25 Herbs, Vegetables & Plants You Can Grow In Water

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25 Herbs, Vegetables & Plants You Can Grow In Water

In Part I of this article, we revealed how you can grow 10 delicious herbs in nothing but water. In Part II we move onto houseplants and vegetables you can grow at home without soil.

9 Best Houseplants To Grow In Water

Not just herbs, but other houseplants do equally well in water. Just perfect for you if you regularly kill houseplants by over watering them or forgetting to water altogether. You don’t need to make any special arrangements when you go off for a few days.

Pothos – This plant is commonly grown in water. Take tip cuttings of any length and put the cut end into some water making sure that 2-3 nodes are submerged in water.

Arrowhead –  This plant is similar to pothos. Tip cuttings can be potted up with a few nodes below the water level.

Philodendrons – Dainty heart-leaved philodendrons, as well as the large, split-leaved types do equally well in water. Take 6-8 inch cuttings of growing tips and put in a container that can support its weight. You may need to place a piece of rock in the container to prevent accidental tipping.  

Peace lily – You can pot up divisions or use an entire plant growing in a pot. Just wash off all the soil from the roots and put it in a bowl of water.

Aluminum plant – Cuttings of this beautiful plant with silver markings do very well in water.

Dracena – The plant commonly grown in water as Chinese lucky bamboo incidentally is no bamboo, but a variety of dracaena (Dracaena braunii). Others like corn plant (D. fragrans), Song of India (D. reflexa) are good choices. Sections of the cane can be rooted and grown in water, but support is essential for these top heavy plants.

Dieffenbachia (Dumb cane) – Cut top growth and pot up in water after the cut end becomes dry. Care must be taken while handling this plant; its sap is so caustic, it can burn your skin.

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) – Take cuttings or clean whole plants growing in pots and put them in large containers of water.

Chlorophytum (Spider plant, Airplane plant) – Put large plantlets or entire plants cleaned of all soil particles in goldfish bowls full of water. Water culture is best for hanging plants because you don’t need to water them often.

6 Best Vegetables To Grow In Water

Watercress, water chestnut, wasabi, and lotus are some of the food plants that naturally grow in water. But many terrestrial vegetables can adapt to growing in water. Some, like leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, do extremely well. They seem to be happier than their counterparts growing in the ground because they get a continuous supply of water and are not bothered by soil pathogens.

Lettuce – This is the most favorite vegetable of hydroponic farmers. The easiest way to grow them hydroponically is to start the seeds in netted cups. When they are bigger, insert them into the beds containing growing medium.

Spinach – This leafy vegetable is grown the same way as lettuce.

Tomatoes – Tomato seeds started in individual cups are inserted into the growing medium. High yields are typical of hydroponically cultivated tomatoes.

Peppers – Their cultural requirements are similar to tomatoes.

Cucumbers – Bush type cucumbers are preferred for hydroponics; the climbing type would need extra support.

Celery – Being able to grow celery without soil is a bonus; it means no dirt deposited in the leaf bases. It makes cleaning the vegetable very easy.  

How To Feed Water-Grown Plants

Plants growing in plain water will soon exhaust what little mineral nutrients the water may contain. Since they don’t have access to the nutrients naturally occurring in soil, they need supplemental nutrition to do well. Regular fertilizers diluted in water or proprietary formulations designed for hydroponics can be used at regular intervals.

When you use fertilizers to feed water grown plants, they leave some residues that may accumulate in the water and on the roots, causing root burn. Change the water at regular intervals and flush the plants and the containers occasionally.

Hydroponics – Growing Plants in Water and Inert Media

Soil has some functions other than providing minerals required for plant growth,. It supports the plants and provides a medium for anchoring the roots. When plants are grown without soil, the lack of proper support can be a limiting factor. Soil acts as a reservoir of water and fertilizers added to it, and then releases both in a controlled manner.  

Inert natural media like sand, gravel, perlite, vermiculite coconut fiber, and coconut chips are sometimes added to water containers to serve as support. Some products like lightweight expanded clay and rock wool are specially manufactured for this purpose.

Plants grown in a hydroponic medium seem to appreciate the physical support they get. Special nutrient formulations are mixed with water to provide continuous nourishment to the plants. That’s why hydroponic systems typically give very high yield.  

Types of Hydroponic Systems

Wick system – The plants grow in tubs filled with an absorbent medium like coco-peat that can wick up nutrient-rich water from a bottom reservoir. It is somewhat like growing plants in soil, except that the nutrients come from the water, not the medium.

Deep Water Culture – It is almost same as the simple system described for growing plants directly in containers of water. The roots remain suspended in water, but the plants are actually growing in another container partially immersed in the main water container. Sometimes Styrofoam sheets with holes are used for suspending the plants.

The water in the main container is agitated or aerated with an aquarium pump. This extra aeration to the root zone helps reduce disease and keeps the roots healthy and strong. The main drawback is that power is required to run the system.  

Instead of allowing the roots to remain submerged in water all the time, different types of arrangements for intermittent exposure have been developed. This allows more air-circulation around the roots, helping reduce root zone diseases.  

Falling water – Nutrient solution is supplied to the beds from overhead sprinklers. It percolates down by gravity and gets recirculated. The root zone gets good air circulation, but the system involves pumping water for recirculation.

Flood and drain – The plants growing in the bed of inert medium are watered by intermittent flooding of the beds with the nutrient solution. The bed is them allowed to drain, exposing the roots to air.

Aeroponics

This is an improvement on hydroponics where growing medium is done away with. Plants are grown in holes cut into large pipes so that their roots remain inside the pipe. Nutrient solution is sprayed on to this root zone.   

Aquaponics

This is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture in which fish and other aquatic life are grown. It does away with the proprietary nutrient solutions used in hydroponics, replacing it with the nutrient-rich water discarded from aquaculture tanks.

The system uses an inert medium that gets colonized by microorganisms capable of breaking down aquaculture waste products. The water thus cleaned and filtered by the hydroponic bed gets recirculated into the aquaculture tanks.

A simple replication of aquaponics would be growing herbs, watercress or microgreens on Styrofoam sheets floating in an aquarium tank with their roots absorbing the nutrients generated from fish waste.

It is truly amazing the number of plants that can be grown without soil.  If you are ready for a change from conventional gardening why not try your green thumb at water gardening?

 
Pick up a copy here and discover how to grow the healthiest veggies and fruits, the biggest flowers and tackle even the most frustrating garden dilemmas using all-natural and organic methods.

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