Growing Plants in Water

Some plants will thrive in water instead of soil and you have the added enjoyment of seeing the roots develop as your plant grows. This is a guide about growing plants in water.
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June 12, 2008 Flag
2 found this helpful

Who needs dirt? Not your houseplants, at least not all of them. Many can be cultivated using a technique called Hydroculture, where soil is replaced with water and a liquid fertilizer, and a clay aggregate is used to support the plant's roots. For people who travel a lot, or for those of us who tend to over or under water our houseplants, Hydroculture may be a good solution.
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How It Works

Hydroculture is another word for hydroponics, a method of growing plants in water containing dissolved nutrients. Many of the foods we eat are produced this way commercially, especially in areas where land for cultivating crops is limited. A simple, scaled-down version of this technique is an ideal way to grow many houseplants.

Plants are grown in containers filled with water and liquid fertilizer. The plants take in nutrients from a water solution through their "water" roots. After continuously being submerged in water, they have adapted by developing a greater capacity to store oxygen. Once the hydroculture system has been set up, a float in the reservoir indicates when it's time to add more solution.

The Advantages

No more guessing how much to feed and water. One of the fastest ways to kill a houseplant is by giving it too much or too little water. Or, not understanding how to properly use fertilizer. With hydroculture, feeding and watering requires little more than topping off water levels. In soil, certain nutrients can remain fixed in the soil as insoluble compounds. In hydroculture, nutrients are evenly available to the root system, so plants tend to be more vigorous.
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Reduces pests and disease. No soil means no more soil born pests, including those creepy little potting soil gnats. You can also say goodbye to mold spores and mildew-a boon for those who suffer from allergies.

Lower maintenance. Hydroculture is cleaner and easier to maintain. By eliminating dirt, you eliminate must odors and messy spills. You'll need to water less often, transplant less often, and worry less about leaving your plants unattended while on vacation.

Getting Started and Finding Supplies

As more people pickup on the trend, hydroculture supplies are becoming easier to find at local nurseries and garden centers. Suppliers can also be found on the Internet by using the search terms Hydroculture Kits or Interior Water Gardens. Here are some additional links:

Suppliers U.S.

Suppliers Canada

Supplier U.K.

A great site for setting up do-it-yourself systems with tips based on personal experience. Illustrated steps for transferring plants from soil to hydroculture:

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June 13, 20080 found this helpful

Wow! There is a word for what I've been doing these last couple of years. I had lung problems-went into hospital - was told to get rid of all houseplants due to my mold allergy! I had to get rid of all of my beautiful houseplants--everything from beautiful peace plants to aloe plants. After a few years I bought a couple of small twisted bamboo plants - was told to keep them in a little water. Then I realized I could also have other kinds of plants in water, so I have added a few plants. What is neat is that one of my neighbors took one of my houseplants that I had received when my husband died. Recently she gave me a clipping from it and it has joined my other "water plants". I don't fertilize any of them, but I do change the water approx. 1x a week.

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October 14, 2011 Flag
6 found this helpful

You don't need to have a green thumb to grow houseplants in water. Even if you've killed every houseplant growing in soil that you have ever had, your success is almost guaranteed when growing them in water.

Large leafed plant growing in a clear vase with a couple large bright red and orange rocks at the bottom

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April 13, 2012 Flag

I began growing plants in water when I was trying to root a plant cutting that I had. I loved being able to see the roots as they grew so I decided to leave the cutting in water instead of planting it. I found an old Erlenmeyer flask at Goodwill and transferred it to the flask. I also found a neat vase that I put my bamboo into. There is a lot of neat glassware at second hand stores that would be great for growing plants in!

By Laurel from Port Orchard, WA

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December 28, 2015 Flag
0 found this helpful

I need to know what steps to take when changing the water that my ivy roots live in? Can I just dump out the old water and put fresh water in the vase my ivy lives in without killing it.

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December 29, 20150 found this helpful

Yes, you can. It's best to use water that has been drawn for about 24 hours. That time gives the chlorine in the water a chance to dissipate.

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Anonymous Flag
May 25, 20160 found this helpful

My Ivy does best doing a dump of about 80% of the water and refilling it with bottled spring water

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June 24, 2010 Flag
1 found this helpful

Back in the mid 70s there was a company that offered their house plants through home parties. The plants were grown in some kind of lava looking pebbles and did not use soil at all. You watered with their plant food solution each time you watered. The plants grew beautifully! Does anyone know what happened to the company or know what type of pebbles and solutions were used?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Daisy from Franklinton, NC

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

I was a dealer in Iowa, I sold plants like crazy but the company I worked for went bankrupt. Hydroponics is what you are looking for, and yes it was lava rocks. However, weak miracle grow and a air pump from an old fish tank works great to grow soil-less plants.

