You know what they say about plants – they help create a cleaner atmosphere for us humans. Human existence is due to plants and that is why we love them. In essence, they make us happy. What would we have done without them?
Growing plants in the soil is probably the commonest way of planting, but do you know you can plant water plants in water? How do you even plant plants in water? Find out in this article as you read on.
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To plant water plants is an awesome way for gardeners to organically grow plants. While most planters are successful growing plants in the soil, planting water plants can be a great way of even becoming a more successful planter. However, you need to understand the mechanism behind growing plants in water.
What is Planting Water Plants?
Planting water plants is also known as hydroponic planting. It is the process of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. You may call it absurd, but most of the plants grown out there these days are grown in the hydroponic system.
Many will still argue the possibility of this happening. Well, there is a scientific proof to support that and we will discuss it.
All plants grow through the process of photosynthesis – in which sunlight and chlorophyll convert carbondioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. With this, you will notice that there is no mention of soil. This is to show you that plants can grow very well without soil. All they need is water and the right nutrients.
The best way to get started with hydroponics is by selecting a system that suits your needs. You have to consider factors like space, cost, the type of plant you want to grow, and time.
Benefits of Planting Water Plants (Hydroponics)
The main benefit of growing plants in water is that it grows almost three to five times quicker and larger than growing it on a soil. Most people are ignorant of this because the science behind hydroponics hasn’t really been revealed – that led to the continuous grow of crops in the soil.
Hydroponics has enabled commercial and domestic growers to cultivate plants in different ways, which has led to increase in food production over the years. The drive for hydroponics has led to agricultural efficiency as well. Enthusiasts are also growing plants in water to beautify their homes.
Below are other benefits of planting water plants.
No Soil Is Needed
The idea of planting without soil was once absurd, unheard of, and quite unimaginable. Now, both domestic and commercial growers are taking advantage of the concept.
Not using soil for planting has numerous advantages. First of all, not all location have a particular type of soil that is suitable for a certain kind of plant. In other words, some plants have strong preferences to a particular type of soil. If this kind of soil is unavailable, the plant suffers, which means that you literally can’t grow it. It will cost you money to import such type of soil to suit the plant.
Also, there are some locations around the world that don’t have soils. These locations have water in abundance than land. Certain types of plants that grow in the soil won’t grow in this area. There are even regions that are desert-like or rocky that would hamper the growth of plants.
This is where hydroponics thrive. These locations that have been discussed as lacking soil will favour hydroponics.
Less Water Consumption
Growing plants in water saves at least, 5% of the water that is needed for the growth of plants in soil. This is a gargantuan benefit of hydroponics, especially in those areas where there is scarcity of water resources.
Growing plants in water makes uses of spring water that is recirculated. Plants absorb what they need and the rest of the water is returned to the system. There is s less chance of water consumption. In fact, the only water that is lost is from leaks and evaporation. However, that depends on the system setup.
More advanced hydroponics technology has been recently developed to further reduce this amount of transpiration. Some hydroponics systems are now using vapor condensers to collect the transpired water and return it to the system.
Less Labor Intensive
The labor involved in cultivating plants is greatly reduced if the system of hydroponics is adopted. It will save you time to focus on more important things, rather than exhausting it on tilling, ridging, etc. Although the setup is capital intensive and undoubtedly more expensive than soil cultivation, running cost is greatly decreased in the long run.
It eliminates whether uncertainty
You know the weather uncertainty that comes with planting on a soil, you will have no such problems with hydroponics. Most hydroponic plants are grown indoors or in greenhouse, and all the ingredients and water are provided manually. Any unpredictable weather that may come with planting is eliminated with hydroponics system of planting.
You may ask, does unavailability or lack of sunlight affect hydroponics? Well! The simple answer is no. There is artificial grow lighting that has been developed to replace or supplement sunlight. So in case of unavailability of sunlight, this artificial grow light will make up for it and do just fine in helping your water plant to grow all year round.
There is absence of disease, pests, and weeds
The disease, pests, and weeds that are associated with planting on a soil is eradicated with hydroponics. Sometimes, weeds can be difficult to remove, especially in a large farm, and the process is time-consuming. Weeds hampers the growth of plants. With hydroponics however, you have no such issue.
