How to Convert Water Roots to Soil Successfully

Great, you have successfully done water propagation, but what now? Not sure when is the right time to transplant your water roots to make them become soil roots?

Then stick around, as we will provide you with our best tips on how and when you should soil plants. 😊

Water Propagation Done What Now?

rooted plant

If you knew, you would not be here reading about a water-propagated plant to transfer to soil plants. So, we are here to help. Commonly after propagating plants in water, you notice they can quickly die after they are transplanted into the soil or vice versa.

So How to Convert a Water Propagated Plant to Soil Without Killing Them is Not Difficult

The best way to help a root cutting to soil roots is to provide them with a solid substrate like fine gravel or sand.

Ensure that it does not float or absorb the water, and you can slowly remove the water over two weeks to allow it to evaporate naturally.

Still, switching from soil to a water substrate is the same, but not all cuttings can adapt quickly.

What are the Differences Between a Water Substrate and a Soil Substrate?

The oxygen level is the main problem when transferring new plants from water to a soil substrate. A rooted cutting is made to absorb water and oxygen from the air pockets found in the soil particles.

water substrate

However, placing soil roots into a low-oxygen environment like water propagations results in root rot as there is a lack of oxygen. For a plant’s roots to adapt, it needs to grow water roots with unique mechanisms to help it breathe through the leaves and prevent the loss of oxygen at the roots.

Thus it is difficult for an established plant to replace its soil roots with water roots and vice versa when you change a substrate. For this reason, it is easier for water cuttings to adapt to a new substrate.

How to Convert Water Roots to Soil Roots

There are different methods you can use to transfer water roots to the soil, as seen here:

First Method

An easy way to convert from water to soil is when you see the development of tiny roots one to 0.04 inches long. These roots will poke out of the noticeable pores on the stem. Preferably do not wait until the water roots develop when transplanting.

For the new plant, placing them in wet soil is less stressful, and the risk of breaking the roots is less. 🤔

Second Method

If the plant forms long roots, it will need a slow acclimate process to place them in dampened soil.

  1. Prepare a small container with water for each plant’s cuttings and choose a transparent one to monitor the new roots.

  2. Then add a growing medium like fine gravel or coarse sand that will not absorb the water or float.

  3. Add more soil as needed to cover the roots or wet soil or pebbles to weigh the roots down.

  4. Now scoop out small amounts of water, like a tablespoon per cup every other day for one to two weeks.

  5. Leave the water to evaporate and slowly decrease it naturally until your plant’s roots adapt and become soil roots. Keep the new substrate of soil moist but prevent waterlogging.

  6. Now leave the planted cuttings to stand in some shade for a week and prevent using fertilizer at this time as it will burn the roots.

  7. You can give it some fertilizer once your new plant adapts to the new environment.

  8. After two weeks, yellow soil roots develop in the sand and soil.

Now once the soil roots are established, you can scoop out your newly rooted plant with the soil and transplant them into a bigger pot with some sterile potting soil. If you use garden soil, you will have to sterilize it first to get rid of the harmful pathogens, and this can quickly be done in over 20 minutes at 212 Fahrenheit.

When Should You Transfer Plants Submerged in Water to Soil?

plant water propagation

The best time to do this is during the active growing season in spring. Another excellent time is when the root tips appear out of the pores on the stem.

Adapting to a potting mix can take much longer if you have a new plant with established water roots. For example, a monstera can take up to two months before you can move them to the soil. The reason is that the roots do not develop fast compared to plants like basil or mint.

Still, with enough light, warmth, and humidity, the roots grow in two weeks after you place them in water. Your plant will have enough roots and new leaves in two months to move them to the soil. Pothos is another plant that propagates well in water, and it can even grow in water.

The roots take time to grow, about ten to 12 days, and by the 2nd month, you will have enough root development to start moving them to the soil.

How to Convert Soil Roots to Water?

You can only convert soil roots to water when they can handle low-oxygen environments like the African Violet, Monstera, Pothos, or Spiderwort.

Still, these plants are better to start in the water and leave them growing that way. It is very stressful for a plant to convert from soil to water. But if you want to give it a try, you can do the following:

Procedure to Convert Soil Roots to Water Roots

  1. Remove your plants from the potting mix.

  2. Remove any soil around the roots but be careful not to damage them as they will transition harder.

  3. Clean the root ball under water by rinsing it off. It should not be cold, and we recommend using tepid water.

  4. Choose a container the same size as the one before. It need not be transparent but can help you see the roots and if it is causing root rot.

  5. With sterilized shears, trim the leaves off and only leave one or two sets to help the plant focus its energy on developing water roots.

  6. Place the trimmed plants into the water at the same level as the previous container and leave it to stand in a warm area with bright indirect light.

  7. Leave the plants for a few days without disturbing them, allowing them to adjust to their new home.

  8. Change the water on the fourth day but be extra careful not to disturb the roots.

When is the best time to move plants from soil to water?

The recommended time to move plants to water to develop roots is spring’s growing season. At this time, the temperatures are warm, and your plant is actively growing. Thus it can handle stress better.

How long will it take for your plant to adapt to water?

As with converting from water to a potting medium, it can depend on the plant. One plant can develop roots quickly in the first week, while others are slower.

monstera water propagation

So, you can expect them to adapt to the new environment in two to four weeks. You need not have a green thumb 👍 to achieve this, and once you see new growth, the transplant is successful.

Final Thoughts

The best way to transplant water propagations to a potting medium is by adding a solid substrate like fine gravel or sand. These substrates do not absorb water or float.

Then decrease the water level by scooping small amounts of water out daily and evaporating the rest.

Converting soil roots to water is more complex. You need to prune your plant back and keep changing the water. The best time to do this is in spring to help lessen stress.

Still, not all plants can live in water, and your attempt will fail. Even if they can adapt to water roots, it is less traumatic for propagated cuttings than established plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, cuttings can form roots in about four weeks in water, while others take longer. When the roots are one to two inches long, you can pot them with a potting medium.

Replace the water every few days by topping the vessel with fresh water when it looks low. If you notice fungi growing, replace it with fresh water and clean the container.

Yes, as long as it is before they develop water roots and if they have gradually become used to a solid substrate in the water, as described in our article.

Yes, you can do soil and water propagations; thus, you can place a cutting directly into a potting medium to grow.

Most plants need the sun when growing; the same applies to growing cuttings in water. Please provide them with bright indirect light to grow.

If you plan to leave your plant in water, you will need to add a liquid feed occasionally to it, and your plant will grow slower than in a potting medium.

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