How long will a plant grow in water?

blitzdes(z9 ETX)August 20, 2004

Spent some time with a local GW friend today, and we had an interesting discussion about her rooting vase.

Is there a limit to how long a plant will grow in water? Not hydroponics or anything - just sitting the plant in a jar, and freshening the water so it doesn't get stagnant. I know it depends on the plant to some extent - I think philodendrons and sweet potatoes will grow quite a while - but don't they all eventually have to go into soil? Does it help to add fertilizer to the water? Has anybody tested to see how long they can go before they need soil?

Is algae inevitable, and does it harm the plant if it's in the water or on the roots? Is there any way to get rid of it that won't harm the original plant?

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Peter_in_Az(Sunset zone 10)

I have an Easter Cactus that has been growing in a water glass for two years now. I havent given it any fertilizer, all it gets is water. When the water glass starts looking grungy I scrub it out and put the plant back in with fresh water.

It isn't growing as fast as the ones that are in pots, but, it will put out a new pat now and then. It's green and healthy looking, just a bit slow.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 9:57PM
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Thirteensqirrlz(z5 Central IN)

I've seen mints grow in water for some time -- in fact, I've added a pond basket filled with lava rocks and mint to my indoor fish tank just recently. (I only have a large Plec, and he doesn't seem to mind.) I'm hoping that the mint will grow faster with the added fish-poop nutrients than the mint I grew in the windowsill over the summer that didn't have it.
It all depends on the plants of course. I've grown hibiscus in my fishpond -- just rinsed off the roots and plopped it in an empty pot to contain it. Grew like crazy.
If you want to grow plants indoors in water, put them in an opaque white container with a lid. Cut a hole for the plant to stick up out of. That will cut down on both algae growth and evaporation. The lid will also support the plant so it doesn't slip down into the water, which can cause rot, etc...

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 12:36PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Tradescantia fluminensis grows in water for at least a year, and is healthy with it.

Acorus gramineus sat in water with a sediment for more than a year, stayed healthy and increased in size/flowered. An Iris ensata was the same for four years until it grew too large.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2004 at 7:32AM
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cantstopgardening(Zone 4/5 WI)

My impatiens cuttings that I took in early September are showing signs of stress. I think they've reached the limit of the time they can be in water. Time to pot them up.

Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   December 7, 2004 at 8:08PM
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columbiasc(Columbia SC)


Are you saying your Impatiens are impatient?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 5:22PM
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tater1112(z4 MN)

I worked somewhere that had a plant (can't remember what kind) in a vase w/ just water that had been there for several years. The best part? It was in the basement and only ever got florescent light. I know that's fine for plants, but still seemed like another strike against it.

It was also in the smoking area of the building - one employee ashed into the vase every once in a while.

The plant seemed pretty happy. What a life.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 5:16PM
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from a horticultural standpoint the roots of non-aquatic plants (not things like cattails that naturally thrive in water) all need air and nutirents (the science and practice of hydroponics) if you took a vase of water with rooted cuttings and added an aquarium air pump and some hydroponic nutrients, you could grow almost any plant in water indefinatly (to maturity). as for non-airated water and without nutrients plants will live for varying lengthes of time (depending on the plant) but almost no plant can live in tap water or distilled water indefinatly without some fertalizer. and the roots will "drown" if there is not enough oxygen present.

there's my two pennies.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 2:42PM
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I have houseplants that have been in the same water-filled jars/containers for up to 5 years.

I use plastic kitchen containers, short and tall wide-mouth and narrow-mouth Ball jars, tall/short/narrow/fat drinking glasses and many coffee mugs, old tea pots, flower arrangement holders, colored antique jars, beer mugs.

I keep teeny-tiny cuttings in those miniature jelly sample jars.

I rarely fertilize them, although I have dropped a single ball of time-release fertilizer in the bottom. All of them are very healthy.

Some I recently began in water with pebbles/glass beads so that they will transfer successfully to soil later on.

I think they feed on dust and plant leaves/roots that break off, drop and rot, and on the light mossy stuff that sometimes grows in the water.

If it smells at all, I change the water and scrub the container.

Syngonium (Arrowhead) -- three different kinds

Pothos -- variegated and plain green
Philodendrons -- Monstera, Heart-leaf and a red-stemmed variety.

Dieffenbachia (really large and miniature)

Wandering Jew

Miniature Palm



Avocado Seed, and more.

I would try pretty much ANY plant in water.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 2:19PM
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all of the plants listed above do root easily in water but you DO NOT want pieces of leaves and stem rotting in the bottom of the glasses of water. as plant material decomposes (under water) it releases ethalene that is poisinous to plants. in compost, this is not a problem bcause it escapes into the atmosphere, but in water it becomes trapped and accumulates. that fuzzy stuff is mold and although i dont know that its directly hurting the plant, its definatly not helping.

putting marbles or rocks in the glass will not really have anything to do with transplanting the cuttings to soil later. if anyhting it could damage the sensitive root tissue.

again- just my 2 pennies.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 11:07AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

A question that i know something about !!!lol. I have a varigated Ficus benjimina that has been setting in a bucket of water since 1982 !! lol Was originally intended to become a Bonsai.
Among other things i've grown in water are Pothos ,Persian shield, impatients,many types of aroids
and several palms.
Almost any type of tropical plant will live in water for long periods of time

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 7:09AM
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I have had a bromeliad in water and glass for just over a year now. It goes against everything I read about them, but that's how I started him out, and I'm fond of the way he looks in the vase/stand. I found him in an abandoned lot...just a ball of dried up root and leaf. There was just a glimmer of life in the center, so I put him in water, thinking it was a Yucca. I don't know why this poor baby was just tossed out, but he seems quite grateful for the water. I know I will have to put him in dirt if he starts to struggle, but for now I just dump it all out and clean up the roots, vase, and glass when it gets greenish, and while he hasn't flowered yet, he's happy enough to grow new leaves.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 6:51PM
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