How To Root Plant Cuttings In Water


Asexual, or seedless, propagation involves using live plant material to start new plants. Because some plants don’t produce fruit and seeds Plant Propagation is a beneficial way of cultivating plants. One particularly successful method is called Cuttings where some Plants are started or Rooted in water and then replanted in the soil at a certain time which brings very reliable results. How do you Root Plants Cuttings in water?

  • Snip cuttings from the plant.
  • Cut 1/4″ below the node on a 45° angle with a clean knife or scissors.
  • Stick cutting in a clean glass
  • Pour room tepid H2O to cover nodes
  • Change H2O every 3-5 days
  • Wait till the roots grow this can take weeks to months depending on the plant.
  • Once roots are 2-5″ Pot in soil

There are some very simple techniques that help growers at home reproduce and use plants or even tree Cuttings to be used to start plants with very successful results using this technique.

What Plants Can You Propagate in Water

 Propagation is not always successful on the first few tries, most growers suggest trying to propagate with easy plants first, like the more common types of Aroid plants, before trying with more difficult plants. The best types of plants that are easier to grow in water are the types of plants that 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 descendants 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. It will still be a little easier to propagate a plant in a soil environment for 1st timers.

My wife who is a professional Florist and Grower has been doing this for many years, taught back in her Homeland of Korea, and prefers water for the plants to root in glass containers or jars so that we can see the roots begin to develop and then transport them into a pot with potting soil.

If you are new to the game it’s recommended to start with regenerating plant foods like scraps from the kitchen in water. Lemongrass, green onions, and garlic can all be regrown in water. Just stick the root end into the water and wait for roots to grow.

Plants that are tubers or roots themselves are easy to regrow in water. Examples of these are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and ginger. Cut the potatoes in half and suspend them over water in a sun-filled window sill. The same with ginger root. Soon you will see roots begin to form. When the roots are four inches long, plant into a pot of soil or out in the garden.

Veggies:

  • Celery
  • Green Onion
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Garlic

Herbs-From your kitchen scraps, you can experiment and move on to propagate, or grow, many herbs and plants from cuttings. The process basically clones the parent plant, by regrowing itself. Plant cuttings that can regrow easily and are fairly common in nature, are some of them.

  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Lavender

Herbs like basil or pineapple sage can root easily in water. So do vegetables, including tomatoes, as well as ornamentals and houseplants, like coleus or begonia and pothos. Most of these plants will root in a matter of days or weeks. Cuttings sometimes called slips when rooted in water, that remain in water too long can become tangled and stringy or decline from the depleted oxygen and minerals in the standing water. When plant roots reach about 1/2 inch long you should take them out of the water and get them in soil.

Softwood Cuttings-come from fresh, new growth, usually in spring or early summer. Plants such as dogwoods root well from these types of cuttings

  • Aster
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Hydrangea
  • Rose

Semi Ripe/Semi-Hardwood Cuttings Semi-ripe cuttings are tougher and more mature. They’re usually taken from midsummer to fall. Plants such as camellia and honeysuckle often root well from semi-ripe cuttings.

  • Azalea
  • Camellia
  • Honeysuckle

Greenwood Cuttings -Greenwood—also called herbaceous—cuttings are from plants that have non-woody stems. All annual plants, for example, are herbaceous because they are non-woody plants.

  • Boxwood
  • Gardenia
  • Dahlia

Hardwood Cuttings- and Other Plants Hardwood cuttings include deciduous shrubs, climbers (like vines), fruits (such as gooseberries), and trees.

Rooting Tree Cuttings in Water

  • Start by making a sharp-angled cut at the bottom of the stem and use a clean knife or pruning shear
  • You’ll want to snip off a couple of inches of the healthy stem right before a node and include a node or two with the Cutting because this is where the new growth will come from.
  • Remove any leaves that are too close to the node
  • Place plant cutting in your glass container and place this in a spot that receives bright to moderate indirect light. Do not place in strong, direct light or super-low light. The amount and strength of the sunlight at the beginning and during the growth cycle is dependent on the plant itself and should be referenced before you start.
  • 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, you should replace it. Changing water can add oxygen to the plant or they will eventually deplete if you don’t so change the water every week or two.
  • If you want 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.

If you decide to keep growing your plant in water, the game gets a little harder as plants depend on nutrients to grow and there are no nutrients in the water. You can add nutrients to water as in hydroponics or transport the rooted plant to potting soil and add nutrients to the potted plant on a schedule which is how we prefer to do this.

We add some Miracle Grow every few weeks to the plant once it’s potted mixed with a watering can. It simplifies everything as the plant food is pre-measured in packages ready to mix with water.

 Rooting Plumeria Cuttings in Winter

Most of these cuttings are easy to grow and start well in water and regrow quickly with little work. Once the cuttings start roots then transplant them into some potting soil. The best part of starting plants in water is that pest and disease issues are reduced rather than starting in soil. Soil is prone to fungal issues,  gnats, and other insects. Clean water has none of these pathogens and, if changed frequently, will not develop the disease.

Once plants have a full healthy root system, they can be moved to a soil medium. Rooting normally takes place in 2 to 6 weeks. Some plants that root well in water are Begonia, African Violet, and Impatiens among many common household plants. My wife’s Hawaiian Pink Plumeria Plant Cuttings 

We received  Hawaiian Pink Plumeria Plant Cuttings at the end of the summer in late August from a mail-order business in Hawaii. We used 2 Cuttings one we rooted in water and the other was rooted in standard potting soil. We left both out in our patio garden  24 hrs. a day 7 days a week in and out of direct sunlight until the weather chilled in late September. These plants are Tropicals and need a warm temperature to root and grow. They also need rainwater or filtered water, no bottled or tap water that is undesirable.

