31 Popular Plants You Can Root In Water

Rooting stems in water is a simple process that rewards us with creating new plants. Join gardening expert Katherine Rowe in exploring viable plant selections to start in water. If we’re lucky, we’ll soon add the new roots and shoots to our garden collection and enjoy the display as we go.

Close-up of a geranium plant cutting rooting in a glass vase filled with water, set against a white background.


Rooting plants in water is a fun, resourceful, and simple process for adding to our gardens. It’s rewarding to watch the new plants develop before our eyes. Certain tropicals, annuals, herbs, and perennials propagate through rooting herbaceous and softwood stem cuttings in water. Here, we’ll review some favorites to experiment with rooting in water.

While rooting in a soil mixture is the primary way to propagate stem cuttings, rooting in water is a space-saving, no-mess way to create a pretty display to enjoy while plants root. Some plants live indefinitely in water and root just as quickly or more so in water than in potting media.

Rooting Cuttings in Water

Close-up of Pilea peperomioides cuttings with roots in glass jars on a light windowsill.
Root cuttings in water with bright, indirect light for success.

To root plants in water, use a small glass jar, vase, or other clear glass container to hold multiple stems. Glass allows plenty of light for photosynthesis and root development and lets us keep an eye on water clarity and, of course, those developing roots!

Take cuttings from fresh, firm, non-woody stems from an amenable softwood plant. Cut the green stems just below a leaf node (where the leaves meet the main stem) into four- to six-inch pieces. Remove the lower foliage, keeping two to three upper leaves intact.

Stick the new cutting into a jar of shallow water so that the leaf nodes are submerged, but the upper stems and leaves are above the water. Then, place it indoors in bright, indirect light.

Change the water every few days and top off with fresh water as the reserve evaporates. It takes as little as three to five days for fast-rooting plants to start seeing roots and three or more weeks for other plants to develop good root structure.

New plants are ready for transplanting when their roots grow beyond one to two inches. Place the rooted cuttings in moistened potting soil in a small pot and put the pot in a spot with the same bright, indirect light conditions for rooting. Gradually harden off new plants as they grow.


Coleus scutellarioides has vibrant, multicolored foliage with serrated edges of green with splashes of pink.
Easy to propagate, adds vibrant color to garden beds.
botanical-name botanical name Coleus scutellarioides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to full shade
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Coleus is among the easiest and most rewarding annuals to propagate in water. Its leafy, soft stems quickly send off new roots, making it possible to create new plants and use them in the garden in the same season.

Coleus brings technicolor to the annual display, brightening dark areas and adding drama to the garden bed and containers with colorific leaves. Brilliant jewel tones in red, green, and purple splash leaves in solid tones in blended hues with high contrast. Leaf shapes, too, add interest to the planting display in their broad, ruffled, or narrow forms in various sizes.

Trim leafy stems if plants get too tall or sparse (the clippings are perfect for making more plants!). In late summer, light purple bloom spikes accent the plant. Pinch off the blooms to promote lush foliage and a full plant. Coleus thrives in warm temperatures from spring through frost and overwinters indoors.

This plant needs regular water to thrive, and varieties suited for full sun require more than those growing in the shade. Coleus propagates in about two to three weeks in water or soil through cuttings and rooting.


Begonia features asymmetrical leaves and clusters of bright, waxy flowers in soft pink color.
Colorful begonias thrive in warm climates, perfect for shade gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Begonia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-1.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Begonias are another favorite plant to propagate in water. Their water-filled stems send roots from the leaf nodes within a few weeks. 

Begonias are durable annuals that flourish in warm conditions and bloom continually until frost. Their noteworthy characteristics of unique leaf shapes, colors, and pendulous blooms make begonias a shade garden specialty. Depending on the variety, begonias perform in tough spots like dry shade with heat and humidity. 

Use a small jar with water to house begonia cuttings. Cut a four- to six-inch stem piece and remove leaves below the water line. When roots reach a half-inch long or more, transplant the cuttings into pots to the garden where there is consistent moisture. Not quite ready to move the new plants outside? Begonias grow year-round as houseplants and overwinter beautifully indoors. 

