5 Decorative Plants to Grow Hydroponically
Growing decorative plants in your hydro system is a great way to keep your place bright, fresh, and fragrant. It can also keep you busy growing during the off-season.
Hydroponics is a great way to grow many edible plants, from tomatoes and lettuce to strawberries, blueberries, and micro herbs.
Have you ever thought, however, about growing decorative plants hydroponically?
There are many beautiful decorative plant varieties that you can propagate from a cutting and grow in a simple hydroponic system such as a DWC (bubbler) system. These plants can go on to thrive in your home as attractive houseplants or even in your outdoor garden.
Houseplants can be very rewarding to grow due to their positive effects on physical and mental health. These benefits include boosting mood, productivity, creativity and concentration, and reducing stress. Houseplants can also improve your indoor environment by cleaning the air, removing toxins, producing oxygen, and increasing humidity.
But what if you do not have a hydroponic system? Well, in that case, you can still root your cuttings very simply by placing the cut stem in a glass of water until you see the roots begin to form. You can then transplant your cutting into a pot if you so wish.
Alternatively, you can keep growing it in water. The key is to pick the right plant.
So, here are five plants that you can grow hydroponically to brighten your home and garden environment.
The peace lily is an easy-care houseplant. Not a true lily, its white flowers bear a close resemblance to the calla lily and is where the plant gets its name. A tropical perennial plant, peace lilies are recognizable also by their rich, dark-green leaves. Like many houseplants, peace lilies can survive just fine in low to medium light conditions but bloom more when in a sunnier position. Indoor peace lilies grow up to around 16 inches, much smaller than outdoor types that can reach up to six feet.
Peace lilies that can be grown in a hydroponic system are adapted varieties that have smaller roots.
In a hydroponic system, the ideal temperature range for your peace lilies to achieve optimal growth is 68-80°F, and the perfect pH is 5.6-6.5. Keep them in a warm, draft-free environment and clean leaves regularly to avoid pests such as aphids.
Antirrhinum, or, as they are better known, Snapdragons, are an attractive flower that comes in various colors from yellows to pinks, reds and purples. The name snapdragon comes from the flower’s resemblance to a dragon whose mouth opens and closes when the flower is squeezed. Due to this attribute, they are an interesting plant for children and make an excellent choice for introducing the younger generation to gardening and plant care.
Native in origin to rocky landscapes of Europe, the U.S., and North Africa, snapdragons are short-lived perennials and vary in size from six to 48 inches. They are classified into three ranges — dwarf, medium, and tall. Make sure you pick a variety that will fit in your system. If you have chosen a taller variety, you can transfer it to a pot or the garden once the roots are well established to allow the plant to reach its full potential. Snapdragons love the warmth and need full sun and occasional shade. They thrive in slightly higher pH conditions of 6.2-7.0.
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Widely considered one of the most beautiful species of flowers in existence, orchids are a favorite with many gardeners due to their beautiful colors, thick-woody roots, and sheer variety. There are about 30,000 species of orchid in existence, making them the world’s most extensive family of plants.
Orchids are ideal for raising in hydroponic systems, as many of them grow hydroponically in their natural environments. Native to tropical climates, orchids latch on between rocks or onto tree bark. They receive adequate watering from the rain, oxygen from the air, and get nutrition from any rotting organic matter in their immediate surroundings.
When growing in a hydroponic system at home, use media such as clay pebbles that allow maximum aeration of the root zone. Orchids need high humidity levels, good air circulation, temperatures between 60-80°F, and a pH range of 5.5-6.5. Orchids take in more water when under strong grow lamps, so use a 400W HPS lamp or equivalent LED.
Coleus is an annual or perennial native to Indonesia. It is part of the mint family and is grown as an ornamental plant. There are many types of coleus plants with velvety foliage and beautiful hues of purply-pinks, golds, burgundy, and bronzes. Coleus grows low to the ground and thrives best in lower light conditions making it an ideal houseplant for rooms with little natural light. The leaves’ colors are brighter when kept out of the sun with exposure to direct sunlight, causing the leaves to become dull over time.
To get your coleus to thrive in a hydroponic environment, you need to think about light. Perfect conditions are bright but not intense morning sunlight and indirect light in the afternoons. The perfect temperature range for coleus is 60-75°F. Blooms on a coleus should be removed as they appear as they draw energy from the foliage and cause the plant to go to seed and die.
The lucky bamboo plant originates from Southeast Asia and is a very popular houseplant choice. Distinguished by its signature thick, green-rounded stalks, lucky bamboo is very low maintenance and easy to care for. While it may resemble bamboo, lucky bamboo is not bamboo at all. Lucky bamboo is, in fact, a water lily that looks very similar to bamboo. The plant is well known for its use in the art of feng shui, a traditional Chinese practice going back 5,000 years that aims to create balance and harmony between a person and their living space.
Lucky bamboo represents good luck and happiness, making it a popular gift for house warmings and new beginnings. Most lucky bamboo plants you see for sale have had their stalks twisted, curled, or braided into all manner of shapes by professional growers.
Lucky bamboo is a good choice for a hydroponic growing system as its thick stems are perfect for growing in water. They can survive in many lighting conditions. Clay pebbles will provide the plant with good anchorage as it grows. Lucky bamboo grown in water will live for one to two years, so transfer to a pot and medium to extend its lifespan. Your lucky bamboo may lose leaves, but as long as you continue to care for it, it will replenish itself and flourish.
There are many advantages to growing plants hydroponically, including fast plant growth, low maintenance, fewer pests, better control, and saving space and water. With the added health benefits and the variety of decorative plant options available to you, these facts beg the question: why are you not doing it already?
Written by Rich Hamilton | Writer, Consultant, Author of The Growers Guide
Rich Hamilton has been in the hydroponics industry for more than 20 years, working originally as a general manager in a hydroponics retail outlet before becoming an account manager at Century Growsystems. He enjoys working on a daily basis with shop owners, manufacturers, distributors, and end users to develop premium products.