Beginners guide to water plant propagation 🌱

Just bought a Cooper&Smith propagation station? Or interested in propagating plants in water? We’ve got some great tips to successful water propagation including plants to start with and techniques to get the best from your cuttings.

And in true form of this blog, you’ll learn from my amateur mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself!


Plant propagation - what is it?

Plant propagation is the process of growing new plants from plant cuttings. These plant cuttings might be from existing plants you have at home, offcuts you’re gifted from friends and family, or sick plants that you want to try and save.

There are a few different ways to propagate plants, our favourite method of plant propagation is simply using water. After placing cuttings in water and leaving them until adequate roots develop, you transfer these into soil. 

Your cuttings will then grow bigger, at which point you can either keep them for your own collection, gift them someone else or even sell them! 

Our EASY 4-step guide to plant propagation.

1. Fill your propagation station with water

Room temperature tap or filtered water works just fine. However, word on the plant-street is rainwater is better - if you can be patient enough to wait for it! If you want to go hard-core plant propagation, there are even growth supplements you can add to the water to promote growth. 

2. Position your propagation station 

Find a spot that gives your propagation station access to bright, indirect sunlight so the cuttings can receive energy from the sun for photosynthesis to occur. SAY WHAT?! Photosynthesis, yes a BIG word, is a chemical reaction inside a plant when carbon dioxide, water and light come together to produce food for the plant to grow.


3. Find yourself a plant cutting 

Yep, this is the serious bit. Don’t be like me and grab kitchen scissors to do the job. Instead, use a clean, sterile, sharp pair of scissors or secateurs to get your cuttings. This will minimise infections. 

Plants in the pothos varieties like a Devil’s Ivy or Marble Queen are definitely great to start with, or my favourite to propagate - the String of Hearts. Make sure you have the node of the plant in the water, otherwise this cutting will not grow roots. 

PRO TIP: You need to ensure you are getting a good cutting from the plant. Most plants that you can propagate in water will have nodes - these are little nodules between each leaf where the new roots will sprout from. Some plants simply don’t have these in their genes and may struggle, but if you’re not sure - just try! Or do a quick Google to your plant can be propagated in water before cutting. Maybe another propagation technique will suit them better.

4. Be patient and wait for your plant to propagate 

Root development time will always vary. It depends on the plant, time of year, and placement of the propagation station. Some plants will take just a few days or weeks to form cute little roots, but some can take months! The ideal time to propagate your plants is during the active growth time, which is usually spring and summer. 

Patience is key. 

I would definitely recommend going about your normal daily life and stop obsessing over the daily activity of your plant cutting.

One day, BOOM. Your little propagated roots will just be there to say hello.

5. Transfer your plant cuttings to soil

Now that you’ve had your plant cuttings in water for a few months, they SHOULD be ready to transfer to soil and pot up. Ideally, the roots will be about 10cm long, indicating that they are more developed and can handle being transferred. 

Look at you go! 

When putting your plant cuttings into soil, you have to remember they are used to being wet. VERY wet. They’ve been water. Since birth. So, make sure you keep the soil nice and moist - way more so than for your other existing plants.

Roots develop differently when you propagate in water compared to soil, so keep this in mind when watering. They can be slightly more brittle and weak, so taking care in this transition stage is important. 

PRO TIP: If you’re adding a propagated cutting to an existing plant in the same soil, wrap the roots of your cutting in damp sphagnum moss to keep your propagated cutting moist. 

When I first started propagating plants, it was at this stage of the game that I usually found my plant cuttings would die - especially when I tried to add them to an existing plant. The propagated cutting would always need more water than the mamma plant. 

Sphagnum moss around the roots should solve this problem, or you can pot your propagated cuttings separate to your other plants until you find the water habits change.

Why bother using this method of propagation?

At this point, you might be asking why - why bother? Why use this method of propagation?

The thing I love about water propagation is the process of it. You get to watch plants do their thang which you don’t get to see when you propagate in soil. There is something really special about seeing roots pop out and grow, as well as seeing leaves develop too.

Nature is incredible. 


Oh, and obviously it looks really cool, too. I mean, look at our RAD propagation stations! Displaying your plant cutting collection in these babies is such a fab way to style up your space. 

Which propagation station is right for me?

Glad you asked! 

Adeline and Maggie are amazing choices for a slightly larger plant cutting, or a plant that will have bigger roots. I propagated a branch of my dying Fiddle-Leaf Fig and it fit perfectly in these, particularly once it developed roots and needed a bit more space. 

Paisley or our 3-Jar Fleur is a gorgeous display for a collection of plant cuttings, perfect if you have a range of different plants all propagating at the same time. 

Stuck for space? Ella Mae or Scarlett is fab for a smaller space. String of Hearts is my favourite to propagate in both of these and looks super cute in an apartment for decoration. 

That’s all for now friends! Please comment below with any questions you have about plant propagation, or to share your stories about plant propagation. We’d love to hear from you! 

Thanks for reading!