How To Propagate Plants In Water: A Beginners Guide 


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Propagating plants is a very crucial step in plant parenting. It’s something everyone who owns a plant should learn. 

Why Propagate Plants

If you have a plant that’s declining, you want to make sure that you are going to be able to take a propagation and save a piece of that plant so that way you don’t have to rebuy that plant, especially if it was expensive or hard to find one.

Plants come and go out of style all the time. So what is popular today may not be popular six months from now, and you may not be able to get that plant again right away. You want to make sure that you’re able to save it. Also, if you love a plant, you might want more of it. What better way to do that for free than just by taking pieces of the ones that you have?

Another great reason to propagate plants is to have extra plants to trade and get new plants. You can give them to friends or you can say, hey, for this one little chunk of plants I have fully rooted here, I can go ahead and I’m willing to trade you for this X type of plant over here. That way you can get a lot of plants for free. You can share and trade, especially if there are plants that are hard to find and style type of plants. 

Is It Hard To Propagate?

Propagating plants is not very difficult at it all. It is very easy for the most part. There are some specific plants out there that are a little bit difficult. The easiest method is to propagate plants in water. So we’re going to talk about that today first.

 This particular guide is for beginners. So if you’ve never propagated a plant before, don’t worry, we’ll cover every single little step for you. We’ll get it all taken care of. You’ll be propagating plants like a pro at the end of this article.

Step 1: To Propagate Plants In Water

You want to determine which specific plants you want to propagate from. It’s not recommended as a beginner to just run around your plant room and chop up all your plants, because you need to take some steps before you even begin chopping to make sure that these preparations are going to make it.

You want to make sure the day before you are propagating, that you are hydrating your plant. Your plant needs to be fully hydrated and healthy. Don’t hydrate it if it’s already fully hydrated. Just make sure that the leaves are not sinking low. It’s not already a deteriorating plant. Because if the plant is deteriorating, then it’s not going to have the energy to be able to produce new roots from that leaf. It’s not going to have the ability to push out a new plant, possibly. So for more of a higher chance of success with your plants, you want to make sure that you have it fully hydrated and that it is a healthy plant. 

 Take a healthy leaf from a plant. Don’t take a leaf that’s already yellowing and sagging and clearly on its way out. Don’t try to propagate that one. You’re going to fail every time. It’s not going to be you, it’s going to be the leaf. So just keep that in mind. Do you have a healthy leaf from a fully hydrated, healthy plant?

Step 2: To Propagate Plants In Water

Research how to propagate your plants. For this specific plant that you’re growing, you need to know its name of it and you need to know how it propagates. Because it depends on the plant, and how you need to chop it.

There are specific plants that need nodes. A specific section of the plant where the leaf meets the stem. You will have a little node right there. That is where the building blocks of life for a lot of these plants are going to be. They are going to be able to push out new leaves from that area. They are going to push out new stems and they are going to be able to push out new roots and create a whole new plant from this one little area. 

 For some plants, you don’t need that area. They carry the building blocks of life throughout their stems. So it’s not a requirement for every single plant, but it is a requirement for a large chunk of plants. So when in doubt, definitely go for a plant with a node on it. Don’t take something without a node unless you fully researched it. 

Plants That Do Not Need Node:

Just to kind of make this easier for you, here are some plants that for sure do not need a node to propagate. Begonia, Peperomia, Fittonia, and Pilea. These particular plants do not need nodes to propagate. They all need stems to propagate, though. You cannot propagate the leaf of a Pilea. You can propagate the leaf of begonia or Peperomia, but it doesn’t do so well in water. So for this video, which is water propagation, you need a stem from these plants to make that happen. 

Step 3: To Propagate Plants In Water

After you have determined where to cut your plant, you need to take your shears or your scissors, something that’s going to be sharp, and make a clean cut. You want to make sure that you sanitize it because you can have bacteria on there that once it gets inside the plant when you’re making that cut, can cause damage to the plant. It’s not a very common thing if you’re not in a nursery, but you never know what kind of germs and bacteria you have that could damage your plant. So it’s just a better safe than sorry kind of thing.

You can take some rubbing alcohol, and some hot water. You can even sterilize it with fire if you happen to have a lighter or something like that. Also, you just want to make sure that it is a clean, sterile instrument and that you are making a clean, safe cut with it. 

