Growing plants in water offers many benefits over traditional soil for indoor gardening. By using hydroculture, you can avoid common soil problems like insects, mold, and drainage issues. Water roots grow freely without obstruction, allowing many houseplants to adapt well to an all-aquatic environment.
Key advantages of hydroculture include:
- Avoid messy soil
- Prevent issues with bugs
- Roots grow freely in water
- Most houseplants do well
- Monitor root health easily
This article will explore the best indoor plants that can grow in just water after propagation. From pothos to monstera, basil to umbrella trees, we will cover 8 candidates that thrive hydroponically. Learn which plants form abundant water roots, proper care tips, and how to transition cuttings into an all-water environment. Discover the soil-free wonders that flourish with minimal maintenance!
II. Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
The aglaonema, also known as Chinese evergreen, is an ideal hydroculture candidate native to the lush green tropics of Asia. This durable plant comes in a diverse array of varieties featuring colorful foliage like the striking Red Sam cultivar or the graceful Silver Bay.
To propagate aglaonema in water, start by taking cuttings from a mature plant. Carefully cut stems several inches below the joint, where new leaves emerge. Be sure to use a clean, sharp blade to avoid crushing the stem. Remove all but the top 2-3 sets of leaves at the cut end that will be submerged in water. This helps prevent decay underwater.
Place the freshly cut aglaonema stems in a glass jar, vase or other transparent container filled with room temperature water. Fill the vessel almost to the brim, but leave about an inch of stem above the water line. This allows airflow while keeping the cut end fully immersed.
Within 5-7 days, delicate white roots will begin to emerge from the submerged cut end of the stem. At first the roots will be thin and threadlike. But as the plant matures in its aquatic environment, the roots will gradually grow longer, branching out to form an extensive underwater network.
The lush, vibrant leaves of the aglaonema require bright but indirect sunlight to thrive. Find a spot near an eastern or northern window where the plant will get plenty of ambient daylight. Top off the water level frequently, changing it entirely every 2-3 weeks. The smooth green stems may eventually form aerial roots above the water as well.
Aglaonema is not fussy about water quality - it will flourish in just tap water over time. The keys to success are:
- Using sharp, sterile blades for cuttings
- Removing lower leaves
- Allowing 1 inch of stem above water
- Bright indirect sunlight
- Topping off water level routinely
With minimal care, the aglaonema will reward you with vigorous growth. The bright green and color-variegated leaves create a vibrant accent in any hydroponic indoor garden. As a bonus, aglaonemas filter toxins from the air!
Below is a handy table summarizing care for growing aglaonemas in water:
|Stem cuttings with leaves||Room temperature tap water||Bright indirect sunlight||Top off water weekly|
|Remove lower leaves||Change water every 2-3 weeks||Near east or north window||Remove decaying matter|
|Sterile, sharp blades||Wipe leaves with damp cloth|
In addition to the popular Silver Bay and Red Sam varieties, other stunning aglaonema cultivars to try growing hydroponically include:
- Emerald Beauty - Deep green leaves with silvery undersides
- Maria - Beautiful dark green leaves with bright white midribs
- Silver Queen - Silver-gray leaves with dark green edges
- Black Lance - Glossy dark green leaves with unique spear-shaped tips
The aglaonema is an ideal choice for beginner hydroponic gardeners thanks to its resilience and lush, tropical appeal. As a "set it and forget it" plant that propagates readily in water, it is also perfect for busy or traveling plant parents. Display your aglaonema cuttings in glass vessels for a decorative accent indoors. Or let your mature water-rooted plants grow wild as statement floor plants. However you cultivate it, the vibrant aglaonema is sure to add a burst of life to any indoor hydroscape.
Known for its rich, aromatic flavor and perfume-like fragrance, basil is a versatile plant that doubles as both a culinary and ornamental herb. With its ruffled green leaves and pretty white flowers, basil lends a Mediterranean flair whether used for cuisine or as a decorative houseplant. And it propagates readily in water.
