coleus electric lime

My new favorite coleus this year is called Electric Lime. I just can’t have enough of it! That’s where this method comes in handy… I can root the plant in a week, pot it up, boost it with some fish and cottonseed meal, and have a big, bouffy plant in about three weeks. Not too shabby!

Want to make babies? No, this isn’t a proposition: this is an invitation to propagate plants using nothing fancier than a knife and a jar of water. Oh, and a plant, of course!

There are rafts of interesting plants – annuals, perennials and shrubs – that are exceptionally easy to root in water. Simply cut off a piece of the mother plant just below a leaf node, snip off those lower leaves, and stick the cutting in water.

It’s incredibly gratifying, fun and – best of all – a totally free way to make more plants for your garden. Got kids around? They’ll love it.

Here are some of my favorite, fool-proof plants that can be propagated in jars of water:

  • — Mint-family plants including mint (a hardy perennial), coleus (tender), Plectranthus (tender), and basil (tender).
  • — Fuchsia (tender or hardy perennial shrub, depending on variety)
  • — Cape fuchsia (Phygelius) (hardy perennial shrub)
  • — Willow (Salix) (hardy perennial shrub or tree)
  • — Impatiens (tender)
  • Tradescantia (tender trailing plant)
  • — Ivy and zonal geranium (Pelargonium) (half-hardy to tender)
  • — Pothos (tender houseplant)
  • — Peperomia (tender houseplant)


  • Place a jar of water in a warm, bright location, preferably near a sink (to remind you to top up the water regularly).
  • Use a clean, sharp blade to cut healthy cuttings about 4-6" in length, directly below a leaf node. Choose stems with a short distance between leaf nodes and remove the lower pair of leaves.
  • Keep the first node or two at the base submerged in water.
  • Rooting can begin within a week or in several weeks. Plant as soon as roots are an inch or so long – longer roots grown in water can have trouble rooting in soil.