Did you know that you can grow houseplants in water? It’s not just for cuttings and propagation! You can also keep adult houseplants in water indefinitely. In fact, many houseplants will prove healthier. The result is some extraordinary, low-maintenance, natural decor.

Can You Grow Houseplants in Water?

You can indeed grow indoor plants in water. In fact, some indoor plants prefer this way of growing to traditional soil. Under the proper conditions, there are many varieties that can grow as well or better in water. Water gardening, also known as hydroponic gardening, is a low-maintenance alternative that has lots to offer.

Why Grow Houseplants in Water?

So, what reasons are there to try growing houseplants in water? There are a few!

  • It’s Lower Maintenance Plant Care

Perhaps the biggest draw to growing houseplants in water and hydroponic gardening is its low-maintenance nature. Most of all, it’s not a big deal if you forget your houseplant for a little while. For some indoor plants, this would spell dehydration and death (we’ve all been there!), but a hydroponic plant will still have water and continue to grow.  

It’s just important to remember to refresh the water every couple of weeks or so (or when the water starts to get foggy or discolored).

  • Pets Won’t Try to Use Them as a Litter Box

Have you ever had a pet use the soil from a potted plant as a little box? Yuck! With hydroponic plants, this is a thing of the past. An extra-naughty pet might still try to knock it over, however!

  • Your Plants Will Be Healthier

Did you know that many houseplant diseases come from the soil? It can harbor a variety of molds and bacteria that are just waiting for the perfect moment to grow. Oddly enough, though, they can’t do much until you accidentally overwater your plant. They like to soak. 

Hydroponic plants, on the other hand, are soil-free. It’s far less common for hydroponic plants to get sick, as long as you consistently provide clean water.

  • They Make for Pretty Decor

Last but certainly not least, hydroponic plants make for some truly beautiful and unique decor. The visible water creates a sense of harmony, while the visible roots of the plants can add a dynamic look. As a result, hydroponic plants can make your home brighter and more peaceful (not to mention, like any indoor plants, freshen the air).

How to Grow Plants without Soil

Growing houseplants in water, without any soil? It’s a fairly simple and highly rewarding endeavor!

  • Prepare Your Cutting or Plant

Grow plants in water with a cutting

There are two ways that you can grow plants in water: with a cutting or with an adult plant. Cuttings can be taken by using a clean blade or scissors to snip roughly 4-6 inches of new growth from a houseplant. You’ll want to make this incision right below a leaf node if the plant has one. These are little bumps that will develop roots or leaves (in this case, roots). Cutting below a node will encourage the plant to start the growth there and give it a boost.

When it comes to an adult indoor plant, you can generally transfer a suitable plant from soil to water. You’ll just need to wash the roots thoroughly so there’s no residual soil (or potential soil-borne mold, etc.).

  • Choose a Plant Container

Next, you’ll need the proper container. Almost any container will do, although those made from metal are not especially recommended. Metal can react with fertilizer. Plastic, glass, and ceramic are all OK!

Clear containers provide a lovely view of your plant and its developing roots, but opaque containers can prevent the growth of algae (which some find unsightly). It really depends on what you prefer!

  • Use Bottled Water or Rainwater

Ideally, you’ll want to give your hydroponic plants bottled or rainwater. Filtered water and water straight from the tap tend to be leached of beneficial nutrients that indoor plants need. Tap water also contains chlorine, which can harm them. If you have to use tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours or so, so the chlorine evaporates.

  • Add Fertilizer

Without naturally nutrient-rich potting mix, hydroponic houseplants are entirely dependent on fertilizer. You’ll want to provide them with a quality, well-balanced, water-soluble or liquid fertilizer. Replace the fertilizer when you refresh the water.

  • Place the Container in Indirect Light

Any change will trigger stress in indoor plants, so they will be extra sensitive to bright light. The best location to grow plants in water is one with a moderate amount of indirect light. Even once recovered from stress, most hydroponic plants grow most successfully in this light level.

  • Watch Them Grow

Adult plants should continue to develop as usual. Plant cuttings may take as little as a couple of weeks, or more than a month, to develop roots and really begin to grow. With a little time and patience, you’ll have your own hydroponic garden growing.

Indoor Plants that Grow in Water

Plants growing in water

Many but not all houseplants can thrive in water. To get you started, here are some indoor varieties that are known to grow well in water:

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Philodendron 
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
  • African Violet (Saintpaulia)
  • Coleus (Coleus scutellarioides)
  • Impatiens (Impatiens)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Crassula ovata
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

So, there you have it! This is how to grow plants in water. As you can see, it’s really not too difficult, as long as you have the proper know-how. In fact, compared to caring for potted green friends, it can be much easier. Just refresh the water when needed, and don’t forget the fertilizer.