There are many advantages to choosing plants that grow in water. First, hydroponic growing uses up to 90 percent less water than growing plants in soil. Plants grown in water are also perfect for busy people or those who often travel–as the plants’ watering schedule is not as demanding. Last, growing plants without soil eliminates many pests and diseases that are attracted to soil-based growing mediums.
The Best Plants Grown in Water
Plants that grow in water are adapted to utilizing the oxygen, nutrients, and sugar from photosynthesis directly in water instead of from soil. These are the most popular hydrophilic plants which can be used indoor.
The African Violet
The African Violet is a popular houseplant with a compact growth habit. The leaves are covered in fine hairs and the plant produces beautiful, purple blooms. Grow this houseplant in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep household temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 21 Celsius). African Violets do not like the cold, so avoid temperatures below 60F and cold drafts.
These plants that grow in water do well as long as the foliage does not get wet. Choose a vase that allows the roots to submerge in water, supports the plant, but keeps the leaves dry. Change the water every three to four days to avoid algae and feed the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer. Place a piece of charcoal in the water to help keep the water clean and clear.
Baby Tears Plant
The Baby Tears plant grows as a dense mat of round leaves on short, fleshy stalks. Mature size for this plant that grows in water is about four inches tall and 36 inches wide. Blooms appear in late spring or early summer with ivory-colored flowers. Keep temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius), but never below 50 F. High humidity is preferred so place this plant in a bathroom or kitchen if possible.
Ensure only the stems of the plant are submerged in water. Use a shallow, but wide, container to accommodate the plant’s spreading growth habit. While the plant is becoming established, keep the water level consistent. As the roots become well-formed, the water level can lower as long as it still covers the roots partially. Change the water once per week and remove any floating leaves or debris as needed to keep algae and bacteria from growing.
As with all bamboo varieties, Lucky Bamboo grows fast, adding over a foot to its length in a six month period. The leaves of the plant are long and thin with pointed tips. The plant is popular in feng shui design, with the number of stalks symbolizing different meanings. Provide filtered light to recreate the tree canopy in the plant’s natural habitat. As a tropical plant, this bamboo prefers temperatures between 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 32 Celsius).
Many plants grown in water benefit from root and stalk support that would ordinarily be provided by soil. Choose a tall vase and fill the bottom two inches with small pebbles or glass beads. Bamboo is sensitive to chlorine so use distilled water or allow the tap water to sit for 24 hours before use. Feed the plant once per month with a liquid, hydroponic fertilizer.
Spiderwort is a tropical plant with a fast, vining growth habit. The plant is prized for its eye-catching foliage with unique patterns. The blooms of the plant feature three petals and come in a wide variety of colors including shite, purple, and pink. Plants grown indoors can produce flowers any time of the year. Bright, indirect sunlight is best with temperatures in the range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 23.8 Celsius).
Spiderwort grows fast in water so be mindful of the plant becoming top heavy. Regular pruning is recommended to keep the plant balanced and contained. Keep the water level topped up and completely change out the water once every one to two weeks to keep algae from forming. Provide a water-soluble fertilizer once every two months to provide much-needed nutrients.
The Lotus grows well in water when the correct conditions are provided. The plant grows to a size of between three to six feet tall. The foliage is large and with a roundish shape. There are dwarf varieties of this popular pond plant that work well as plants grown in water. The lotus plant prefers at least four to six hours of direct sunlight per day.
The Lotus is naturally designed to grow in water which makes this a great beginner plant for those who want to grow water plants. Choose a shallow bowl with a height of around six inches. Place a layer of pebbles or glass beads at the bottom of the container which gives the plant’s rhizomes something to hold onto. Change the water every two weeks or when it gets murky. Feed the plant with a hydroponic fertilizer, from spring to fall, once per month.
Sweet Potato Vine
The Sweet Potato Vine is an ornamental plant often used as a “spiller” in container gardening arrangements. The vine’s color ranges from black to a bright chartreuse, depending on the variety. The leaves are heart shaped. Sweet Potato Vine grows well in full sun, which promotes vibrant leaf color. Average household temperatures and humidity are fine.
