By Matt Gibson & Erin Russell.
A house that is decorated with plants is full of vibrant life and the atmosphere that you create by decorating your house with plants is peaceful and inviting. Indoor plants can turn a house into a home, and can turn a drab and lifeless room into a cozy, charming one, all with the simple addition of a few houseplants.
Starting Your Own Collection of Houseplants
Some people avoid bringing plants into their home because of limited space. Some folks avoid growing houseplants because they don’t like dirt or soil. Others put off adding houseplants to their indoor decor because of a lack of money to devote to the project. However, all of these issues can be avoided if you look into regrowing plants with cuttings using only water to get them started.
If you have a gardener friend who has a nice collection of houseplants, you can most likely regrow your own plant for free using only a cutting and a glass, vase, or jar of water. An indoor plant collection can be started by gathering cuttings from established houseplants and placing them in bottles on your window sills, or any sunny place inside your home.
Types of Containers to Grow Your Plants
Just about any type of container that will hold water can be used for regrowing plants. Bottles, jars, vases, glasses, and bowls will all work fine for the job. Just avoid using containers that are made out of copper, lead, or brass, as these metals are known to corrode in water and may have reactions to fertilizers that could damage your plants. Using dark containers will help deter algae formation, but as long as you change out the water regularly, algae shouldn’t be an issue anyway.
Once you have picked out some containers, you need small pebble-like objects to fill the containers with to keep your cuttings elevated from the water source. There are quite a few options that will work wonderfully in this role, including sand, pebbles, and gravel, beads, florist’s foam, and pearl chips, crumbled styrofoam, or any other similar materials that you can get your hands on.
Keep the Water Fresh and Fertilized
To keep your water clean and fresh and to avoid unpleasant odors, add a small piece of charcoal, or a little bit of powdered charcoal to each container. Instead of pouring in plain water, mix your water with a water soluble plant fertilizer to give your plants the nutrients they need to grow that they usually get from soil. Since you are growing your plants in small containers, however, you should limit the amount of fertilizer you use, adding no more than one-fourth of the recommended amount of fertilizer suggested on the package.
Now that you have your containers, pebble-like materials, water and water-soluble fertilizer mixture on hand, all you need are some cuttings from established houseplants, and you can get started building your own indoor water garden.
In no time at all, you will have a house full of beautiful houseplants to add life to your living area.
16 Houseplants You Can Grow In Water
Now for the fun part, let’s pick out what plants you want to decorate your home with. The following plants are all perfect for growing in water:
1. Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei)
Aluminum plants are easy to propagate using cuttings, and you should root your cuttings in a container of water after taking your cuttings, however, you won’t be able to keep them in water forever, as they will eventually need to be moved into a planter with soil in order to grow properly. Take your cuttings early in the spring and put them in water for about a week, during which, the cutting should develop roots. Once roots are established, transplant your rooted aluminum plant cutting into its own pot, using a potting mix that is high in sand for best results. Find out more at the Missouri Botanical Garden profile for aluminum plant.
2. Bamboo (Bambusoideae)
The lucky bamboo plant is cultivated in China and other eastern countries to improve luck and increase wealth, prosperity, and happiness. Bamboo is one of the few houseplants that can be grown in water only, and does not need to be moved to soil in order to survive. To regrow bamboo plants in water, you will need a shallow dish, and only enough water to just cover the roots. To keep the rest of the plant elevated out of the water, use your pebbles, beads, or whatever small granular product you choose. Instead of using tap water, which may have additives and minerals that could harm your bamboo plant, opt for purified or distilled water. Change the water every two or three days and add water whenever needed to keep the roots covered. Find out more in our article How to Grow Bamboo.
3. Cacti (Cactaceae)
Though cacti are typically grown in a dry sandy soil environment, they can also be grown hydroponically. They don’t even need a fancy hydroponic system with a pump either, just a container with water, a pebble-like aggregate, and a standard two-part nutrient powder to mix into the water you line your container with. As long as you mix your water with the nutrients that your cacti plants need to survive, water can be just as good of a growing medium as soil for many cacti plants.
