Don’t like getting dirt under your finger nails, or pesky plant bugs that annoy you (see my simple solutions for this) – and kill your plants? Worry-free houseplants not only exist; they’re super easy to take care of!

Take your pick from the following:

Better still…

Below, you will find an assortment of water plants you can get growing in glass jars, fish bowls, or terrariums.

29 Plants That Grow in Water Only (Without a Hydroponic System)

Let’s start with the kitchen…

10 Simple Herbs You Can Grow in Just Water Alone

Do you like the idea of fresh herbs at your fingertips all day, every day? Then you’re in for a treat. A window ledge, glass jar and running tap water are all you need.

Want to know how to grow your own cheap organic herbs? The trick to growing these in water is propagation. Essentially, grow plants from plants. How great is that?

So, how do you do it?

You do it by snipping the key parts of healthy matured plants, right at the leaf node. That’s the part of the stem where the leaves branch out from. Ideally, snip a part of the stem with one to three leaves already sprouting.

The health benefits or home grown herbs (in water anyway) are in abundance, so go ahead and pack your meals and snacks full of vitamins and blend in some extra flavor.

The benefits are much greater than any store-bought herbs can give you because they’re fresh from the glass jar on your kitchen windowsill.

10 such herbs you can grow from existing matured herb plants are…

  1. Basil
  2. Chives
  3. Lemon Balm
  4. Mint
  5. Oregano
  6. Rosemary
  7. Sage
  8. Stevia
  9. Thyme
  10. Lavender

Now, about that last one… You’re probably not going to make any recipe taste better. It’ll do you more good on your bedroom windowsill. That’s because research tells us the aroma promotes relaxation.

Need a better night’s sleep?

Pop the lavender into a glass mason jar, top it up with tap water, place it in your bedroom near the window. That’s it!

To take it a step further and purify your air (in any room), there are even air plants you can grow in just water itself…

Did you know that plants provide even more health benefits than those listed above? Learn more about them in my article about the ways in which plants benefit our mental health.

6 Indoor Air Purifying Plants to Propagate and Grow in Water

Some plants thrive in water, others drown. Know this though, almost any plant can be rooted or propagated in water; Just not all of them will nourish and grow.

The process used for growing any type of houseplant in water with zero soil is called hydroculture. All you really need to know is you root the plants in water (just like you do with the herbs above), then transfer them to pots.

Instead of potting in soil, you can do this:

Why would you do that?

Because flowers and air plants need air and water, which is why they grow better when potted with water beads or clay pebbles. They get to breathe (and you won’t have to worry about mealybugs, mites, or other plant pests to invade soil plants)!

Your best bet to get started is to use already grown plants.

Remember how to fragrance-fill your bedroom with Lavender and add flavor to your side salad and recipes using homegrown herbs? Do the same with mature air plants. Grow new plants from old plants (make sure they’re healthy first).

How green is that?

Here’s a list of 6 plants that are perfect for propagating in water.

As an aside, with each of these plants, they can develop root problems as they mature. Just make sure to keep an eye out for it.

If that does happen, shift them from water only to water/gel beads, or use expanding clay as a base layer so they can get oxygen.

When root problems occur in plants grown in water only, the cause is mostly a lack of oxygen. Fix that with water/gel beads or by using expanding clay. Both allow air to circulate around the roots.

With that out the way, let’s take a look at the list of water grown air plants:

1 – The Chinese Evergreen

To propagate this plant in water, you’re looking for a fresh cut from a matured healthy Chinese Evergreen.

Try to get around 6-inches of stem with the cut taken just below the leaf node. Quick reminder: That’s the bit where the leaves shoot out from the stem.

To give these a great start in life…

  • Take a few stems with at least one leaf already emerging.
  • Transfer that to a glass jar, then fill it just enough for the roots to submerge in water.
  • If you can, use rainwater. If you’re using tap water, leave the amount you need out for a day so that the chlorine can evaporate (you don’t want chemicals in the water, otherwise it’ll affect the plants growth, and maybe even kill it).

It is quite the hardy plant, but it’s also not always going to grow to its full potential. If it struggles in water, consider potting it with water/gel beads. If you don’t want to, start again and re-propagate it.

Six inches of a few stems is all you need to regrow a Chinese Evergreen in water.