While not a classic foliage houseplant like pothos or monstera, basil's attractive appearance and pleasing aroma make it a great addition to any indoor hydro garden. As a bonus, basil helps repel mosquitoes and other garden pests indoors and out.
To grow basil hydroponically, start with cuttings from a mature basil plant. Snip stems that are approximately 4-5 inches in length right below a leaf node using clean shears. Carefully remove the lower leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the cutting. This retains the top leaves to nourish the plant while removing lower foliage that would otherwise rot underwater.
Place the bare stem ends of the basil cuttings into jars or vases filled with room temperature water. Fill the vessels almost to the brim, allowing just an inch or two of stem to sit above the surface. Set in a warm, sunny area.
Within about 5 days, delicate white roots will begin to sprout from the submerged portion of the stem. Basil grows very fragile, thin root structures that branch and trail in the water like lacework.
To encourage vigorous growth, use a hydroponic nutrient solution instead of plain water. This provides essential minerals for robust basil plants. Just add a diluted hydroponic fertilizer to your container following package directions. Change the solution every 2 weeks.
Here are some tips for lush basil growth:
- Take 4-5 inch stem cuttings just below leaf nodes
- Remove lower leaves from 2 inches of stem
- Place in water-filled jar with 1-2 inches of stem above water
- Provide plenty of direct sunlight
- Use hydroponic fertilizer for healthy roots
- Change nutrient solution every 2 weeks
One fun way to display cascading basil hydroponically is in a glass vessel that allows the delicate water roots to trail through an opening at the bottom. Simply place the basil stem cutting in the neck of the container, allowing the stem and leaves to sit inside while the roots extend through the base. These specialized hydroponic jars allow both water and roots to be visible.
Prolific variety ‘Sweet Genovese' is a great choice for kitchen herb gardens, with that classic hearty basil aroma perfect for pesto, tomato sauces and Caprese salads. For decorative impact, try varieties like ‘African Blue’, ‘Red Rubin’, or ‘Purple Ruffles’ featuring vivid purple hues. The color contrast between the vivid leaves and white flower spikes makes them eye-catching additions to any hydrospace.
Basil thrives with 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Use a bright, unobstructed south-facing window if possible. Warm temperatures around 75°F are ideal. To encourage bushy growth, pinch off the central stem right above a leaf node once the plant reaches 6 inches tall. This promotes side shoot growth. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks and watch your basil flourish!
Below is a quick reference table for growing basil in water:
|4-5 inch stem cuttings||Hydroponic nutrient solution||6-8 hours direct sun||75°F|
|Remove lower leaves||Change every 2 weeks||South-facing window||Warm conditions|
Give your basil cuttings a jump start by placing the jar in a sunny window and changing the water daily for the first week. Once roots become established, transition to biweekly solution changes.
Basil truly thrives with the roots freely suspended in water. And growing basil hydroponically allows you to harvest fresh leaves frequently for cooking. Just be sure to change the water before it becomes cloudy or foul-smelling. Your aromatic, water-grown basil will reward you with its signature scent and flavor.
IV. Peace Lily
The graceful peace lily is a tropical plant featuring glossy dark green leaves and distinctive white blooms. While it thrives in soil, the peace lily also grows readily in water. Its ability to adapt to an aquatic environment makes it a great choice for hydroculture.
To get started, select a mature peace lily plant with healthy foliage. Use a clean pair of gardening shears to remove a stem cutting, cutting at an angle just below a leaf node. Trimming right below the joint where a leaf emerges helps stimulate root growth. Remove the lowest 1-2 sets of leaves from the cutting.
Place the peace lily stem cutting into a jar, vase or other transparent vessel filled with room temperature water. Adding a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the water can help prevent bacterial growth. Fill the container almost to the brim, allowing just an inch or two of stem to extend above the surface. This retains leaves to nourish the plant while the cutting attempts to root.
Root formation will begin slowly. Within about a month, delicate white roots will begin to emerge from the cut end immersed in water. At first just a few short, fragile roots will be visible. But over time, the roots will gradually lengthen and branch out to form an extensive network underwater as the peace lily cutting adapts to hydroponic life.
