Indoor plants in hydroponics – how does it work? – Houseplants usually grow in soil. That does not have to be that way. Hydroponics is an alternative to growing in potting soil. You have certainly seen plants in the typical clay balls before. But what exactly is hydroponics? How does it work? Here you can find out what you have to look out for in hydroponics, which plants are suitable and how you can switch plants from potting soil to expanded clay.
What is hydroponics and which plants are suitable for it? – Indoor plants in hydroponics
In hydroponics, indoor plants grow in expanded clay or clay granules instead of potting soil. A big advantage of these systems: You have to water much less often. The plants supply themselves with water independently over a long period of time. In principle, all indoor plants are suitable for this special form of cultivation. You can probably even convert some of your existing plants to the soilless culture. We will explain how it works and what you need for the culture with the clay beads.
Do plants need soil to grow?
In addition to light and heat, plants primarily need water and nutrients to grow. If these needs of a plant are met, it will grow well. Earth is not absolutely necessary for this. In the soil, plants in the wild primarily find a firm footing in the subsoil . But plants can also find support in old cracks in walls or between rocks and grow without soil.
In commercial vegetable growing, too, it is quite common for greenhouse crops to grow entirely without soil. Rock wool is often used as a substitute. Or the plants stand with their roots directly in a nutrient solution. This type of plant culture is also called aquaponics.
How does hydroponics work? – Indoor plants in hydroponics
In hydroponics for indoor plants, the plants are in a plant pot with balls made of expanded clay or clay granules instead of in soil. The beads or granules provide the plant roots with the necessary support. The plant pot is in a waterproof planter. There should always be some nutrient solution at the bottom of this pot. The plant then supplies itself permanently with water and nutrients. Due to the constant supply of water and nutrients, the plants develop fewer roots than in soil culture. As a result, they need slightly smaller plant pots.
Water and nutrients in hydroponics – you should pay attention to this – Indoor plants in hydroponics
Unlike potting soil, the clay substrate does not contain any nutrients. It is therefore necessary that you ensure a good supply of water and nutrients. It is important that the plants in hydroponics are always in the nutrient solution . Once the nutrient solution in the pot is almost gone, you need to water your plant. Because the plants take care of themselves over a longer period of time from the nutrient solution in the pot, you have to water less often, but a little more.
A water level indicator is used for this. It shows you whether there is still enough liquid. You can also see whether you have refilled enough water. It is also important that you regularly let the water level drop significantly. The roots of your plants need a real breathing space – yes, even plant roots need air. If you water too soon, the roots are constantly under water and rot.
In order for the water to become the nutrient solution for your plants, the plants must be fertilized regularly. About every two to four weeks you should provide your houseplants with a special hydroponic fertilizer . Under no circumstances should you use conventional plant fertilizer. It’s dosed way too high.
Hydroponics in expanded clay or clay granules? – Indoor plants in hydroponics
Expanded clay balls or clay granules can be used in hydroponics for indoor plants. Expanded clay pellets are particularly porous pellets made from fired clay . As a plant substrate for indoor plants, they usually have a size of 8 to 16 millimeters.
clay granules are particularly porous. However, it is significantly finer and has an angular structure similar to grit. It looks broken.
Clay granule hydroponics is slightly different from the expanded clay bead culture described above. With clay granules, you place your plant with soil balls in a pot with clay granules. You do not need an additional plant pot. The granulate stores the water like a sponge and supplies the plant with it over a longer period of time. A watering indicator measures the moisture in the soil ball. Culture in clay granules is not “real hydroponics” in the narrower sense. But it offers the same advantage that you have to water your plant less often.
This is what you need for successful hydroponics – Indoor plants in hydroponics
In order to cultivate plants in expanded clay pellets, you basically need the same things as for soil cultivation, but in a special variant:
- Expanded clay balls as plant substrate
- Inner pot for hydroculture
- outer pot
- water level indicator
- Hydroculture fertilizers
- Suitable plants
It makes sense to use special hydroculture pots, especially for the inner pots. They usually have a holder for the water level indicator.
Which plants are suitable for hydroponics? – Indoor plants in hydroponics
In principle, you can cultivate all plants in hydroponics with expanded clay. This culture is even suitable for plants with special requirements. About for:
- Palm trees
You can already buy many plants as hydroponic plants. In any case, these plants are suitable for cultivation without soil. Strictly speaking, they are only suitable for culture without soil. A hydroponic plant cannot be converted to soil culture. The other way round is often possible.
Converting plants from soil to hydroponics – this is how it works
particular young plants You can switch With older plants, this is usually no longer possible. To move a plant, you need to completely clear the roots of soil. Here’s how you do it:
- Take the plant out of the plant pot and carefully loosen the loose soil with your hand.
- After roughly removing the soil from the roots, continue rinsing the roots in water until all of the soil is removed.
- Put the plant in a pot with expanded clay. Use a special hydroponic pot with a holder for the water level indicator and place it in a suitable pot.
Pros and cons of hydroponics
Hydroponics in expanded clay offers several advantages over soil cultivation:
- You have to water less often, but more at once
- The water level indicator shows you when to water
- Hydroponic plants grow more slowly, you have to repot
- Soil pests such as weeping flies are much less common
- Ideal for allergy sufferers – expanded clay is a mineral substrate in which mold cannot form. This makes it suitable for allergy sufferers who have problems with plants in soil culture.
The only notable disadvantages are that the accessories required and often the plants themselves are a bit more expensive than conventional house plants. In addition , the plants grow more slowly . But that can also be an advantage. There is little danger that the plant will become too large for the desired location.