

While you don’t want to overwater your cutting, placing a clear plastic bag over it can help keep moisture in. Plants lose moisture through their leaves, but since they don’t have roots to pull in more water, you need to help the plant retain the moisture so it grows roots. Make sure the cover is clear so the plant can get light, but keep the plant cuttings out of direct sunlight.

The plant or herb has taken root when you start to see new growth (new leaves and, of course, a new root system). Replant it gently and enjoy your new plants!

This article was originally posted on August 28, 2019.

Watch: Food Scraps You Can Regrow in Water

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List of Plants That Grow From Cuttings : Hardwood & Softwood Stem Cuttings

Plant cuttings for propagation are classified based on the plant part from which they are taken (stem, root or leaf) and their state of growth (herbaceous, softwood, hardwood, etc.).
Learn details on Softwood, Semi-hardwood or Hardwood Cuttings for plant propagation and a list of plants that grow from cuttings.

Propagated Bougainvillea growing in a pot

Almost all perennial and shrubby plants can be propagated from cuttings. The most successful plants suitable for cutting propagation include mint, dill, rosemary, lavender, daisies, geranium, jasmine, roses, mandevilla and many more. Some trees like pomegranate, plums, guava, apricot, etc. can also be grown from cuttings.

Plant propagation methods | How to take cuttings | Best soil mix for rooting cuttings

Hardwood and Softwood Stem Cuttings For Plant Propagation

List of Plants Suitable for Cuttings For Propagation

Note that all plants cannot be propagated from stem cuttings. The natural question is what plants can grow from cuttings.Some plants are best propagated from softwood cuttings, while some are propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings and others from hardwood cuttings.

Type of Cuttings For Plant Propagation

Type of Stem Cuttings

You can take softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood Cuttings. Cuttings are always taken from healthy plants.

Softwood Cuttings

Softwood Cuttings are taken in spring when the plant is growing due to prevailing growth hormones in the plant system. As the soft leaves are quite tender, care must be taken to keep them from drying out. Soft wood cuttings usually root quite quickly. Softwood stem cuttings have the highest rooting success of all the cuttings. Many difficult to propagate plants can be tried from softwood cuttings.
Examples of plants that can be grown from softwood stem cuttings include Asters, Azalea, Bedding geraniums, Bee balm, Bellflowers, Betula tree, Blanket flowers, Blueberries, Buddleja, Bugleweed, Butterfly bush,Catalpa (Indian Been tree), Catmint, Cherries Ornamental Chrysanthemums, Clematis, Clematis, Coleus, Dahlias, Dogwood Fuchsia, Fuchsias, Hydrangea, Lavender, Lilac, Maples, Mulberry, Rose of Sharon, Spirea, Wisteria, and many more.

Semi-hardwood Cuttings For Propagation

Semi-hardwood Cuttings are taken after flowering in mid-summer when the plant is starting to harden. The semi-hardwood is quite firm and the leaves of mature size. Semi-hardwood cuttings also root quickly.

Rose Propagated from Stem Cutting
and Grown in a Pot

Many broadleaf evergreen shrubs and some conifers are propagated by this method. Examples of plants that can be propagated from semi-hardwood stem cuttings include Althea, Angel Trumpet, Artemisia, Azalea, Boxwood, Berberis, Box, Brachyglottis, Buddleia (butterfly bush), Camellia, Caryopteris (blue mist spirea), Ceanothus, Cherry laurel, Choisya, Cistus, Coleus, Convolvulus cneorum, Erica, Escallonia, Fatsia, Fuchsia, Gardenia, Geraniums, Hebe, Holly, Holly, Ivy, Lamium, Lavender, Lonicera nitida, Lonicera pileata, Mahonia, Passion flower, Periwinkle, Portuguese laurel, Privet, Quince, Flowering, Rhododendron, Rubus calycinoides, Rubus tricolor, Solanum, Trachelospermum Viburnum, Weigela, etc.
Herbs: Bay, Hyssop, Lavender, Rosemary, Rue, Sage, Thyme

Hardwood Cuttings Propagation

Hardwood Cuttings are generally taken from the current year growth at the end of autumn or in winter or early spring, when the plant is fully dormant with no active growth. The wood is firm and does not bend easily.
It should be noted that the hardwood cuttings take longer to root.
Butterfly Bushes, Currants, Euonymus, Fig, Forsythia, Forsythias, Grape Honey locust, Privet, Russian olive, St. John’s Wort, etc. are among the plants that grow from hardwood stem cuttings.

List of Plants That Grow From Cuttings

Following is a list of plants with their Scientific names which can be propagated from different types of stem cuttings, viz. softwood, semi-hardwood and hardwood cutings.

Plants Propagation from Softwood or Hardwood Cutting
Common Name Scientific Name
Broom Cytisus spp.
Honeysuckle Lonicera spp.
Blueberry Vaccinium spp.
Deutzia Deutzia spp.
Hydrangea Hydrangea spp.
Ivy, Boston Parthenocissus
tricuspidata
Mock orange Philadelphus spp.
Poplar, Aspen; Cottonwood Populus spp.
Rose of Sharon; Shrub-althea HIbiscus syriacus
Virginia creeper Parthenocissus
quinquefolia
Weigela Weigela spp.
Plants Propagation from Softwood or Semi-hardwood Cutting
Common Name Scientific Name
Clematis Clematis spp.
Crabapple Malus spp.
Cherry, Flowering Prunus spp.
Dawn redwood Metasequoia
glyptostroboides
Dogwood Cornus spp.
Mandevilla Apocynaceae
Maple Acer spp.
Maple Acer spp.