Peace lilies prefer bright, indirect sunlight for best growth and flowering. Near an east or west-facing window is ideal. Avoid direct southern sun exposure, as peace lily leaves can scorch easily. Sheltered northern exposure may be too dark.
Monitor water levels frequently and top off the container as needed to replace evaporation. Change the water entirely every 2-3 weeks. Use room temperature water if possible rather than cold tap water which can shock plant roots.
Feed the peace lily once a month with a diluted liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or all-purpose plant food. This nourishes the cutting while water roots become established. Mist the leaves occasionally with soft water to maintain humidity.
Here are some care tips for peace lily hydroculture:
- Take stem cuttings below leaf nodes
- Remove lower leaves
- Use clean shears and water
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Top off water level routinely
- Change water every 2-3 weeks
- Fertilize monthly while rooting
- Maintain humidity with misting
With proper care, the peace lily cutting will take root in water over time. Leaves may yellow and drop off at first as the plant adjusts. But new growth will resume once water roots are established. Flowering typically occurs in soil, but is unlikely with hydroponic specimens.
The signature white blooms and spade-shaped leaves of peace lilies make a graceful addition to workplace or home hydroponic gardens. Peace lilies help purify indoor air by removing toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. They are pet-friendly plants and safe for homes with children or cats.
Below is a quick reference care table for hydroponic peace lilies:
|Stem cuttings below nodes||Room temperature water||Bright indirect sun||Top off water weekly|
|Remove lower leaves||Change every 2-3 weeks||East or west window||Fertilize monthly|
While slower growing than pothos or philodendrons, peace lilies are a beautiful and beginner-friendly hydroponic plant if given warm, humid conditions and bright ambient light. Display your peace lily cuttings in modern glass vases or mason jars for an easy, soil-free indoor garden.
Often called Devil's Ivy, pothos is one of the most popular and versatile houseplants around. With its trailing vines and variegated heart-shaped leaves, pothos packs visual punch. It also happens to be almost indestructible and thrives readily in water. For new plant parents or busy gardeners, pothos is the ultimate hydroculture hero.
There are two main varieties of pothos to choose from - the marbled variegated type with streaked green and yellow foliage, or the satiny (jade) green version. Both propagate exceptionally well in water and are virtually foolproof.
To get started, cut a 6 inch stem from a growing pothos vine. Select a section with 2-3 leaf nodes, which are the pointed areas where leaves emerge from the stem. Remove the lowest leaves, leaving just the top 2-3 sets. This retains leaves to nourish the cutting while removing lower foliage that would rot underwater.
Place the freshly cut pothos stem in a jar, vase, or glass filled with room temperature water. Change the water every 2-3 days at first to prevent bacterial growth. In about a week, small white bumps will emerge along the submerged portion of the stem. These bumps rapidly grow into an extensive network of water roots trailing into the vessel.
Pothos is not at all fussy about water quality. It will thrive in tap water, filtered water, or distilled water. The keys to success are:
- Taking 6 inch stem cuttings with 2-3 leaf nodes
- Removing the lowest 1-2 sets of leaves
- Providing bright, indirect light
- Changing water every 2-3 days at first
Once water roots are well established in 3-4 weeks, changing the water weekly is sufficient.
Pothos enjoys bright, indirect sunlight. A northern or eastern exposure is ideal. Too much direct sun can scorch the leaves. Low light will slow growth. Temperatures between 60°F - 85°F suit it best.
Let the water roots grow wild or train them around Decorative stones, marbles, or other small objects in the container. As the vines mature, they can be trained up a moss pole or allowed to trail as hanging plants.
Proper watering is key. Check levels frequently and top off containers as needed. Trim back any roots or leaves that begin to rot and change the water. Avoid cold drafty areas.
Pothos is the perfect hydroculture plant for locations like offices, dorms, or low-light bathrooms. It naturally purifies indoor air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. The trailing vines can be positioned on shelves or in hanging planters.
