You know what they say about water – it’s the key to life. This clear liquid covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and it’s something we can’t live without. That goes for plants, too. Sure, there are plants, such as cacti and air plants, that can go for extremely long periods without water – but even they need a soak every now and then, otherwise they perish!
So, given that plants can’t live without water, can they grow in water without soil? The answer is yes. Any plant can be grown hydroponically – that’s horticulture speak for plants grown in water and fed not by soil, but by mineral nutrient salts dissolved in the water. In fact, some crops do extremely well when grown hydroponically, such as lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. But while all plants can grow in water, not all plants will thrive (but that’s a different article altogether).
Want to find out how you can grow plants in water? Read on.
What do you need to grow plants in water?
You don’t need to spend money on a fancy hydroponics set-up in order to grow plants in water! However, you do need something to help you create a controlled growing environment. Luckily, there are low-cost products that facilitate this, so that you can just focus on gleefully growing your greenery.
LAVA-LITE Hydro-Gro+ is one such product. It’s a hydroponic growing medium with a composition that encourages root distribution and strength to help your plants thrive in their new environment. 100% natural, it contains volcanic stone which is porous, thus supporting beneficial bacteria and microbe colonisation – none of those nasty soil-borne diseases here!
You can also use filtered or rain water, and add a liquid fertiliser every few weeks depending on the demands of the plant. If you’re propagating in water, you don’t need to use fertiliser until the plant’s roots are established.
Once you’ve got your growing medium, all you need is a container (a clear container allows you to inspect the growing medium, water and roots of the plant easily) and some water.
What are the benefits of growing plants in water?
While growing plants in soil is the ‘traditional’ method of growth that is familiar to almost every plant owner, growing plants in water could be a better alternative for some people! Here’s why:
- Fewer diseases – soil-borne diseases can easily kill a plant. These include diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes (roundworms). When it comes to hydroponics, as long as you keep a stable growing environment, your plants will thrive.
- Fewer pets – if you’ve ever had a fungus gnat infestation, you’ll be very glad to know that this doesn’t happen with plants grown in water, as gnats prefer to lay their eggs in soil.
- Lower water usage – although your plants are growing in water, you’re likely to use less water over time than you would when growing the plants in soil!
- Easy propagation – propagation via water is very easy for many different species of plants, which means more plants for you (for FREE)!
- Attractive – plants grown in water can look beautiful, and can even be a creative focal point in a room when grown in a pretty container. Why buy art when you can grow plants?
How to grow plants in water
I used LAVA-LITE’s Hydro-Gro+ recently to grow two plants, and they’re very much living their best lives! Want to know how? Visit my Instagram page for a tutorial.
Have you grown plants in water before? What did you grow?
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.