Houseplants forum: Growing plants in water (rather than soil)

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Jan 7, 2017 1:56 PM CST
I'm very new to maintaining indoor plants and recently had some issues with root rot. Found articles suggesting you could keep plants in a vase of water instead of a pot of soil and never have to worry about root rot. So I've been experimenting the past couple of weeks with Peace Lily, Snake Plant, and Chinese Evergreen. These are new plants from the store, not subject to the root rot from before (not the same plants and never in the same containers).

I've noticed a couple of things so far. The base/stem of some of the plants seem to be taking in too much water. It looks like some parts are getting bloated and will eventually rot. Is any part of the base/stem supposed to be submerged in water, or only the roots? In particular the Chinese Evergreen bases look to be turning orange-ish.

Some of the roots have darkened in color and gotten mushy - looks a lot like the root rot I had before. The plants are from the local home improvement super store. They weren't perfectly healthy when I got them but decent and not on the brink of dying (to my amateur eyes).

I have tried a mix of water straight from tap, and some filtered in a Brita. I also added some natural stones/pebbles to the Peace Lily to hold the roots/plant in place. There is a very slight touch of organic liquid plant food added to the water giving it just a hint of brown color. Some of the Peace Lily leaves are starting to droop down.

Anyone have tips/suggestions? I'm starting to get concerned because the health of each plant appears to be declining quickly.

[Last edited by greenpride32 - Jan 7, 2017 1:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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Jan 7, 2017 11:12 PM CST
So to keep your plants from rotting in too much water, you are going to grow them in only water? Interesting. Roots need to breath air. That's why most house plants die when you over water them - no air to the roots. Yes, there are plants that will grow in water but not your average house plant. Gene
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Jan 7, 2017 11:56 PM CST
I use water gel beads, for my pothos and Dracaena sanderiana. The gel beads get bloated with water, and it allows air flow around the roots. Roots gets their water too as needed. I just add more water when gel beads size goes smaller.

Snake plant is more succulent in nature, not sure if it will thrive in the set-up, but you can try, but make sure you make the gel beads bloated in water already and add some clay rocks too, so there is really a lot of air at root zone, before you put your snake plant. I have not tried it, I do know in a tropical environment with temps at good warm conditions of 70F to 80F, planted in soil, whether in container or direct to ground snake plant will thrive very well in very moist conditions. However, grown here in our winter influenced areas, it will really hate being in a wet set-up, got to keep media on the dry side.

Same with Peace Lily, I have not tried it in water gel beads, I just grow mine in moist soil in a container with indirect lighting.

Jan 8, 2017 6:46 PM CST
You could add an aerator.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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Jan 9, 2017 6:41 AM CST
I have a spider plant baby, some cuttings of tricolor wandering jew and pothos in water doing great. Maybe they won't have the same long term as a potted plant but can be done to some extent with some plants.
I like a container that allows a large surface area for the water, so you can have good gas exchange. A vase with a narrow neck to hold the stems, then a fatter body which you fill about to the fat part.
The spider for example has made a thick set of roots and the water can goe down pretty far and it doesn't wilt. Maybe the roots above water level help this grow.
Be very cautious with fertilizer.
Dump the brown water and refresh from Brita or rainwater; tap water may have chemicals.
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Jan 9, 2017 11:31 AM CST
I have a 10 year old philodendron in water, always done fine but i do have to change the water at times. It used to be in my betta's tank, where it did amazingly. The fish ate the green stuff growing on the roots and then fertilized the water for the plant. He went on to the big fish bowl in the sky so I left the phil in the tank.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Jan 9, 2017 11:54 AM CST
Another way I do it with one of my spider plants indoors, I have a container bottom is closed, but have two side holes about an inch or two from the bottom edge. This acts as spill point. Then I put clay rocks as my media. When I fill the container with water, I cover the holes with my fingers so it saturates everything, then release the water through the spill point, leaving a reservoir below the spill holes. That way the roots can still enjoy water trapped in the clay rocks and at the same time get lots of air at root level. Roots would seek the water at the reservoir section later on.

Spider plants are quite drought tolerant, so even if I forget to water a bit, I just refill, repeat process.
[Last edited by tarev - Jan 9, 2017 11:56 AM (+)]
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Name: Ed
Central ,NJ (Zone 6b)
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Jan 9, 2017 2:45 PM CST
I have some English ivy that I rooted in water.
As its still in water I was thinking of also trying the water only to see what happens. Right now its just in a old glass and seems to be doing well as new leaves are starting to sprout.
Plants are like that little ray of sunshine on a rainy day.

Jan 10, 2017 6:03 PM CST
I grow a variety of plants rooted in aquariums with leaves growing out.

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