Plants That Grow in Water – 24 Wonderful Plants That Don’t Require Soil

a plant growing in a small glass water jug
It’s easy to start growing plants in water!

Have you heard of hydroponic plants? It refers to plants that are grown without soil but instead have their roots submerged in a nutrient-rich water solution. The word “hydroponics” comes from the Greek words “hydro” (water) and “ponos” (labor), indicating that plants are grown with water as the primary medium.

Plants that grow in water receive essential nutrients directly from the water, eliminating the need for soil. Instead of relying on soil for support, hydroponic plants may be anchored using materials like clay pellets, rock wool, or net pots filled with an inert growing medium.

The water in a hydroponic system needs to be carefully balanced with nutrients to ensure the plants receive all the essential elements required for healthy growth. Nutrient solutions can be adjusted based on the plant’s growth stage and specific needs.

How To Grow Plants In Water

pothos propagating in water jars

Growing plants in water is a simple yet rewarding process. Here are the basic steps you would generally follow:

  1. Firstly, select a plant suitable for water growth. Examples include pothos, spider plants, philodendrons, and many types of herbs. Remember, not all plants can thrive in water, so it’s crucial to do your research beforehand. See my list below!
  2. With a clean, sharp scissors or knife, cut just below a node (where leaves connect to the main stem) on the plant. It’s recommended to take a cut of about 6 inches. Make sure the cutting has at least one node, which will be placed in water.
  3. Remove leaves that fall below the water line to prevent rotting. You might also want to remove a few extra leaves to reduce the stress on the cutting, as it won’t be able to support too many while it’s establishing roots.
  4. Choose a pot or jar to put your cutting in. A jar with a thinner neck is best as this will help support the plant. 
  5. Put your new water-bound plant in a location with indirect sunlight. Too much sun can cause the water to become too warm and promote algae growth.
  6. Change the water once a week or when it becomes cloudy. Regular water changes will keep your plant healthy by preventing the growth of bacteria or algae and ensuring a fresh supply of oxygen.
  7. Be patient and wait for the roots to grow. This may take a few weeks depending on the plant species. Once roots have developed and the plant seems well-established, you can either leave the plant as is or transplant it to soil if you prefer.
  8. While many plants will happily grow in just water, adding a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer can give your plants an additional nutrient boost. Follow the package instructions to determine how much to use.

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Transferring a Plant From Water to Soil

Once your water grown plant has established a robust root system, you might decide to transfer it to soil. I generally find that once the roots are over 2 inches long, they are good to move, but some hydroponic plants I keep in the water.

If you want to move your plants to soil, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Choose a pot with adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Fill the pot with a good quality, well-draining potting mix. Make sure your soil is moist but not overly saturated.
  2. Carefully remove the plant from the water, trying your best not to damage the roots. It’s normal for water roots to be softer and more fragile than those grown in soil.
  3. Make a hole in the center of the potting mix deep and wide enough to accommodate the root system of your plant.
  4. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the roots are spread out and not bunched up. The base of the stem or the crown of the plant should be level with the soil surface.
  5. Gently fill the hole with potting mix, covering the roots completely. Pat the soil down lightly around the base of the plant to secure it, but avoid compacting the soil too much.
  6. Water the plant thoroughly. The soil should be moist, but not waterlogged. Watering also helps to settle the soil around the roots.
  7. Place the pot in a location with appropriate light based on the plant’s species. In the beginning, the plant might experience a bit of transplant shock. Monitor it closely and maintain consistent watering and lighting conditions to help it adjust to its new environment.

Keep in mind that not all water-grown plants will successfully adapt to soil, and the transition process might be a bit stressful for the plant. It’s normal to see a bit of wilting or leaf loss initially, but with proper care, most plants will recover and start new growth.

22 Plants That Grow In Water

Here are some of the easiest plants that grow in water and are simple to propagate! I have had various successes with some of them, it all comes down to trial and error. 

Plants

1. Pothos 

Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, is one of the easiest plants to grow in water. Find a healthy Pothos vine that’s at least 6 inches long, making sure the vine has at least 3-5 leaves and nodes (nodes are small brown bumps on the vine from which the roots will grow). 

