Up Your Houseplant Game With Water Propagation

Hey, guys, it’s Katie here! Since most of us are pretty obsessed with filling our homes with plants, I thought it’s high time we talk about propagation! There are lots of different ways you can propagate plants, but I’m super into water propagation right now. Why? Well, because it’s SO easy and you get to watch the roots develop. This way you know the perfect time to get that baby in some soil! Here are three very common houseplants that love the water!

1. Pothos and Philodendron

If you have plants around your home, chances are that you have pothos and/or philodendron. These plants are not only easy to care for, but they are the plant that keeps on giving. Simply cut a 4-6 inch length from one of your vines, let dry out for a couple of hours, and place the end in water. Four or more leaves per cutting is recommended, but I have grown them with fewer in the past. Just make sure your vine has a couple of nodes, or bumpy spots. Once your pothos or philodendron has produced a new root, pull it from the glass or jar and transplant it to soil. The longer you keep the roots in water, the more difficult time it has acclimating to soil. The beauty of these particular plants is that you can skip the soil entirely and simply leave them in water. I love to watch the root systems grow and grow!

Sharing is caring and this plant makes it so easy to spread the love to friends and neighbors! Pothos and philodendron are also great plants for cleaning indoor air! Just remember, both plants can be toxic to children and pets, so if you’re going to keep them in the home, be sure to place them far out of reach!


2. Holiday Cactus (Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas)

I discovered my love for holiday cacti during a plant swap I hosted a few months back. I’m especially fond of the texture of this plant, so you can imagine how delighted I was to find out you can propagate it in water! Considering many types of cacti prefer their soil to be on the dry side, my first question was, “Should I actually pop my cactus clippings in water to encourage new root growth?” Answer: YES! Cut sections with three or more attached leaf groupings and let them callous over for a few hours. After that, simply place them in a glass of water and wait patiently. After a few weeks, you’ll have new baby plants with roots to transfer to soil!

My favorite thing about holiday cacti is how quickly they produce! Once my new rooted clippings were in the soil, they have grown at a rapid rate! Since this type of cactus is native to the jungle, they do require more water than a desert cactus. As always, avoid over-watering to prevent root rot. Oh, and this particular kind of cactus is not toxic to children or pets! Yay!

3. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia)

Ahhhh, the ZZ plant. The waxy sheen of this plant’s leaves is one of my very favorites! I’m guessing many of you have one or more of these in your home. The ZZ plant is great because it is hearty and flourishes in many different types of light. Water propagation for this beauty is essentially the same as the two listed above. Use a sharp knife to remove a section from your existing plant, let it callous over for a few hours, and pop it in water.

My ZZ plant took the longest of the three to produce roots, but as you can see above, the roots that sprouted ended up being very thick and substantial. After the roots appeared, I put this plant straight into a pot and it’s been doing great ever since! Like pothos and philodendron, ZZ plants are toxic for children and pets, so please be extra careful if you have these in your home!

There are many other plants that root easily in water, but these are just a few of the most common (and some of my favorite!) household plants. Are you interested in trying this easy method? I’d love to see any success stories if you want to tag any of your photos with #ABMplantlady over on Instagram! Happy houseplant propagating, friends! xo. Katie


Credits // Author: Katie Shelton. Photography: Katie Shelton and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • very interesting and informative site. Do you hae any ideas to keep the little fruit/plant flies away.? Does cinnamon work without being detrimental tothe plants?

  • Jade plants can be propagated from water very easily! Break off or better yet use one of the many branches that break, or drop off from time to time, place in water and it will root very easily and quickly. Also, the leaves, branches and stems can be stuck into moist soil and will be rooted and growing in no time!

  • I have had pothos and philodendron in water for over a month and have NO roots! The cuttings are still alive with green leaves and everything but I have seen no roots. The same goes for the snake plant I tried to propagate. I’m using dechlorinated water. I don’t understand why they aren’t rooting 🙁

  • Heyyy! I love this method!
    I used it with Jade plant cuttings, oregano and basil… they are all happy potted beauties now!
    I have a question tho, I read that with cactus and suculents you NEED let them a few hours/maybe a day or two so they can dry out and callous over.
    This prevents the cutting from rotting… now, do you need to do this with leafy plants as well?
    I just did some cuttings on a purple heart plant and have it on water, and didn’t wait for it to dry… maybe i should have?

