A Guide: Caring for your propagated plants

Water propagated plants are one of every green thumb’s favorite tricks. That’s because they are tolerant to the biggest challenge for any gardener - watering. Seriously, how much is too much water? And what happens when I go off camping for a few days?

Given that not all plants can propagate and survive in water for extended time - we spend a lot of time growing and testing our selection - but for those that can, it greatly reduces the complexity of caring for a plant. We’ll go so far as to say that it becomes easy! 


We’ve broken down caring for your plants into 4 quick parts of what you need to know:  

  • Watering: yes, replace water weekly to replenish oxygen in the water
  • Lighting: generally indirect bright to medium light
  • Nutrients: diluted liquid fertilizer every few months during warmer months
  • Temperature: 55 to 75 degrees fahrenheit - basically the preferred indoor climate for most people! 

If you’d like to read more, let’s dive in: 

Watering: 

Yes, you’re not out of watering entirely but the overwatering is impossible now and the underwatering is obvious when you look at the water. It’s foolproof.

Well, almost. 

If you’re replacing water regularly you’re going to have success 99% of the time but there is a little more to it if you’d like to learn more: 

Keeping the water oxygenated:

The majority of this comes through either adding in additional water or completely replacing the vase water. Sometimes, especially in brighter rooms or when nutrients have been added, a light green layer can appear around the inside of the glass. This is a thin film of algae that has chosen to grow in the glass as well. It’s non harmful but it will consume available oxygen in the water and deplete it faster. 

Cleaning the algae out is simple. Gently take out your plant then pour the water from the vase. Using a scrub (like this), quickly scrub the inside of the vase with warm water. Once thoroughly brushed, replace the water and plant and you’re all set! 

Balancing the PH: 

PH is used to measure alkaline to acidity - generally water is at or around 7.0 on the PH scale. Right in the middle. Most plants will happily grow in this range - there are exceptions - and this is at or around where most water propagated plants would like their water. 

If you think you water source PH is causing trouble in keeping your propagated plants alive, you can check out these PH strips here to test your water. We use tap water here in San Diego but all water systems will vary. 

Keep an eye out for critters

Yes, these are plants and they sit in stagnant water, both can prove to be inviting to little house bugs. If you catch a few moving around, fear not. Just toss the water, lightly rinse the roots, and resume enjoying your plants. 

Other things you’ll want to know about watering: 

What water should I use? 

We use tap water here in San Diego and Seattle, but the optimal water to use would be mineral or reverse osmosis water because of the trace elements still being intact and none of the chlorine or fluoride that comes in with most municipal supplies. 

Does water temperature matter?

Yes but who’s really boiling their plants like a cup of noodles? Water temperature matters in that they can shock the plant. A good rule of thumb is 5 degrees plus or minus over room temperature. 

The easy way to do that? Leave it out for 10 min before watering!

My water is green, what’s happening? 

Some algae chose to join your plant in the water vase. It can look cool for a little while but it ultimately leads to murky water and deficient oxygen for your plant to survive. Solution? Clean the glass and replace the water and you’ll be back in action. 

Lighting

Second to watering, lighting is going to play the next biggest role in the health of your plant which is why we include lighting instructions with every plant we ship out. Too much sun often means yellow and brown leaves, too little light and your plants will begin to fade away. 

Many plants that propagate well in water, and almost any plant we carry, does well in moderate indirect lighting. What does that mean? No direct sunrays and bright enough natural light that you don’t need to use your lights for most of the day.

Some plants, like tradescantia, do great with both direct light and indirect light but, for the most part, indoor plants that grow in water well don’t like direct sun. 

Can I use light bulbs to replace sunlight to grow my plants?
Yes!  We can't wait to write another content piece on this topic alone, but the TLDR is that a variety of bulbs off the light spectrum necessary for plant growth. LEDs are your low-cost + low-electricity option.  

Nutrients

Yes, growing plants in water isn’t entirely magic. The plants do want some nutrients beyond just the water they’re living on. This often presents itself as an unhealthy plant as it gets older, lacking color, vibrance, or wilting. 

Fortunately, fertilizing happens only a handful of times through the year and only in small doses. See the nutrition guide for your specific plant. You can generally expect to use a diluted liquid fertilizer or tea through the warmer months of the year when the plants tend to grow.  

Temperature

To sum this up in one word, indoors. Water propagated plants are susceptible to extreme temperatures. Too hot or too cold can kill or really damage your plant. 

Try to keep your plants in moderate climates between 55 and 75 degrees fahrenheit - basically indoors. Don’t worry, a 95 degree day here in there won’t likely hurt your plants, but repeated days in a 100 degree room will likely get to a number of plant species. 

Conclusion

Despite all this info, really the day to day of water propagated plant ownership is hands off, leaving you with more time to enjoy the plants and their presence. 

Any more questions, feel free to reach out to our team via email or any social platform we have an account with. 

Happy growing!