Sweet Potato Vine

Ipomoea batatas shows heart-shaped leaves in green and purple.
Colorful, trailing vines add lush tropical accents to garden displays.
botanical-name botanical name Ipomoea batatas
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-10’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Ornamental sweet potato vine invites lime green, dark purple, or variegated leaves along rambling stems to soften and trail in planting displays. The large heart-shaped or lobed leaves add tropical interest, and the vine forms a mounded ground cover with runners cascading along annual borders and containers.

Sweet potato vines grow vigorously and stems root easily. Take advantage of beneficial cutback by rooting the clipped ends in water, removing lower leaves, and submerging leaf nodes. It’s a win-win: trimming Ipomea adds to the fullness of the plant and encourages new growth.

Sweet potato vines’ tropical look and bold color bring contrast among blooming annuals. They’re highly versatile and easy-care. While tolerant of periods of dryness, ornamental sweet potato vines wilt in prolonged periods of high heat. They’ll rejuvenate with regular water.


Pelargonium has rounded, scented leaves and clusters of pink colored flowers.
Vibrant blooms and textured leaves are a highlight of geranium species.
botanical-name botanical name Pelargonium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-12

Geraniums are a classic beauty in the garden. Their true green, ruffly leaves and rich, color-saturated flowers bring texture and vibrancy to the annual display. Geranium classifications include common garden geraniums, ivy-leaf geraniums, and scented geraniums. All are Pelargonium with tissuey stems that root in water.

Common garden geraniums feature distinct leaves, sometimes fancy-leaved and in tri-color green, silver, and maroon selections. Their blooms are the cherry reds, salmon, white, and pink we associate with the annual. Ivy-leaf geraniums trail in the garden or container, while scented geraniums bear notable leaf fragrances in lemon, rose, mint, or nut, among others.

Get a jump start on new geraniums by rooting cuttings in water to overwinter indoors before moving them to the garden the following spring. Or, enjoy growing them out as a houseplant. It’s best to take geranium cuttings in late spring or early summer before plants flower fully, but it’s possible to take them anytime, even when flowering or later in the season. New, healthy, soft growth is best.

In the garden, geraniums bloom best with at least four hours of sunlight. In hot climates, keep plants out of direct afternoon sun. They thrive with regular water in well-drained soils, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Pinch off spent blooms to encourage more flowers and for a full, leafy plant.


Ocimum basilicum displays glossy, purple leaves with jagged edges.
Fresh basil thrives indoors, ready for culinary use year-round.
botanical-name botanical name Ocimum basilicum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Many of our favorite herbs root easily in water for staggered, fresh crops, and basil grows faster from a cutting in water than from seed. What’s better is that basil grows indefinitely in water, making it perfect for harvesting right from a sunny kitchen windowsill.

Clip green, non-flowering basil stems (not the established woody stems) into four to six-inch long pieces and remove lower leaves. Stick them in fresh water and watch for roots to develop within the week. Keep cuttings growing in the jar, or transplant them to pots when roots are one to two inches long.

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It’s a warm-season grower that flourishes in hot climates. Several types and cultivars of basil lend different culinary flavors. Italian basils like ‘Genovese’ feature large, sweet leaves. Lemon-scented basil adds citrus notes, while Thai basils like ‘Siam Queen’ carry a bit of licorice or anise flavor in the leaf.

Grow basil in full sun with organically rich, well-draining soils and harvest leaves regularly. Plants produce bloom spikes with white flowers. Remove these for the best flavor, as the blooms take energy from the leaves. Basil is tender and dies back with light frost.


Petunia features soft, green leaves and large, trumpet-shaped flowers in a pink color.
Delightful petunias bring vibrant color and cascading beauty to any garden.
botanical-name botanical name Petunia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Petunias are one of the most popular flowering annuals, with showy waves of blooms and fresh green foliage from spring through frost. From bubblegum pink to velvety black, with single, double, or ruffled flowers, petunias quickly fill a container or spill over a hanging basket or garden wall with trailing colorful blooms. 

Petunias’ long stems root in water. Choose fresh growth that hasn’t flowered yet, or remove any flowers and all but one to two sets of leaves from four-inch pieces of stem. Petunias benefit from a trim to keep plants from getting rangy.