To get started, rinse off the pebble-like material that you are using to line the bottom of your containers and let it soak for a few hours in water to clear any dirt or debris. Put an inch or two of this material in the bottom of your container. If you are starting with an established cactus, rinse the roots of your cactus plant thoroughly to remove any dirt or soil particles.
If you are starting with a cutting, allow it to develop roots before moving it to its permanent container. Once you have the roots cleaned off, or your cutting has developed good roots, place the cactus into the container with the root side down and spread its roots out onto the aggregate material in the bottom of the container. Then pour in more aggregate so that the roots are covered but the cactus itself is elevated from the aggregate.
Using a standard nutrient solution (use parts A and B together), follow the directions on the package to make the proper strength solution by mixing the nutrients with water. Pour in just enough water and nutrient solution to cover the roots and the aggregate at the bottom of the container but do not let the water level rise above the roots so that any part of the cactus is submerged in water, as it will lead to rotting.
Every two weeks, pull the cactus out of its container and reclean the roots. While washing, be sure to remove any dead or dying parts of the root system. Gently rinse the stem of the cactus as well, to remove any dust or debris that may accumulate on the top side of the cactus. Change the water/nutrient solution once every month or once every two months, dumping the old solution and replacing it with a new mixture. Find out more in our article How to Grow Cactus Plants.
4. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
To grow a Chinese evergreen plant in a container of water indoors, you will need to start with a fresh stem cutting from a well-established, healthy adult plant. Take a cutting of around six inches long, using clean, sterile shears, and make your cut just below a leaf node. The leaf node is the place where the leaves of the plant join with its stem.
Place your cutting with the cut end down in a container that does not have drainage holes, and add lukewarm water to the container so the cut end is submerged under the water. It is best to give your plant rainwater, if you can keep a container outdoors to collect some when rain falls. Otherwise, you can use tap water if you let it sit out for a day or so before you use it, which lets the chlorine in the water evaporate.
Chinese evergreen plants do not grow well in direct sunlight, so find a spot for your plant to grow where it will get indirect light or partial shade. You should pour out the water in the container and replace it with fresh rainwater or dechlorinated tap water (tap water that has sat out for at least a day) every two or three days. Find out more in our article How to Grow Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema).
5. Coleus (Coleus scutellarioides/Plectranthus scutellarioides)
Coleus is prized by gardeners of houseplants for its bright colors and attractive foliage. You can grow any variety of coleus in a container with water as long as you also provide it with a liquid fertilizer to give the plant nutrition.
You will need to take a cutting from a mature, healthy coleus plant from an apical stem in order to root it in water. The typical stems of coleus have nodes on the tip, but an apical stem will have a bud instead of a node. Make sure that your coleus cutting is an apical stem.
Take your cutting with clean, sterile gardening shears, and make it around six inches long. Remove any leaves from the bottom portion of your coleus cutting, allowing only the top two leaves to remain attached. Then place your cutting with the bottom side down in a container that does not have drainage holes. The nodes, but not the leaves, should be submerged.
Rainwater is the best way to hydrate your coleus cutting, if you can keep a container outdoors to collect the rainwater as it falls. Otherwise, you can use lukewarm tap water as long as you have allowed the tap water to sit out for 24 hours so the chlorine will evaporate. Replace the water in your container with fresh lukewarm rainwater or tap water that has sat out for at least 24 hours every two or three days.
Coleus plants need partial sunlight, indirect sunlight, or dappled shade. They should be kept out of direct sunlight. Find out more in our article How to Grow Coleus.
6. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
You can propagate dumb cane plants by growing the cuttings in water until they develop roots. Once the roots develop, you can move the dumb cane plants into soil to grow or keep them growing in the water if you like.
Start by taking cuttings from a healthy, well-established dumb cane plant using clean, sterilized shears. Your cuttings should be between four inches and six inches long. Remove all the leaves from the cuttings you have taken.
The container where you will grow dumb cane in water should not have any drainage holes. You can keep a container outdoors to collect rainwater that you can give your dumb cane cuttings and other houseplants, or you can let tap water sit out for 24 hours so that its chlorine evaporates. Place your dumb cane cuttings into the container with the cut end pointed down, and fill the container with water.
