Description about Water Propagation
Water propagation is using water as a medium to root succulent cuttings. This may go against conventional thinking about succulents. The common knowledge about succulent plants is they do not like to sit in water and sitting in water promotes root rot.
So water propagation might contradict what we have come to believe about caring for and propagating succulents. And yet, I’ve been hearing more and more about water propagation lately.
From what I have heard and read, some people find water propagation easier than the more ‘conventional’ methods of rooting on soil or dry medium.
I have read plenty of success stories from people who have had zero success with succulent propagation until they tried water propagation. In fact, some people only propagate succulent cuttings by the water method because they see faster results and greater success overall.
Why Succulent Cuttings Do Not Rot in Water
One theory I heard is that the reason why succulent cuttings do not rot in water is because water is not the main culprit for rot. Succulent plants sitting in wet soil are exposed to fungus and pathogens in the soil that introduce diseases to the plant, causing root rot. When propagating in water, the plants are not exposed to the pathogens normally present in the soil medium and therefore, they do not suffer from rot.
Water Roots vs. Dry Roots
Another concern people have about water propagation is that the roots formed in water are not the same roots the plant needs to grow in soil. Once planted in soil, they need to develop new roots more appropriate for growing in soil. Still, others that propagate through the water method say that the plants do just fine once transplanted from water to soil.
I for one have had great success with ‘dirt propagation’ but was curious to see how water propagation works so I set out to perform an experiment. I tried rooting three stem cuttings in water to see what happens. I chose two different plants that I have had no problems rooting in soil. I thought choosing a plant that I know is easy to propagate would give me a better success rate. I used stem cuttings from a jade plant (crassula ovata) and an aeonium (blushing beauty) plant.
How to grow succulents in water
1 Choose a cutting. Let it callous well. This takes a few days to a week and prevents the cutting from taking up too much water and rot.
2 When you’re ready to root the calloused cutting, put it in a jar with. Some gardeners have better success dipping the stem into the water but from our experience, you should make sure the tip is right above the water, not touching them. Especially if your succulents do not callous well, dipping them in water can cause root rot.
3 Wait patiently, a few weeks, until a root system grows. Also, keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid damaging your plant.
Don’t be discouraged if you fail a few ᴛι̇ɱes! It is not easy to try doing something for the first ᴛι̇ɱe and you will eventually get better over ᴛι̇ɱe.
Check the water level once in a while. Make sure that it is just below the plant’s stem and change it if needed.
Keep in mind that water roots and soil roots are very different from each other and a succulent that has adapted to living in water will most probably die if transplanted into soil. But if you must transfer your plant, use a soil specifically for succulents and cactus and ensure you keep the soil quite moist in the beginning. Use a pot that has proper drainage, and to always throw any excess water from the saucer.
How to care for succulents in water
I prepared a mixture of cactus mix and perlite and placed the potting mix in little pots. The stem cuttings were then planted in the pot.
I treat these potted cuttings like I would normally treat my other stem cuttings. Keep them in a bright area but protected from intense afternoon sun or direct sunlight.
Once these plants are rooted and fully established, the amount and intensity of sunlight can be increased.
If you notice they are getting sunburned, move to a more shaded location. You can move the plants around to see where they fare best. To tell whether the cuttings have rooted, you can pull the stem out to see after about three weeks or so. If the plant does not give and is hard to pull out of the soil, that means it has rooted.