Enjoy a 5.99% 30-Year Fixed Rate on select U.S. homes*! Limited time offer. Explore All Promotions


10 Plants You Can Grow in Water without Soil

September 22, 2023
Woman propagating pothos plant from leaf cutting in water

Plants need three things to survive: light, water, and somewhere to grow. Many of us assume that “somewhere to grow” means a pot filled with soil or a backyard garden, but some plants can thrive exclusively in water. It can be as simple as placing cuttings in a watertight vessel and watching them grow.

If you want your plant to flourish or eventually harvest herbs, there’s a bit more work involved. Don’t worry! You don’t need an elaborate hydroponics setup to ensure success – all you need to do is choose the right plants and learn how to help them thrive.

Growing plants without soil can be fun and fascinating. We’ve put together a list of tips, tricks, and easy-to-care-for plants to help you get started:

Plant growing in a water garden without soil

Before You Begin

Knowing how to care for your plants is essential to your garden’s success. When your plants are properly cared for, you’re more likely to get the desired results.

Know the plant’s light requirements

Light is essential to a plant’s growth, whether in soil or water. The right amount of light ensures your plant will have healthy growth or produce tasty herbs. Each plant has its own unique light requirements, so it’s best to check their preferences for each specific variety you decide to grow.

Choose the right container

When growing plants without soil and in water, you’ll need watertight containers that provide sufficient support for the plant’s roots. Glass containers are a popular choice as they’re easy to find, and it’s interesting to see the roots growing. There is a higher chance of algae growth due to light exposure and stagnant water, so using an opaque container can help slow the growth.

Use clean water

Filling your container straight from the sink is tempting, but tap water may contain impurities or excessive minerals that can affect your plant’s growth. Consider using filtered or dechlorinated water to prevent issues with nutrient imbalances. Over time, water evaporates from the container or looks murky. Add clean water weekly and completely change it once it appears discolored. Most plants need their water changed monthly, but that depends on the type of container, the plant, and the amount of sunlight it gets.

Propagation by plant cuttings in water

Plants That Grow in Water without Soil

Some plants are better suited than others to growing without soil. We’ve put together ten easy-to-care-for options that will grow well in water.

1. Pothos

Pothos is one of the most popular choices for water growth. Its vining nature, heart-shaped leaves, and ability to handle almost any light conditions make it a stylish, low-maintenance option.

2. Lucky Bamboo

This plant is almost exclusively sold in water-only containers and held in place by a layer of pebbles or decorative stones. It requires minimal care and is believed to bring good luck.

3. Spider Plant

Spider Plants are another easy houseplant to grow in water only. These plants produce plantlets on long, cascading stems that can be snipped off and popped in a glass of water to grow roots.

4. English Ivy

English Ivy is another vining plant that produces aerial roots similar to Pothos. When planted outdoors, these vines can be invasive and quickly take over your garden. When confined to a container and kept indoors, you can enjoy their lush beauty without the stress of managing the spread.

5. Chinese Evergreen

The Chinese Evergreen is a hardy plant that requires little attention. It tolerates lower light conditions and can grow in water long-term, thanks to the thick stems and large leaves. Chinese Evergreen comes in various leaf shapes, colors, and overall size.

6. Coleus

Coleus is a colorful foliage plant that roots quickly in water. Coleus thrives with filtered morning sun and shade in the afternoon, especially in hot climates.

7. Philodendron

Philodendrons are known for their trailing growth and lush leaves. It’s an easy-to-care-for plant that allows even new gardeners to have success. They love humid environments and can handle a wide range of lighting conditions without any signs of struggle. They root in water just as easily as Pothos and will produce a thriving plant in no time.

8. Begonia

While all Begonias grow well in water, rex and tuberous varieties will do exceptionally well. These plants have colorful foliage and beautiful blooms. It may take several weeks from cutting to root development, but don’t worry; it’s worth the wait.

9. Herbs

Any soft-stem herb will survive in only water. Take a cutting from a mature, healthy plant and place it in a sunny spot. Herbs need plenty of bright, indirect light to thrive. Basil, mint, oregano, thyme, and sage are just a few herbs that can be grown in water successfully.

10. Vegetable Scraps

Growing vegetable scraps in water won’t produce a bountiful harvest for you and your family to enjoy, but it’s a fun way to reuse parts of the vegetable you’d typically toss and see how they grow. Lettuce, green onions, and carrot tops are top contenders for water-only growth.

Indoor window plants rooting in glass bottles

A water-only garden is a unique and fun touch in any home. They’re visually interesting, the containers can be curated to match your style, and a collection of water-grown plants makes for a great conversation starter. Start small and expand your water garden as you become more confident!

Check out the Brookfield Residential blog for design advice, homebuying insights, mortgage tips, and more, including How to Start a Backyard Garden and 10 Low-Maintenance Indoor Plants.

You can also explore where we build and connect with our sales team when you’re ready to learn more. We’ll be expecting you!