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Soil or Water?

Soil or Water?

This is the question I constantly ask myself whenever I am potting plants. My hands are constantly covered in soil dirt during this messy process. I could wear gloves but there is always soil dirt around. Soil plays an integral role when it comes to growing plants. It is a medium for plant growth and a regulator of water supplies. What we hate about planting soil the most is it is dirty and messy. If you had too much water in the soil, it is muddy and creates a different crisis. Having experienced this dirty business, I have often changed some of my plants from potted soil to soil-less, with an addition of water. This approach ensures no more dirt everywhere, the hands, working space or even the floor. I do not have to use the broom to clean up my mess. With water, there is no such thing. You just grab your plants, clean them up and put them in a container full of water. Plants grown in water look sublime especially in a transparent container. The roots are white and reaching for the bottom. Essentially, everything that roots do in potted soil applies to soil-less roots. The difference is you get to see everything. You even known when it is time to either add more water or completely replace it. If the roots are melting, then you are in trouble. The smell of the water is a perfect indicator of the healthiness of the plant. With potted plants, it is all a mystery until it isn’t. There are also indicators for potted plants, the yellowing of leaves, droopy stance, leaves falling off, a shrunk sponge of soil ready to expand once water is added.

That’s it!? Really? Wrong!!!!! Not all plants can be grown in just water. If the wrong plants are used in a container with water only, they will likely rot. The strange thing about growing plants in water is that the process can be by trial and error. With snail like movements, you can even get succulents to grow in water. A snake plant is prone to root rot, prefers to be on the drier side of things, but a cutting can be rooted in water. We are okay with rooting cuttings in water and once there are enough healthy roots, we are happy to pot the plants in soil. It is even more interesting that we prefer to root plants in water than soil but we never leave them there permanently.

Not all things are created equal. Plants can be grown in soil, but not all plants can be grown in water. Do we prefer soil because it is readily available? The same can be said of water. Is it because we are just used to it? Is it a preference? Is it because we do not want to dirty our hands switching to water?

What are your thoughts on this?

Plants that can be grown in water (This is not meant to be an exhaustive list)

-Peace lily
-Lucky bamboo
-English ivy (Hedera helix)

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