If you want something that trails a little (or a lot), try this:

2 – English Ivy

This is one plant you may want to keep growing anew, because they don’t do well in water only. What you’ll get is root growth in four to six weeks.

But after that, they’re ready for planting in soil, not that you need to.

Who’s to say you need to keep it all?

You have options with this… Take the fully-grown ones and re-propagate them, like you did from the start. Or just keep on pruning it to keep the size you want. When pruning English Ivy, make the cuts a ¼ inch above the leaf node. That way, the root system remains intact, and the leaves are just shortened.

The result: Beautifully maintained trailing Ivy, grown in a glass jar or vase with tap water.

To get the plant growing, all you need is to water a mature English Ivy the day before cutting it. Cut 6 inches of the stem, with three to four leaves already sprouting. When you put it in the glass jar, only cover the cut stem with water and leave the leaves out.

Then just change the water when it’s needed. You’ll know when it does. If it smells foul or the color starts looking off, freshen it up and your plant will be good as new.

Then there’s this little aquarium plant:

3 – The Peace Lily

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Peace-Lily-1.jpg

The amount of roots on a peace lily is amazing. Definitely grow this in a glass jar. About the rooting…

A mature peace lily will need re-potted every year or two. The roots become overcrowded, so to keep it healthy:

  • Take a mature Peace Lily out of its pot.
  • Swish the roots around a sink or basin filled with lukewarm water (because cold water might be a shock to the system) to get rid of every bit of soil.
  • Get it washed until you can clearly see the roots.
  • Take a knife, clear away the offshoots from the roots and the crown… keeping up to four leaves intact.

With that, you’re ready to add it to your glass bowl (well, any vase, but glass will let you see the exposed roots – Gorgeous!).

One thing to remember with these is to use fresh water, probably weekly. The plants roots will soak up the nutrients from the water. The more you replenish with fresh water, the more nourishment the plant gets.

Another thing, you can use a few drops of fertilizer like Miracle-Gro. So, if you’re ever unsure that your peace lily is getting the nutrients it needs. Give it some fertilizer.

Afraid you’ll kill your plants? Go with this little hardy plant instead:

4 – Philodendron Plants

Here’s a little greenery that’s nearly invincible. Drown the roots in water, never change it for a year and it’ll still be alive with green leaves spilling over the side of your glass jar. Easy-peasy, right?

It is ‘IF’ you start off with a good cut, which is:

  • About 6 inches from the parent plants stem.
  • A ¼ inch below the leaf node.
  • Keeping two or three leaves intact, getting rid of the rest.
  • Then put that stem in a glass jar, making sure all the nodes are in the water.

It survives at room temperature, so it’s a great little indoor water plant. Quite hardy too. And the roots, they’ll forever grow just in water (might need a clipping now and then). Apart from that, it’s the easiest plant to grow and keep alive in water.

If you have a brown thumb, be sure to check out my list of hard-to-kill indoor plants.

If you fail in a big way with any plant, get discouraged and want to give up, grow one of these and you’ll grow your planting confidence. Unless you really are the grim reaper of the plant kingdom.

Speaking ‘bout grim:

5 – The Pothos Plant

Pothos in Water

You might know this better as the Devil’s Ivy. Sounds bad, but it really isn’t. It can be when grown in the wild but we’re talking about a glass jar, bottle or vase, so it’s not going to take over your home.

The ideal container to use is a darker jar, bottle or vase. The reason? Algae prevention. You know that gooey green stuff that lines the tops of ponds in parks? Yes, that stuff. You don’t want that forming. It’ll soak up nutrients the plant should be getting. Block the sunlight and it’s less likely to be a problem.

Note this about Pothos too: They do need a little bit of hydroponics thrown in, only so far as a liquid fertilizer. Miracle-Gro will do the job. It’s for supplemental nitrogen and phosphorus, which is really all any water plant needs to survive.

Here’s how to get your Pothos plant started. The first thing you need is either:

  1. A friend who has one of these plants.
  2. A local gardening center to see if they’ll give or sell you some cuttings.

What you’re looking for is a few cuttings from an already grown pothos plant. Cut from the stem. You only need one section, but that section should have at least three nodes.

So:

  • Three cuttings from the stem.
  • Each with three nodes.

