Why not just put them in water?

greenamandaJuly 11, 2009

Is I take cuttings, why wouldn't I just submerge the end in water until it roots?

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Not all cuttings can handle water rooting, some are very sensitive to water root rot and will never develop roots, others do very well in standing water.

If you have willow trees, cut some branches and place in the water with your cuttings, its a natural rooting hormone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nipa Hut Gardens and Gifts

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 11:11PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The most important reason is that the kind of roots that plants have to develop in water are quite different than those that are formed in a well-drained soil system (or other rooting medium).

It's easier on most plants to simply 'submerge' the ends of the cutting in the solid medium!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 1:10PM
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SO true.
depends on the plants.
ex fuchsia... water is fine.
forsythia prefer soil.
root much, much faster.
I hear they will root in water,
but i never had that kind of luck.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 9:38PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I took some green soft wood cuttings from a couple grapevines. Of the 10 I tried to root in the ground, two took. ALL of the vines I put in water rooted (I did change the water daily), and those are now in shaded pots getting acclimated to dirt and air.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 12:27PM
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There is nothing wrong with the roots you get from rooting cuttings in water. I don't know who started spreading that myth, but people have been rooting cuttings in water for years. In fact, some plants root far better in water than any other method.

I root the following in water and have 100% success...

African Violet (Leaf)
Coreopsis (I know it's hard to believe but they love rooting in water!)
Euphorbia "Diamond Frost" (I'm sure many other Euphorbias will root in water too)
Rex Begonia (Leaf)

If you aren't sure what will root in water, just try a cutting in water in a sunny window. I'm glad I tried the Coreopsis in water because the original plant was devoured by a rabbit and the cutting is the only plant I have left.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 12:08PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

The link below lists a lot of things that others have had success rooting in water. I plan to try several things sometime. I received some Caryopteris cuttings in water at a plant swap and was told they root easily. I was skeptical, but about half of them rooted and are now potted up.

I'm Lazy--What can you root in plain old water???

Have fun!


    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 9:15AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"There is nothing wrong with the roots you get from rooting cuttings in water. I don't know who started spreading that myth, but..."

As a general statement, this one is false. It is a well established fact that most plants are more easily propagated in a well draining medium. Even hydroponics supports this fact. Rhizo is correct.

Many plants can be started in standing water. Most do much better if transferred shortly after initial root development. The extra work needed to keep the water fresh and to transplant later is often of no benefit. But, the bottom line is that it depends on the plant.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 10:25AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I think that brandon7 makes a good point; Hydroponics forums support using a medium of some sort for the roots. Even some aquarium plants grown completely under water benefit from some root support.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 12:14PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Echinaceamaniac....I don't believe I said that anything was 'wrong' with the roots that plants develop when in water....just different than those that they will grow when in the soil. Different on a cellular level: one kind has to get oxygen out of the water, and the other is designed to get water and dissolved nutrients out of the soil.

But plenty of people do root in water and get a lot of enjoyment and confidence out of the experience. I guess it's easier to simply fill a jar with water than to make (or find) a medium that is porous and fast draining. There are some truly crappy potting soils out there!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 4:33PM
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It was implied that rooting in water wasn't a good method for rooting plants. This is not true. Plants often rot or wilt and die if attempted to root in soil.

In fact, the best propagation results I've ever seen is a bubbler with an aquarium airstone that aerates the water. I simply pot the plants up after the roots are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. I can root plants that won't root in soil no matter what you try.

You are simply wrong if you think rooting in soil is really better than rooting with water. I've seen cuttings root in 3 days in an EZ- Clone machine using nothing but water. The same cuttings would still be sitting there in soil.

If you're rooting cactus..then I could see why rooting in soil would be better. There are exceptions to everything.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 5:33PM
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Plants seem to undergo more stress when they are sitting in soil with no roots. The good thing about water is it keeps the plants from wilting while they are developing roots. After the small roots are developed, the plants are planted in soil and take off rapidly. I planted some in full sun and they didn't even wilt after rooting in water.

You can use a humidity dome to keep humidity up around plants in the soil, but this causes fungal attacks among other things. When you stick a cutting into soil you are exposing the cut end of the cutting to all kinds of fungus, etc. The water used to root plants is fresh and clean of most contaminates which gives healthy cuttings. It is so easy to throw the water out and put fresh water in the container!

The ideal rooting environment is water with a high oxygen/air ratio which is easily created with an airstone and aquarium pump. This isn't necessary for most plants though.

Why do I need to support roots of a cutting that doesn't have roots yet? Your argument makes no sense. I can understand them supporting roots in hydroponics, but these roots don't even get over 1/2 inch long. You're comparing rooting a cutting to people growing huge plants in water with very large roots. This isn't a good comparision. Before these roots are large enough to need support, they are already potted up and growing in soil.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 5:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

If you have problems rooting things in soil, and a LOT of people do, it is the rooting medium that is the problem and perhaps the rooting environment. It does require balancing the moisture level in the mix, humidity levels, etc. But it's certainly not difficult.

A properly taken cutting, inserted into a porous medium (of some sort), given basic environmental conditions, will not show signs of stress. Nor will disease become an issue.

You know, don't you, that millions upon millions, (billions) of cuttings are successfully propagated from ornamental plants on a regular basis? Our commercial ornamental and floriculture trades would practically cease to exist.

Since you, personally, find it challenging to deal with that type of propagation, I strongly urge that you continue to do what seems to work best for YOU! And you should continue to encourage others, as well. It's a good thing, emaniac!

I just don't think that you should imply that it is difficult to root cuttings in a solid medium. It isn't, once one learns a few basics.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 3:17PM
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Some plants root better in water where as some plants root better in soil. Some, its the same.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 8:42PM
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I can root things in soil and water, depending on the plant.

However, when you imply that something is wrong with rooting with water....you are wrong.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 1:08AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


Maybe I missed it (it wouldn't be the first time today), but I don't think anyone was saying that anything was generally wrong with rooting plants in water. That would be just as off base as ignoring the difference between roots grown in still water and those grown in a well drained medium. Much of the concern above focused on the fact that many (if not all) plants form roots with greatly different characteristics, when grown in water, than when they are grown in a well drained medium (and even when grown in a well-aerated water medium). Also, not all plants do well when grown in water (some, even when attempted in well aerated water).

Also, when most people talk about growing plants in water (without using words like hydroponics, etc), they aren't even necessarily thinking about water with a high oxygen/air ratio. As you realize, that changes things considerably in many cases.

Everything that Rhizo's been saying is right on target. Like most of the respondents to this thread have said, different plants respond differently to different mediums (including still and well aerated water).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 4:45PM
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