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Make More Plants From Cuttings: 5 Plants That Root Easily in Water

coleus plants rooted in water
Coleus plants rooting in water. Photo: C. Carignan

Q. Our association would like to have a plant sale in the spring. What are some houseplants we could propagate easily and quickly from cuttings in water?

A. Several common houseplants can be propagated from stem cuttings placed in clean, plain tap water. Some good choices are:

Cut a 3-to-5 inch stem from an existing healthy plant, leaving at least one node (the point at which a leaf emerges from the stem) and some leaves at the tip. Place the cutting in a clean container with fresh tap water, making sure there are no leaves submerged under the water. Set the container in a location where it will receive bright light but not direct sunlight. Keep cuttings away from cold drafts. Room temperature of about 70ᵒF is ideal.

Coleus cutting with adventitious roots. Photo: C. Carignan

A wound to a plant organ (such as a stem or leaf) initiates a series of processes at the cellular level which, under optimal conditions, will lead to the formation of adventitious roots. These are roots that arise out of any plant organ other than the original root system – such as along a stem. This process can take several weeks. While you wait, it is important to change the water in your container periodically so that it stays clean and provides oxygen. Bacterial growth in the water can lead to rotting. Change water at least twice a week or when it starts to look cloudy.

Two additional tips:

Once you see roots form on your stems, let them develop in water for another week or two and then plant them into a small, well-draining container with potting medium. Keep the medium moist until you begin to see signs of new leaf initiation on the plants, and then cut back on watering to about once each week. Learn about the care needs of your particular plant. (See Selection and Care of Indoor Plants on the Home & Garden Information Center website for general plant care tips.)

In addition to rooting cuttings in water, there are a variety of plants you can root easily in soil from leaf or stem cuttings, such as Christmas cactus, Jade plant, and African violets. Making new plants from cuttings can be a fun winter project!

By Christa Carignan, Coordinator, Digital Horticulture Education, Home & Garden Information Center

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