Hydroculture: A New Twist to Indoor Gardening

Fall will soon be approaching. For most of us, who lives in an area that actually have winter months this means freezing temperatures and snow, this also means outside gardening time is about over for us, this year. But don’t despair. If you still have the gardening bug, you could try your luck at some indoor gardening.

One great example at a different approach to indoor gardening is hydroculture. Hydro what? Actually, the term hydroculture just means growing plants without soil. Yes, anyone can do it. It isn’t just for scientists, although scientists do grow plants this way. But when they do it they are more precise and they measure every type of nutrient the plant needs. The amateur home gardener can do it in a much more basic way. The plus side to planting plants this way is that they do not need as much attention as they do when planted in soil.

You can go to a nursery and buy a plant planted in a pot all ready growing this way. Usually, the plant is growing in clay granules. But if you do it this way you are taking the fun out of planting the plant yourself. If you still have the gardening itch, you want to touch the roots of the plant and you want to get a little dirty, right?

Here are the things you will need to start your hydroculture plant:

A young plant
A mesh plastic pot, with slatted or mesh sides (that looks like a basket)
A larger pot that can hold the mesh pot and that can contain water
Clay granules
A water indicator
Special Hyrdroculture fertilizer
Tap water

Here are the easy steps in making your on hydroculture plant:

1. Choose a young plant and remove it from its soil tray. Wash all of the soil completely from it. Then find a mesh plastic type container (one that looks like a basket with slatted sides or mesh sides around it.). Now place the plant in the container.

2. Pack clay granules around the roots of the plant. Be careful not to damage the roots.

3. Find a larger watertight container. Place about 1/2 inch of clay granules to the bottom of the container. Insert the mesh container into a larger watertight container.

4. Insert the water level tube inside the first container (the mesh container that is containing the plant).

5. Secure the inner pot and the water indicator with more clay granules, so that the inner pot can not be seen.

6. Sprinkle special hydroculture fertilizer over the clay granules.

7. Wash the fertilizer down into the granules as you water the plant up to the maximum level on the water indicator. Water again whenever the water indicator shows that the plant is dry. Always fill with plain tap water.

The ranges of plants that are suitable for hydroculture are wide. You can use cacti, succulents and even orchids. Here is a list of a few others that do well: amaryllis, anthurium, asparagus, begaonia manicata, cissus, clivia, codiaeum, dizygotheca, ficus, hibiscus, hoya, philodendron, streptocarpus, vriesea, and yucca.

Always wait until the water indicator shows that the plant needs watering. Then wait a few more days before filling again. Don’t keep topping the water to keep the indicator showing the maximum level. It is important that air is allowed to penetrate to the lower levels of the plant.

Always use tap water. The special ion-exchange fertilizer depends on the chemicals in tap water to function properly.

Also make sure the water is room temperature, not cold. There is no soil to protect it. If you use cold water the water will chill the plant and this is the number one reason why hydroculture plants fail.

Replace the fertilizer ever six months. You can just sprinkle it on the top of the plant and water it like you did in the beginning. The watering will wash the fertilizer down to the roots of the plant.

In time, your plant will need to be repotted. It may take a bit longer because the roots usually grow smaller when planting this way because they do not have to search for water. You can usually tell when the plant needs repotted because the leaves of the plant will look out of proportion with the pot. When repotting the plant, be careful not to damage the roots. You may have to cut the inner pot away from the plant, depending on how the roots grew. You can tell this after you remove it from the larger container.

Good luck and enjoy your indoor gardening.

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