Petunias thrive in full sun, especially in cool, mild climates where they’re low-maintenance annuals with little watering and soil requirements except for good drainage. Petuniaas benefit from fertilizer for bursts of continual blooms throughout the growing season. Try an improved variety like ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ or ‘Mini Indigo’ in hot, humid growing areas. Or grow one of the Wave varieties – a cascading petunia with sound performance in various climates.


Impatiens walleriana has smooth, dark green leaves and flat, five-petaled flowers in red-pink color covered with drops of water.
Colorful blooms brighten shady spots, thriving with consistent moisture.
botanical-name botanical name Impatiens walleriana
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6”-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Impatiens bring their sweet flowers in a profusion of color to shady borders and containers. From baby pink to neon magenta and orange to red, impatiens flower continually from spring until cool fall temperatures arrive. Single or double blooms shine against petite dark leaves.

Impatiens’ water-filled stems depend on consistent moisture to thrive. The tender stems also root in water, developing roots ready for transplanting in two to three weeks. Transfer them to organically rich soils and provide regular moisture.

In addition to the classic garden performer I. walleriana, commonly grown impatiens like the slightly more sun-tolerant New Guinea and sun-loving SunPatiens readily root in water, though cultivars protected under a plant patent prohibit propagation.

The shade-loving Impatiens walleriana is susceptible to downy mildew, especially in damp and humid conditions. Look for the BeaconⓇ and Imara™ series for selections with improved disease resistance.


Torenia fournieri shows toothed, oval leaves and tubular, bicolored flowers in shades of purple, pink and red.
Colorful trumpets of pink, blue, yellow, and magenta cheer the garden.
botanical-name botanical name Torenia fournieri
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6-12”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Torenia cheers the annual border with its multi-colored trumpet flowers in bright pink, blue, yellow, magenta, and white. Torenia is also called clown flower because of the bright, clownish colors of a showman’s face paint. And it goes by wishbone flower, too, due to the shape of its stamens. Torenia certainly entertains in the garden, with blooms that resemble snapdragons draping prettily on low-growing and leafy stems.

Torenia has a soft look, and the delicate, tuberous stems make good options for rooting in water. Cut a fresh stem above a leaf node, defoliate the lower half, and place the cutting in water. White roots will soon appear and be ready for transplanting after a few weeks. 

Torenia blooms from spring until frost and performs best in partial shade in moist, well-drained soils (avoid soggy soils). Some varieties aren’t well-suited to high heat and humidity. Look for the ‘Summer Wave’ and ‘Kauai’ series for improved heat, humidity, and drought tolerance. Torenia benefits from mulched soils to retain moisture and cool soil temperatures.

African Violets

Saintpaulia ionantha features thick, fuzzy leaves and clusters of small, velvety flowers in purple.
Velvety leaves and rainbow blooms thrive indoors with proper care.
botanical-name botanical name Saintpaulia ionantha
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
height height 6”-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 11-12

African violets are sweet tropical plants with thick, velvety leaves and delicate, ruffled blooms in rainbow hues. To root African violets in water, start with a healthy leaf and two inches of stem.

Stick the stem in water, ensuring the leaf is above the water line. A narrow-necked vase does the trick to suspend leaves. After four weeks or so, roots begin to form and lead to a new plantlet. 

African violets bloom year-round and thrive indoors or out with warm temperatures and indirect light. A little humidity and a draft-free spot help violets flourish.

Pineapple Sage

Salvia elegans has lance-shaped, green leaves and spikes of bright red, tubular flowers.
Colorful and fragrant, pineapple sage attracts hummingbirds with its edible blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia elegans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Pineapple sage is a highly ornamental shade-growing salvia with a flavorful, tropical flare. Depending on the cultivar, its scarlet flowers in late summer and fall brighten the display with either mossy green or bright leaves. The leaves and flowers of pineapple sage are edible and have a fruity flavor reminiscent of mint and pineapple. The showy, nectar-rich, tubular blooms draw hummingbirds and other pollinators.