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Anonymous Flag
February 6, 20160 found this helpful

was is called the Lawasa System?

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September 12, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you! My sister had some of those planters/rocks, here in NC, back in the 70's....& I have wanted to know how to get them, & you have just been a huge help to me. Thanks again! Susan

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December 31, 2004 Flag

I remember my mom growing sweet potato vines (as house plants) in a mason jar. How do you do it? I'd love to know. Can they remain in the water with some marbles in the bottom, or do they need to be planted? What type of light do they need? If I need to plant them, what do I keep the moisture level at for the soil?
I can't remember which end of the sweet potatoe to place in water to root it?

Thanks,
jenny from KY

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October 25, 20080 found this helpful

Can u eat them? I have them growing like crazy.

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November 6, 20080 found this helpful

I'm trying to grow an Okinawan sweet potato. I soaked the long part of the potato. That part started to rot. So I cut the rotted part off and turned it around.

So can anybody tell me if that is right or wrong? Anyone in Hawaii?

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November 23, 20080 found this helpful

You should put the pointed end of the potato into the water. Let about 1/3 of the potato stick out the top of the jar three or four toothpicks. Sunny warm window or on top of the fridge. Add water as needed. Should be good to go...er grow...very easy plant and pretty, too.

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December 30, 20080 found this helpful

I think success/failure depends a lot on how long the potato was in cold storage before you bought it. So try again, after you ask your friendly produce manager!

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Anonymous Flag
May 14, 20160 found this helpful

December 30, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

I would like to have a vase on my desk with a plant in water. Which plants will grow this way?

By RL from Basking Ridge, NJ

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December 30, 20110 found this helpful

Pothos will do well in water with good filtered light. Google the image, it's a common plant.

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December 31, 20110 found this helpful

Any of the philodendrons will root and grow in water, ivies will as well.

For some foliage colour (if you get a fair amount of sun at that spot) you can try some of the spiderworts, like 'wandering Jew' or 'Moses in the bulrushes'-use the word Tradescantia in your search engine to find images. These do have some flowering but I've never seen them flower whilst in water as the only growing medium.

Be advised most plants like these will develop brittle roots and eventually die; even water lilies want some soil to thrive and flower.

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December 31, 20110 found this helpful

Bamboo does well this way also. In Dallas where I live, attractively-potted bamboo plants with rocks and water are very easy to find at Home Depot, Lowe's, and even grocery stores.

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September 2, 2009 Flag
1 found this helpful

Can I grow indoor plants in water only? What do I do with indoor plants in water when the water begins to smell bad? Other than replacing all the water.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By marianjn from Provo, UT

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September 2, 20090 found this helpful

I have seen plants grow in these greatly expanding crystals.

http://www.watercrystals.com/

They also say:

" Water by itself is not a sufficiently nutritional diet. We recommend adding a few drops of liquid minerals to help provide nutrients to your plants in this new and any other growth media for your plants."

They sell this stuff (above) but I think that liquid "Miracle-Gro" would also work. You'd only need a drop every few weeks or once a month.

Here's apicture of their website:

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September 2, 20090 found this helpful

You can also add food coloring to the crystals:

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February 8, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

I'm doing a science fair project on how different liquids effect how plants grow. I'm growing radishes, pole bean and peas in orange juice, diet ginger ale, milk, water and diluted vinegar. I need some research on how each liquid can effect my plants. Can you help?

By Tally from Ontario, Canada

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February 8, 20100 found this helpful

Tally,

I typed a search into Google, and this is what came up. Remember to cite your sources!

http://www.google.com/search?q=scie ... &sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGIH_en

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February 9, 20100 found this helpful

I would call your county extension office, maybe they can help you, good luck.

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February 14, 20100 found this helpful

In our area, we have a County Extension Agent who is very knowledgeable about the soil, plants, and so on in our particular area.

The County Extension Office offers a multitude offers of help. They will mail leaflets and brochures to you. Our extension agent will test the soil for you. And advise what should be added to your soil for the particular plants you'd like to grow. They also have a "test" garden here, which shows the plants that grow well here. They offer workshops for pruning grapevines and fruit trees. There is just a multitude of things available thru this office. I imagine they would be very helpful to you and your Science projects.

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