    Thank you guys! Keep the plant love <3

  • Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your website, how could i subscribe
    for a weblog site? The account aided me a applicable deal.
    I have been tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  • I love my Christmas Cactus, so exciting to learn that I can propagate another one! What does it mean when you say “let them callous over a few hours”? I tried looking it up but could only find the word definition, not in reference to plants.

    • Hey!
      I was confused about this part as well…
      it just means that you need to let the part where the cutting was attached to the plant dry… you know, the little “wound” that the plant gets from being cut out.
      This prevents too much water getting in the new plant … that can lead to rotting before rooting and thats a no no for suculents and cacti

  • If I’m leaving these plants in the water for a few weeks or so, how often do you suggest changing the water??

  • I totally agree! Seeing those tiny roots sprout feels like a treat. My grandma and mom does this all the time with our plants at home and they’ve been handing out free plants to friends since. 🙂


  • Thanks Katie, Ive also done this with Basil and Spring onions, and leave on my windowsill and trim as needed 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing the idea. I confirm that I have also both pothos and philadendran growing in water containers all over my house, among other plants. Next I am going to try zz plants. Never thought of that…

  • YES. Thank you for writing this!! I have all of the above listed plants, and I can’t wait to try propagating for the first time!

  • Great post
    New post:http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com/2017/08/haute-couture.html

  • Wandering Jew plants also root really easily in water! I had tons of them before my cat decided they were delicious (and thankfully non-toxic for pets). I’ve gifted a bunch of Pothos too, especially to friends who are plant killers. The great thing about Pothos is that if they start looking droopy, just dump some water on them and they’ll spring right back.

    Jades are super easy to propagate too–snap off a leaf, let it callus over, stick it on top of some soil.

  • Hi! Thanks for the tips – my water propogated philodendren is literally one of the things I’m proudest of in my life (went from 2 to 7 leaves!).

    Is there a better time of year to do this, or do they like a certain temperature? It seemed to take mine a long time to get roots (at least a month) when I did it in January.

    Thanks 🙂


  • Thank you so much, this was very helpful.

    Just a suggestion for you guys, you should mention in your plant posts if they’re pet friendly. I lost my sweet cat due to my obsessive plant purchasing without realizing some are very deadly. I think readers would appreciate it!

    • That’s a good idea, but we don’t all have cats (or pets). So I think it’s better to be the pet owner’s responsibility. We don’t always know.

      Thanks for reading.

      • I think Lisa has a great point. If you are an expert on plants Katie, then I do not see why you cannot mentioned if they are pet friendly or not. That would be a bonus asset to your site. My opinion only.

    • Lisa~
      I am reading the article and she is mentioning child/animal safe or toxic. Maybe she added later or did you not see..??

  • I wish my plants had it easier with me but… maybe one day I’ll remember about them 🙂

  • This is so cool, I am definitely going to try this with my plants!

  • Love this plant tutorial!! Great idea for getting new plants started for the holidays!

  • Yes!!! I still need more plants in my life but don’t need to making any more trips to the nursery to buy them so this is perfect timing!!! Thanks, Katie!

      • Hey Farida, you can take leaves off your jade plant, and let them dry on a plate and callour over. Then every two weeks or so, give them a light misting. After a while (can take up to a month, depending on your climate) you will start to see teeny little leaves popping out the ends of the callous, and eventually roots. They will be slow, but once you have roots about a quarter to a half inch long, (and you’ll have a handful of little leaves on each piece too) set them on well draining soil (soil with sand mixed in). The roots will start to dig into the dirt, and you’ll soon have little jade plants!

    • I have a bunch of plants from air plant to flowering plants I buy a bunch at the nursery and never go again spider plants are easy water plants also wondering jews also grow easy in water but try this celery potatoes both sweet and white are easy to start in water carrots and ginger both are easy to grow try rose bush cutting u plant them in potatoes dipped in cinnamon so bugs don’t eat your plants when they start rooting plant in soil in summer or in the house during Winter you can grow almost any herb in water mint parsley Rosemary sage

  • Thank you for this! I love cute pots and all, but nothing gets me like plants in water. There’s just something so beautiful about it!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.