What is Water Propagation?

Water propagation is using water as a medium to root plant cuttings. Water propagation for succulents is exactly that, rooting succulent cuttings in water. For a lot of us, this goes against what we commonly know about succulents: that succulent plants 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 heard plenty of success stories on succulent water propagation. In fact, some people find water propagation easier than the ‘conventional’ or dry methods of propagation. I’ve heard of success stories from people who have had zero success with succulent propagation until they tried water propagation. In fact, some people have had such high success rate with water propagation that is is their preferred method of propagation.

Water Propagation Experiment

For me, the easiest way to propagate succulents is through stem cuttings. I’ve had such great success using this method for so long that it is my preferred route. Please click on “Easiest Way to Propagate Succulents” to read more. But I was curious about water propagation and wanted to find out for myself and see how it works. So I experimented with three stem cuttings and rooted them in water. Please click on “Water Propagation for Succulents” to read more about this experiment. I used 2 stem cuttings from a jade plant (crassula ovata) and once stem cutting from an aeonium (blushing beauty) plant.

Does Water Propagation Work for Succulents?

According to my own experiment and from what I have heard from others, YES, water propagation does work. All three stem cuttings did not rot while sitting in water for a span of about 6 weeks. The two jade stem cuttings grew plenty of roots while the aeonium stem cutting grew one measly root that was hardly noticeable. But all three cuttings survived in water without rotting. The reason why succulents do not rot while sitting in water is because they are not exposed to fungus, bacteria and pathogens present in soil. So in reality, succulents do not really hate water, they are just susceptible to root rot due to the pathogens in the soil. Technically, water is not the culprit but the bacteria in soil.

Water Roots Vs. Dry Roots

One concern that I heard a lot from people was that roots grown in water are different from dry roots and that water roots will not fare well when planted in soil. From what I’ve seen in my experience with these three stem cuttings, it didn’t seem to affect the plants whether the roots were grown in water or in dirt. All three plants developed healthy roots systems once planted in soil. In fact, the aeonium which hardly had any roots grown in water still fared very well when planted in soil.

Here’s how they look planted in soil after being in water.

Updated Pics 4 Months Later

Four months after planting these stems in soil, they are doing well and showing new growth. They have survived the drought, heat waves and plenty of neglect over the summer. Even the aeonium with hardly any roots is doing well. (Please excuse the white dust on the leaves. My daughter poured sand on it while playing in her sand box).

These plants are so hardy and resilient and they’ve proven to me again and again that they can withstand harsh conditions thrown at them. This was no exception.

Re-potting 

I’ve decided to repot them and give them a better home. They deserve it after all they’ve been through. I simply removed them from the old pots and repotted them in cactus mix combined with perlite. Although covered in dirt, you can tell they’ve grown healthy root systems.

Here’s how they look after re-potting

The 2 jade stem cuttings ended up in this arrangement.

Here’s where I placed the aeonium. (Please excuse the sand on the leaves that my daughter poured on it)

Conclusion

Water propagation definitely works and if you are having trouble propagating your succulents, you can try this method to see if you’ll have more success. For a step-by-step guide, please click on “Water Propagation for Succulents”. Some people like the look of succulents growing in water that they do not bother transplanting them in soil and keep them in water indefinitely. They just replace the water with fresh water as needed and the plants continue to survive this way.

 

For a detailed step-by-step guide on how to propagate in water, please click on “Water Propagation for Succulents”.

For a detailed step-by-step guide on dirt propagation, please click on “4 Easy Ways to Propagate Succulents”.