Because of there is no soil involved, pests and disease are totally avoidable. Since there are no pests, there won’t be need for pesticides – which makes the produce more healthy for human consumption. Pesticides also cause environmental pollution and this makes hydroponics a winner here.
Hydroponics enhances the growth of plants
Have you ever wondered why plants grow faster and larger in a body of water than soils? It may be surprising, but that’s the simple fact. The ability to control temperature, nutrients, moisture, plus light are the factors that enable plants to have high yields in hydroponics system.
Undoubtedly, creating the perfect condition and atmosphere is paramount for the growth of plants in water. Since the roots come directly in contact with nutrients, light, moisture, they grow larger and grow at a much faster rate than soil plants.
Hydroponics require less space
Unlike plants that grow in soil, growing plants in the hydroponic system require 10 – 20% less space than soil plants. This means that you can choose to grow more plants in a specific space, whereas you can’t do the same for soil-based plants.
The reason why hydroponic plants use less space than soil-based plants is simple. Roots in soil spread out in search for nutrients and water, which means the root will take up more space than usual. Hydroponic plants are different. Since the root come in contact with the nutrients and water directly, there is absolutely no need for the root to spread out. Because of this less space, growers can produce significant yields year-on-year.
You have more control over pH levels
PH is often overlooked by growers, but it’s a very important factor in growing plants, whether in soil or water. PH ensures that your plant get balanced nutrients in the right quantities.
Plants thrive in pH levels between 5.5 – 7, although some thrive in a slightly acidic environment. Growing a plant in water will ensure that the plant gets all the minerals that are essential for its growth. Unlike soil, you can adjust the pH level of water and measure it accurately so that the plant gets the optimal pH needed for its growth.
Plants that You Can Grow in Water
There are several plants that you can grow in the hydroponic system, but we will focus on vital ones. These plants are known for their high growth rate.
Lettuce – Example of lettuce plants include bibb, crunch, romaine, butter, etc. The leaves can start sprouting as early as three weeks after planting them.
Herbs – Herbs like basil, oregano, spearmint, peppermint have a high growth rate of about 25%. These plants are mostly grown indoors and ones like the mints produce through out the year. The more you harvest the leaves, the more the plant grows.
Leafy Greens – Mustard greens, spinach, kale are example of leafy vegetables. These vegetables grow fast and can be ready for harvest in as little as three weeks to a month. The downside of this plant is when it stays a little over two months or stays for a long period, it becomes bitter. Ensure that you harvest early to avoid this problem.
Head Lettuce – Iceberg and other types of head lettuce grow longer than other veggies, but still do well in hydroponic system. It takes about six to eight weeks before they can be harvested.
Example of another plant that you can grow on water include tomatoes.
What You Need to Plant Water Plants
For you to plant water plants, you will need some requirements. These are important factors that are required to successfully grow plants
The quality of water determines how the plants would fare. There are two factors that can affect the quality of water – the level of mineral salts in water and the pH. Water with high mineral salt content will not dissolve nutrients easily. Water considered with high mineral content is known as hard water. If you have high mineral content in the water, you need to filter it. The mineral content should be as low as possible.
The pH level for water used in planting water plants should be between 5.8 and 6.2. Water with lower pH level won’t be ideal for your water plants.
Nutrients can be available in liquid and dry forms, organic and synthetic. Nutrients are dissolved in water to create water-nutrient solution, which is required for the growth of the plant. For more effectiveness, the nutrient should combine both macronutrients and micronutrients.
Setting up your plant in a hydroponic system is vital. Elements like humidity, temperature, oxygen levels and CO2 levels, and room circulation are essential in the growth of the plant. The most suitable humidity level should be between 40 – 60%, while the ideal temperature should not exceed 70° Fahrenheit. High humidity level, especially in a grow room can lead to fungal growth and mildew. High temperature level may lead the root to rot.
Most hydroponic plants grow indoors, and they are mostly positioned in places where there may be absence of direct sunlight. A hydroponic plants should at least be exposed to sunlight for 12 hours. If you don’t have the luxury of getting direct sunlight for your plant, you will need to provide alternatives.
For best lighting for your plant, you will need a High-Intensity Discharge light or T5. These lighting systems are ideal for growing water plants.