Here is a quick reference care guide:
|6 inch stem cuttings||Room temperature||Bright indirect||Change water weekly|
|2-3 leaf nodes||Tap, filtered, distilled||East or north window||Top off as needed|
|Remove lower leaves||Trim rotten roots/leaves|
There are a few different pothos varieties to try beyond the standard green and gold marbled - some feature smaller leaves, all white variegation, or even neon-like lime green.
If you can only grow one houseplant, make it pothos! This hydro hero will grow vigorously in water for years with minimal care required.
VI. Umbrella Tree
With its glossy green leaves and graceful, arching branches, the umbrella tree, also called schefflera, is a striking hydroculture candidate. While it thrives in soil, the umbrella tree adapts readily to growing in water as well. With proper care, it will thrive hydroponically for years.
To get started, take 6-8 inch stem cuttings from a mature umbrella tree during the growing season in early spring or summer. Use a clean, sharp pair of bypass pruners or gardening shears to cut just below a leaf node where a leaf stalk meets the stem. Remove all but the top 2-3 leaves.
Place the bare end of the cutting into a jar, vase or glass filled with room temperature water. Change the water every 2-3 days during the initial rooting phase. After about a week, small white nubs will begin to appear along the submerged portion of the stem - these soon develop into an extensive network of water roots.
Umbrella trees need bright, indirect sunlight to flourish. A spot near an east or west-facing window is ideal. While they adapt to low light, growth will be slower and leggy. But direct southern sun will scorch the leaves. Sheltered northern exposure may be too dark.
Here are some tips for growing umbrella trees in water:
- Take 6-8 inch stem cuttings below leaf nodes
- Remove all but the top 2-3 leaves
- Use a clean, sharp blade
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Change water every 2-3 days initially
Once the water roots are well established after 3-4 weeks, change the water weekly. Top off containers as needed between changes to replace evaporation. Trim any dead or rotten roots and leaves.
The water roots may eventually grow quite long and unruly. Prune them back periodically to fit the container. Avoid cold drafts. Room temperatures between 65°-80°F are optimal.
The large, glossy green leaves of umbrella trees naturally filter and purify indoor air. Their tropical appearance makes them perfect for hydroculture in bedrooms, living areas and offices. Display smaller specimens in glass vessels and let the roots trail. Repot mature plants in soil annually to encourage growth.
Here is a quick reference care guide:
|6-8 inch stem cuttings||Room temperature||Bright indirect sun||Change water weekly|
|Cut below leaf nodes||Tap or filtered||East or west window||Top off as needed|
|Remove lower leaves||Trim dead roots/leaves|
Popular umbrella tree varieties like 'Amate', 'Danielle', and 'Green Gold' featureleaves variegated in hues of yellow, white, and pale green that brighten up any hydroscape. Look for these at garden centers.
Umbrella trees will reward proper care by growing impressive cascading roots and lush foliage in water. Their tropical vibes and air purification abilities make them an excellent hydroculture choice for modern plant parents.
With its iconic split leaves and tropical vibe, the monstera plant has become a hugely popular houseplant in recent years. Happily, this jungle vine also readily adapts to growing in water. With proper care, monsteras propagated in water develop extensive roots and flourish.
To get started, identify a vigorous monstera plant and select a section of stem that has an aerial root nub emerging. Carefully cut the stem just below this root node using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or shears. This aerial root is where new water roots will emerge.
Remove any leaves or aerial roots from the bottom few inches of the cutting so this portion can be submerged. Retain several leaves at the top to nourish the plant. Place the cutting in a glass vase or jar filled with room temperature water.
Change the water every 4-5 days during the initial rooting phase. After about 2 weeks, tiny white nubs will appear along the underwater portion of the stem. Soon these nubs will grow longer and thicker, becoming an intricate web of water roots anchoring the cutting.
As the water roots develop, keep the water level in the jar below the base of the leaves. The leaves and upper stem should stay above water to avoid rotting. Monstera is prone to stem and root rot if overwatered.
Here are some tips for growing monstera cuttings in water:
- Take cuttings below aerial root nodes
- Remove lower leaves and aerial roots
- Use a clean, sharp blade
- Keep leaves above waterline
- Change water every 4-5 days initially
Mature monsteras enjoy bright, indirect light but do tolerate lower light conditions well. A north or east-facing window is ideal. Temperatures between 65°-80°F suit them best. Avoid direct sun exposure which can scorch leaves.