The best time to cut stems for rooting pineapple sage in water is in spring or fall when plants aren’t fully flowering, but you can also cut soft, new growth in the summer. Clip the tips of fresh growth and let them root in a small glass jar. 

Pineapple sage thrives in moist, well-drained soils and tolerates moderate drought. It grows in full sun to partial shade (especially appreciating shade in hot, southern climates).


Salvia rosmarinus shows narrow, needle-like leaves and clusters of small, blue flowers.
Root rosemary in water indoors for fragrant garden success year-round.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia rosmarinus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Rosemary is another herb that roots well in water and brings fragrance to the indoor garden. Enjoy rooting rosemary over the winter for transplanting outdoors as temperatures warm.

Choose pliable, nonwoody stems from the plant to cut and root. Cut a six-inch section and strip the lower leaves, placing them in an inch or two of water. Roots should form in two to four weeks, though it may take longer for several to reach half an inch long or longer to be ready for transplant.

Rosemary is a Mediterranean plant that thrives in the full-sun garden location with very well-draining soil. It’s a drought-tolerant, carefree perennial with multi-season appeal with needled foliage, high fragrance, and sky blue flowers in summer.

Lemon Verbena

Aloysia citriodora features long, narrow, lemon-scented leaves and small, white flowers in loose clusters.
Delight in the zesty fragrance of this aromatic herb.
botanical-name botanical name Aloysia citriodora
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Lemon verbena is an ornamental herb loaded with lemony qualities, as all plant parts are fragrant. Among the most sweetly aromatic of the lemon-scented herbs, lemon verbena flourishes in the summer heat and is hardy in mild climates.

Lemon verbena has a bushy, somewhat sprawling habit. Its stems are a good fit for rooting in water, and plants benefit from the trim by keeping a tidy habit and promoting new growth.

Lemon verbena has narrow, dark, glossy green leaves and produces small white flowers. Leaves are delightful in teas and cold beverages, desserts, and potpourris. Grow lemon verbena in consistently moist soils with good drainage in full sun.


Hyacinthus orientalis displays strap-like leaves and dense spikes of bell-shaped flowers in pink and purple colors.
Enjoy the sweet fragrance and vibrant colors of springtime.
botanical-name botanical name Hyacinthus orientalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 0.5-1’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Hyacinth ushers in spring with blooming clusters of color and fragrance. Flowers emerge on a single stem in white, pink, lavender, gold, or blue, with rich hues and a sweet perfume. Foliage is bladed and deep green.

Garden hyacinths differ from our water-propagated cuttings because they’re perennial bulbs. Placing the lower portion of the whole bulb in water promotes root growth, leading to leaves and, finally, flowers. Water-rooting hyacinth bulbs “forces” them to grow and flower at a given time. Place the bulb in a glass vase or jar just wide enough to submerge the lowest part of the bulb (the root zone) in water. Hyacinths rooting in glass make beautiful gifts in late winter for an indoor blooming display with delicious fragrance.

In the garden, hyacinths grow best in full to partial sun in rich, well-drained soils. They make gorgeous woodland plantings, naturalizing under tree canopies in dappled sun. Easily divide bulbs to reduce crowding and expand the colony—and enjoy rooting some in water!


Mentha has serrated, aromatic leaves of dark green color with a rough texture.
Freshen up any space with this fragrant, versatile herb.
botanical-name botanical name Mentha spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-10

Mint creates a soft, low-growing carpet of freshly-scented leaves. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) are popular species and extremely easy to grow. Cultivars like applemint, pineapple, orange, and chocolate blend unique undertones with mint fragrance and flavor.

Mint spreads readily, rooting almost anywhere its stems contact the soil. This easy rooting makes mint well-suited to rooting in water, too. After removing the lower leaves, place fresh cuttings in shallow water. Avoid the temptation for long, flowing mint stems – shorter stems let the cuttings develop roots without exerting excess energy and also avoid rot. 

Mint roots develop over 7 to 10 days. They’ll likely be ready to transplant in a couple of weeks, with inch-long or longer roots and good root structure. Or, keep them growing in water to enjoy fresh leaves right from the kitchen.

