Will succulents root in water? This may sound an inappropriate question because succulents don’t like too much water.
In fact, overwatering causes rotting. But oddly enough, in some instances, succulents survive in extreme conditions like when soaked in water.
So, will succulents root in water? Yes, but not all varieties. The types of succulents that could survive well in water are the Sempervivum or Echerveria. Other varieties may not survive.
But How Do Succulents Root in Water?
The successful process starts with choosing the right part of the succulents. Cuttings, in this case, have a lower success rate.
What I recommend is the use of offshoot. This one is more versatile and more capable of withstanding water.
Although I used cuttings in my previous water propagation experiment, I don’t recommend it for beginners.
I am not saying that cuttings will not work. It does when handle correctly. But if you are a starter, it is safer to use offshoots.
After deciding your main plant to start with, you are good to go.
Succulent Water Propagation Guide
Before discussing further in this topic, let me clarify a few things first.
What is succulent propagation in the water?
Water propagation as you guessed is the process of propagating succulents in water.
This process is a little surprising to most succulent lovers. For long, most of us believe that succulents could die when left in the water.
The reason for the conventional belief is the fact that overwatering causes root rot.
So the idea of water propagation raises some eyebrows. But believe it or not, water propagation can be as effective as the traditional technique.
In fact, more and more people are using this technique to propagate succulents.
But if you are a complete beginner, this process may require a lot of trial and error experiments before achieving some success.
For disclaimer, if the process is not carried out properly, succulents may be drowned in water.
It is important to remember that succulents do have plenty of water in their stems and leaves.
So if you soak them in water, there is a very high chance that they get rotten.
Despite all the facts about succulents, the increasing number of people who use water propagation are seeing good results.
In fact, some found more success using water propagation than the traditional propagation method.
How Succulents Survive in Water?
The belief that water causes the rotting in succulent stems from the idea that succulents planted in wet soil would rot.
But the reality is that water alone does not cause rotting. What causes root rotting are the pathogens that live in wet soil.
If soaked in water, succulents do not necessarily rot or die as long they are not exposed to elements that cause rotting.
Traditional Versus Water Propagation
One of the things that bother me before was the thought that roots develop using water propagation were not the roots that the plants needed when they are transferred or planted in the soil.
If the assumption is correct, new roots should be developed in order for the succulents to grow in soil.
But a new breed of curiosity sprouted when I heard that some succulent growers have achieved some success using the water propagation.
As a result, I was so eager to start an experiment clarifying whether or not what I heard was true.
In addition, I also wanted to apply the method if ever I found it effective.
So the experiment commenced. I tried three cuttings which I soaked in water. The cuttings were from the Sempervivum.
Luckily, I later found out that I have chosen the right variety of succulents. As mentioned earlier, Sempervivum survived well in water.
Choosing the type of succulents to root in water can be a difficult task if you have no prior idea.
But I was lucky enough that I did choose the right variety.
After preparing the cuttings, I let them dry. It took several days for the cuttings to dry.
I used clean jars for the whole process. The jars contained just enough water for the cuttings to soak in.
Then I covered each jar with clean transparent plastic with a little hole in the middle where the cutting was inserted through.
I used plain tap water. Some growers suggest the use of distilled or purified water.
I just used pure water. No fertilizer or whatsoever nutrient source included.
I let the tip of the cuttings reach the water a little bit. Some growers recommend trying the water propagation without having the cuttings soak in water.
Instead, the cuttings are sitting just above the water. The moist from the water triggers the growth of the roots.
I don’t know if the said method also works. So far, I only tried one.
The cuttings were placed in the area where sunlight is accessible for a couple of weeks.
I monitor the cuttings constantly. What I learned was that the roots took some weeks to grow.
In fact, the roots started to grow after 5 weeks. I wasn’t expecting such a time duration.
In the entire process, I was suspecting that the cuttings would just rot because of the time they sat in the water.
I even thought I did it wrong. Thankfully, after several weeks of waiting, the roots were finally grown.
Then I took the cuttings from the jars and let them dry for a day.
Although the roots were fully grown, I wasn’t quite sure if the cuttings would survive in the soil. This is because they were just come out of the water.
I already had prepared the succulent soil mix in the pot where the cuttings would be planted.
Then, finally, the cuttings were planted in the pot.
Planting the cuttings propagated in the water was just like planting the regular cutting traditionally propagated.
The newly planted cuttings were placed in the area where sunlight is accessible.
However, I paid close monitoring to the plants. I was careful not to expose them to the scourging sunlight.
