Beginners Guide to Growing Plants in Water

One thing that many people are surprised by is that plants can actually grow in water. Oftentimes, after propagating, people will transfer their plant over to soil. But what we’ve found is that, beyond water propagation, plants are capable of thriving in water when given the proper care and environment.

So how does this work? Plants utilize the oxygen in the air pockets of water (the O in H2O) for photosynthesis. One thing to note about growing plants in water is that not all plants can thrive in water for a long time and may have a shorter lifespan due to this.



A plant cutting is taken from a mother plant that is usually growing in soil. Cuttings can also be taken from plants that are growing in water or other mediums. When preparing a cutting for most plants, you'll need a node and 1 or 2 leaves if available. 


Once the cutting is submerged in water, it takes some time to get used to its new environment. This is the point where the plant stabilizes itself in water but has yet to show signs of root development. The length of this stage can vary from plant to plant. Some plants take only a few weeks while others can take months.


Eventually your plant will begin to shoot off thin, whitish roots and enter the propagation phase. At this stage it's common to replant into soil or other mediums - or simply leave in water. 


After enough root growth, your plant will have fully acclimated in water. You begin to see new leaves develop and grow. Transferring your plant to soil at this stage can be difficult. 


Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water. There are several basic types of hydroponic systems like Wick, Water Culture, Ebb and Flow (Flood & Drain), Drip (recovery or non-recovery), N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique), and Aeroponic. Many of these techniques optimize nutrient and oxygen absorption by the plant and are commonly utilized in agricultural production. 

At Modern Botanical, we specialize in the simplest method of hydroponics, which is growing plants submerged in water with only nutrient additives. This method requires the least amount of energy on the planter’s part besides replacing the water to re-oxygenate on a semi-regular basis. 


Here’s a list of things you can do to promote plant growth in water:
  1. Invest in nutrients that will give your plant an extra boost of energy to grow and prosper
  2. Regularly replace water and/or add an air pump and water stone to re-oxygenate the water.
  3. Use a rooting hormone to promote root growth.
  4. Meet your plant’s needs, especially when it comes to humidity and light exposure
  5. Monitor P.H. levels and temperature in the water to ensure your plant is in an optimal living condition to thrive.


Of course, plants are just like people and require their individual needs. To learn more, feel free to check out our List of Plants that Grow in Water, where we have tons of information on how to grow different plants in water! There are millions of plants to fit this category, but we’ve narrowed the list down to a few popular indoor plant varieties that grow well in water:

  1. Pothos
  2. Tradescantia
  3. Snake Plant
  4. Schefflera
  5. Monstera 
  6. Philodendron
  7. Peace Lilies
  8. Jade plants
  9. Some succulent varieties (i.e., agave, echeveria, crassula, cotyledon, etc.)
  10. **Bulb plants (i.e., tulips)
**Note: they can bloom in water for one season but won’t reproduce the following year.

That’s all the highlights on growing plants in water! Beyond our tips, do your research, and don’t be afraid to play with your plants! The best part about plant parenting is that you have the flexibility to experiment. We have been experimenting with this process a lot and want to share what we have discovered with you. To learn more about Modern Botanical and how to grow plants in water, feel free to check out our other articles!

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