Mint benefits from frequent harvests and trimming to prevent plants from getting out of bounds, flowering, and producing seeds. If not controlled, mint escapes the herb garden into adjacent landscapes. It’s best for container growing and the indoor herb garden, as it’s prone to invading natural areas and pushing out native plants.


Fuchsia shows pendulous, tubular flowers in shades of pink, purple, and red, and serrated, green leaves.
Graceful blooms cascade from arching stems, attracting hummingbirds with vibrant colors.
botanical-name botanical name Fuchsia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-13’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-11

Fuchsia features highly ornamental teardrop blooms in white, pink, red, magenta, purple, and bicolor. Single or double lowers suspend delicately from arching stems. Plants bloom heavily in spring and early summer, with repeat flowering into fall.

These delicate beauties root in water with fresh stem cuttings free of flowers. Root development may take a few weeks.

Fuchsia needs bright, indirect light to thrive and protection from direct sun. In the garden, hummingbirds love to stop by the colorful blooms. Popular in hanging baskets, fuchsia also grows in shady garden beds with vibrant form and color. They overwinter indoors, but it can be a challenge.


Origanum features small, oval-shaped aromatic leaves with smooth edges of rich green color.
Enjoy fragrant foliage and delicate blooms in your culinary garden.
botanical-name botanical name Origanum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Oregano is an ornamental herb with soft green foliage and tiny pink, purple, or white blooms. It’s tasty for culinary use and a pretty perennial herb in the garden.

Oregano propagates in water much like other softwood herbs. Short sections of pliable growth are best for rooting in glass jars with shallow water. Small mason jars, baby food jars, and other clear glass containers work well. To promote rooting hormones in the water and save space, put several cuttings in the same jar.

Oregano is a Mediterranean herb that grows best with regular moisture (but not overly wet garden situations) and in full sun. It tolerates light afternoon shade in the heat of summer. In areas with high humidity, ensure good air circulation and well-draining soils to prevent stem and root rot. A raised bed or container planting helps with aeration and drainage. Growing it in containers also helps keep plants well-behaved, as oregano has the potential to spread aggressively in optimum growing conditions.


Nepeta racemosa displays gray-green, aromatic leaves and spikes of small, lavender-blue flowers.
Create a lavender-hued oasis with this easy-care, pollinator-attracting perennial.
botanical-name botanical name Nepeta racemosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2.5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Catmint, or Nepeta, forms pillows of mounding gray-green foliage with prolific purple bloom spikes in summer. Small, tubular flowers rise slightly above the foliage, covering plants in a lavender haze. Catmint blooms nonstop in early summer through frost, drawing hummingbirds and other pollinators to its nectar-rich flowers.

Take catmint cuttings in late spring and early summer from non-woody, non-flowering growth. Ideal cuttings are green and flexible but also strong. Rooting catmint in water is a good way to clone mother plant cultivars of the species. Catmint roots in water after about two weeks or longer to develop a strong root structure for transplanting.

Catmint is an easy-care perennial and versatile in the landscape, among other perennials, herbs, and shrubs like roses. It thrives with a bit of neglect, tolerating dry conditions and variable soils. Grow it in a sunny or filtered light garden spot. Deadhead spent flower spikes or shear the plant in mid-summer to encourage new blooms.

Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis has heart-shaped, lemon-scented leaves.
Enjoy aromatic lemon-scented foliage perfect for culinary and herbal teas.
botanical-name botanical name Melissa officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Lemon balm is another vigorous spreading herb (i.e., sometimes aggressive) appreciated for its lemony-scented foliage, whose aroma drifts through the garden as you breeze by and adds refreshing flavor to summer beverages. Mounding plants have oval or heart-shaped bright green leaves, some varieties with variegation. The low-growing plants are dense and produce small bloom spikes in summer and fall. Leaves are edible, and fresh new leaves are the most flavorful.

As an easy grower and garden spreader, lemon balm takes to water propagation but is sometimes slow to root. Cut trailing or spreading stems and submerge the lower stem, including leaf nodes, in clean water. Cuttings may take a month to develop roots and longer to grow long enough to transplant.