Drop those cuttings into a container with the cut ends submerged in water. Give it a few days and you’ll see the roots start to form. Refresh the water weekly, sprinkle in some liquid fertilizer about once a month, and you’ll have a healthy pothos plant.

Or if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, try:

6 – The Spider Plant

These don’t grow too great in water. They can survive though. What you need are plantlets taken from an already grown spider plant. Submerge those in water and they’ll begin to form their own roots.

Some people prefer to only propagate spider plants in water, then pot it (in soil) after it’s rooted and growing. No need if you prefer the water method.

Replace soil with pebbles after it’s rooted. The roots will cling to the pebbles, then all you need to do is make sure the leaves of the spider plant aren’t submerging in the water. Only let the water be the root system.

What to watch for is a build of salt in the water. That’ll contaminate it, cause yellowing and eventually rotting. Prevent that by changing your water weekly. If it’s tap water, let it dechlorinate by leaving it overnight. Preferably, leave a container outdoors to collect rainwater and use that.

If you do want to keep the water clear, such as using a clear glass vase or mason jar, add some liquid fertilizer into the water. You won’t need much.

Now, if you’re not so keen on any of those, there are some colorful options too:

5 Colorful Plants that Grow in Water

1 – The Wandering Jew

This is a great looking green, purple and silver plant. It has to be something to include as part of any ornamental collection. Let it trail over the end of a bookshelf or make it a centerpiece on a side table or coffee table.

It’s a really fast grower too, as you can see in the video below:

Just in water, like 24-hours, new roots form, new leaves sprout, and branches too.

All you need to propagate these are as many stems as you want from an already matured Wandering Jew. How many? Depends on how big a plant you want.

If it’s a for a narrow top jar, one or two stems with leaves will do. For a larger vase, you could grow about six in the one vase for a more filled-out plant. It’s one of the perks of having a super-fast-growing plant.

To start with, don’t use the vase though; Pot them separately. You know those little clear plastic cups you get for kid’s parties, barbies, and picnics? Those’ll do the trick. Use one plastic cup per stem.

For the cuts:

  • Take a pair of scissors and cut just above the highest leaf on the plant.
  • Then snip off the lowest set of leaves.

All you want left with is a node (per stem) to put in the water so that it’ll grow new roots. Just keep enough water in the cups to keep the nodes submerged.

Soon,(like really soon), roots will form. Shortly after that, new leaves start sprouting, then branches start to emerge. Then, more leaves on those new branches.

So, with that in mind, you may want to rethink propagating a dozen stems.

To compliment it, this next one is great:

2 – The Purple Heart Plant

If you’ve read that this in the same family as the Wandering Jew, you’ve been misled. It’s a different species. The only commonality this has with the above is they’re both purple, Albeit different shades.

That makes it a spectacular plant to have on display near your Wandering Jew.

The propagation method is the same too. Take one or more stems, cut from above the highest leaf and snip the leaves at the bottom. The only part to put in water is the nodes. You know, for roots to grow?

And like the Wandering Jew, it’s a fast grower, so think through how many you’re going to regrow in the one go.

Something completely different is:

3 – Growing a Sweet Potato Vine in Water

This can be one of a few things.

Whatever the case, growing them works the same way. Start with a sweet potato (organic’s best because some spray these with a sprout retardant before selling them).

Who wants plants growing in their food? Some do (the leaves have a spicy tang to them).

Here’s what you need:

  • One sweet potato
  • One glass jar big enough to put it in
  • A few toothpicks

That’s all that’s needed (aside from water, obviously).

What you do is put the toothpicks into the sweet potato about half way; They’re going to be holding the potato up in the jar (They rest on the rim of the container). Only the bottom half is in the water.

Sit the glass jar in a sunny spot, keep the water topped up, and give it a few weeks for leaves to form.

If you’re growing the editable kind, leaves can be eaten. Not the ornamental ones though. You don’t want to taste that.

The longer you leave it in water, eventually, slips will start to sprout. These are plants in themselves. When you pull them from the sweet potato, the roots should pop right off with them. Those are what you can plant in glass jars, or any plant display container, leave it in water and let it do its thing.

The sprout slips are super cool looking because they’re rarely seen as houseplants.

