photo of 4 small bottle with houseplant cuttings

Rooting Cuttings In Water – How Soon Into Soil?

I must admit that I am rooting cuttings in water…and a lot more than I should. Wouldn’t you think that the trouble that I’ve had finding places for all the plants that one has give a person a clue that she shouldn’t be rooting more? But I still have many going. Some succeeding, others not so much.

As you will see in my video, I have been rooting some cuttings in water, and I have also rooting competing cuttings, one in water and one in soil. We will check up on those and see how they are doing.

Rooting Cuttings In Water - How Soon Into Soil?

I have an opinion about rooting cuttings in water and I cannot really find anything to back it up, scientifically I mean, or a quote from a reputable scientific study which supports this, but in out Master Gardeners classes we were taught that if you were planning on putting a plant in soil, don’t let it root for too long in water before you make the transfer. Her reasoning is so logical that I can’t fault that idea.

photo 2 of 4 tiny glass bottles with cuttings

Here’s the thing:

  1. Cuttings develop roots in the water after a few days to weeks.
  2. Root hairs develop and their purpose is to seek water and nutrients.
  3. When suspended in water, root hairs don’t have to seek water.
  4. Root hair gets lazy and forgets how to do that.
  5. After a month or more, it is planted in soil
  6. Root hair desperately tries to remember how to “seek out water” in soil.
  7. Plant dies or doesn’t do well since it has to work so hard to remember how.

In hydroponics, roots don’t have to work as hard to get the nutrients since it is provided in the solution in which they are growing. Growth can be quick and strong, right? But imagine that you’ve put that cutting into soil now. What a hard time it would have trying to adjust itself to seek out nutrients via its root hairs as it would have normally been doing if it had sprouted in soil.

image of developing root hairs

So keep cuttings in water….but plant cuttings into soil quickly when roots develop.

I basically think that rooting cuttings in water is fine, but do it for a short time and when you first see roots forming, get it into soil as soon as possible if that is what you are planning to do.

That way the tiny roots will quickly “switch over” to water-seeking root hairs and be able to thrive quickly. These root cuttings I am showing in the video have been in water for several weeks and have so many roots! That is way too long and I think they will struggle some to adapt.  Unfortunately I may lose some of these little plants.

So what do you think of this hypothesis? Have you planted something rooted in water and had it fail? I guess we all have and this could be the reason why. What do you think?

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