Grow lemon balm in full sun to partial shade in rich soils with good drainage. Trimming and deadheading keep plants in check, prevent reseeding, and promote a fresh flush of leaves. You can also grow lemon balm in containers or raised beds to keep them orderly. 


Thyme features tiny, oval leaves of dark green color covering thin vertical stems of pale green color.
Delight in versatile, aromatic herbs perfect for culinary and garden use.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Thyme and its many species and cultivars lend various flavors to the kitchen. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is used most for culinary purposes with a minty clove fragrance. Lemon, orange, and nutmeg are other varieties with unique aromatic and flavor notes. Thyme is versatile in the garden with culinary and ornamental uses, fitting into small spaces as a carefree, durable herb.

Thyme features petite leaves on wiry stems with a delicate look, though the low growers are tough little plants. Take cuttings in early to mid-summer for stems that aren’t yet dense but with enough turgidity to support themselves.

Thyme grows best in full sun and fast-draining soils. Once established, it is drought-tolerant. Plants wither in overly wet conditions. Thyme works between stepping stones, along rocky ledges, and garden borders among other herbs, perennials, and shrubs. Its small flowers attract pollinators.


Narcissus tazetta shows long, narrow leaves and clusters of fragrant, white flowers with a central yellow cup.
Delight in clusters of sunny yellow blossoms dancing in spring breezes.
botanical-name botanical name Narcissus tazetta
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-24”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Paperwhites bring a bouquet of cheer to the winter garden with white single or double blooms and deep green-bladed leaves. Like hyacinths, these bulbs force easily for timed flowering, making paperwhites a lovely option in the winter and around the holidays. 

Paperwhites have a light and sweet fragrance depending on the variety (look for the cultivars ‘Inbel,’ ‘Ariel,’ and ‘Nir’). Depending on the beholder, some varieties smell acrid, so planning when rooting bulbs in water is helpful for indoor enjoyment.

Seat paperwhites in a vase or jar with a narrow “neck” that allows water to meet the bulb’s root zone (base). Bulbs will develop long, healthy roots for weeks of growth and flowering. 

Quick-flowering paperwhite bulbs bloom within four to six weeks. Consider this bloom timeline when deciding when to force bulbs for their display. Other bulbs, such as spring-flowering daffodils, tulips, and crocus, also root easily in water.


Plectranthus fruticosus features oval, velvety green leaves with scalloped edges and spikes of small, tubular purple flowers.
Enjoy cascading purple blooms trailing from vibrant, velvety leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Plectranthus fruticosus
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 3-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Plectranthus is a showstopper in the early fall garden, with glorious bloom spikes emerging from September through November. Large, loose spires of lilac and deep purple flowers among textured, leathery leaves make this fall bloomer worth the wait as it flowers when other blooming plants begin to fade.

Plectranthus is a tender perennial or annual to overwinter indoors in cold climates. In fall, preserve plectranthus before winter dormancy by taking cuttings of young, soft stems. Root the cutting in water and grow them indoors until temperatures warm again in the spring for planting. It may take three weeks to develop early roots.

Plectranthus grows best in humusy, well-draining soils in partial to full shade garden spots. It can be grown outdoors in the summer or does well as a houseplant, especially during cool months.


Cymbopogon citratus shows long, slender, arching leaves with a lemon scent.
Embrace the zesty aroma of lemon in tall, feathery fronds.
botanical-name botanical name Cymbopogon citratus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Lemongrass is a tropical grass from Malaysia that thrives in warm, humid, sunny conditions. When crushed, its bladed leaves and stalks have a crisp, lemony-ginger scent. The stems add a distinctive and fresh flavor to sauces and stews.

Lemongrass is cold-sensitive and dies back with the first frost. It can overwinter indoors or propagate shoots in water for the next warm season to keep the crop going. You can even root lemongrass stalks from the grocery store. 

Select a whole lemongrass stem and remove it from the plant at the base. If the base is woody, cut off a slice. Remove all the leaves from the stalk and place the lower portion in water. Change the water frequently over the next couple of weeks as the stalk roots.

Lemongrass grows best in moist, rich soils. It needs regular moisture without the soil drying out between rains or watering.