You will need to pour out the water from the container and replace it with fresh rainwater or tap water that has sat out for at least 24 hours every two or three days. Your dumb cane should have a place to grow that does not get too hot or too cold, where the plants will get some sunshine but be out of the path of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can harm your dumb cane cuttings with heat damage or sunscald.
In a few weeks, you will notice that roots have started to develop. Once the roots have appeared, you can move the dumb cane cuttings to containers of water if you like. Otherwise, you can keep them growing in the container of water. If you want to transplant your cuttings to grow in soil, however, you should do so as soon as the roots begin to develop. If you wait too long and the root system grows too large, it will be more difficult to successfully transplant your dumb cane cuttings. Find out more at the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center profile on dumb cane.
Cuttings of dracaena can be propagated in water. Once the cuttings begin to develop root systems, however, they will need to be moved to containers with soil.
You can begin either by taking a top cutting or a stem cutting from a mature, healthy dracaena plant. Use clean, sterilized shears to take your cuttings. For a top cutting, remove the top portion of the plant by making a cut below the plant’s leaf line. Your top cutting should include several nodes, which are the places where the leaves join with the stem of the plant. A stem cutting is similar but includes a larger section of around eight inches. If desired, you can use rooting hormone on the cut ends of the dracaena before planting it.
Get a container for your dracaena cuttings that does not have drainage holes. Fill the container with lukewarm water. Rainwater is best, if you can leave a container outdoors to collect the rainwater as it falls. However, if collecting rainwater to give your plants is not possible, you can use tap water instead. Just let the tap water sit out for 24 hours before you give it to your plants so the chlorine can evaporate. Find a warm spot for your dracaena cuttings to grow where they will get indirect sunlight. Do not allow your dracaena cuttings to be exposed to direct sunlight, or your plant can be harmed by heat damage or sunscald.
Keep the container where your dracaena cuttings are growing full of lukewarm water. Every two or three days, you will need to pour out the water that remains in the container and refill it with a fresh batch of lukewarm rainwater or tap water that has sat out for at least 24 hours. Find out more at the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center profile on dracaena.
8. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English ivy cannot grow in water alone for a very long period of time, but you can grow it in water for four to six weeks, until the root system starts to develop. Once the plant begins to grow roots, it is ready to plant in the outdoor garden or in a container full of soil indoors, and you can start fresh with a new stem cutting to grow in water.
Take a six-inch stem cutting from a healthy, mature English ivy plant. The section you choose for your cutting should have three or four leaves sprouting from it. Place the cutting in a container of water, and add enough water to cover the cut end of the stem, but do not allow any of the leaves to be submerged, as keeping the leaves underwater can lead to rot or mildew.
Keep your English ivy cutting on a sunny windowsill or in a spot where it will get some sunlight. You will need to pour out the water in the container and replace it with a fresh batch of lukewarm tap water every couple of days.
If your plant gets too long and leggy, you can prune it back to promote denser growth using clean, sterilized shears. To prune your English ivy plant, make your cuts about a quarter of an inch above a leaf node, which is the spot where the leaves sprout from the stem of the plant. Find out more at the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center fact sheet on growing English ivy indoors.
9. Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
Jade plants are succulents that can grow quite large—up to five feet tall. They are low maintenance plants that are easy to care for and can even be grown in a container with water. Because the plants can get so large, you may need to increase the size of the container as it grows.
Start with a stem cutting from a healthy, mature jade plant. Remove the leaves from the bottom two or three inches of the stem cutting, the portion that will stay under the surface of the water. Then place the cutting in a container with the cut side down and add two or three inches of lukewarm tap water to the container.
Find a sunny windowsill or a spot for your jade plant where it will get partial sunlight, and within a few days it will start to grow roots. Every two or three days, you should pour out the water in the container and replace it with fresh room-temperature tap water. Find out more in our article How to Grow Jade.
10. Moses in the Cradle/Boat Lily/Moses in a Basket/Oyster Plant (Tradescantia spathacea)
Moses in the cradle plants have attractive, long lance-shaped leaves that come in shades of green, pink, and purple. The plant needs full sunlight in order to grow its best, and when given full sun it will blossom, producing small white flowers in the center of the plant. You can grow Moses in the cradle in a container of water indoors from a stem cutting, and it is a low maintenance plant that does not require a lot of care from the gardeners.
