How to Grow Houseplants in Water

You don't need to have a green thumb to grow houseplants in water. Even if you've killed every houseplant growing in soil that you have ever had, your success is almost guaranteed when growing them in water. Other than sticking the cut end of a stem into a jar of water and setting the jar on your window sill, there's very little else to do except to sit back and watch it grow!


Five Advantages to Growing Houseplants in Water

  • Low maintenance (plants require less upkeep and are nearly impossible to kill).
  • Cleaner (no dirt, less odors).
  • Eliminates problems from soil-borne insects and diseases.
  • Reduces the need to fertilize because nutrients are distributed evenly to roots.
  • Plants can never be over or under watered and will be fine if you leave town.

Selecting Your Plants

When choosing houseplants to grow in water, it's important to select species that are known to perform reliably without soil. Surprisingly, this includes many herbs and even some flowering plants. In general, plants with strong, woody stems make the best candidates. Some will last for many years, while others last only a few (or even one). The following list of plants that grow well in water is by no means complete, so have some fun experimenting:


  • Begonias
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Coleus
  • Croton
  • Dracena
  • Herbs, including mint, basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and sage
  • Impatiens
  • Ivy (any type)
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Sweet potato vine
  • Wandering Jew

Selecting Your Vessels

Whether clear or colored, as long as it's translucent (see-through), anything you have laying around that is glass or plastic and holds water is a potential vessel for your houseplants. Dollar stores and craft stores are great places to find inexpensive bottles and vases, but old-fashioned canning jars or even drinking glasses work great, too. Providing your houseplants are healthy (and not dying or rotting in water), algae growth will seldom become a problem - even if plants are placed in direct sunlight.

Rooting Plants in Water

Rooting your plants in water is just like rooting them in soil. All you need to do is clip off a small, actively growing segment from the existing plant (right below the leaf), and insert it into a jar or vase filled with water. Once you have the cutting in the water, Mother Nature takes care of the rest. Roots will soon appear along the submerged stems, followed shortly by sets of new leaves.


Aftercare and Maintenance

Another beauty of growing houseplants in water is that the after-care is nearly as simple as the initial steps.

Sunshine: Some plants flourish best in a clear jar on a sunny window shelf; others seem happier in a ceramic vase on the living room table. Don't be afraid to move your cuttings around until you find the combination that's compatible. In general, a plant growing in water will have the same light requirements as it would if it were growing in the soil.

Water: Most tap water is either chlorinated or the nutrients have been filtered out, and soft water is too salty. Bottled spring water or well water will yield the best results. Plan to change the water about once a month. In the meantime, you can keep adding a small amount of water as it evaporates from the vase.


Feeding: Add just a few tiny grains of soluble plant food or a couple of drops of a liquid fertilizer to the water after each change. Be very careful here - a little goes a very long way. Unlike adding fertilizer to soil, fertilizer added to water is immediately available to the plant's roots so it's very easy to overdo it and injure your plants.

Controlling growth: If excessive root growth becomes a problem, simply cut back some of the roots or pot the plants in soil. Take care when transitioning plants to soil. Water-grown roots are different than soil-grown roots and tend to be brittle. They may snap off if handled roughly. Start by moving your water plants to a pot filled with porous potting soil. Keep the potting medium evenly moist for several weeks until the plants have time to make the transition, then move them to a heavier soil.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


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June 27, 20160 found this helpful

Which plant is the one in the photo featured in this post? I got the same one from a friend years ago and have been trying to find the name for it ever since, but without success.

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May 12, 20180 found this helpful

Can you cut a bit ivy and put it in water?

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June 24, 20180 found this helpful

Has anyone tried growing a umbrella plant in water? It has worked for me.

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June 7, 20190 found this helpful

SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!! Get to thrift, consignment, and antique stores and really reuse some absolutely beautiful glassware for your new baby plants!


No need to buy new, when so much beauty awaits new lives . . .

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August 18, 20190 found this helpful

Bought a small money tree in rocks and water. Can I leave it like that?

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