Step 4: To Propagate Plants In Water

After you have cut your plant, you want to go ahead and choose your vessel. For beginners, we always recommend clear vessels. Clear vessels are going to make it easier for you to see the roots, to see exactly where your plant is growing from, how it is growing, and how the entire process works That way you can get to know your plant even better.

It also enables you to see immediately any problems that could be occurring. If you have cloudy water if you see that the stem is starting to mush or rot if you see any blackening, any pieces kind of falling off, things like that, the water starts to get green and yucky. These are all issues that need to be taken care of and we’re going to talk about how to take care of them for you. 

Step 5: To Propagate Plants In Water

At least once a week you should be dumping the water out and refilling the water with fresh water. Be careful using tap water if you are in American cities. They can contain a lot of harmful chemicals that they’re using to try to keep the water clean for people and good for people.

Unfortunately, those chemicals are not always good for plants. So you want to take a look and see what type of chemicals are in your water and check on that before you start filling up your plants’ propagation jars with them. If there is too much chlorine, for example in there, then that can damage your plants and prevent them from growing roots properly. But you do want to make sure that you’re changing your water every week or so, especially if you are a new plant parent and you’re not 100% sure exactly what’s going on with it. It is just better safe than sorry.

If you’re a pro plant parent, then you already know exactly when your plant is going to do what for the most part, and the signs to look out for. So it’s not as crucial to change the water as you get better at paying attention to what’s going on and you get more knowledge.

Step 6: To Propagate Plants In Water

Just keep an eye on your plant and notice any changes as it grows along with the water upkeep. 

 If your plant starts to rot in the water, that’s okay. That happens. No worries there. Especially when you’re a beginner and you’re learning. You want to go ahead and remove that plant from the water. You want to dump out that water. Also, you want to make sure that you clean the vessel, rinse it all out, and everything. Then you want to remove any rot that’s on your plant. You can just take a clean blade and slice it off up to a healthy stem again.


If it was a node that rotted, if the node is gone and it’s all mush and is completely gone, then that is a failed propagation. It’s not going to come back from that.

When cutting plants with nodes You do want to make sure that you’re leaving a little bit extra when you’re taking that cut just in case of rot so that you can remove that. After you’re done removing the rot, you make sure it’s all good. You just go ahead and start your propagation all over again. Nothing to be concerned about. It might take a couple of times.

If it is continually rotting, then you can try to move it to a little bit more of a higher light. Sometimes that helps. Certain plants need a certain amount of light to propagate, and sometimes they can just be a little bit picky as far as that goes.

Step 7: To Propagate Plants In Water

We do want to talk about what happens at the end of your propagation journey with this plant. What happens when you have it finally grow roots? How long do you wait to pot it up? How long does it sit there in the water?

We can’t give you a specific amount of time. We can’t say in three days or five days, in a week and a month. Also, we can’t say that because every single plant and every environmental condition, it’s going to be different. One person’s situation is going to be completely different from another’s situation, even growing the same type of plant.

However, what we can say is that for the health of the plant, you generally want to wait until it puts out one root, and then it starts putting out a couple of other roots from that root, which is called a secondary root system.

From that first main root, when the secondary root system is two to four inches long. When you see it kind of expanding and spreading out from there. That’s when you can go ahead and pot it up in something. Whatever works for you, depending on the plant, and whatever your media of choice is. 

 You just want to make sure that that root system is established so that if there is any rotting in the transference from water to whatever media you’re selecting, then you have the root system to be able to remove a little bit and your plant will still be fully rooted. You always want to plan for there to be a little bit of rot when there is that exchange. But if you have enough roots, your plants will generally recover on their own. You won’t even know that a little bit rotted in there during that transference because the plant will already be growing new roots in another part of its root system while that little bit is dying there.

You can leave them in longer than that. Absolutely. Some plants will live in water just fine for long periods. Some plants can even permanently live in water as long as you’re continuing to give them nutrients. There’s also semi-hydro like leca and stratum and that kind of thing.

Hopefully, this helped you learn how to propagate your plants. the goal of this article was to give you a little bit of encouragement, simplify everything for you, and make it a little bit easier. Hopefully, you can now propagate a bunch of plants and do whatever you want with them. Plant them around your home, share them with friends, and grow a whole bunch of them just for the joy of it. Whatever makes you happy.


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