For the biggest color variety, there’s this:

4 – The Coleus Plant

Coleus Plant

Varieties of coleus are aplenty and all are very distinct. Either one will grow in water alone, provided you use a liquid fertilizer. These aren’t as tough as they look.

Rooting a coleus in water is a little different from all the other plants. The reason being, there’s two types of stems on a coleus plant. Your typical stem has a node on the end and an apical stem has a bud. Think of the apical stem as a secondary stem.

Since there’s essentially two stems, it’s sort of like a fail-safe that gives you the best chance of propagation.

To get the apical stem, the plant needs to be a mature plant. With that, take a cut up to six inches long. Using your fingers, pull away the leaves from the bottom part, leaving only the top leaves.

With that done, all that’s left to do is pop your stem into water. Like all others, only the nodes should be in the water. Not the leaves. You’ll get plenty of color from a Coleus plant.

Now, to wrap things up, here’s a little indoor water plant to bring you and yours a little bit of good fortune:

5 – The Infamous Lucky Bamboo Plant

In Chinese culture, the Bamboo plant is for luck, but you have to know your Feng-Shui numbers.

Three is a go-to number:

  • Earth
  • Water
  • Wood

Or in the Western culture, it’s become known for:

  • Wealth
  • Prosperity
  • Happiness

We could all do with some of that going on.

Here’s the thing to remember, the more stalks you have arranged in a bamboo plant, the bigger the blessing. Never four though. That’s bad luck in Chinese culture. To the Chinese, when you say the number four, it sounds like you’re saying death.

So, if you’re ever gifting a bamboo plant to someone from China, never give them a four-stalked bamboo plant. It’s interpreted like a death wish. You’ll be greeted with utter dismay. No herbal tea for you.

The great part of growing the lucky bamboo plant is you only need a shallow dish. Just enough water to keep the roots covered. That can be in a small dish lined with pebbles, so long as the roots are in the water.

The only thing to be careful with is harsh water. Purified or distilled water, with no added minerals is best. If you’re going to use tap water, just make sure you give the water 24-hours in a bowl before using it so chemicals evaporate.

As far as watering it goes, top it up as needed and change the water if it gets smelly.

Alright. Time for a rewind…

Remember, the first list of herbs to grow in your kitchen with water? Circling back to the kitchen, there are even organic vegetables you can regrow in water. Just use some cuttings from the veggies you buy at the green grocers, market stalls, or from the organic section at your supermarket.

Why not stretch your grocery budget?

Here’s a list of:

8 Vegetables You Can Regrow in Water Only

1 – Carrot tops

Just to be clear, you aren’t going to sprout some fresh carrots from water and a few shreds of carrot. What this is for is the greenery from the carrot tops; the part of the carrot to use in salads.

For most, when they’re prepping veggies, this part is scrapped. Chop the head off the carrot and toss it. What. A. Waste! Make a carrot top pesto with it. It’s also a great project you can get the kids involved with. Tell them to grow their own dinner.

What to give them is:

  • A shallow dish
  • Enough cotton balls to line the base of it
  • Roughly 3 cm from the stem of a carrot top with some root sitting visible at the top of it

Line the dish with cotton balls, stick the carrot in the center of it and then water the cotton balls and keep it moist. Don’t drown it though. This method gives the fastest growth, provided it’s given plenty of natural sunlight.

The bedroom or kitchen window should be sufficient. If not, it’s easy enough to move around the house and put on the windowsill of the sunniest room, any day. A few days is all it takes for the greenery to shoot out long stems of carrot tops.

With that, you’ll likely want some side salad…

2 – Lettuce

Lettuce

Any lettuce can be regrown from the stems, but for home grown lettuce, Romaine lettuce seems to work best. What not to expect is a full head of lettuce, similar to the size you started with. That won’t happen. What you’ll get is enough regrown lettuce to add to a sandwich. That’s per stem.

Starting with a Romaine lettuce, when you’re cutting it, cut the leaves about an inch away from the stem. Use it all. Only leave the stem.

Pop that stem into a dish of water deep enough to give it about a half inch of water. Place the dish on the windowsill to get sunlight and change the water every day or every other day for up to 12 days.

