All Things Gardening forum: Water gels (hydrocrystals)

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 9, 2017 1:21 AM CST
I just want to share this link which talks about using those water gels AKA hydrocrystals AKA moisture beads in potted plants:

http://www.pennlive.com/garden...

I don't endorse (or refute) this article's viewpoints because I've never used them. I'm currently debating whether I should try them next season.
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Feb 9, 2017 7:01 AM CST
Having tried them a few years ago, I will come down on the side of very little assistance in keeping the soil hydrated. I thought it may be due to this climate but I'd not waste any more money on this product.

For use in potted plants, I believe I'd rather water individual plants so I can inspect each plants for any issues they might have. Just my opinion though.
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Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
hostasmore
Feb 9, 2017 8:32 AM CST
I have not used them. Thank you for that informative link! I don't think I will try them.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 11:10 AM CST
I use water gel beads, only for some indoor plants, but no soil with it and planted in a vase with no drainage holes. The beads once plump allows air and just enough moisture at root zone . I don't apply fertilizer when I am using this. So far it works for my Pothos and Dracaena sanderiana. I also sometimes add clay rocks with it.

But I don't add it to container plants outside. I might forget and accidentally spill those shrunken gel beads, and may cause trouble when it clogs water drains, or make my media too soggy when our rainy weather comes around in winter.

I have seen some hydrocrystals that are like crushed jello. The ones I used becomes plump round gel beads. Nice to see through glass, since it comes in different colors, and no fungus gnats to pester me with. I would inflate those tiny beads first by soaking in water, then I transfer to vase container with my plant. At least no worry for me forgetting to water them, and visually seeing them, if it gets shrunken, time to add some more water to inflate it again.

But of course there is no comparison for plants actually planted in soil with good drain holes. Plants thrive faster. In my gel bead set-up it makes them rather slow growing, and I like that, I don't like having an uncontrolled vine growing crazy indoors here. Plus I like seeing how the roots form and grow longer.

These gel beads, I think, are not for the regular plants that really need soil and good fertilizer application. Only for plants that easily survive with moisture at root zone, and little to no fertilizers. Plus my area is really much drier, very low humidity after winter to mid Fall, so it really helps the plants with its moisture needs.

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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 9, 2017 11:29 AM CST
@tarev ?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 11:30 AM CST
Hi Greene! Smiling
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 9, 2017 12:11 PM CST
tarev, didn't you use the water beads to root a pineapple plant? How'd they work for you?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 12:20 PM CST
Ah yes..I tried that for the pineapple head..it did not work for me..don't know if it was my timing to do it, since it was heading to late Fall..or just not the best way to do it.

My 2nd attempt to callus another pineapple head and stick to well draining soil, worked much better and I did it in mid Spring I think for the 2nd attempt, so it went better.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 9, 2017 7:30 PM CST
Thank you all for this discussion. It sounds weird, but you can also use them as a drown-proof water source for small pretty insects that you want to keep in order to photograph the next day. Not that I am a weirdo or anything.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 7:33 PM CST
It has its uses, just not applicable to all plants and growing conditions.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
Gardens in Buckets Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 9, 2017 7:35 PM CST
Yeah, I am seeing that. What other uses does it have? I'm curious now.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 7:42 PM CST
For none plant use, I guess you can put some fragrant oil that you can mix with the water gel beads.

Some just put multiple colored water gel beads on empty clear glass vases, to make nice decor and they put flower cuttings.

Or during parties, you can submerge led lights in it..so it will not get too wet, just moist.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 7:43 PM CST
Oh I have used it also before for my amaryllis, when I am forcing it to bloom.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Feb 9, 2017 7:50 PM CST
I tried using them in some large containers I had. The beads expanded and then floated to the top of the pots. I decided that they were totally worthless for keeping pots more hydrated.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Feb 9, 2017 8:31 PM CST
Floated? I usually would wait for them to fully inflate before I used them, unless they are already in the vase, then I add just enough water to it.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
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greene
Feb 10, 2017 7:25 PM CST
plantmanager said:I tried using them in some large containers I had. The beads expanded and then floated to the top of the pots. I decided that they were totally worthless for keeping pots more hydrated.


Yes, they do tend to migrate upwards if they are mixed with the potting soil. I noticed this when I used them in the flower boxes on the porch.

I only used them because they were a gift; would not recommend anyone spending money to buy them.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"

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