Salvia officinalis displays gray-green, velvety leaves and spikes of small, purple flowers.
Enjoy aromatic, silver-leaved herbs thriving in sunny garden spots.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Sage is a favorite perennial herb with an earthy scent and silver, velvety leaves. Sage varieties have leaves in blue-gray, gold, purple, and tricolor. Rooting these varieties in water ensures the same characteristics as the mother plant.

For best results when rooting common sage in water, take cuttings early in the season (spring is ideal). Sage is slow to root, taking about three weeks, plus time for root lengthening. To prevent rot, replace the water frequently and keep leaves from getting submerged.

Sage is another Mediterranean plant that grows in full sun but benefits from afternoon shade cover in hot summer climates. It thrives in medium to dry soils – even poor ones – as long as they have excellent drainage. Sage struggles in overly wet conditions.


Strobilanthes dyerianus has striking, metallic purple leaves with dark green veins.
Marvel at shimmering purple leaves, perfect for shady corners.
botanical-name botanical name Strobilanthes dyerianus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Strobilanthes, or Persian shield, is a striking tropical plant with iridescent purple leaves edged in deep green. The long, lance-shaped leaves reach a full color of metallic royal purple and yield a lush look indoors or out, ideal for growing in containers or as a warm-season annual. 

Take strobilanthes cuttings in late spring or early summer for rooting in water, or wait until late summer and early fall to root indoors over the winter. Stems root readily in water with roots in about two to three weeks and make a bold display while doing so.

In northern climates, grow strobilanthes in full sun, with partial shade or dappled light in southern zones (or at least with protection from bright afternoon sun). Persian shield grows quickly with regular water in rich, organic soils.


Monstera deliciosa features large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves with distinctive holes and splits growing in a large white pot.
Admire large, glossy leaves that lend tropical vibes indoors.
botanical-name botanical name Monstera deliciosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
height height 6-8’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

Monstera tops the list of tropical houseplants that easily root in water. These specialty plants make a big statement and fetch a pretty penny for their striking characteristics. Make more monstera by sticking a stem in water and watching it happily root to add to the collection.

Monstera makes a huge tropical statement in the houseplant jungle with large, lush leaves with natural splits and hole patterns. Monstera deliciosa means “delicious monster,” and many indoor gardeners can’t resist its deliciously oversized and lively form. The leaves reach a dramatic one to two feet long.

To root monstera in water, cut a leafed stem and place the lower portion in water. Let the stem and leaf rest on the side of the jar while the roots develop in about three weeks. The leaves make a striking fresh arrangement while stems root.

Prayer Plant

Maranta leuconeura in a white pot shows oval, green leaves with striking red veins and dark blotches.
Enjoy a tropical touch with leaves that fold gracefully at night.
botanical-name botanical name Maranta leuconeura
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
height height 10-12”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 11

The prayer plant is more demure than monstera but just as easy to root. It’s a tropical houseplant with striking leaves that fold at night, like hands in prayer. Prayer plant leaves open by day in bold patterns in burgundy and dark and light greens. Leaf undersides, evident when plants fold, are dark red or purple.

To propagate prayer plants in water, cut stems just below a leaf node. Place stems in water and wait three to four weeks (or more) for roots to be long enough to transplant. 

Maranta makes a lovely hanging basket or low bowl indoor arrangement. It grows best in bright, indirect light but adapts to lower light conditions and is a low-maintenance houseplant.


Nepeta cataria has gray-green leaves with serrated edges and spikes of small, lavender flowers.
Propagate catnip effortlessly for soothing herbal teas and pollinator-friendly blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Nepeta cataria
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Our feline friends will appreciate the continued lineage of the catnip crop through cuttings. Just make sure the water-rooting stems are out of reach of curious cats. For humans, catnip makes a relaxing mint-lemon flavored tea. Plants have soft green leaves and masses of white or lavender flowers in early to mid-summer. Pollinators appreciate the tubular blooms.

Catnip is an easy plant to propagate in water. The herbaceous stems root within a week of submerging lower leaf nodes. 

Catnip has a rangy habit and reseeds aggressively. Cut plants back after flowering and pinch regularly for a tidier, fuller form. Catnip grows well in containers, hanging baskets, and in-ground beds.