Like most plants that grow in water, keep the leaves dry and only submerge the stems and roots. Refresh the water every two to three weeks to keep algae, bacteria, and mold away. Top up the water levels in between full changes, as needed. The vine grows quickly on its own but feeding the plant during the growing season with a hydroponic fertilizer.
The Paperwhite Narcissus is a popular plant during the winter because the plant is easy to force into blooming for the holiday season. The stems are long and slender, growing from large bulbs. The blooms are star-shaped, white flowers that grow in clusters on the top of the stalks. Place the plant on a windowsill with bright, indirect sunlight for optimal growth. Average household temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit ( 18 to 21 Celsius) is recommended.
To grow Paperwhite Narcissus in water, place a layer of small pebbles or glass beads in a glass vase or container. Sit the bulbs, bottoms down, on top of the pebbles. Fill the container with water until just the bottom of the bulbs are submerged. Top up the water, as needed, to keep the roots and lower portion of the bulbs submerged. Once every two weeks, or when the water becomes murky, change out the water completely.
The Ti Plant
Also known as the Good Luck Plant, the Ti plant grows to a length of between one to two and a half feet long. The foliage is often tinted with either pink, purple, or red. The blooms appear in spring. The star-shaped flowers can be white, pink, lavender, or yellow. As a tropical plant, the Ti plant tolerates temperatures as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) and prefers high humidity.
Plants that grow in water are easier to maintain when you choose a clear, glass vase to grow them in. This way you can monitor the water levels and when the water needs to be changed. Ensure the water stays clear by changing it frequently to avoid algae or bacteria growth. Once every three weeks feed the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer.
The Aluminum Plant
The Aluminum Plant is prized for its unique foliage coloring, which looks like the leaves have been brushed with silver paint. The stems grow in clusters with a spreading growth habit. The plant does bloom but the small, white flowers are often removed to redirect energy toward the stunning foliage. Provide temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity for optimal growth.
The Aluminum Plant can be grown in water as an established plant with a full root system or as a new cutting just getting started. Choose a tall, glass container to accommodate the plant’s height. Fill the vase with enough water to submerge the plant’s roots and top up the water level as needed. Once every two weeks, or when the water gets murky, change the water out completely.
Pink Arrowhead Plant
The Pink Arrowhead plant is a tropical, vining plant often grown as a houseplant. The plant’s arrow-shaped leaves change color as the plant matures. A mature Arrowhead plant grows to a size of between three and six feet tall. As with many plants that grow in water, the Pink Arrowhead prefers warm temperatures. Keep the plant between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 26.6 Celsius) and in relatively humid conditions. A bathroom or kitchen works well.
Grow the Pink Arrowhead Plant in a container tall enough to help support the vines. Keep the water levels high enough to submerge the plant’s roots but keep the foliage dry. Placing a layer of small pebbles at the bottom of the vase gives the plant’s roots something to hold on to and helps anchor the plant. Once per month, from spring to fall, feed the vine with a liquid fertilizer. Withhold fertilizer in the winter.
English Ivy is typically grown outdoors as a groundcover or a climbing vine on a trellis or brickwork. The plant can grow up to 80 feet long and features evergreen leaves with deep lobes. This plant will grow well in water but will need to be pruned or supported to accommodate its quick-growing length. Keep temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 32 Celsius) with medium to high humidity. This Ivy does not like cold temperatures or excessive heat, both of which will affect the foliage.
To grow English Ivy in water, take a cutting from a healthy plant and remove the bottom leaves. Place the cutting in a glass vase that will allow for the stem to be submerged in water but the leaves stay dry. Add some pebbles to the bottom of the vase, if desired, to give the roots something to hold onto. Top up the water level as needed and change the water completely once every two to three weeks.
