Propagation is an easy and fun way to turn one plant into many plants. And water propagation is one of the most effective methods. One thing to be aware of when water propagating, though, is that you’ll need to take a little extra care when you finally move your rooted cutting into soil. If not done carefully, you can run into problems that may damage your plant. Follow the steps below to ensure your water-propagated cutting has the best chance at surviving the move. And if you want to find the perfect propagation station for your situation, see recommendations here. 

Water Roots Vs. Soil Roots

Strangely enough, the roots that a plant produces in water are different from the roots it produces in soil. Soil roots are thicker and sturdier, all the better for finding and taking in water from the environment. As plants that live in water have no issues finding and retaining water, often they make smaller and more fragile roots. You’ve got to take this into account when moving a water propagated plant into soil, or it may not survive the move.

When to Move Cuttings from Water to Soil

Plants will differ widely in how long it takes them to produce roots in water. Tradescantia can make roots within days, whereas a fig might take weeks before it even thinks about putting out a root. Generally, when you see a few inch-long roots, you can move your cutting from water into soil. Waiting until there are several roots will increase the chance of survival during the transplant. But you don’t want the roots to be too long, as they can easily get tangled during the process. 

How to Move Cuttings from Water to Soil

Alright. You can do this the easy way, or you can do this the hard way. The easy way is just potting up the cutting like you would any other plant you’re repotting. Fill your pot with a bit of soil, hold your cutting so that the roots are below the rim of the pot, and gently fill the rest of the way with soil. Try to encourage the roots to fan out rather than getting stuck in one wet clump. Since your cutting’s roots are used to being in water, you’ll need to water it very thoroughly. Although easy, this method is a little more risky because the plant might not acclimate if you suddenly thrust it into a new medium.

If you want to go the slow but steady route, your plant might have more success. This method involves replacing water with soil over time. When your plant’s roots are ready, pour out half of the water, and replace with dampened soil (dampened so that it doesn’t float). Replace a little more every day until your cutting is mostly in soil, and at this point you can pot it up into whatever pot you’d like. 

How to Care for Your Newly-Potted Cutting

You’ll need to treat this newly-potted plant a little differently than plants that you simply transfer from soil to soil. Your cutting’s roots are used to lots of water, so be sure to keep the soil moist, at least in the beginning. It’s a fine line of keeping it wet enough but not so wet that the roots rot. Just be sure that the soil doesn’t dry out too much too quickly. Increasing the humidity around the plant can help acclimate it to its surroundings, since the water-to-soil move means a high-to-low humidity shift as well. The easiest way to do this is to place a ziploc bag over the cutting and pot for the first week or so. Determine what light, temperature, and humidity conditions your new plant needs, and find a safe spot for it to grow and thrive. 

Water propagating plants is an easy way to multiply your plant collection or create gifts for friends. And if you see someone with a plant you like, there’s no harm in asking for a cutting so you can grow one for yourself!

Check out the best propagation stations for different uses

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