Plants Without Soil


Plants Without Soil

Plants are basically amazing. Yes, they can grow without soil, but they still require the necessities (nutrients, stability, moisture) soil provides. Without support, nutrients, protection from adverse temperatures, a steady supply of water and oxygen to their roots, there can be no growth. Hydroponic grow mediums make it possible to provide these components for plant growth without soil.

Try growing “easy” plants like ivy, sweet potatoes or basil in a vase containing only water. The vase provides your crop with support, the water—infused with the proper nutrient solution—provides essential minerals, and an indoor location means that temperature regulation can ensure a comfortable homeostasis for your plant. For plants grown in still water, oxygenation is often the greatest problem. Plants that can thrive in water must be able to extract oxygen from whatever’s dissolved in the water. Many types of plants can’t survive without extra oxygen naturally ferried in through pore spaces in the soil in traditional growing. For this reason, change water often—or invest in a circulation system!

Did you know, growers can force flowering bulbs to blossom indoors by placing a bulb’s base in gravel and adding just enough water to reach its base? There are few minerals necessary for the flourishing of these plants—and these can be provided by simple water and gravel. Bulb plants come complete with their own internal supply of minerals and necessary fuel so they can grow and flower right in the gravel.

To further expand on the possibilities of soilless growth, plants can be grown hydroponically—our favorite! Hydroponic plants grow in a solution of water containing the necessary plant nutrients. A variety of methods are used to provide support and oxygen for the roots. Since hydroponic plant production is often in a greenhouse or other protected area, temperature control is provided for both the roots and the top of the plant.

Some tropical plants grow in a manner similar to aeroponic culture. These plants (orchids, ferns, bromeliads, some philodendrons and other plants) grow attached to the branches of trees high above the soil. The tree provides support. Frequent rain showers provide the water. Necessary nutrients are provided by composted materials that run down the trunk and branches of the tree during the rain showers. For most of the day, the roots hang in the air, which provides the necessary oxygen.

Many plants grow without soil, either with human instrumentation or just naturally. The more you know!

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