The full-grown succulents can survive 4-6 hours under the sun. But of course, the baby succulents will not survive in such light conditions.
I waited until the cuttings were individually surviving. Then I gradually exposed them in the direct sunlight.
At this point, the plants need care and attention. They are not hardy enough to stand against extreme environmental conditions.
It is very important not to forget them under direct sunlight. They are easy to get burned.
As the cuttings have grown stronger roots, they become more versatile. One way to check if they are in fact establishing roots is to check the roots per se.
You can do it by partially pulling the cutting from the soil. Cuttings that don’t let go of the soil indicate that the roots are pretty established.
Here is the Guide on How to Root Succulents in Water
Water propagation is as simple as the traditional propagation process. The only main difference is that instead of using soil to propagate, we use water.
For successful water propagation, you may want to follow some proven steps. Try to consider the following:
As you might have guessed, the first step is preparing the cutting. But make sure that you are using the perfect succulent for water propagation.
Although you can use the stems or leaves, I prefer the offshoots. This increases the chances of achieving a successful propagation process.
But if you chose stems or leaves, you better choose the healthy ones. Avoid starting with flat leaves or damaged ones. They lessen your chance of success.
Remove the excess leaves from the stem. In this process, you need to be careful not to cause harm to the stems.
Simply detach the leaves from the stems using your fingers or thumbs. You can use scissors if necessary just to keep the stem unharmed.
You don’t need all the leaves to be cut off from the stems. It is okay to retain some leaves at the upper end of the stem.
The important part here is the lower portion of the stem where the roots will grow from.
If you are using the cuttings, set them aside and let them dry for a couple of days. The purpose of this is to allow the cut to callus. This will only achieve when the cut is dried.
Prepare the jar or cup. You can use anything as long as it can store water. Add water to the container. The container must be a clean one.
Then place the cutting. You don’t need to soak the whole stem in the water. You can allow the tip of the cutting to reach the water. This is exactly what I did in my experimental water propagation.
Or you can just place the tip of the cutting just above the water level. Many succulent growers found success with this method.
The thing is that just choose the technique that you are comfortable with.
Now find the perfect spot for the jars. Make sure that the area is well-lit and safe from any physical disturbance.
Remember that this process will take time to finish. It is possible that within the process the jar or the cuttings would be accidentally disturbed.
Do not place the jar under direct sunlight. The cuttings are extremely vulnerable to sunburn that will kill them.
Let the cuttings establish roots. This will take sometimes. You need to be patient. Pay attention and monitor the growth.
Also, check the water. Change it if necessary.
As soon as the cuttings established full-grown roots, it is time to pull them from the jar.
Then let them dry for a day or two. Once dry, you can now plant the cuttings in the soil. I suggest that you use the succulent soil mix for better results.
Water the baby plants. It is important to remember that succulents don’t like too much water, especially at this stage.
To avoid overwatering, it is a good idea to be mindful of the amount of water you are giving to the plants.
Provide just enough moist to the soil. For baby plants, more frequent misting is a good way to help them grow healthily.
Once the baby plants gained growth momentum, you can increase the amount of water. More frequent watering may be needed.
But even then, well-grown succulents should not be overwatered. You can avoid overwatering by using the soak and dry watering method.
This strategy means that when watering, soak the soil and then let it dry. Water again if the soil is dry.
This way you can keep your succulents healthy.
Aside from overwatering, baby succulents are susceptible to sunburn. So keep them in shade. Do not expose them to direct sunlight until they are fully grown.
Little by little increase their sunlight exposure.
Is Water Propagation Better than Traditional
Although water propagation is indeed a legit way to propagate succulents, I don’t see it as better than the traditional and vice versa.
It is just a matter of personal preference. As a succulent grower, it is up to you what route you would like to take.
The drawback of water propagation is that it takes too long for the plants to propagate.
In addition, not all succulent types can be successfully propagated with water. Others won’t be able to survive in water.
Will Succulents Root in Water?
Unconventionally, yes. I myself couldn’t believe when I first heard that succulents can be rooted or propagated in water.
The good thing is that I learned that water alone does not really cause root rotting.
What kills the plants are the pathogen that resides in the wet soil.
If you want to try water propagation, just remember the few simple tips to propagating succulents successfully.
But always make sure that you choose the right variety of succulents to be propagated with water.
The wrong choice will lead to failure. Plants may die along the way.
If you are not really sure what you’re doing, I suggest that you stay with the traditional.
I think it is safer than experimenting.
For more information about succulent growing, read my post: How to Grow Succulents? The Complete Guide.