We used a Gravity fed Berkey Water Filter on all flowers we grow in our garden and inside houseplants.

My wife also mists once per/day with filtered pure water and believes, even insists that talking can put your plant into a peaceful positive state that can make the transformation of rooting in water successful and the shock of transporting the Cutting from water to soil, less dramatic for the plant. Hey, she’s the Boss!

The cuttings sprouted at the top of Plumeria Cutting and rooted at the bottom which we could see through the water in the glass. The other Cutting from Hawaii in the potting soil rooted around the same time on our patio. My wife repotted the Cutting that was rooted in the soil left the Cutting that was rooted in water in the same glass to see how it would affect its growth.

Next, We brought both the Soil and the Water Cuttings inside the house, used a medium sized-fairly inexpensive grow light from Amazon, and hung the light for both sitting on a small heating pad. The heating pad kept the roots warm in the bottom of the soil and the water which is the most beneficial part of the plant to keep warm.

We added filtered water that was room temperature to the water Cutting as needed, to keep the same level we started with and change the water once a week. This added oxygen that the roots used up.  The Soil Cutting was watered once a week (being careful not to overwater the soil) my wife uses her finger to poke through the top layer and inch or two to see if the soil is dry or moist underneath.  Judging by that she waters the plant.

You can see in this photo both Cutting’s were starting to sprout. With the water Cutting somewhat less mature. It’s important to keep the plant hydrated but not overwatered. Also that the heater in your home doesn’t have a vent directly over the top of where the plants are sitting. They can dry out the leaves and damage them or evaporate the water Cutting container you are using. She uses a spray water bottle containing (always) filtered water and mists the plant once per/day. We left the small Grow Light on for most of the day and night on to let the plants absorb it to keep them strong especially at the beginning.  Soon The Cutting rooted in the water started to show roots and shoots that were popping out. A good Grow Light we purchased was a BESTVA DC Series 2000W LED Grow Light Full Spectrum Grow Lamp for Greenhouse Hydroponic Indoor Plants Veg and Flower

 

   

  • We ordered and started each Cutting at the same time.
  • We kept each side by side in the same environment at the same temperature and the same amount of light.
  • The Cutting in the Potting Soil and The Cutting in The Water rooted in the same amount of time
  • The rooted Cutting in the Potting soil matured and grew
  • The rooted Cutting in the water had slowed growth
  • They are both healthy
  • The Cutting seeded in the water were smaller and immature.

Our conclusion was we would root the Cuttings of these plants the tropical Hawaiian Pink Plumeria Plant Cuttings and once roots and leaves started to show we will transport to a pot containing potting soil and a minimal amount of nutrients.

How To Propagate Rose Cuttings In Water

  • Cut 8-9 inches from an existing Rosebush
  • Use the harder stiffer section for the Cutting below the head of the Rose
  • Cut a 45-degree angle on the bottom side of the Cutting right before the node. This is where the new growth will come from
  • Scrape the bottom of the that Cutting an inch or so of its flesh and “wounding it” by wounding it the plant will send nutrients as an autoimmune signal down to where the wound is to try and heal it. All this natural activity will spur some new root growth at the bottom of the Cutting. You can also use a Rooting Hormone here to cover the area where you scraped the flesh at the bottom of the Cutting.
  • Clean & Cut off any rose flowers on the stem (this will eliminate any energy the plant might use for blooming flowers)
  • Remember the nodes that are where leaves grow out of the stem always point up and thorns will always point down.
  • Others will need a little help to promote growth on your Cuttings. One way is to cut back Roses and place in a 5-gallon bucket with willow cuttings. The Willow tree has a natural hormone that enhances growth in the wood. As the willow sits in the water length of time the water saturates the wood and releases the hormone that is absorbed by the rose cutting. This helps promote new roots to grow on them.

After you promote the root growth on the Rose Cutting, take the cuttings and hardened them off and transplant them into a potted plant containing soil and vermiculite. Roses are grown in part sun and shade but prefer 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. You’ll discover a lot of tips by experimenting over a few times and listening to what other growers like yourself are trying like this tip using honey.

How to Grow a Tree From a Branch

Fruit trees can be rooted over the winter in as little as 3-6 weeks and then transferred over to a pot and soil. Pear or Apple Cuttings can be set in water and before long you’ll be ready to put them in pots then the ground. To get them ready you will need a clear plastic container one-gallon jug that holds juice will do, along with a pair of garden pruners:

  • Clean the new growth off the branch your using
  • Snip the Cutting with garden pruners to the length of the container you’re going to use.
  • With the nodes pointing up stand the Cuttings up in the clear container
  • fill about a 1/3 way up with water
  • This leaves plenty of air space to be used by the plants
  • Cap the container- place is partial shade and partly sunlit area

It takes about 2 weeks and you’ll see some hairs that are rooted at the bottom of the clear jug. After 2 weeks or so depending on the temperature you start to see new growth along with the Cutting. Once you see this growth take them out of the jug and pot them in the soil around 2/3 their size in the dirt keeping any new growth above the surface if you can.

Within a month or so they will need to be repotted separately into bigger pots. After 6 months they’re ready for planting into the ground. All these time limits depend on the type of plant and the time of year you start.

Conclusion:

Using water to start Rooting in the Propagation process is one of the most successful methods used today. Depending on the plant and the temperature most Cuttings will show growth in very little time and with very little work involved. Using clear plastic or glass containers a grower can observe the first signs of roots and any growth on the stem. Judging root size according to what kind of plant and experience, can then transfer it over from water to a soil media.

JimGalloway Author/Editor

References:

The 19 Best Plants to Grow From Cuttings- an article from the Spruce

 

 

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