How to Plant Water Plants
There are so many varieties of plants that grow well in water, but some grow at a much faster rate than others. For example, plants like Lavender, Oregano, Ivy, Wandering Jew, Begonias grow so much that you will see a new leaf almost everyday. Based on recommendation, you can choose Ivy, Begonias, or any other plants that has been mentioned here.
The best choices of plants should be based on the maintenance. Herbs require little maintenance and do not need large number of nutrients. It’s also crucial that you choose fast-growing plants so that you can access if your system is working properly or not. From there, you can move to complex vegetables.
Once you have decided on the plant to grow, cut a segment of the existing plant and place it in a glass jar. Ensure that you cut just below the leave so that the stem is right in place. The stem is the leaf node and this is where the growth of the leaf mostly occur.
Water the plant
Most times, it’s not just about watering the plant. The type of water used is what’s most essential here. If you plan on using city water, you may introduce harmful chemicals to the plant that may hinder it’s growth. City water is usually treated for public consumption, which means that it’s chlorinated.
In place of city or tap water, use spring water or well water. These types of water contain nutrients that will help supplement the plants and enhance its growth. Use glass jars for your containers or any other container that you can see through. The purpose of using see-through containers is for the root to obtain sunlight.
It’s recommended that you fill the water monthly. Better still, fill the water whenever about fifty percent of the water evaporates. Avoid hard water all through.
Perform a Yearly Checkup
At exactly one year after planting, the water might begin to look foggy or misty. In this case, you will have to change it. The roots will have also grow to an incredible length, so you have to trim it a little to avoid devouring the plant. There are some plants that require you to replace the shoot after a year like some natural herbs. So you have to be knowledgeable about the type of plant that you selected to grow in water.
Some water plants tend to outlast others. The rosemary, for example may last for as long as six years in water. But that cannot be said of basil, which last just for a year or a little over a year.
It’s one thing to be able to plant water plants and is another to be conversant with different cultivating systems associated with hydroponics. We shall discuss the basic cultivating systems that are suitable for beginners.
There are three basic hydroponic system for beginners – the wick, water culture, and ebb and flow system. These systems are basic because they don’t require so much funds to setup. You can get the components from online retailers and hydroponic stores.
The wick system is the simplest form of hydroponic systems to setup. That’s because there are no parts that are moving. It’s a mechanical system that has two containers – one that contains a reservoir filled with water and nutrients, and the other, filled with a growing medium. There is a wick that connects the two containers, which draws up nutrients and water into the growing medium. The nutrients and water are then absorbed by the roots of the plants.
For small plants that do not absorb water so much like herbs, this hydroponic system will work well. However, it may not work well for plants that absorb too much water. E.g lettuce.
Water Culture System
Like the wick system, this one is also simple to setup. This system involves placing plants in an expanded polystyrene foam that sits on top of the reservoir holding the nutrient-filled water. A bubbler air pump is installed in the reservoir to deliver oxygen to the roots of the plants. Unlike the wick system, this one works best for water-absorbing plants.
Ebb and Flow Systems
This hydroponic system is more complicated than the other two. The benefit of setting up this system is that it allows you to control factors such as temperature, humidity, etc.
To setup this system, you will need to flood the growing medium with water and nutrient solution, and then drain it back to the reservoir with a submersible pump. The submersible pump usually comes with a timer, which you can use to control plant factors.
Other hydroponic systems include Nutrients Film Technique (NTF), Aeroponic system, etc. These hydroponic systems are advanced and are mostly used by experts.
Planting water plants has never been easier, and there is a continuous interest into how to grow plants in water. These days, people are inventive, and trying different methods to beautify their environments, purify the air they breathe, and grow their pockets. With the rise in the use of automobiles and locomotive engines, industries, and others, the air has been somewhat polluted and toxic. Growing plants is one great method to clean this toxic and polluted air.
Due to the rapid growth of global population, it has become a necessity to find alternative ways to grow plants faster and bigger. Hydroponics solve all that. This system can accelerate the growth of agriculture by cutting down on water usage and space.
With the steps discussed here, you simply can’t fail in planting water plants. Watching them grow is also a joy to behold, especially if you grow it indoors. Planting water plants is beneficial physically, financial, and otherwise.