The striking split leaves and trailing aerial roots of monstera make it an eye-catching addition to any hydroscape. Monsteras help remove indoor air pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide.
Once water roots are well established after 3-4 weeks, transition the cutting to an indoor potting mix for fuller growth. But it can remain in water indefinitely with proper care. Trim back any rotted stems or leaves promptly.
Here is a quick care reference:
|Stem cuttings below nodes||Room temperature||Bright indirect sun||Change water weekly after rooting|
|Remove lower leaves/roots||Tap or filtered||North or east window||Keep leaves above water|
|Use clean, sharp blades||Trim any rot immediately|
Select monstera varieties like 'Albo', 'Thai Constellation' and 'Aurea' feature stunning variegated white markings on the leaves. These are harder to find but add incredible visual impact.
Let those monstera water roots grow wild! This exotic hydrohouseplant is sure to become a conversation piece with proper care.
VIII. Snake Plant
With its upright, sword-like leaves, the snake plant, also called mother-in-law's tongue or sansevieria, is an iconic houseplant. Native to tropical regions of Africa, it thrives in warm, bright conditions. The snake plant also readily propagates in water, making it an exceptional hydroculture candidate.
To get started, carefully cut leaf cuttings from a mature snake plant during the spring and summer growing season. Choose healthy leaves with no blemishes and cut as close to the base as possible. Cuttings should be at least 2-3 inches long.
Remove any remaining leaf tips smoothly with a clean blade. Place the leaf cuttings horizontally in small jars or glasses filled with room temperature water. For stability, insert about 1 inch of the cut end into the water, keeping the rest of the leaf above the surface.
Change the water weekly to prevent rot. Within 4-6 weeks, tiny plantlets called pups will begin emerging from the submerged leaf cuttings. The pups start out as tiny white bumps along the leaves, growing larger over time. Eventually they form baby snake plants with their own root system!
Here are some tips for propagating snake plants in water:
- Take 2-3 inch leaf cuttings from healthy plants
- Cut near the leaf base and trim any tips
- Submerge 1 inch of leaves in water
- Change water weekly to avoid rot
- Pups will begin emerging in 4-6 weeks
Once the pups reach 2-3 inches tall, carefully detach them from the parent leaf cutting and pot up individually in a soil mix. Or continue growing them hydroponically. The original leaf cuttings will eventually wither, but the new plantlets live on!
Snake plants enjoy bright light but can tolerate lower light conditions. Direct southern sun will scorch the leaves - aim for bright indirect light. Temperatures of 65°-80°F are ideal. The occasional misting provides humidity.
These virtually indestructible plants are perfect for beginner gardeners. They purify indoor air by removing toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Display small snake plants in decorated glasses and jars to show off their water roots.
For quick reference, here are the care highlights:
|2-3 inch leaf cuttings||Room temperature||Bright indirect||65°-80°F|
|Cut near base||Change weekly||Avoid direct sun||Warm conditions|
There are over 70 varieties of snake plant to collect. Try ones with rippled or curled foliage like 'Laurentii' or 'Whale Fin' for unique texture.
Snake plants propagate readily from leaf cuttings in water. As humble yet hardy hydroculture candidates, these succulents are sure to thrive with minimal effort required.
Tropical, leafy philodendrons are increasingly popular houseplants thanks to their trailing vines and heart-shaped foliage. Happily, many philodendron varieties propagate readily in water. Their fast growth and tropical vibes make them exceptional hydroculture plants.
To start philodendron cuttings, use a clean, sharp pair of shears to cut a stem section 4-6 inches in length. Look for a portion of vine that includes 2-3 leaves emerging from nodes along the stem. Remove the bottom 1-2 leaves and cut just below the node.
Place the freshly cut philodendron stem in a jar or vase filled with room temperature water. Initially, change the water every 4-5 days to prevent rot. Soon tiny white bumps will begin protruding from the submerged portion of the stem where the nodes are located. These bumps quickly grow into an intricate web of robust water roots.