Put the cutting in a clean glass jar with the cut end (node) submerged in water. Ensure the leaves are not touching the water to prevent rot. You can use a clear container to watch the roots grow and also keep an eye on algae build-up, which is one of the problems of growing pothos in water. 

Buy Pothos here! 

2. Spider Plant

Known for its long, spider-like leaves, this plant is a great choice for water growing and one of my favorite plants because it is so easy to maintain and keep alive!

Spider Plants are also very easy to propagate and grow in water. They produce baby spider plants, known as spiderettes or plantlets, which can be snipped off and placed in water to root, making it one of the easiest plants that grow in water. 

Find a healthy spiderette on your Spider Plant. It should be green, vibrant, and ideally have some small nubs or roots already starting to grow. Cut it from the main plant using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or knife. If there are any leaves near the base of the spiderette where it will be submerged in water, remove them to prevent rot.

As spider plants are so easy to propagate and grow in water, ask friends and family first if they can give you a spiderette before buying. This is how my collection of 12 spider plants started! If not, buy a Spider plant here

3. Chinese Evergreen

This popular houseplant can also thrive in water, providing a unique look with its variegated leaves. Find a healthy Chinese Evergreen plant and cut a section of the stem that’s about 4-6 inches long. Try to make your cut below a node (a small bump on the stem where new leaves grow from) because that’s where new roots will sprout.

Put your stem cutting in a jar, vase, or glass and fill it with water until the nodes or cut-end of the stem is submerged. Be sure to keep any leaves above the water line to avoid rotting.

Chinese Evergreens prefer indirect light and can tolerate low-light conditions. Place your jar in a location that isn’t in direct sunlight to prevent the water from overheating and causing damage to the plant.

You can continue to grow your Chinese Evergreen in water indefinitely, but if you wish to plant it in soil, wait until the roots are several inches long and then transfer it to a pot with a good potting mix.

Buy a Chinese Evergreen here

4. Philodendron

a philodendron in a water jar

Many varieties of Philodendron grow well in water, including the Heartleaf and Brazil Philodendron. Choose a healthy stem of your Philodendron that’s at least 6 inches long.

Make sure there are 2-3 nodes present on the cutting. With a clean pair of scissors or a sharp knife, make a cut below the node, the piece you’ve cut is your new plant-to-be.

Put the stem cutting in a clear jar or vase filled with water. Make sure that the nodes are submerged but the remaining leaves are not. Philodendrons are versatile and can adapt to a variety of light conditions.

However, they typically prefer bright, indirect light. Place your jar in a spot that isn’t in direct sunlight to avoid overheating the water and causing damage to the plant.

Make sure you change the water regularly and over a few weeks, you should see roots starting to grow from the nodes. Once the roots are a few inches long, your plant is well established.

Buy a baby Philodendron from here.

5. Peace Lily

While they won’t flower in water, Peace Lilies can grow quite happily in a water-only setup. Select a Peace Lily that appears healthy and free of pests or disease. If you’re transitioning a soil-grown Peace Lily to water culture, it’s easier to start with a smaller plant as they can adjust better.

Gently remove the Peace Lily from its existing pot. If the plant is grown in soil, remove as much soil as possible from the roots without damaging them. You can do this by gently rinsing the roots under lukewarm water.

Once you’ve removed as much soil as possible, check the roots for any signs of disease or pests. If you notice any damaged or rotten roots, trim them off with a clean pair of scissors or a sharp knife.

Choose a glass, vase, or jar that’s large enough to accommodate the roots of your Peace Lily but not too big that it overwhelms the plant. Fill the container with water until the roots are submerged, but ensure the base of the plant and leaves remain above the waterline.

Make sure you place the glass or vase in a location that has low to medium indirect light. Direct sunlight can heat up the water and cause harm to the plant. 

Since there are no nutrients in the water, you’ll need to feed your Peace Lily occasionally with a water-soluble fertilizer. Be sure to dilute the fertilizer more than recommended on the label, as too much can harm the plant.

