Plants that grow in water may sound unusual or exotic or even difficult to grow. You may think that you need lots of specialist equipment. But this is simply not the case.
Growing specimens in liquid is an easy to master option for people who dislike the hassle of watering and repotting specimens. There’s also no soil for your pets to dig up. As well as highlighting some of the benefits of plants that grow in water this article will also highlight some of the easiest to cultivate specimens.
Plants that grow in water can add interest to your houseplant collection.
Why Choose Plants that Grow in Water?
There are a number of reasons to cultivate a wet, indoor plant garden.
Firstly plants that grow in water need less care. This makes them ideal for people who don’t have time to tend to houseplants or have a large collection of outside flowers, fruit and vegetables and sometimes run out of time to care for their indoor specimens. Knowing how often to water houseplants can be difficult. Cultivating them in a container filled with liquid means you don’t have to worry about this.
It is also neater. Cats can like to try and dig out the soil from pots, or you may dislodge it during the course of everyday life. Plants that grow in water don’t have any soil to make a mess.
As well as being low maintenance, plants that grow in water are also less likely to suffer from common pests such as fungus gnats. Many pests like to lay their eggs in the soil, if your plant isn’t in soil there is nothing for the pests to target.
This method of cultivation is also an easy way to propagate cuttings from a number of different specimens including tropical flowers, spider plants, begonias, and coleus.
A range of plants are suitable for this form of cultivation.
Finally, this method of cultivating flowers can look more attractive and elegant than the typical houseplant collection.
What Type of Container can I Use?
You can use any bottle, jar, vase or glass to hold your flowers as long as it is watertight.
Try to select a container which is an appropriate size to hold the plant. Freshly cut stems are fine for small bottles, but as they develop you will need to move them into a larger container.
Test tubes are a trendy way to display single cut stems. The narrow tubes, such as these by DEPEPE are also a great way to propagate cuttings. Additionally cultivating in clear containers means you can watch the roots develop.
Vases come in a range of shapes, sizes and materials. Single stems are best in narrow neck vases.
Wall vases or wall mounted containers also come in a range of shapes and sizes. These are ideal for plants that grow in water because many of these specimens don’t need direct sunlight meaning they don’t have to be on or near a windowsill.
Old Glasses, chipped and old glasses need not be discarded. Instead repurpose them for your liquid loving specimens. Similarly any empty jars which are just sitting at the back of a cupboard doing nothing can also be used to display houseplants or root cuttings.
Test tubes provide an interesting way to display single stem flowers.
When selecting your container, try to avoid any made of copper, brass or lead. Metals can corrode when in contact with fertilizer. This, in turn, can damage your flowers.
Darker or opaque containers may make it harder to see the roots but they do deter algae from forming.
Creating a garden consisting of plants that grow in water is a quick way to bring greenery into your home. To ensure the project is a complete success, select suitable specimens, I will highlight some of the best later in the article.
Always use fresh stems or leaf cuttings, depending on the plant. Clip stems just below leaf nodes, the node is likely to produce roots. Remove any leaves that will be underwater to prevent them from turning mouldy and smelly.
Always use fresh liquid. It can be from a tap, bottle or collected rainwater. Allow chlorinated tap water to stand for around 24 hours before adding your chosen specimen. This gives the chlorine time to dissipate. Place your container in bright, indirect light and away from heat sources like stoves and radiators.
As we have already noted, these are low maintenance specimens. Regularly top up the liquid in the container. It should be changed completely every week to 10 days. If the liquid becomes cloudy, change it immediately. A small piece or powdered charcoal helps to keep liquids clear and clean.
Give plants that grow in water an extra boost by applying a couple of drops of liquid organic houseplant fertilizer. Apply as per the instructions.
After a few weeks roots form. At this stage, if you want, you can repot the specimen in soil or continue to cultivate in its current container.
Fill the container with some decorative material. As well as adding interest this also supports the stems, helping specimens to stay upright. Popular choices include:
- florists foam,
- beads, crumbled up styrofoam.
The Best Plants that Grow in Water
Now that we have explored how and why you should start a water garden, it is time to look at some of the best plants that grow in water. While these are some of the most popular specimens, you can also experiment with other specimens. Many popular members of the herb garden, such as oregano and mint, as well as most houseplants are all suitable for this unusual cultivation method. Tropical bulbs such as amaryllis, paperwhites and hyacinths can also thrive in liquid filled containers.
This is an elegant way to cultivate a houseplant collection.
1 Chinese Evergreen
This is a low care, low light tolerant plant that thrives when neglected. An ideal no fuss choice. You can find specimens which have green, pink, yellow, red and white foliage.
To enjoy this popular plants that grow in water specimen, clip stems down to 6 inches and place in a bright room away from direct light. A popular houseplant choice, Chinese evergreen is also a houseplant that cleans the air.
2 Rubber Plant
Their large waxy green foliage makes rubber plants another popular houseplant. Also known as Ficus Elastica, In soil and bright light they can, if allowed, reach upto 10 ft. In liquids, development is slower.
Start with a 6 to 8 inch long stem cutting. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem and place in a container away from direct sun. If placed in indirect light after 4 months small roots emerge. At this stage you can keep the plant in the container or transplant it into a soil filled pot.
3 English Ivy
A common climbing plant, used by landscapers ivy is a great way to cover unsightly walls and fences as well as providing thick ground cover. While ivy can be invasive, in containers its spread is slower and more controlled.
