Transplanting Water Roots To Soil (Method, Tips and Tricks)


Whether you’re moving a hydroponically grown plant into soil, or transplanting a cutting, special care should be taken to successfully transplant water roots into soil. In this article, I will share the proper method, as well as some tips and tricks for transplanting water roots into soil.

The differences between water roots and soil roots

Water roots are roots from a plant or cutting that has grown entirely in water, whereas soil roots have grown in only soil. The picture below demonstrates the difference.

Water roots versus soil roots
  • Water roots are much thinner, more fragile, and “hairier” than soil roots. Soil roots are sturdier as they have to search the soil for nutrients, while water roots absorb the nutrients in the water around them. They don’t have to work as hard as soil roots.
  • Water roots extract oxygen from water, whereas soil roots extract oxygen from air pockets in the soil. There is a higher concentration of oxygen in the water, making it a lot easier for the plant to absorb. Soil roots are also competing with other microorganisms in the soil itself.
  • Water roots have a waxy coating that helps prevent the loss of oxygen while also protecting them from pathogens (suberin).

Why bother transplanting water roots?

If you have a plant that has rooted hydroponically, why would you want to transplant it into soil? The answer depends on your personal preference and plans for the plant.

You can certainly keep the plant growing hydroponically, but that requires a different level of care than a plant living in soil.

Water roots ready to transplant

Personally, I like to root cuttings in water so I can monitor the progress of the propagation. As soon as I see roots beginning to form, the plant can be transplanted into soil. You can also propagate plants in perlite or sphagnum moss to make the transition to soil a bit easier.

After growing in water, it’s a bit of a shock to change the environment completely. Unfortunately, it is possible for some plants to struggle with this transition process. The plant will have to grow new, stronger soil roots in order to survive in its new medium.

Tip: When taking cuttings from a plant, it’s always best to take multiple cuttings to ensure at least one of them is successful.

Tips for transplanting water roots to soil

When transplanting your water roots into soil, you’ll want to provide the plant with similar conditions it had in water (Plenty of water and oxygen).

Transplanting tomato
  • Always make sure you keep the soil consistently moist. You don’t want to drown the plant, but you want to be sure the soil doesn’t dry out either.
  • Transfer the water roots into a very airy potting mix that has a lot of oxygen. You don’t want to suffocate the fragile water roots with a heavy waterlogged potting mix. Add some perlite to your potting mix so there are plenty of air pockets for the roots to absorb oxygen from.
  • After transplanting, avoid fertilizing the plant right away. A light feeding of slow-release earthworm castings or similar, or the existing fertilizer in a quality potting soil will suffice until the plant becomes more established.
  • Transplant in the spring, or when active growth is happening with the plant.

After a few weeks, or sometimes months, you should start to see new leafy growth forming on your plants. This is a sign that soil roots have formed below the surface, and that the transition was a success!

I have transplanted houseplants, vegetables, and even herbs using this simple method. You can also try starting plants in a hydroponic system like an Aerogarden, later moving them into soil. I hope this guide helps to simplify the transplanting process from water to soil.

– Crystalyn

Always looking for new ways to get creative in the garden, Crystalyn enjoys getting her hands dirty with vegetables, flowers, and tropical plants. In the off-season, you’ll find her moving the hobby indoors with her vast houseplant collection.

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