Not all plants are equally suitable for hydroponics. We present eleven houseplants that are particularly easy to cultivate in water.
In the so-called hydroponics, plants are grown in water – the name is derived from the Greek “hydro” for water. A special substrate made of clay balls or stones gives the roots hold. The plants get their nutrients from the fertilized water supply.
Good hydroponics has many advantages: The maintenance effort is reduced because you have to water a lot less. While houseplants grown in the ground are checked daily for sufficient moisture, hydroponic pots are only refilled every two to four weeks.
Large-leaved house plants particularly benefit from the optimal water supply with a constant water level. They evaporate a lot of moisture and are sensitive to dry traps. Palms also punish casting errors. In hydroponics, on the other hand, the supply situation is easy to control.
And there are other advantages: Overall, hydroponic plants are less susceptible to disease. And hydroponics is often the better alternative for allergy sufferers too. Because allergenic substances, such as fungal spores, do not form as quickly on the mineral substrate as in potting soil. According to some measurements, hydroponic plants are even said to improve the indoor climate more than other forms of cultivation.
Which plants are suitable for hydroponics?
Most hydroponic plants are grown specifically for this type of culture. You can also switch plants to hydroponics if you completely remove soil from the roots. The younger the plants are, the easier it is. The best way to grow hydro plants is from cuttings that take root in the water or offshoots, such as the cubs of the green lily. Not all plants are suitable for hydroponics. The eleven best species are also some of the most popular indoor plants.
Butterfly orchid (Phalaenopsis hybrids)
Butterfly orchids are prime examples of hydroponic plants. As orchids, which originally lived epiphytically in sun-protected treetops, their aerial roots arise directly from the root neck without any storage organs. In the airy substrate, the varieties bloom all the more reliably in all rainbow colors. The place should be light to partially shaded, without direct sunlight.
Shame flower (Aeschynanthus radicans)
The epiphyte with long drooping shoots also occurs in natural habitats in the tropics as a climbing plant. On the evergreen, leathery leaves of the pubic flower, the long, tubular flowers in red and dark purple to almost black stand out nicely. The decorative Gesneria plant likes light, but no sun.
Flamingo flower (Anthurium Scherzerianum hybrids)
Even when the Austrian doctor and botanist Karl von Scherzer discovered the botanically named species in the tropical rainforest around 1850, the flamingo flower attracted a lot of attention. Particularly richly blooming varieties with the striking red, pink or white, also speckled sheaths (spathe), and the mostly same-colored cobs make the arum family one of the most popular flowering plants in the living room. The hydroponic plant also unfolds its splendor in less bright places.
Efeutute (Epipremnum pinnatum)
The leafy climber from Southeast Asia and Australia is a classic for beginners. Even advanced growers appreciate the reliability of the grateful houseplant. Because the Efeutute is particularly well suited to improve the indoor climate. Their green, yellow or white variegated leaves, depending on the variety, filter toxins from the air. The long-lived species grows at least as abundantly in the hydro container as in a normal pot. A bright, but by no means the sunny place is ideal. The hydroponic plant even thrives in the shade. Variegated varieties, however, turn green with a lack of light.
Korbmarante (Calathea rotundifolia)
Regardless of whether you choose the round-leaved basket marante or another type of the diverse genus from tropical Central and South America: All are ornamental foliage plants that are particularly suitable for hydroponics. The root area must always be sufficiently moist. If you cultivate basket marants in soil, you have the problem that you have to regularly pour out excess water from the planter to prevent waterlogging. This does not apply to hydroponics. The location for the high humidity-loving plants from the tropical rainforests should be semi-shady to shady.
Dragon tree (Dracaena fragrans)
The sometimes brightly striped leaf beauties of the vigorous species offer a large selection of varieties. Prolonged drought is a problem, especially for brightly colored dragon trees. When grown in hydroponics, there is no need to worry about the brown tips of the leaves that appear after the balls are dry. The location of the hydroponic plants should be protected from sun exposure.
Ray aralia (Schefflera arboricola)
The easy-care Schefflera or ray aralia is a giant tree in its home in Australia, Taiwan, and New Guinea. The tree-like shape of the manageably large houseplant is what makes it so attractive. The lacquer-green leaves are arranged like a hand. In addition to pure green leaf ornamental plants, there are yellow-spotted forms. It is best for the plant not to grow too moist or too dry, i.e. in a balanced environment of hydroponics in a bright place.
Window leaf (Monstera deliciosa)
One of the most attractive of the large-leaved houseplants is the monstera. The robust plant from the swamps of tropical Central and South America lives semi-epiphytically as a climbing shrub and also takes up a lot of space in the room. Its large, shield-shaped leaves are deeply fissured or perforated, which gives the imposing appearance a certain lightness. Varieties with white marbled foliage also brighten up. Window leaves need a lot of nutrients. The optimal supply can be reliably controlled via hydroponics. The place should be bright without direct sun.
Mountain Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
The mountain palm with its pinnate leaves thrives much more reliably in hydroponics than in soil. The piece of jewelry easily adapts to living space conditions. The hydroponic plant must not get in the sun. Although the filigree beauty prefers a bright location, the popular houseplant also makes do with shady places.
Bow hemp (Sansevieria trifasciata)
In their homeland of West Africa, the structure-forming houseplant with its stiff, upright leaf shoots was a useful plant for the production of hemp-like fibers. There are decorative varieties of bow hemp with yellowish vertical stripes on the leaves and with ‘Twister’ even a variety that is braided. Bow hemp is an example that succulent plants are also well suited for hydroponics. As a sun-loving steppe plant, bow hemp should be as bright as possible.
Nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
The tropical nest fern comes from the rainforest, where it lives in the treetops as one of the largest epiphytes. The fern with the broadly lanceolate leaves thrives the more luxuriantly, the more often it is sprayed over. But also in the root area, it should always be moist. Nest fern is therefore perfect in hydroponics. The plant loves a location in light shade.
What do you need for hydroponics?
The basic requirement is a water level indicator. It shows whether there is enough water in the pot. Refill if necessary. If it is too high, water is poured out. Too much water would cause root rot. If handled correctly, the roots in the loose granulate of a structurally stable expanded clay are optimally supplied with oxygen and better aerated than in compacted potting soil. This is useful, for example, for epiphytes such as orchids. For plants with coarse roots, the hydro stones should be a little coarser.
More tips on caring for hydroponic plants
There are special hydro-fertilizers for plant nutrition. If you follow the dosage information, the plants are optimally supplied. Hydroponic plants take their nutrients from the nutrient solution. However, this leaves residual salt that can damage plants over time. Therefore you should rinse the salts from the substrate and the roots when transplanting from time to time.