Calathea is a beautiful tropical plant that has captured the heart of many plant owners due to its patterned leaves. Since many houseplants can grow in water, you might be thinking if you can grow your Calathea in water too.
You can propagate a Calathea plant in water, but it will not grow in water as it is not meant to grow in water. Calathea will grow best when you grow it in the soil. Even if you propagate your Calathea in water, you must shift it into the soil after growing roots and some leaves.
Let’s discuss how you can propagate Calathea in water and the advantages and disadvantages of growing a Calathea in water.
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Can Calathea grow in water?
Yes, Calathea can grow in water, but it can’t live in water. In short, you can propagate a Calathea in water, but you must plant it in the soil after it grows some roots and leaves.
Since you can’t take cuttings from Calathea plants and propagate them in water, you can divide the plant and its root system and propagate them in water. This is an easy process that will fetch you great results.
However, if you think of letting your Calathea live in water after that, I suggest otherwise. Initially, your Calathea will do well in water, but eventually, it will not remain happy.
In the soil, Calathea gets sufficient nutrients from the soil and fertilizer. However, you can’t expect it to get the same nutrients when growing in water.
Can you propagate Calatheas in water?
You can propagate Calathea both in soil and water. Today we will discuss the water propagation method.
First, you need to know that you cannot propagate Calathea by taking a leaf or stem cuttings from it. You must divide the plant to propagate it.
You must always consider a mature Calathea plant for propagation. Since Calathea has a delicate root system, you should be careful while dividing the plant.
Let’s look at all the instruments you will need to propagate a Calathea in water.
A glass container: Since you will propagate your Calathea in water, you will need a glass container to see the progress of the roots.
Pruners: You might require sharp pruners to divide the roots if you cannot divide them with your hands.
Water: Always use good quality water for propagation; otherwise, you might not see results. Don’t use regular tap water that might have chlorine, fluorine, or bicarbonates.
Now let’s look at the steps of propagating a Calathea in water.
1. Get a mature and healthy Calathea plant.
When you divide a plant to propagate it, a young plant will not give you the correct results.
You only need a mature plant to divide the root system without causing any harm to the plant. Only a fully grown root system plant can lead to successful propagation in the division method.
The plant also needs to be healthy since an unhealthy plant will not allow healthy growth or successful propagation.
2. Divide the Calathea.
Take your Calathea plant out of its pot and examine the roots. Try to divide the root system into as many plants as you want to get out of the propagation.
Don’t be too harsh, as Calathea has a delicate root system that can get damaged easily. If you can’t divide the roots with your hand, you can use pruners or a knife to make clean cuts and divide the roots.
Don’t forget to sterilize the pruner or knife before and after use.
Every plant you divide should have enough roots and a strong stem with some leaves on it.
Also read: How To Propagate Calathea? (Best Time+Steps To Follow)
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3. Put the plants in water.
After dividing the Calathea, you must take the glass containers and fill them with water. Now, put the plants inside the containers.
You must ensure that all the roots are inside the water. The stem and the foliage should remain above the water.
4. Change the water.
You must change the water in the container while you wait for the roots to grow.
On average, you might need to change the water after two weeks, but it will depend on whether the water has become dirty or the water has been reduced due to evaporation.
You can keep the water longer without changing it if the water level doesn’t reduce much or become dirty. However, make sure that the roots have enough water for growth.
5. Fertilize the water.
If you want to help the roots grow fast, you must pour fertilizer into the water.
The water doesn’t contain as many nutrients as the soil. And whatever nutrients remain in the water get used up fast. So, adding fertilizer can boost the root growth of the Calathea.
You can opt for hydroponic fertilizers created for plants growing in water. Be careful while adding the fertilizer to the water as too much can damage the roots.
Make sure to go through the instructions not to overdose the Calathea.
Also read: Should I Fertilize Calathea? (How Often+Best Fertilizer)
How to take care of the Calathea in water?
If you want to keep growing your Calathea in water instead of shifting it to the soil, you might need to get larger containers when the plant and the roots outgrow the current ones.
You must change the water whenever you see it dirty or if the water evaporates from the container. You must also fertilize the water so that the plant gets enough nutrients and doesn’t become weak.
However, if you don’t find your Calathea happy, you must shift it to a pot with a nutrient-rich and well-draining potting mix.
If you want to grow plants in the water, you can opt for any plant that thrives in water.
Which plants can grow in water?
Take a look at this list of plants that grow well and remain happy in the water. You can grow any of these instead of growing Calathea in the water.
- Spider plant
- English Ivy
- Wax plant
What are the benefits of growing plants in water?
Many people consider growing their houseplants in water because of the ease and the benefits.
The root system remains visible.
You will see the root system when you grow plants in water and a glass or any transparent jar. You can see the growth, and you can also see if the roots are facing any problems.
It will help you address the issue faster and treat the plant before anything severe occurs.
No repotting is required.
When growing plants in the water, you don’t need to repot them. The plant and the roots might grow big, so you need to get bigger containers.
Instead of the tedious process of repotting the plant in the soil, you can just get a new container, add water to it and place the plant in it.
The plant will get more humidity.
A plant growing in water will get more humidity than a plant growing in soil. When the water evaporates, it adds moisture to the plant.
A plant growing in the soil will not be exposed to this humidity, so you must worry less about humidity when your Calathea grows in water.
Fewer chances of diseases.
Many diseases start from the soil, such as root rot or other fungal infections. You don’t need to bother about these when growing the plant in water.
Since there is no soil, many fungi, bacteria, or even pests will not be able to attack the plant.
What are the cons of growing plants in water?
Yes, there are many advantages of growing plants in water, but there are certain disadvantages also.
You will only see short-term growth.
Many plants, including Calathea, can grow in water, but their growth stops after a certain point. After you grow Calathea in the water, it will show significant growth of roots by absorbing the nutrients available in the water.
But once all the nutrients get used up, you will stop seeing much growth, or the plant might even seem unhappy. The best thing to do is repot the plant in soil.
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Change the water frequently.
You might need to change the water frequently depending on your area’s climate. If the water evaporates fast, it will reduce soon from the container, and you will need to add more water in such a case.
In many places, the water also tends to collect a lot of dirt, which can even cause different diseases to the plant.
Changing the water so often can become a tedious process, and you might not enjoy it after some time.
After the initial root and foliage growth, the plant’s growth will slow down. This is because water will not help the plant grow as much as soil.
So, you will notice slow growth after a point while growing your plant in water.
Also read: Why Has My Calathea Stopped Growing? (Possible Problem+Solution)
Growing plants in water are becoming more popular in the houseplant community. I understand that it is much easier than having plants grow in the soil, but some plants are not suited to live in water, such as Calathea.
You can grow Calathea in water by propagating it, but I don’t recommend letting it live in water. Calathea will flourish and remain happy in the soil. If you still want to try, you can let Calathea remain in the water, but once you notice any problem, you can shift the plant to a pot with soil.
If you want to grow plants in water, opt for other plants that can remain happy. You can get a pothos or a philodendron and let it grow and live in water. I have also mentioned a few other plants in the article that will not live in the water.
Source: NCBI, University of Florida, Wikipedia, Growing Indoor Plants with Success, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, University of California, Missouri Botanical Garden.
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