No longer than 12 days though. After that, it loses taste, becomes bitter, less dense, turns a disgusting blue/green color instead of the bright green you want (that’s definitely not the fresh sandwich you’d been hoping for; a rabbit wouldn’t thank you for it).

You can do the same with the other big green salad leaves too…

3 – Cabbage

Just like regrowing lettuce, you can clone your cabbage leaves too. All that’s needed is one left over cabbage leaf, a shallow dish, a little water and it’ll start to reproduce. The water should be changed regularly, and you can even use recycled water.

You know, like when the showers running as you wait for it to warm up? Grab some of that water or the water you’re draining from your pot of pasta. Pour some of that into your dish.

After a few days, you’ll see new leaves form.

This next one, you can do for the entire summer:

4 – Celery

You can get decent celery grown in water indoors within a week. You’ll only get some though. To regrow the healthy stalks, soil is best, because eventually the stalks and the leaves on celery begin to decay in water.

For just a small amount, like enough for garnishing, a week, a stalk of celery, and a shallow dish is enough to get it growing.

To start:

  • Cut a couple inches of stalk from a bunch of celery.
  • Put that in a dish with about an inch of water so that half of it is submerged.
  • Give the celery stalk sunlight, change the water every second day.

You’ll have enough celery for garnishing your dinners within the week. After that, take it out of the water. If you don’t, it’s probably going to rot.

This next one has to be among the simplest (and fail-proof):

5 – Garlic Leaves / Chives

These aren’t quite the same taste as garlic. They’re milder, so a bit like green onion with a hint of garlic.

All you need to get these sprouting is:

  • A (fresh) garlic clove
  • A tiny glass (like a shot glass)

Put just enough water in the shot glass to cover the bottom of the garlic clove. Not so much that it’s all in the water. Pop this onto your windowsill, then just let it do its thing until you have inches of green garlic flavored leaves stemming up from the clove. Trim it from the top when you’re ready to use it.

And if you don’t like the hint of garlic, just regrow some…

6 – Green Onions

You’ll never buy a bunch of green onions again when you see just how easy these are to, well, clone. Just use the green onion you buy with your groceries as you would, but that inch or two of root-end you snip off and toss out…

Keep it!

  • Put it root-end down in a glass jar
  • Top up with a ¾ inch of tap water
  • Place it on your windowsill

Change water every couple of days and you’ll never need to buy another bunch of green onions. They’ll grow inches in just a week. Snip from the top and use as you go.

7 – Leeks

Leeks

Do the same with these as you’d do with green onions. Cut a couple inches of the root-end, place that in a glass jar, but instead of ¾ inches of water, fill it to cover the roots.

The flavor isn’t as pungent, but it’s definitely a go-to for sprinkling over scrambled eggs, topping your salad, or garnishing soup.

To wrap things up with the vegetables, here’s one for your spicy Asian dishes:

8 – Lemongrass

The only thing you need here is a hearty stalk with the bulb intact. If it has roots, all the better.

Put the stalk root-end down (just like the garlic bulb and the root of the green onion), and cover that with an inch of water. Place it on a sunny windowsill and you’re golden.

Change the water daily and over a few weeks, you’ll likely have more lemongrass than you’ll be able to get through.

And there you have it

Go forth, fill your water jars, mason jars, or any vases you want to use for water plants and get them growing around your home. Some for décor, some for eating, the odd one just for the fun of it (sweet potatoes), and for a bit of luck, get a few stalks of lucky bamboo going. Give your family and your guests some good fortune by sitting this one in your hallway.

And definitely clone your vegetables, especially those pricey organic veggies. You’ll save a fortune, and have fun family projects to go with:

  • Fresh herbs
  • Fresh Veggies
  • Fresh air
  • And a fresh fragrant smell, year-round

It’s hard to beat hardy plants grown indoors with nothing but water from your kitchen tap.

30 Comments

  1. I am also trying Prayer Plant in water & so far a new leaf & several new roots ; so I am very hopeful of success !!

  2. This is amazing! Thanks for the list. Can’t wait to try them all 😉

  3. Is there anything I can put in the water to keep it from smelling bad. I’m happy to have found out that I should change water on a weekly basis but is there anything I can put in the water to keep it from smelling bad?

    • Hi, Margie!

