How To Convert Your Roots From Soil To Water

More and more people are starting to open up their eyes to the benefits of hydroponic plant growth. Many plants going through hydroponic growth will produce faster. They also require less water and space to thrive. On this page, we want to talk to you a little bit about how to convert soil roots to water roots.

How to Convert Your Roots From Soil to Water

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t actually convert roots from soil to water. This is because moving plants can shock and fill them. Most people find it far more beneficial to start growing cuttings inside of water. This way the roots will develop to the water right away. It is tough for a plant to adapt to a new environment, after all.

If you absolutely must convert your roots from soil to water, then this method will work. 

Remove Plant Gently From Soil

This is vital. If you damage the roots at any point, the plant is less likely to take to the water.

Wash The Roots And Plant

Again, be gentle here. Your aim is to remove as much of the soil as you possibly can from the roots. You do not want to leave anything behind otherwise the plant will struggle to convert to water.

Cut Leaves And Flowers From The Plant

You will only want to leave 2-3 leaves on the top of the plant. Any more than this and the roots may not take to the water quite so well. Don’t worry, once that root system has been established, everything should grow back.

Add Nutrients To Water

Add your selected nutrients to fresh water. It is vital that there are enough nutrients in the water for the plant’s roots to be able to get what it needs.

Add Plant To The Water

The last job is to add the plant to the water. That is it.

It is important that you do not disturb the water for the next few days. The more you disturb it, the less chance there is of the roots taking to the water.

How Do You Encourage the Roots to Grow in Water?

Before we talk about how to get roots growing in water, we do want to point out that not all of your cuttings will root. If they do, you are lucky. Try as you might, there is never going to be a way to 100% guarantee that cuttings will root. However, the following method should help.

We are going to assume that you have done your research here. This is because there are some plants that will root better in water than others. You will need to check whether your selected plant is a good candidate for it.

Cut The Cutting

Start by getting a cutting from the plant. The cutting should be about 6-inches long. If it is too long, then roots will not grow. 

Try and cut as close to the stem of the plant as possible. This is where roots are most likely to form. 

Remove Leaves And Flowers

In order to encourage a plant to root, you will have to ensure that there are as few leaves and flowers on the plant as possible. This is because the more flowers and leaves there are, the more resources the cutting will be pouring into growing them as opposed to developing roots.

Ideally, you should have 2-3 leafs on the top of the plant and no more. 

Add Nutrients To The Water

It is important that your water has some sort of nutrients in it designed for rooting. You can buy commercial mixes from most places that sell plants.

Your plant cutting will need these nutrients otherwise it will not root.

Add The Plant To The Water

Your last job is to add the plant to the water. Be careful when you do it. Now, just leave it in place.

Every few days, you should be changing out the water in the container. Make sure that you add more nutrients to it. Freshwater is fantastic for encouraging root growth. 

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How Long Does it Take for a Cutting to Root in Water?

It depends on the plant. However, on average, you can expect it to take anywhere from 2-weeks to 4-weeks for a cutting to root in water.

It is important that you keep an eye on the roots throughout the growing process. You will need to regularly top up the container with fresh water.

Remember, it is also important that the cuttings are not bunched too close together. This could hinder their growth. Not only could this potentially make the cuttings grow slower, but they may not end up growing at all.

Transplanting from Soil to DWC

As we mentioned before, you probably shouldn’t transport from soil to a DWC if you can help it. It is always better to try and grow a clone of a plant in the water i.e. a cutting. That way, it will be able to develop a root system designed for the water. You are always going to have a hard time getting a root system designed for soil to transplant over. 

Gently Remove The Plant From The Soil

If you want your plant to transplant easily, then it needs to have the minimum amount of damage caused to it. This means that you need to be incredibly gently when removing the plant. Ideally, you will give yourself quite a wide berth when digging around the plant. You will be washing off that soil anyway.

Clean The Plant And Root

As we mentioned at the start, you need to clean the plant and roots. There should be no soil left on them. If you do not wash them off, the transplant to a DWC is not going to work.

Try to ensure that the water is not too hot or too cold. If it is, then, once again, this is a process that isn’t going to work. It may kill the plant.

Spread The Roots Out

Again, be gentle here. The more you spread the roots out, the more they have an opportunity to grow. It allows them to easily reach the nutrients in the water.

Add The Plant To The Suspended Pot

Since this is a DWC, you will have a pot suspended in the water. Add the plant to that…gently. Allow the roots to go through the bottom of the pot into the water reservoir.

You will want to spread the roots out again once they are inside of the water reservoir.

Add Water To The Reservoir

If you haven’t done so by this point, add some water to the reservoir. Add enough to ensure that the plant is well supported i.e. isn’t tipping over.

Add Nutrients To The Reservoir

Now add those nutrients to the water. Use the amount it says on the product packaging to increase the chances of a successful transplant.

Beyond this, do not distrub the plant. Do not let light or heat hit the water (this will promote algae growth, which will kill the plants). Keep an eye on water temperatures and nutrient density too.

What is Hydroponic Transplant Shock & What to Do If It Happens to Your Plant

Plants are not designed to be moved. When a plant starts to grow in one location, it ‘expects’ to continue growing there for the rest of its life. This means that if you move it, it is going to suffer from a condition known as ‘transplant shock’.

Transplant shock essentially means that the roots of the plant will not be adapted to the environment. This means that they struggle to get the nutrients that they need from the surrounding environment. This means that the plant will either die or be incredibly weak for a while.

Now, every single plant is going to suffer from hydroponic transplant shock if you move the plant from soil to water. You can minimize the effect of hydroponic shock by ensuring that the root system doesn’t become damaged. However, at the end of the day, there is only so much that you can do to prevent it from happening. Your job, instead, becomes dealing with the problem when it does occur.

Dealing with Hydroponic Shock

To begin with, you will want to ensure that you cause the minimum amount of damage to the roots. This means that you shouldn’t be moving the plant once it is in the water.

Secondly, you will want to trim the plant. Get rid of any excess leaves at the top, or anything that looks like it is dying. This will ensure that the plant doesn’t have to divert resources to those leaves which, in turn, will mean that the plant has more resources that it can pour into repairing the roots.

Some people may also benefit from adding a small amount of sugar to the water. This is a known treatment when transplanting plants between soils. This means that it could potentially work with water too. However, do not add sugar to the water if you have fish in it. That would kill the fish. 


Learning how to convert soil roots to water roots isn’t that hard. However, do bear in mind that not all plants will happily live in the water after a while being in the soil. You can expect some to die. However, as long as you ensure that there is a decent nutrient balance in the water and you haven’t damaged the roots, most plants should easily convert to water roots. 


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