Hydro plants: A simple guide to growing in water

I’m not sure if hydro plants are also trending elsewhere in the world, but they certainly are here in Australia. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that people are getting into hydro: The houseplant hobby has expanded exponentially since the pandemic hit, but as people are increasingly returning to their normal lives, many may find themselves looking for a way to make watering less burdensome since they’re spending less time with their plants.

For those who don’t already know, growing in hydro means growing plants in water, and likewise, hydro plants refer to plants grown in water. In this post, I’ll be outlining everything you need to know to grow in hydro.

What plants can grow in hydro?

Generally, plants that can root in water can also grow in water long term provided you give them adequate nutrients to keep growing. Of course, this is easier to do with some plants than others. Here is a non-exhaustive list of plants best suited to growing in water.

Pothos

Scindapsus

Peace Lily

Dracaena

Vining Philodendrons

Monstera (deliciosa, adansonii, siltepecana, standleyana)

Syngonium

Spider plant

Ivy

Ficus (elastica, audrey, lyrata)

Coleus

Lavender

How to care for hydro plants

  1. Prepare your water in advance: if you plan on using tap water, leave it out for 24 hours so that the chlorine in the water dissipates before you put the plant in it. You can skip this step if you plan on starting out with reverse osmosis water, bottled water, or distilled water.
  2. Put the plant in water: You can put a cutting directly into water and continue to grow the cutting in water. If you plan on transplanting an entire plant from soil to water, this could be somewhat tricky because the roots may not be able to adapt to water. As such, you should expect a fair amount of root loss after the initial transplant if you plan on making the switch from soil to hydro.
  3. Change the water: In the interests of your plants’ health, the water should be changed every week or every fortnight.
  4. Fertilise: you can mostly leave your hydro plants be, but you should fertilise them every once in a while. I tend to do this once a month by adding a water soluble fertiliser to the water. Adding the fertiliser at half strength is a fairly good start, since adding too much too soon may shock plants. Slowly work your way up to full strength to ensure that your plant gets the nutrients it needs without shocking it. Also, do not fertilise cuttings until they have an established root system. Where fertiliser is concerned, I prefer a weaker fertiliser, like Manutec Orchid Food Water Soluble Fertiliser, or an organic fertiliser like Seasol Complete Garden Care Solution. I’ve used both with great results. I will, however, say that the Seasol solution has been safer for juvenile plants with delicate roots in my experience.

Pros and cons of growing in hydro

Pros:

  • Improved pest resistance
  • No more messy soil/moss
  • Impossible to overwater or underwater
  • Roots easily visible in the interests of assessing plant health at a glance
  • Low maintenance
  • Effortless way to show off beautiful vases

Cons:

  • Plants grow significantly more slowly
  • Greater water consumption (depending on how often water is replaced)
  • Limited options for fertilisers
  • Possible algae build-up in clear vases

I hope this helps anyone who is just starting to look into hydro plants and growing in water with their plant care. As always, any questions can be directed to me in the comments or via the contact tab.

Published by plantboye

Tech illiterate and pretending to be proud of it.

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