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Did you know that houseplants don’t need soil?  They need a place to be, oxygen, water, nutrients, and sunlight.  The “place to be” is usually supplied by potting soil or a soil-less potting medium which anchors the plant in its pot, and which also serves to make water and nutrients available to the roots.   However, oxygen, water, and nutrients can be supplied to roots growing in water alone…no soil.
Many of us have taken a cutting from a plant, stuck it in a glass of water, set the glass in the window, and watched it slowly produce an ample root system.  For long-term growth and health, the water should be changed regularly, insuring adequate oxygen to the roots.  Nutrients are periodically added to the water in the form of a very dilute water-soluble fertilizer.  Do not over-fertilize or you will burn the roots.
Clear glass containers are best as they allow you to monitor the water level and check on any build-up of algae that would need to be cleaned off.  Choose a jar or glass that is heavy enough to balance the weight of new growth to avoid its tipping over.  When placing cuttings in water, remove any leaves so that only stems, with one or more nodes, are actually in the water.  The nodes are where the new roots will form.  The use of glass beads, lava rock or pebbles will help stabilize the plant by giving the roots something to grip.  This can also be a decorative addition to the planting.
You may remember the Betta fish/peace lily craze from a few years ago.  A plant, most commonly a peace lily, was held in place at the top of a glass container, and its roots and a Betta fish shared the water.  Many of the fish died under the misconception that the Betta lived by eating the roots of the plant and, therefore, did not need any fish food.  Lucky Bamboo is another popular plant often growing in water rather than in potting medium, but any plant can be grown this way.

You will still have to prune the plant for shape or fullness, and even occasionally prune the roots, removing excess or dead roots to encourage new growth.  People who suffer from soil-borne molds should take advantage of this simple growing method, as well as those who really struggle with knowing when to water.  Just add fresh water to keep the roots covered.

One caveat—cats and dogs may attempt to drink from the container, so careful placement is important.  Been there!
Posted: 10/29/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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