Understanding Hydroponics, How to grow plants in water


Growing plants in water is a cleaner and sterile alternative to soil. This technique consists of growing plants in water enriched with nutrients without soil, although they may be or not suspended in a solid substratum such as gravel, or expanded clay balls. So, if you don’t have enough space and you are ready to try new ways to grow your favorite plants, the hydroponic system is absolutely for you!
Firstly lets discover the differences, advantages and disadvantages of growing plants with soil and growing plants in a hydroponic system.

Differences between soil growing and water growing

Understanding Hydroponics, How to grow plants in water - plants bank
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Hydroponic growing

The latin word “hydroponic” comes from “hydro” which means water and “ponic” which means “work”, the whole word means work with water. The first discovery of soilless crops (in 1860) is attributed to two German researchers “Knop” and “Sachs” who managed to grow plants on liquid solutions of water with mineral salts.

1. How it works?

Usually plants take the nutrients they need to grow from soil, which is not an integral part of the plant’s feeding cycle, but simply a stabilizer for the roots. In hydroponics, plants do not depend on the soil for nutrients, instead, pH-controlled and nutrient-rich water provides the plants with what they need to grow by transporting nutrients directly to the plant’s roots, where they are quickly absorbed. Not absorbed water is recycled back into the system to be absorbed later.
For their growth in a hydroponic system, plants need:

  • Natural or artificial light
  • A stable ambient temperature
  • Humidity of the regulated air
  • Good roots oxygenation
  • A balanced nourishment consisting of water, mineral salts and oligo-elements.

2. What do you need to grow plants in water?

If you don’t have a green hand but you are looking for an aesthetic touch for your interior with less material and work, here are some step by step tips for installing a hydroponic decor.

  • Rinse lightly  the roots of your favorite plant to remove excess soil (it is very important that no trace of soil remains).
  • With scissors, cut the roots slightly to remove the ends
  • Put the plant in a glass vase to showcase the natural beauty of the roots
  • Fill the vase half full with water (preferably with mineral water)
  • Add to the irrigation water a special hydroculture fertilizer only when the new root system is formed, a few weeks to 2 months after the new cultivation.
  • Respect the indicated doses in relation to the volume of water used.
  • Remember to clean the vase from time to time.

Another way to create your hydroponic system is to use an inert substratum incapable of interacting with other substances  (Clay balls, perlite or vermiculite). For that you have to: 

  • Rinse the substratum with water
  • Put the first layer of the substratum at the bottom of a holey pot
  • Hold the plant on this layer and gradually add substratum to fix the plant
  • Put the pot containing the plant in a pot cover
  • Fill the pot cover with water at ambient temperature to about 1/3 of its height

3. Advantages of hydroponic growing

Understanding Hydroponics, How to grow plants in water - plants bank
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  • Hydroponic plants generally grow faster than those grown in soil, because the energy used by the roots to look for nutrients in the soil is saved in hydroponics and is better used for fruit and flower production
  • It is ideal for small living spaces and indoor gardening
  • It attracts fewer pests and diseases
  • It saves water and uses about 90% less water than traditional methods of soil growing
  • It requires little maintenance
  • Good oxygenation of the roots

4. Advantages of soil growing

  • Lower installation cost
  • Less use of fertilizer
  • No need to control the pH or the EC, because of the buffering effect of the soil

5. Disadvantages of hydroponic growing

  • High cost of installation and maintenance (especially for the commercial crops)
  • Non-waste control, especially with the use of certain non-biodegradable substrates
  • Obligation to control pH and EC
  • Use of fertilizers

6. Disadvantages of soil growing

  • Difficulty managing fertilizer and watering for a beginner
  • More exposure to pests and diseases
  • No choice of substrate

The most important thing to retain is that plant cultivation can be done in many different ways. So it’s up to you to choose your preferred method according to your material means and your skills.

Anthurium, aréquier, dracaena, aspidistra, dieffenbachia, ficus, kentia, kalanchoe, lierre, philodendron, phalaenopsis, schefflera, poinsettia, sansevieria, yucca

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