How To // Move your plants from water to soil after rooting
Yes, it's true....We do love plants just as much as we love wood and maybe (probably) even more. Don't tell our tables though! It makes sense though, right? Since the very thing that gives us the wood we love is technically a plant, trees are considered perennial plants. BOOM. Back to the basics for ya.
Long before I started selling cuttings, I have been propagating plants in water. And because of that, when I was first experimenting, A LOT of cuttings did not survive the transfer process. But over the years I've figured out the best way to gently take your water propagated plant into soil without killing it. Can I get an amen?!
“And then what? Bask in all the glory that you successfully propagated a plant baby! Pour yourself a glass of champs and cheers! That’s what I do!”
When should I move my water propagation to soil?
The standard rule of thumb is to move them when the roots have grown 1-2 inches long and this is for two reasons:
1) The plant has rooted enough to survive in soil and continue rooting
2) The plant‘s roots aren't that mature yet so the roots can easily adapt to moving into soil without a major shock
Personally, I really love letting my plant‘s roots grow and grow and grow in the water so I can watch the process and I also think it looks so cool, esthetically. I usually wait to move the plant until it's very visible that it needs to be moved into soil to keep thriving. Plants don't get any nutrients from water (other than life!) and most plants need the fertilizer in soil to sustain. Just like we need food AND water to live! I’m always left in a bit of a pickle because by the time I'm ready to move my plants to soil my roots are SO long and mature that I fear completely shocking them during the transition. But don't worry, I have a solution for you if you’re like me...
How do I move my plant from water to soil without shocking it or killing it?
I swear, I can always get the cutting to grow roots in water but I can't always get it to survive in soil after that! Here's what I've learned over the years:
DON'T USE A FERTILIZED SOIL
Since your plant's roots weren't grown in fertilizer, it can actually shock the roots and even burn them when moved from water to soil. AKA : dead plant (sad face). Try using a nonfertilized soil when making the move.
DON'T JUST PULL IT FROM WATER
Your baby plant has been thriving in a constant pool of delicious water to snack on whenever its heart desired. You can't just take that away from baby! There’s a good chance if you do, your baby is going to throw a tantrum. Here are two suggested ways to safely move your plant from water to soil:
1) This is my preferred method - bottom water that little guy like his life depends on it! I gently place my plant baby in a growing pot (or anything with good drainage) with nonfertilized soil and give it a good, gentle watering. From there, I bottom water. What is bottom watering? I usually just find a small dish to place the pot in and fill the dish with a few inches of water so that the pot can sit in the water and have a constant source of moisture. My goal is to keep the soil as moist as possible and mimic the growing environment I moved it from. After the water from the dish is gone and I’ve finished the bottom watering process, I then water the plant every other day after that and gradually wean it onto its natural watering cycle. For example, when the water dries up in the dish I will then water it four times a week, the following week I will do 3, the following week I'll move to 1-2 a week depending on what season we're in and how hot it is. I don't feel like the move from water to soil can get any more gradual than that!
2) The second method is to gradually add in nonfertilized soil directly into your propagation water. What does that mean? The container you've been growing the plant in is full of water. Duh, right? So, just add the soil right into its home! The soil will soak up the water and the water will start to become more soil until it's ALL soil. It's an easy way to let your baby roots grow in the soil without completely shocking them.
Eventually, you will want to add in some fertilizer to your soil but wait until you are confident that the plant has survived and is thriving in the soil before doing so. I would still use a less than recommended amount for the first dose you give it, just to be on the safe side. And then what? Bask in all the glory that you successfully propagated a plant baby! Pour yourself a glass of champs and cheers! That’s what I do!