Water Propagation

Water Propagation

Water propagation is as easy as taking some scissors to your favorite plant and putting it in water in a warm and bright place until it roots, there just a few things you need to know, read on for more info.

Water propagation

Water Propagation is one of the easiest types of propagation – get some scissors and a glass of water and you’re away! This is one of the cheapest ways to get more plants. It is a really fun process as you can see how they’re doing – I always have a few jars, bottles and test-tubes around my flat with growing plants and roots on display. 

They also act as a backup in case your original plant dies back. And of course they can be gifted to your plant junkie (or plant-noob) friends. Or indeed traded for new plants.

We’ll run through how to water propagate your houseplants here with a few examples and some do’s and don’ts. Have fun, it is a really rewarding process…

Christmas Cactus
The original Christmas Cactus plant which I’ll take a cutting from to water propagate

Can you propagate in tap water?

It is a good idea to use water from a water filter, and leave it overnight so it is at room temperature. Some people say it is good to leave tap water overnight as chlorine and fluoride will evaporate too (although the levels of these are very low in the tap water to begin with). In any case I fill up the jars the night before from my filter jug.

Water Propagation
Our plant before taking the cutting

What you need for water propagation:

  1. Water. 
  2. A jar or glass to put them in. If you use a see-through container then root growth is really easy to monitor. 
  3. Scissors or sharp knife – make sure they are clean and sharp so the cut is nice and clean too. 
  4. Your plant.
Water Propagation
Our plant just after taking the cutting.

We’re going to use a Christmas Cactus as our example as it is so common, and is very easy to propagate. 

Plant Propagation In Water (step by step)

Step 1: Make The Cutting

You need to take a cutting under a node. What is a node I hear some of you say?! It is the part that separates each section of the plant.

It is really easy to see on a Christmas cactus for example, but on a different plant it can be a bit more difficult. Here is a picture (below) pic of a Monkey Mask Monstera cutting that has already rooted, so you can see the nodes. The nodes are like knuckles that separate sections of the plant – the roots grow from these as you can see. Obviously there will be no roots on the new cutting, but you can see that the nodes are like little joints. You want to cut below one of these so that the node is towards the bottom of your new cutting. 

Water Propagation - nodes
Here you can see a money mask monstera cutting – you can see that the roots come out of 3 places on the stem – the nodes. These are where leaves grow from too. You must make sure you have at least one node without leaves that will sit in the water, so make your cutting below one.

Step 2: Put the cutting in water.

Step 3: Put the new plant near a bright window sill but not in direct sunlight.

Step 4: Wait for roots. 

You can then pot it up into soil – use the same type of soil as the original plant used. I often leave the cuttings in jars and don’t pot them up. They might grow a bit slower, but they can look great in glass jars as decorations.

Pro tip: for vine-like plants like pothos and monkey mask monstera – cut the cuttings so they have two nodes under the water – this will mean they have a really sturdy root when you finally pot them in soil – as they’ll have two growth points and loads of roots. 

Be sure to top the water up regularly – you don’t want it to get really cloudy and the roots to rot.  I don’t fully change the water as the cuttings produce hormones that are in the water which I like to leave for the cutting. If it does go cloudy then I empty it out about halfway and refill it.  One way to avoid the cloudy-ness is to remove and leaves that are in the water as they rot and cloud the water.  

Water Propagation
The Christmas Cactus cutting for water propagation

How long does it take to propagate in water?

Roots can start showing in a few days, depending on the type of plant. Within a month you should have roots and be able to pot it up. Roots that are 7cm-10cm (3 or more inches).  

What plants can be propagated in water?

A few plants that can be propagated in water are Snake Plant, Monstera,  Christmas Cactus, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Pilea, ZZ Plant and more. For vine-type plants like Pothos, Ivy, Philodendron and Monkey Mask Monstera  – cut a section of the vine long enough for a few leaves out of the water and a long stem in the water, making sure to include a node. Many succulents too like jade plants or burro’s tail.

If you’re not sure if it can be water propagated – give it a go if your original plant is big enough it won’t miss a cutting.

Water Propagation
Here´s some I made earlier – 2 cuttings that have been in water for a few weeks


Give water propagation a try – the cuttings look great in water jars and you get free plants, what do you have to lose?! By the way not all cuttings will work and some will die back – this is just part of it – don’t worry too much, you can always start again with a new cutting, this is especially true of succulent cuttings that often do not have a good success rate – but keep trying! 

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Water Propagation
The final cutting in water
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