With a little bit of care and attention, your Peace Lily can thrive in a water environment and add a touch of elegance to your home.

Buy a baby peace lily here. 

6. Lucky Bamboo

a lucky bamboo growing in water

Despite its name, this plant isn’t actually bamboo. Lucky bamboo in water grows extremely well and is often used in Feng Shui for its supposed good luck properties. I have a few lucky bamboo plants in our home and always keep them in water!

Select a Lucky Bamboo plant that appears healthy, with green leaves and no signs of yellowing or disease. Choose a vase or container that is slightly larger than the diameter of your Lucky Bamboo stalks. Glass containers are often preferred as they allow light to reach the roots and you can observe the root growth.

Add a layer of pebbles or small stones at the bottom of the container. These will help to anchor your Lucky Bamboo in water and keep it upright. Place your Lucky Bamboo stalks in the container, arranging them as desired, making sure the roots or bottom nodes of the bamboo are touching the stones.

Fill the container with enough water to cover about an inch of the Lucky Bamboo’s roots or bottom nodes. Try to use filtered or distilled water, as tap water often contains chlorine, which can harm the plant. Finally, avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves. 

Every month or so, add a drop of liquid houseplant fertilizer to the water to provide the necessary nutrients. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can harm the plant.

Buy a Lucky Bamboo here.

7. Swiss Cheese Vine

a swiss cheese vine plant in water

One of my newest favorite plants, the Swiss Cheese Vine, or Monkey Mask Plant has beautiful dark green leaves with each leaf having different holes in them. It can grow up to 13 feet as a vine. 

Select a healthy vine from the plant that has at least one node, which is the small bump where a leaf connects to the stem. This node will eventually develop roots. Cut just below this node using a clean pair of scissors or a sharp knife.

Remove any leaves close to the node, as this part of the cutting will need to be submerged in water and the leaves might rot if they’re underwater. Place the stem cutting in a glass jar or vase filled with water. The node should be submerged, but any remaining leaves should be above the waterline.

A Swiss Cheese Vine or Monstera Adansonii likes bright, indirect light, so place your jar somewhere where it will receive this. Avoid direct sunlight, which can overheat the water and harm the plant. To maintain a fresh supply of oxygen and prevent bacterial growth, change the water in the jar once a week.

In a few weeks, you should see roots beginning to form from the submerged node. Once these roots have reached a few inches long, the plant can be potted in soil if you wish, or it can continue to live in water.

Buy Swiss Cheese Vine here 

8. English Ivy

Planting English Ivy in water is relatively straightforward. There is an abundance of English Ivy outside so you can easily take cuttings on a daily walk!

Find a healthy, mature English Ivy plant and cut about 4-6 inches from the end of a vine, ensuring the cutting includes at least one leaf and one node. The node is where the new roots will sprout. 

Remove leaves on the lower part of the cutting to prevent them from being submerged in water. Leaves left underwater could potentially rot and harm the plant. Make sure to leave a few leaves on the top of the stem.

Fill a clear jar, vase, or glass with room temperature water and place the stem cutting inside, ensuring the node or nodes are submerged under water. The remaining leaves should be above the waterline. The clear container will allow you to monitor root growth and water condition.

Position your container in a spot that receives bright but indirect light. English Ivy is not tolerant of direct sunlight as it can cause the leaves to burn and the water to heat up. Within 2-3 weeks, you should start to see roots developing from the submerged nodes. 

Buy English Ivy here. 

9. Fiddle Leaf Fig

I love our fiddle leaf fig so I was so pleased to see that these can also be grown in water and propagated. You need a longer stem than most plants to get good root growth, so try to cut at least 12 inches of the stem with one or two leaves still attached. 

If you don’t want to cut off that much from your precious fiddle leaf fig, try popping leaves into the water, after around 4 weeks you should start to see roots appearing at the base of the leaf. 

Position the jar in a warm spot with bright but indirect light as fiddle leaf figs are sensitive to direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Replace the water every week or if it becomes cloudy or discolored. Fresh water ensures enough oxygen for the growing roots.

Buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig here. 

10. ZZ Plant

a zz plant in a glass jar with water

The ZZ plant is known for its ease of care and attractive glossy foliage. It’s also quite adaptable and can be grown in water, either for propagation or as a permanent growing method.

Select a healthy leaf or stem from a ZZ plant. If taking a leaf, cut at the base where it connects to the stem. If taking a stem, choose one with at least two leaf nodes and cut just below a node. Clean the cut area with water to remove any sap, and let the cutting dry for an hour or two to reduce the risk of rot.

Fill a clear glass or vase with room temperature water and place the cutting inside, submerging the cut end or the nodes, making sure you position the container in a spot with bright but indirect sunlight. 

ZZ plant cuttings can take some time to root, sometimes several weeks or even months. Once roots are a couple of inches long, the cutting can be transplanted to soil or continued to be grown in water.

Buy a ZZ Plant here. 

Herbs

By growing herbs indoors in water, you’re not restricted by seasonal changes, this means you can enjoy fresh herbs all year round. Also, herbs grown in water often grow faster than those in soil. This is because the nutrients they need are more readily available in water.

11. Mint

mint in a plastic cup of water

Growing mint in water is straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of equipment.

Choose a healthy mint plant and cut about 5-6 inches from the end of a stem. Fill a glass, jar, or vase with fresh, lukewarm water. Place the stem cutting inside, making sure the node(s) is submerged. The remaining leaves should be above the waterline.

Within 1-2 weeks, you should start to see roots developing from the submerged nodes. Once the roots are several inches long, you can either transplant your mint into soil or continue growing it in water, ready to use it for cocktails, salads, and as a beautiful-smelling plant. 

Buy some mint here. 

12. Basil

basil in water

Another herb that thrives in water, basil is a great plant to keep in the kitchen for fresh flavor anytime. Find a robust and healthy basil plant and cut a 4-6 inch stem and remove all but the topmost leaves, ensuring that no leaves will be submerged in water, as they can rot and spoil the water.

Position your container in a spot that receives bright but indirect sunlight. Basil likes warmth and sunlight, but direct rays can heat the water and harm the plant.

Buy some basil here. 

13. Rosemary

rosemary in water

Fresh rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to use in the kitchen. Instead of buying new rosemary, it is really simple to grow it from cuttings. The best way to do it is to cut a stem about 5-6 inches from the tip, stripping off the lower 2 inches to place in water. 

Rosemary likes a warm place away from direct sunlight so stick it in a jar of room temperature water and you should see it grow fresh roots within 4 to 8 weeks. Once you see at least 6 roots growing, it is ready to be potted into the soil. Or you can keep it in water and use the herbs. 

Buy some Rosemary here. 

14. Oregano

oregano growing in water jars

Growing oregano in water is an easy way to propagate the plant or keep a fresh supply of this aromatic herb indoors. As with the other herbs, all you need to do is cut a 4-6 inch stem (making sure it is new growth) and place it into water. 

Place the glass in a spot with bright but indirect sunlight. Oregano prefers warmth, so avoid placing it in a chilly location. Make sure you replace the water every few days or if it becomes cloudy, keeping it fresh and oxygenated. You should have new growth in no time!

Buy some oregano here. 

Vegetables

an onion growing out of a glass of water

Growing vegetables in water is known as hydroponic gardening. Hydroponics is a soilless cultivation practice that uses nutrient-enriched water to nourish plants. This method can be highly effective for growing various types of vegetables. Here’s an overview of the process:

Advantages of Growing Vegetables in Water:

  1. Faster Growth: Nutrients are more readily available, leading to quicker growth.
  2. Water Efficiency: It often uses less water compared to traditional soil gardening.
  3. Controlled Environment: Easier to control nutrient levels, pH, and prevent soil-borne diseases.
  4. Space Efficiency: It can be used in urban environments or areas with poor soil quality.