Philodendrons enjoy bright, indirect lighting. A north or east-facing window is ideal. Low light will result in smaller leaves and slower growth. Direct sun often scorches the leaves. Moderate room temperatures between 65°-80°F suit them best.
Here are some key tips for philodendron propagation in water:
- Take 4-6 inch stem cuttings below leaf nodes
- Remove the lowest 1-2 leaves
- Use a sharp, sterile blade
- Change water every 4-5 days initially
- Provide bright, indirect light
Once roots are well established after 3-4 weeks, transition to weekly water changes. Add liquid plant fertilizer to the water monthly to fuel growth. Mist leaves occasionally to boost humidity.
The fast-growing vines of philodendron make them the perfect hydroculture plant to train up a moss pole or along the walls of your home. Prune back trailing stems periodically to keep growth manageable.
Philodendrons help purify indoor air by removing pollutants like formaldehyde. Their tropical look adds life to any space. Display smaller specimens in glass vases and containers to highlight the water roots.
Here is a quick care reference:
|4-6 inch stem cuttings||Room temperature||Bright indirect||Change water weekly after rooting|
|2-3 leaf nodes||Tap, filtered||East or north window||Fertilize monthly|
|Remove lower leaves||Prune vines as needed|
There are hundreds of philodendron varieties to try - look for ones like 'Brasil', 'Micans' or 'Pink Princess' with colorful foliage. Almost any philodendron will propagate well in water.
Let those water roots grow! Philodendrons are some of the most gratifying and undemanding hydroculture plants around for novice and expert plant parents alike.
FAQ: What are the benefits of hydroponic gardening?
Hydroponic gardening offers many benefits compared to traditional soil gardening:
- Minimizes soil-borne diseases and pests
- Conserves water usage since no water is lost via soil absorption
- Allows closer monitoring and control of plant nutrients
- Often results in faster plant growth rates
- Keeps plant roots clean and free of soil debris
- Reduces transplant shock since bare roots transfer easily between systems
FAQ: What plants grow best hydroponically?
Some plants that grow exceptionally well with hydroponic systems include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs like basil and mint, houseplants like pothos and philodendrons, and leafy greens like spinach.
FAQ: Is hydroponic gardening difficult for beginners?
Hydroponics can be successfully attempted even by beginners. Simpler systems like growing houseplants or herbs in jars of water are very novice-friendly. For hobby growers, small pre-fabricated systems now make hydroponics easy and accessible for home use too. Following guides and getting the basic factors like lighting, nutrients, and system maintenance right will ensure success.
Growing houseplants in water offers a soilless alternative with many benefits. It allows vibrant roots to trail freely and provides a clean environment for plants to thrive hydroponically.
While not all houseplants adapt well to aquatic propagation, varieties like pothos, philodendrons, monsteras, and umbrella trees covered in this article grow readily in water after cuttings root.
With proper care, these plants develop abundant water roots and flourish hydroponically for years. Be sure to:
- Take cuttings correctly to stimulate root growth
- Change water frequently to prevent rot
- Provide proper sunlight and temperatures
Water gardening minimizes pests, soil mess, and maintenance. Although slower growing than soil-rooted plants, hydroculture plants reward with tranquility and beauty.
If starting out, begin with hardy pothos or snake plants. Philodendrons offer fast-growing trailing vines. Aglaonemas and umbrella trees provide vibrant color. Monsteras and peace lilies supply tropical accents.
The possibilities are endless when propagating houseplants in water. Discover the joys of soilless gardening and let your hydroponic roots grow free!
[Houseplants That You Can Grow in Water] (https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/care/water-gardening-plants/) - Better Homes & Gardens article on best plants for hydroculture.
[How to Grow Philodendron in Water] (https://smartgardenguide.com/how-to-grow-philodendron-in-water/) - Smart Garden Guide guide to propagating philodendrons in water.
[Hydroponic Gardening Guide] (https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/hydroponics-for-beginners/) - EarthEasy guide covering the basics of hydroponic gardening methods and techniques.