Solanum lycopersicum displays compound, lobed leaves and oval, red, edible fruits (tomatoes).
Easily propagate flavorful tomatoes from cuttings using simple water methods.
botanical-name botanical name Solanum lycopersicum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 8”-25’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

Tomatoes are a fun surprise among plants that root in water. Stems root easily in soil and water, with nodes and hairs setting roots. Use the water propagation method for tomatoes to quickly make new plants and replicate the specific cultivar you’re growing (hybrid tomatoes don’t grow true to type from seed, but cuttings are clones).

Treat tomatoes as you would other soft-stemmed clippings. Take a four- to six-inch section and remove all but the upper two sets of leaves. Plunge the ends in water and watch the roots grow within a week. Let root clusters develop until they reach one to two inches long for transplanting. 

Any tomato will do for experimenting with water propagation. Determinate varieties generally are compact growers and fruit at once during the season. Indeterminate tomatoes grow and fruit throughout the warm months with long, sprawling vines.

Creeping Jenny

Lysimachia nummularia features round, green leaves and small, bright yellow, star-shaped flowers.
Admire cascading greenery with cheerful, yellow floral accents.
botanical-name botanical name Lysimachia nummularia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Lysimachia, or creeping jenny, is a soft, mat-forming perennial with small, rounded leaves that dot trailing stems. Golden creeping jenny, L. nummularia ‘Aurea’, features attractive chartreuse foliage on plants that spread less aggressively than the straight species, which is invasive in some areas.

Golden creeping jenny roots where stems make contact with the soil. Like many of our hardy spreading herbaceous plants, creeping jenny roots well in water. The submerged lower stems create roots for adding to garden containers and arrangements. Potted Lysicmachia trails over container edges for a bright, compact, tropical-looking addition.

Creeping jenny benefits from pinching and trimming if it outgrows containers or garden spots. It thrives in full sun to partial shade. Golden creeping jenny is more gold in sunny spots and lime in shadier zones. Leaves become brassy or blanched in too much sun.


Salvia generally shows oval leaves with tapered tips and spikes of tubular flowers in a purple color.
Delight in vibrant blooms attracting butterflies to sunny garden spots.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Salvia species like greggii (autumn sage), farinacea (mealy cup sage), and coccinea (scarlet sage) are worth trying in water if you’re hoping to clone the mother plant. Whether or not the stems will root is a little challenging, but, like common sage and pineapple sage, it’s possible and easy to try. 

Start by cutting firm, green stems to root in water with at least two leaf nodes submerged. Changing the water frequently is key to preventing rot. Viable stems will show roots in a few weeks.l

Salvia is a low-maintenance garden perennial that produces an array of pollinator-attracting blooms ranging from deep red to vivid blue. Selections tolerate heat and grow in both sun and shade, depending on the variety, They’ll grow best in evenly moist soils but adapt to dryer conditions. 


Epipremnum aureum has heart-shaped, glossy green leaves with yellow variegation covered with drops of water.
Marvel at cascading tendrils of golden-green, perfect for indoor spaces.
botanical-name botanical name Epipremmum aureum
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright, indirect light
height height 6-8’ or more
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

We’ll end our selection with pothos, the quintessential houseplant that roots in water without missing a beat. Pothos is a heart-shaped trailing tropical plant with jade, lime, silver, variegated, or gold-splashed leaves. 

Pothos propagates easily in water or soil mixes. Cut a segment of the stem, dip it in water, and refresh the reservoir regularly as stems root over three weeks or so.

Pothos is an easy-care tropical that grows best in bright light and warm, humid conditions. It’s adaptable to less-than-ideal conditions and grows well in many interior spots. For best success, keep pothos out of direct sun and away from drafts.

Final Thoughts

Rooting plants in water is always an experiment, with some cuttings growing healthy roots while others don’t produce any, and that’s part of the fun. Tried and true herbaceous and softwood stems give us the best success, and taking multiple cuttings broadens the chances.

Tuck in that errant houseplant shoot, trimmed herb, or pass-along cutting to see what unfolds as it rests in water. The water method makes creating new plants easy and, at the very least, expands interior greenery.

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