Plants Propagation from Softwood, Semi-hardwood or Hardwood Cutting
Common Name Scientific Name
Bittersweet Celastrus spp.
Forsythia Forsythia spp.
Geranium cranesbills
Rose Rosa spp.
Trumpet creeper Campsis spp.
Willow Salix spp.

Video on Growing Plants from Cuttings

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How to grow plants from cuttings
Plant propagation from softwood cuttings video
Plant propagation from hardwood cuttings video

When Rooting in Water Is Just Not Enough

Lots of plants seem to root well in water. When you pot them up, however, they seem to decline, or fail to grow at all and die.

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Many plants will root easily in water, but the roots that form can be extremely fibrous and stringy. Upon transplanting they often seem to decline, or fail to grow at all and die. I’ve had much better success using Perlite with water. I fill a container, just the type you would use to root in plain water, with Perlite, strike my cuttings, and place them in the Perlite. Then I fill the container with water. I add just enough water to keep the Perlite very moist but not “floating.” I do usually dip the cuttings in rooting hormone also. I leave them until there is a “mass” of roots. The Perlite adds some resistance that the roots have to grow through. It creates much stronger roots, and when you transplant, you can just leave whatever Perlite sticks to the roots on the plant and pot it up. The added Perlite provides a cushion for the roots while they adapt to life in soil.
Examples of some of the plants that I routinely root in water are Brugmansia, Red Firespike (Odontonema strictum), Coleus, and Begonias.
I also use this method with pots that have drainage holes. I set them in a shallow tray with just enough water for the perlite to draw up the moisture for plants, such as Hoyas, Rhipsalis, and Passifloras.
The photos below show Brugmansia rooted in Perlite and water, just about ready to be potted up.

8 Plants You Can Start with Only Cuttings and a Glass of Water

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Anytime we’re stuck inside we wish we had more houseplants to keep us company and make it feel more more lush. Even amateur green thumbs tend to feel this pull to acquire and nurture more plants.

As a handy guide we’ve got this quick reference for some of the easiest plants that only require a cutting and some water to make new start. So, if you see any of these at friend’s house it’s worth asking for a cutting so that you can begin your own water propagation! One more thing: these are great projects to do with the kiddos, too!

Via/ Flickr

8) Croton

It takes about 4 weeks for a croton cutting to make new roots. The cutting needs to be 3-6 inches long and have at least 3 leaves.

Via/ Flickr

7) Papyrus

Being a plant that grows in and near water it’s no surprise that papyrus cuttings thrive when placed in water. The trick with these guys is that the head of the cutting goes into the water! Roots develop quite quickly.

Via/ Flickr

6) Zebrina Pendula

You’ll want to make sure that at least one nodule or leaf joint is below the water when you propagate zebrina pendula in water. The nice thing about this plant is that its long gangly stems are great for making cuttings from!

Via/ Wiki Commons

5) Most Succulents

Most succulents are quite easy to start with only water. Succulents need to be dry for a bit for the cutting wound to callus over before being placed into water, though.

Via/ Flickr

Click the “Next Page” button for the rest of these amazingly easy water propagation plants!

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Plant Propagation for Beginners

Propagating plants might sound like a drag, but depending on what type of plant you’re working with, it can be simple. Follow our steps below and you’ll be putting the ‘pro’ in propagation in no time.

Propagation is not always successful on the first few tries, but we encourage you start somewhere because…it’s rewarding when it works! You. Got. This. We suggest trying to propagate with easy plants first, i.e., Aroid plants, before trying with more difficult plants (we’re looking at you, Fiddle Leaf Fig).

Propagation for many plants is best done in soil, but some plants can be propagated in water. This is because they have evolved in an environment that allows it. Most Aroid plants can be propagated in water, and include plants in the family Araceae: Pothos, Philodendron, Monstera, Aglaonema, Anthurium, and ZZ plants. These plants originate from an ancestor that lived in swamps, so being able to adapt to flooding conditions and still being able to grow was key to survival. As a result, the descendents of that ancestor have the ability to grow in water too. However, they are still land plants and will do best if planted in soil over the long term.

Follow our easy steps to below and you’ll be putting the ‘pro’ in propagation in no time.

What you’ll need:
  • A plant
  • Scissors
  • A glass vessel filled with tepid water

On a mature vine, look right below the leaf or stem/vine juncture for a tiny brown root node. These tiny bumps are the key to propagating pothos and philodendrons. You’ll want to snip off a couple inches of healthy stem right before a node and include a node or two with the cutting, as this is where the new growth will come from.

Remove any leaves too close to the node, especially ones that might end up under water when you put your cutting into your glass vessel. (see Step 3)

Place plant cutting in your glass vessel and place this in a spot that receives bright to moderate indirect light. Do not place in strong, direct light or super-low light. (Learn more about your plant’s light needs here)

Arguably, the most difficult step. Be patient. Check root growth from the node on a weekly basis. Add fresh, tepid water when needed. You can replace the water every few days, or simply top off the vessel with fresh water when it’s looking low—as long as there is no murkiness or fungi growing. If the water is murky, we recommend replacing it for the health of the root system, and for aesthetics.

Getting Dirty

If you’d like to transplant your cutting from this glass vessel into a planter with potting mix, we recommend waiting until the root is at least 1 inch long or longer. This should take 4-6 weeks. Once the roots of the cutting are potted in fresh potting mix, saturate that mix with fresh water and place in bright indirect light, then let dry and treat like a regular* houseplant. (Learn more about potting here)

*(like a queen)

Water, Water Everywhere

If you want to keep it growing your plant in water indefinitely, that is totally a viable option. A word of warning: the longer your cutting sits in water, the worse the plant could fare. Why? Water has no nutrients, and you also increase the risk for potential fungal infections. You can help to combat this by changing out the water regularly and adding a tiny bit of fertilizer every month or so during the growing season.

Keep growing your plant knowledge.

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