by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Children find particular joy in plunking a carrot top in a dish of water and watching leafy greens emerge from the top days later? Growing houseplants in water twist the same idea for grownups. Many houseplants are programmed to root from plants exposed to moisture. It’s a survival and propagation adaptation, one that you can take advantage of that multiplies your houseplant collection at no expense. Here are the easiest indoor plants that grow from a single cutting, right in the water.
African Violets in water from leaves are extraordinarily easy with an exact clone of your original plant. I find violets with colorful foliage often grow in solid colors, the same for two-tone flowers. Choose young, healthy leaves to start new plants. Cut the leaf with about two inches of stem, and place the leaf in a narrow-necked bottle to keep the leaf suspended and dry. Roots take about a month to form over time, a tiny plantlet forms, complete with its own crown.
Baby’s Tears plants produce many tiny leaves on creeping plants that form a dense yet delicate trailing mat. Pinch off a cluster of stems, with or without roots, and watch how easily this plant adapts in water. Leaves that are constantly submerged may begin to rot. Change the water weekly to remove any leaves floating in the water, and allow the water level to drop once roots are well-formed and deliver moisture to the plant.
Begonia offers succulent type stems that are very forgiving in water. Even the fancy Rex begonias and tuberous begonias grow in water. Start with hardy wax begonias with knobby leaf nodes that easily form roots. With just a single leaf, you can start a whole new plant. It may take a couple months for roots to develop. Change the water weekly to prevent bacteria and stem rot.
Coleus is so easy to design an entire garden around. We have new colors of orange, purple, and chartreuse arriving this spring. Each is easily multiplied by water cuttings, allowing you to create a colony of this handsome houseplant. Take a six-inch cutting, and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem. Place the cutting in a vase of water and watch roots form in several weeks. Change with water monthly and add several drops of Watters Root & Grow for a plant that quickly thrives.
Impatiens are a ‘go-to’ shade plant in Arizona, but it can be challenging to keep them moist. They adore water so much impatiens can grow as marginal pond plants. Snip off a few stems at the end of the growing season, and overwinter them in a vase. In the spring, you’ll have a free supply of impatiens to start your next shade garden.
4 Insider Tips
- Cut each stem at a 45-degree angle to increase the plant’s rooting surface.
- Dip each branch in ‘Rooting Powder‘ to decrease stem rot and increase rooting.
- Change your plant’s water, using only lukewarm water every 1-3 weeks to keep them fresh.
- Add several ‘Root & Grow’ drops into each water change for thicker, healthier plants.
Lucky Bamboo is a living centerpiece with no soil required. We often train the green stalks into spirals or woven shapes. The plants often become top-heavy and need more than water to stay upright. Drop some colorful gravel at the bottom of your vase to keep them solid and upright, all while adding some ornamental appeal to your garden creation.
Philodendrons have trailing stems that seem immortal. They look very pretty scattered about in vases of different sizes and colors. As your Philodendron grows, it may need more light if your plant looks spindly. An established plant won’t mind donating several limbs to water cultivation. This ultra-easy houseplant is a no-fail introduction to growing plants in water.
Pothos is perfect for smaller kitchens with limited counter space, grown as a hanging plant or in a water vase. This vining plant is one of the easiest to grow. Place on a table, shelf, or a hanging basket and let the vines grow and trail.
Wandering Jew plants fill a color gap in the houseplant collection like no other. Both the zebra-striped variety and the purple-leafed cultivar are well-adapted to houseplant life. They make a handsome focal point in rooms with moderate light. If you’ve ever trimmed up a wandering Jew plant and noticed that a stray clipping looked lively a few weeks later, this is a clue to the ease with which you can grow these plants in water. Look closely at the leaf nodes along a stem, and you’ll see root nubs waiting to grow. Add some limbs to a mason jar of water, and the plants will keep up their growth in your home.
2022 Free Gardening Classes every Saturday @ 9:30 am
Spring classes and instructors are finalized, and the rest of the Spring schedule is completed. Here are the topics for the following three garden classes in February.
February 12 – Mountain Fruit Trees and the Heavy Harvest
February 19 – Gardening for Newcomers
February 26 – Evergreens that Bloom Early
Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners grow better houseplants here at Watters Garden Center.