I bought some celery and placed the small remaining stalk in a glass of water. It's been growing pretty decently but still has no roots. Still mostly green maybe a tiny bit a yellow on a couple leaves.

I was thinking of waiting until I saw the stalk begin to root as an indication that the plant was beginning to look for something else.

When should I put it in soil? Do I need to put it in soil?

  • What do you mean it's growing? Is it putting out new leaves? Or is it just not dying quickly? Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 4:08
  • It's putting out new leaves/stem growth.
    – Enigma
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 4:14
  • I'd it's growing like that if keep it in a nutrient solution such as fish water until it roots. Without roots it will die planted into soil. Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


It depends. I'm currently grown some philodendron vines in water for propagation purposes. They will stay in water for a long time with no ill effect. However, I believe that all the plants growing is coming from it's own energy stores. Eventually those will run out.

You'll need to replace those. Whether that's in dirt or water is up to you. I'm sure you can keep it in the water, since that would be aquaponics, but you'd definitely have to add nutrients to the water and make sure they stayed balance. Also, with aquaponics, you often have to put an air bubbler in the bottom so that oxygen is getting to the roots. If not, it's like taking a potted plant with no drain holes and filling it up with water. The roots will rot.

So the answer is no, you don't have to take it out of the water, but the effort and money it might take to set it up for long term sustainability might not be worth it when you can pop it into a pot with some soil.

However, celery is cheap. I suggest you buy a bundle of it and pop a cut off stalk in multiple jars of water. Set them up differently. Maybe three in straight water, three in water that has miracle grow fertilizer mixed in, and three that you pop into different types of media you keep wet. It could be sphagnum moss and perlite, miracle grow, and clay hydro balls. Just set up an experiment with different variables to test. Take notes and take pictures. I'd be interested to see what you come up with. Also, light intensity would be something cool to play with. You could have one from each group by a window sill, by natural light, but with a lamp nearby, and just with a 6500k daylight bulb in a lamp. Good luck, I hope this answered your question.

  • I was thinking of waiting until I saw the stalk begin to root. So far it has not. Do you think this is a good indication? Roots technically aren't necessary if everything it needs is right up under the plant but if for instance it needs some nutrients I would think it would start "searching" with root growth, ya?
    – Enigma
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 21:36
  • I would definitely wait for roots before potting it up, unless you're starting a cutting in media. I believe that celery just naturally absorbs liquid through the cut. I seem to remember some kids experiment where you'd put food coloring in the water and it would suck it up, affecting the color. However, plants have roots for a reason. They're efficient at taking up water and nutrients and help keep disease out. I figure the celery is currently just using it's stored energy and the water is keeping it from dehydrating, but I don't know if it's taking up nutrients. I think you're doing good.
    – Dalton
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 13:30
  • It's a rather delicate balancing act. While the plant is "growing" in water alone, it is using up its internal resources of nutrients stored in the sap, etc. It doesn't need to grow roots, and growing roots would simply be wasting its energy resources. However when its internal nutrients begin to run out, it will start growing roots, and may even try to flower, to preserve its own existence, or at least set seed to produce a new generation. But that means that when the plant has started to produce roots, it won't survive long unless those roots find some nutrient-rich soil to grow in.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 8:13

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