10 Vegetables Suitable for Hydroponic Growing

  1. Leafy Greens: Lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula (rocket lettuce) and watercress (the clue is in the name!) are popular choices. Keep the bottom part of the vegetable and place it in a shallow bowl of water, you will soon see new leaves growing. 
  2. Allium Family: Leeks, onions, chives, garlic and spring onions are perfect for growing in water. All you need to do is cut off the part you want to use, but don’t throw away the white bottom part (with roots). Place the bottom part with the roots in water and watch them grow.

General Steps for Growing Vegetables in Water

  1. Choose a System: Select a hydroponic system that fits your needs and space. This can be deep water culture where plants are suspended in a nutrient-rich water solution or a wick system where wicks draw nutrient solution from a reservoir to the plant’s roots. 
  2. Select Plants: Choose vegetables that are known to grow well hydroponically.
  3. Prepare Nutrient Solution: Mix water with a hydroponic fertilizer that contains all the essential nutrients.
  4. Planting: Transplant seedlings or cuttings into the hydroponic system.
  5. Monitor Growth: Regularly check the pH, nutrient levels, and overall plant health.
  6. Harvesting: Harvest vegetables as they mature.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Initial Cost: Setting up a hydroponic system can be more expensive initially.
  • Maintenance: Requires regular monitoring and adjustments of nutrient levels and pH.
  • Energy Consumption: If using artificial lighting, it can increase energy consumption.

Hydroponic gardening is an exciting way to grow vegetables, especially in areas with space constraints or poor soil quality. By understanding the basics and choosing the right system and plants, you can enjoy fresh, home-grown vegetables grown directly in water.

Common Issues and Solutions in Growing Plants in Water

a woman holding a plant that has grown roots in water
Growing plants in water can still come with their own problems

Growing plants in water, whether for propagation or as a long-term growing method, presents its own unique challenges. Here are some common issues that might arise when growing plants in water and how to address them:

1. Algae Growth

Problem: Algae growing in the container can deprive the plant of nutrients and oxygen.

Solution: Limit sunlight on the water by using a container that is not fully transparent or placing it in a location with indirect light. Regularly change the water to prevent buildup.

2. Root Rot

Problem: Roots become soft, brown, and mushy, leading to the plant’s decline.

Solution: Ensure that the water is clean and oxygenated. Change the water regularly and consider adding an air stone for aeration in long-term hydroponic setups.

3. Nutrient Deficiencies:

Problem: Plants showing signs of nutrient deficiencies such as yellowing or stunted growth.

Solution: In long-term water growing, use a hydroponic nutrient solution, and regularly monitor pH and nutrient levels to ensure they are in the optimal range.

4. Water Evaporation and Level Fluctuation

Problem: Water levels dropping too low can lead to roots drying out.

Solution: Regularly check and maintain water levels. Consider using a container with a lid or cover to reduce evaporation.

5. Lack of Support

Problem: Tall or top-heavy plants may tip over or become unstable in water.

Solution: Provide support such as stakes or a trellis, or select a container that offers stability.

6. Hard Water or Chlorine Issues

Problem: Tap water with high mineral content or chlorine can affect plant growth.

Solution: Use filtered, distilled, or rainwater, or allow tap water to sit uncovered for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

7. Pest Infestations

Problem: Pests such as aphids or spider mites can still infest plants grown in water.

Solution: Regularly inspect plants and use insecticidal soap or other non-toxic pest control methods as needed.

8. Slow or Stunted Growth

Problem: Plants growing more slowly or appearing stunted.

Solution: Ensure proper light, nutrient balance, and water quality. Investigate other potential stressors such as temperature or pests.

pothos in a water jar
Start your hydroponic plant obsession today!

Plants that grow in water offer a unique and satisfying approach to indoor gardening. This method not only adds an aesthetic touch to your living space but also brings several practical advantages including ease of maintenance, a beautiful display and enhanced propagation. 

Growing plants in water is an inviting and accessible venture that awaits your exploration. Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, a way to beautify your space, or a means to connect with nature, this practice offers it all.

So why wait? Grab a jar, choose a plant, and dive into the enchanting world of water gardening. Your green oasis awaits!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, read my full affiliate disclosure here.

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