      It’s great that you change the water weekly! As for between water changes, you might want to try to clean the container and any rocks or decorations, if you use them, with a bleach solution of four parts water to one part bleach. This will kill whatever pathogens that are present on the rocks and container. You’ll also want to inspect the roots of your plant, cleaning off any slimy parts (with just water) and possibly cutting back any roots that look to be brown and rotting. You could also try a clear container if your container is opaque. Sunlight helps to kill anything in the water. Getting down to the root cause of the smell will help you more in the long run! Give those suggestions a try, and good luck!

    • Margie,

      I used pieces of coal in the past with good results; this also good to remove the bad smell from freezer.

      • Hi, Yolanda!

        Thanks for the advice! Activated charcoal (carbon) is definitely a good way to control smell. It actively absorbs and purifies air and water to give you that nice, clean scent. It’s used in a lot of water filters for fish tanks, and it is also used in water filters for your refrigerators and faucets. I’ve not thought to use it in one of my water-only plants, but it could be worth a try!

  4. Sunlight kills some things, but lighted water is a breeding ground for algae.
    And, unlike a swimming pool, you dare not add chlorine in quantities necessary to kill the algae or it’ll do the job on your plants.

    But I wonder if you can put catfish and/or loaches in there; I believe they gobble algae.
    That’d look weird, no? I might just try it. And as algae are not true plants, the fish may not eat the plants placed in there. Gee, this is getting strange . . .

    I got interested in this particular topic when I had to remove all of the soil in its pot and subject a Gasteria to what I call “turgidity treatment.” Simply, I put its base in the sink and kept the basin full. It worked, and I then started to think about keeping it (and some of its friends, e. g. the Haworthia and other succulents) in water only.

    A question on keeping a Pothos in water: my understanding has always been that while they’re almost indestructible they benefit from having the soil dry out some before watering. Have you kept thriving pothos in water?

    • Hi, Roy!

      A catfish in with your plant roots could actually look quite intriguing! You’d definitely have to have a large enough container for the catfish, but it may work to your advantage.

      As far as a thriving Pothos in water, I have had great success with my Pothos in only water at home. I think as long as you keep the algae (and any root rot) under control with regular water changes, a dark bottle/vase/container, and less sunlight, you’ll be set! Thanks for the interesting thoughts!

    • If algae is growing in your jars, stop fertilizing them. The roots of your plants should be pulling enough nutrients from the water to starve any algae spores. Pathos is regularly used in aquariums for exactly that reason. They grow quickly and reduce the algae growth significantly. There’s no need for them to dry out.

      As far as putting loaches in with your plants, you’re going to need a minimum of a five gallon container. Anything smaller will be detrimental to the fish. Catfish will depend on the species. Also, be sure to research if the plant is poisonous to the fish. They will need regular feeding. Both loaches and catfish are naturally meat eaters and will not eat the algae.

  5. Carlos Jimenez Reply

    Snake plant, crotos and dumb cane grow great in water. Thanks for the information. I will certainly try the peace lily.

  6. Rex Perumal Reply

    I need details of water based plants for safeguarding water fountains. I mean to protect water fountains by planting suitable plants. Kindly help me.

    • Hi, Rex!

      I would love to give you a few tips, but I need a little more information. Are you talking about what plants to put around the fountain? Or possibly about what plants to choose to keep your water cleaner and keep the mosquitos at bay?

  7. Love your page just found it! What is the substrate at the bottom of your tanks? Is that expanding clay? And then moss on top? Don’t think moss is the right word- but anyway I love how it looks and would like to try that as a bottom. Currently have water only. 3rd question- what species is that really small fish inside the tank? Referring to Wandering Jew video. Thanks!

    • Hi, Camille!

      The video is actually one I found from a fellow plant enthusiast that details his attempts at growing Wandering Jew in water. I was able to find that he put Hypnum moss (and rose moss in a different one) in the bottom of the vase over what looks to be regular rock, and the fish in the tank are baby guppies! I hope this helps!

  8. Thank you for taking the time to post this article. It is the best one I have read on water plants. Can not wait to try some of them.

  9. As for algae growing in water to control simply place pond snails to control and thus the plant will also be fertilized and now you have created a tiny ecosystem.

  10. If you were given one thousand acres of land that you didn’t need to pay taxes on but couldn’t sell, what would you do with it?

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