The many types of ivy available means that you can find varieties in a range of leaf colors and even variegated leaves. One of the easiest plants that grow in water selections to care for simply place 4 to 6 inch cuttings in a glass or vase. When taking the cutting try to cut pieces that are still green and leafy. Don’t cut woody stems, these won’t root as easily. Again, after a few months roots form. At this stage you can either repot or continue to grow in water.
Placed up high, ivy trails down towards the floor, adding an interesting feature to a home.
4 Dumb Cane
Also known as Dieffenbachia, this is another popular indoor plant. Known for its large, sometimes variegated foliage it is an attractive, low maintenance specimen.
A reliable plants that grow in water choice, place 6 inch long stem cuttings in a bright position. Do not place dumb cane in direct light. Remember to wear work gloves when handling dumb cane, the stems contain a toxic sap which can irritate sensitive skin.
5 Heartleaf Philodendron
A tropical vine with a reputation for being almost indestructible, heartleaf philodendron’s glossy, heart shaped leaves like to cascade down around the container. Pinching out the stems helps to keep a bushy, compact growth habit.
Place 8 inch stem cuttings in fresh liquid, remembering to remove the lower leaves. Philodendron is a low maintenance plant that thrives on neglect. This makes it ideal for a hands off plants that grow in water garden. A bright, indirect light position in temperatures around 70 ℉ are ideal. While it is generally low maintenance this specimen will appreciate an occasional dose of liquid fertilizer.
6 Golden Pothos
Also known as Devil’s ivy this is another vining plant with a vigorous growth habit. Its heart shaped leaves are green and yellow in color. Placed in a tall vase or on a shelf its long stems can spill down, filling the space. Alternatively if placed next to a post or trellis, it can be encouraged to climb towards the ceiling.
As golden pothos develops its foliage spills over the sides of the container.
7 Lucky Bamboo
Resembling bamboo, lucky bamboo is actually a variety of Dracaena. Its thin stalks can be bundled together, woven, curled or even braided into more intricate shapes.
A low maintenance plant, this is a great growing guide. Lucky Bamboo loves indirect light position and thrives in a vase filled with fresh liquid and some pebbles to support the stems. A monthly dose of diluted liquid fertilizer helps to stimulate healthy foliage production and stem development.
Lucky bamboo makes for a tall, stately addition to the home.
8 Spider Plant
One of the most popular indoor specimens because of its arching variegated leaves, the spider’s offsets, also known as pups or babies, can simply be clipped from the parent plant and rooted in liquid. A popular hanging plant, they are also a great plants that grow in water choice. Just remember to change the liquid regularly and keep away from direct sun.
Popular because of their foliage, which comes in a range of sizes, patterns, shapes and colors, coleus are popular in mixed flower beds and pots. Here is a great growing guide if you have never cultivated a coleus before.
As the fall temperatures arrive, take 6 to 8 inch stem cuttings and place in liquid over winter. You can then pot up some of the cuttings in the spring, for more flowers the following year. Coleus are happiest at room temperature, away from direct sun.
10 African Violet
A popular plant, especially in terrariums, which produces colorful flowers, african violet also thrives if placed in a liquid filled container. Simply cut the leaf and some stem, about 2 inches, and place in a narrow necked container. A narrow neck helps to suspend the leaf above the water level, keeping it dry and preventing it from turning mouldy. After about a month roots emerge.
Popular as houseplants and in terrariums, African Violet also thrives in liquid.
11 Baby’s Tears
Producing numerous leaves, as Baby’s Tears develops it forms a dense, trailing mat of delicate foliage. A cluster of stems are one of the easiest to cultivate plants that grow in water options. But be careful. Any leaves contacting the liquid will start to rot. Change the liquid weekly, removing any foliage that is floating in the liquid. Allow the water level to drop when roots form.
Another popular shade loving plant, impatiens love moist soil. This makes a few stems in a vase an ideal plants that grow in water choice. Overwinter the stems in a vase before planting out new flowers in the spring. Also known as Busy Lizies, this is a good, in depth growing guide.
Popular bedding flowers such as Busy Lizzies can also make ideal plants that grow in water.
Another favorite summer bedding plant, Begonias love shady spots in the garden. If cultivated indoors the waxy leaves in shades of green, silver, pink, red and white can add color and interest. This makes them a colorful and reliable plants that grow in water choice.
Clip the stems and place in a liquid filled container if you have a wax variety. For tuberous cultivars and rex begonias, take a single leaf, with the stem attached, and place it in your chosen container for an elegant winter display.
14 Sweet Potato Vine
An unusual plants that grow in water choice, the vigorous stems of the sweet potato can reach between 4 and 5 ft in length. The vines are typically covered with lime green, heart shaped foliage, however different cultivars can produce purple, burgundy and even bronze foliage. Clip 6 to 8 inch long stem sections in the fall and place in a container filled with fresh liquid. Take cuttings just below a leaf node to encourage roots to form.
Our final plants that grow in water choice is an old fashioned favorite. Geraniums are popular in container gardens and flower beds. Surprisingly easy to care for, they are also ideal indoor flowers. Instead of moving a large pot plant inside in the fall, cut stem pieces 5 to 7 inches long and place in fresh liquid.
Many different flowers are suitable.
Introducing some plants that grow in water is a great way to bring life and color to a home. Ideal for kids, who love to watch the roots emerge, and novice or nervous gardeners, cultivating in liquid provides a clean and easy way to cultivate low maintenance houseplants and propagate new specimens.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.