When we’re in need of a few new houseplants, we don’t always go to the garden store to find them. Usually, we can find all we need in our own plant collection. That also applies when we’re giving plants to others; the Southern habit of passing along plants to family, friends, and neighbors is a long-lived tradition. When we have a plant we love, we want to share it, and that involves taking cuttings and propagating new growth. There’s one method for doing this that we appreciate for its extreme ease—it doesn’t even require soil.
Each plant has its own requirements when it comes to taking cuttings and tending new leaves, but many can be rooted in just water. This easy technique involves taking a cutting and placing it in a container of water to encourage it to take root.
The South has many favorite plants from which to take cuttings and propagate new growth. Two of our go-tos for rooting in water are gardenias and camellias. We’ve also been known to root all manner of soft-stemmed herbs in water (including mint and basil) and houseplants (we’re looking at you, pothos, snake plant, and ivy) as they take very well to cuttings.
Depending on the plant, when you take a cutting to root in water, you’ll use shears to snip off a section of stem and foliage at the base of a leaf just below the root node. You’ll then use the loose segment to propagate a new plant. This will look like a shoot from an herb, a length of vine, or a stem with a leaf node from a flowering plant. You’ll place this segment in a container of water, submerging the root node, and give it bright indirect light while the cutting takes root. It’s a good idea to use a clear vessel so that you can keep an eye on the root development. Once roots have appeared, you can re-pot the plant in soil. Voila! It really is as easy as that.
Before you take cuttings, do a quick search and check that yours is a plant species that will work with this technique. Then snip away—the world is your garden!
What are your favorite plants to propagate? Do you have any cuttings taking root in your plant collection this season?