Pothos is an easy-to-grow houseplant available in many varieties. This vining plant is often grown in a hanging basket to accommodate the plant’s length, which can grow up to 10 feet long. Pothos is adaptable to a wide degree of temperatures from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 to 32 Celsius). Average household humidity is fine, but extra humidity will promote growth.
Growing Pothos in water is not difficult. Take a cutting and remove the bottom leaves to create a long stem. Pick a vase or container that allows for the bottom few inches of the stem to be submerged but the top leaves to remain dry. Roots will grow in a few weeks. Keep the water level topped up and change the water out regularly to keep it clean and clear.
The Chinese Evergreen does not have needles like North American evergreens do. Instead, this is a tropical perennial with oval, glossy leaves on short stems. The plant will tolerate sunlight from bright, indirect to partial shade, depending on the variegation. What the plant does not tolerate is direct sunlight, which will scorch the foliage. The Chinese Evergreen requires temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) with no cold drafts. High humidity is preferred either by being placed in a bathroom or grown in a greenhouse.
Pothos plants that grow in water do well if the water is changed every three to four days and given a few drops of liquid fertilizer once a week. Start a six-inch cutting in a vase with the bottom leaves removed. Roots will grow in three to four weeks.
Also known as the Corn Plant, this tropical evergreen is a popular houseplant thanks to its resemblance to palm trees. The plant will grow to between four and six feet tall in containers, though the size will likely be smaller if grown solely in water. Provide filtered sunlight for optimal growth. Avoid low lighting, which affects the foliage color. Maintain temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit ( 15.5 to 23.8 Celsius) and humidity levels around 40 to 50 percent.
Dracaena grow as water plants when you start a cutting a few inches long. Remove any lower leaves to ensure only the stem is submerged. Within two months the plant will grow an established root system. Change the water regularly to avoid the growth of algae and bacteria. Feed the plant, from spring to fall, every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer diluted to ¼ strength.
Monstera is one of the most popular houseplants. The plant is prized for its tropical appearance and large leaves with deep fenestration. An indoor plant can grow up to 10 feet tall and three feet wide. The size is likely smaller when grown hydroponically. Provide bright, indirect sunlight for best growth. Keep temperatures around 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit ( 18.3 to 26.6 Celsius) and humidity high.
You’ll need a large vase to accommodate the eventual size of this plant. Choose a clear, glass vase, which makes it easy to see the condition of the water and the plant’s roots. Top up the water level regularly and change out the water every two weeks or when it becomes murky. When changing the water, give the roots a gentle cleaning and trim away and brown roots. Feed the plant with a hydroponic fertilizer once a month.
There are a multitude of reasons why you should grow your houseplants in water. Fewer diseases and less maintenance are the two main ones. Then there’s the aesthetic benefits of growing plants in water. Plants that grow in water are easy to integrate into clean, minimalist decors. Whatever your reason, grow some water plants and you’ll likely be a convert to this method of houseplant growth.
Plants That Grow in Water FAQ
While it sometimes depends on the individual plant’s needs, on average regular tap water is acceptable. That being said, high levels of chlorine or minerals may affect your plant’s health or appearance. Using distilled water is a safe alternative if your plant seems to be affected by using tap water.
The water should be changed regularly to avoid the growth of algae or bacteria. Ideally, changing the water on a regular schedule, before it becomes murky, is best. Using glass containers, that expose the water to sunlight and algae growth, increases the frequency of water changes. On the other hand, being able to see the state of the water and roots through clear glass is recommended.
Pebbles or glass beads placed at the bottom of a vase serve both an aesthetic and functional purpose. If you’re using a clear vase, the pebbles add a touch of nature to the arrangement. Functionally, the pebbles or beads give the plant’s roots something to grow around and grip. This is especially important for plants that grow tall.
Either a specific hydroponics fertilizer or a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer will work well.
While many soil-based diseases are no longer a problem when you grow your plants in water, there are still issues to watch for. The growth of harmful algae, bacteria, and mold is possible whenever water is present. Change the water frequently and remove any fallen foliage from the water to keep the water clean and healthy.