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Growing plants in water (hydroponics) has become more and more popular over recent years, and it is not a surprise as there are significant advantages to this method of propogation. Most obviously, growing hydro plants removes the guess work when it comes to watering - you will never have to worry about over or underwatering again! Hydro plants also tend to grow faster than those grown in soil due to the easy access of oxygen and nutrients found in the water. Another huge advantage of hydro plants is that by taking away the soil, you are also removing the pests and diseases that rely on the soil to survive. No more fungus gnats or root rot to deal with means healthier plants for you to enjoy!

  • But how does a 'hydro plant' actually work?

It may come as a surprise but plants don't actually need soil in order to survive. All they need is sunlight, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and nutrients. The nutrients, oxygen and water that would normally be absorbed by a plants roots when in soil, are now absorbed directly from the water the roots are living in. Regularly adding liquid fertiliser to the water will ensure that it is receiving the correct nutrients at the correct levels. 

  • What about root rot?

Root rot is mainly caused by prolonged exposure of roots to wet conditions in the presence of a harmful bacteria or fungus. These harmful microbes are not commonly found in water, hence root rot is extremely uncommon in hydro plants. It is true that roots need oxygen in order to respire and survive, which is why you may have read about the importance of aerating soil with houseplants. Hydro plant roots have adapted over time and are able to absorb the oxygen that is naturally dissolved in water. In fact, they can often absorb a lot more oxygen from the water than from soil.

However, the roots take time to adapt to their new hydro homes and some root death will always occur in the early stages.

The amount of root death is species-dependent - I will keep some species for months before sale as the plants take a long time to shed old roots and grow new roots that are better adapted to a hydro-life!

Hydro Plant Care

The care for hydro plants is  simple and there are just a few things you need to keep in mind in order to keep your plant healthy!

  •  The water needs to be changed roughly every fortnight. It is important to take care when you refill the vase as the water level should never cover the base of the plant as this will lead to rot - only the roots need to be submerged.

  • Each time you change the water, give the walls of the vase a quick wipe over with a cloth. Also be sure to give the roots of the plant a rinse under a cool running tap. Any roots that you notice feel soft or slimy, snip them off at the base of the root. If this happens, do not worry - It is normal for some roots to die over time!

  • Every second time you change the water, a few drops of liquid fertiliser needs to be added. The fertiliser is the only way the plant can get it's nutrients as it cannot absorb any from soil. Please note that for a few days after the application of fertiliser, the water will turn a bit murky - this should change back to clear again after 3-5 days.


  • If you are buying your own liquid fertiliser for your hydro plant, avoid anything that is seaweed based as this will darken the water and could make it smelly. I tend to use about a quarter of what is recommended on the bottle - this will likely be a couple of drops. Fertiliser burn is a common issue which can kill your plant if you give it too much fertiliser - if in doubt, less is more!

  • In terms of positioning your hydro plant, majority of species will like to be placed in a bright room with a large window, but away from direct sunlight, as this may scorch the leaves and encourage growth of algae in the water.

Following these guidelines should allow you to have a long and happy relationship with your hydro plant - some of mine are over two years old now and continue to thrive in their hydro homes :)

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