Begin by taking a cutting from a healthy plant that is between four and six inches long and includes a few leaves. Place the cutting with the cut side down in a container filled with lukewarm tap water. Find your Moses in the cradle plant a sunny spot that stays fairly warm for it to grow. You should replace the water in its container with a fresh batch of lukewarm tap water every couple of days. Find out more at the North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox profile for Moses in the cradle.
11. Philodendron (Philodendron)
Philodendron is known for being an easy-to-grow houseplant that will happily sprout from a stem cutting when kept in a container of water. To ensure success, you just need to follow a few guidelines when taking your cutting.
Choose a healthy, mature philodendron plant to take your cutting from, and use a clean, sterile pair of gardening shears. Your cutting should be taken from a spot about six inches from the main stem of the plant. Make your cut about a quarter of an inch below the leaf node, which is the spot where the plant’s leaves join with the stem. Remove most of the leaves from your stem cutting, leaving two or three leaves intact at the top.
Place your cutting into a container that does not include drainage holes, and fill the container with lukewarm tap water. Make sure that all the nodes on the stem cutting are under the surface of the water. Find a spot for your philodendron to grow where it will get a moderate amount of indirect light, though philodendrons will grow in low light conditions as well. Make sure to replace the water in the container with a fresh batch of lukewarm tap water every couple of days.
If the plant becomes spindly or “leggy,” use clean, sterilized shears to trim it back a bit and encourage bushy growth. Find out more in our article How to Grow Philodendron House Plants.
12. Pothos/Money Plant/Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos plants, sometimes referred to as money plants or devil’s ivy, are extraordinarily easy to grow from cuttings and grow quite happily in a container of water. Although you often see these planted in clear glass containers, it’s best to use container that is opaque or a darker color of glass, as these will prevent algae from developing in the water. In addition to being an eyesore, algae will actually compete with your plant for the minerals and nutrients in the water, hindering its growth. As algae thrives on sunlight, blocking the sun’s rays with opaque or dark-colored glass can help avoid an algae problem in your plant containers.
Start by taking a cutting with clean, sterile gardening shears from a healthy, well-established pothos plant. Choose a section of the stem that has at least three nodes. The nodes are the place where the leaves join the stem of the plant. Place your stem cuttings into a container with some lukewarm tap water, submerging the cut end in the water. If any leaves will be submerged, remove them to prevent rot and mold in your pothos plant container.
In addition to keeping your pothos cutting healthy by giving it fresh water each week, it will also need a supplement about once per month to provide it with nitrogen and phosphorus. Miracle-Gro or any type of fertilizer that contains nitrogen and phosphorus will work. Pothos plants can be kept on a sunny windowsill or in a room where they will get indirect light. Find out more in our article How to Grow Pothos Plant (Devil’s Ivy).
13. Purple Heart Plant / Spiderwort (Tradescantia)
It’s a common gardening myth that the purple heart plant, also called spiderwort, is the same species as the wandering Jew plant. Although both are members of the Tradescantia family, the two plants are different species. They can both be grown in water from stem cuttings.
Begin by taking one or more stem cuttings from a mature, healthy purple heart plant. Use clean, sterile shears to take the stem cuttings. Make sure your cuttings are a few inches long, and take them from the tips of the plant’s stems. Each cutting needs to include at least one leaf node near the bottom, as this is where the roots will sprout from. Remove any leaves from the bottom portion of your stem cuttings.
Use a container that does not have drainage holes to hold your cuttings. Fill the container with lukewarm rainwater or tap water that has sat out for at least 24 hours (to let the chlorine evaporate). Make sure that the water covers the nodes of the cutting where the roots will emerge.
Find a sunny windowsill for your cuttings or a spot in a room where they will get at least partial sunlight. You will need to pour the water out of the container and replace it with fresh lukewarm water every two or three days. Find out more in our article How to Grow Spiderwort.
14. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
Spider plants don’t perform their best in water, but it is possible for the plants to survive in a container of water. Start with plantlets harvested from a healthy, established spider plant. Place the plantlets in a container of lukewarm tap water, submerged under the surface. Change out the water in the container for fresh lukewarm tap water every week or so, and within a few days, the spider plantlets will begin to develop their own root systems.
Once they’ve grown roots, you should add some pebbles to the container of water so that the roots have something to grab onto. Arrange your plants in such a way that the leaves of the spider plant are not submerged underwater. The water should instead only submerge the root system of your spider plants.
Changing your water each week helps to keep it fresh and prevent contamination from rot or salt buildup in the water. If you use tap water, let it sit out overnight before adding it to your plants so that it can dechlorinate. It is best to use rainwater if you can leave a container outdoors to catch the rain as it falls. Find out more in our article How to Grow Spider Plant.
Although succulents are desert plants that do not require much water when they are grown in soil, you can also choose to grow these plants indoors in a container full of water. Doing so makes it very easy to care for the succulents, as they will take in exactly the right amount of water, making it impossible to overwater or underwater them. Growing your succulents in water also means they will not be vulnerable to the soil-borne insects and diseases that can plague these plants when they are grown in soil.
The best succulents to grow in water alone are jade plants, Sempervivum, or Echeveria. Unlike with other types of houseplants, after you take a cutting from a cactus or succulent, you must wait for the cut end to callous over before you can continue with the process of setting it up in its container.
Take a cutting from a healthy, well-established succulent that is a few inches long. Then let the cutting sit out in an area that will not get too hot or too cold and where the cutting can stay dry as it forms a callous over the cut end. The callous takes from a few days to a week to form, and it prevents the cutting from pulling in too much water at a time and succumbing to rot.
Once your cutting has formed a callous, you can place it in the container where it will grow. Choose a container that does not have drainage holes, and add a few inches of lukewarm water. The best option is to collect rainwater to give your succulent cutting by placing a container outdoors to collect the rain when it falls. However, if this is not an option you can give you succulent cutting tap water, as long as you let the water sit out for 24 hours so that the chlorine will evaporate. You will sometimes see directions that say you should submerge the cut end of the succulent in the water, but most gardeners recommend instead that you let the cut end of the succulent sit just above the surface of the water, not quite touching it.
It will take a few weeks for your succulent to begin growing roots. It will need a spot to grow where the temperature will not get too hot or too cold and where the cutting will get some partial sunlight or indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight is not good for succulent cuttings and can harm your plant through heat damage or sunscald. Pour out the water in the container and replace it with lukewarm rainwater or tap water that has sat out for 24 hours every two or three days. Find out more in our article The Complete Guide to Growing Succulents as Houseplants.
16. Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina)
Wandering Jew grows very quickly and easily, and it has attractive foliage in shades of green, purple, and silver. To grow your own cuttings in water, start by using clean, sterilized shears to take stem cuttings that are a few inches long from an established plant. One or two stems will work well for a narrow jar or small container, or if you have a large vase, you can use up to six cuttings.
Before setting your cuttings up in their permanent container, let them take root in small plastic cups. Each cutting will need its own small plastic cup. Use your clean, sterile shears to cut across each of your cuttings, making your cut above the highest set of leaves so that the cutting includes the node, where the leaves meet the stem. Also remove the lower leaves from the cutting. Each stem should have one node, which should stay submerged under the water so it can grow roots.
Keep an eye on your cuttings and continue adding water to them as needed so that the nodes remain under the water level. Within a day or two, you should see roots begin to form. The roots will be quickly followed by new leaves on the stem, which will produce branches, and those branches will grow their own leaves. Wandering Jew will grow happily in partial shade or full sun. Find out more in our article How to Grow Wandering Jew Houseplant (Tradescantia zebrina).
With so many plants that can be regrown in just a container of water, the only limitation you may face in building up your new cutting garden is the number of windows in your home.
Now that you’ve gotten familiar with the houseplants that can be regrown in water, why not take a look at what other plants can be regrown using the same methods.
- 13 Flowers You Can Grow in Water
- 17 Herbs You Can Grow in Water
- Click here for vegetables that can be regrown in water
Learn More About Growing in Water
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