Growing Plants in Water

I recently made the remarkable discovery that a number of herbs and other plants can be grown and rooted in water. This was fantastic news to me because it solved what seemed like a host of problems for me and provided other benefits as well. 

1. I’m cheap at heart. Rooting plants from current stock is a money-saving endeavour. 

2. Keeping plants in water saves me from remembering to water them and saves them from me forgetting to water them, a chronic issue. 

3. Keeping plants in water is an excellent use for the many glass jars from the grocery store that we cannot bring ourselves to discard, thinking they will be useful, when in fact, they only sit on shelves gathering dust and in boxes we trip over. They now have a use on window sills holding plants. They’re prettier that way too. 

4. You can use pond water to up your growing power, because there are many more nutrients in pond water than in tap or bottled water. 

5. If you use pond water and also make sure you capture a couple of snails, you have critters you can visit daily or several times throughout the day to see what’s happening without actually leaving the house. There will likely also be teensy, unidentified critters flitting around in there. If you’re like me and my middle son, this is endlessly interesting and entertaining. 

6. If you know other people who like plants (or who take delight in critters like my son and me), you also have a great gift idea.

7. If you’re really enthusiastic, you could create a self-sustaining aquarium garden

8. Growing plants in pond water on a window sill can help solve the winter time blues and give your spring and summer garden a head start. 

I’ve always known that some plants can be rooted in water. My mother got me started on this when I was kid.  We rooted pothos on the kitchen windowsill and also made terrariums with it. When I got married, I bought a pothos and used it for decoration in the wedding. The plant is still alive 20 years later and has several offspring, some of which I’ve given as gifts, always explaining that I’ve kept it alive since the day Kenny and I got married. It’s a commitment, but, like true love, a pothos is hardy: tolerant of neglect and nearly impossible to kill.  I’m looking forward to being VERY old one day, pointing to that plant for my great grandchildren and giving them a lesson in staying power. 

I also knew that English ivy could be rooted in water, as I’d given it a go during my single days, and shocked myself when it not only grew, but put out suckers and climbed my wall when I wasn’t looking. 

But who knew these other plants could also be rooted in water? Not me! In all, there are about 85 plants you can grow in water, many of them edible. This should keep me busy all winter!

Here’s a general guide: 

1. Visit a pond and take a sample of water, at least as much as you need to fill your jar. I use my garden pond, where I grow duckweed for my chickens. The pond is usually full of snails and other tiny creatures. In the spring, it’s home to lots of frogs and tadpoles, too. If a little duckweed gets in my jar, no problem. Just adds to the ecosystem.

2. Take several cuttings from your plant, about 3-6 inches each. Remove the lower leaves and put the stems in the water. Here is something I’ve learned, the fewer leaves (or surface area) the new cutting has to support, the better it can survive. So, go as small as you can. It’s a balance between cutting away the superfluous and keeping what is absolutely needed for photosynthesis. Set the jar on your windowsill. My first time around, I took cuttings from all the plants I had planted outdoors that I knew would die in the coming frost. I had lots of small bouquets from each plant, and even had several mixed bouquets of parsley, stevia, basil, and lavender.

3. Monitor the water level, adding more as needed. 

4. Monitor root production. Some of your cuttings might die. You should probably remove these. You might want to pot the cuttings that have vigorous root growth. 

5. You might also want to stick with the water system and simply harvest your leaves!

I’ll keep you updated on how mine’s going. 


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