Easy Guide to Hydroculture

We have all heard about hydroponics; well, let me introduce you to hydroculture.

Hydroculture is a system that was developed from hy­droponics, the technique of growing plants in wa­ter to which all necessary nutrients have been added. In hydroculture, the roots that develop in water, which are a little different from roots grown in soil, are supported in an open-mesh pot of inert growing medium (turface *). There is an outer water-tight container that holds the nutrient and water mixture. A calibrated, floating marker in a plastic indicator measures the water level as “maximum”, “optimum/best”, or “minimum”.

There are some advantages to hydroculture. It is easy to provide your plants with a precise and appropriate amount of air, water, and nutrients. The growing medium is clean, well-drained, odor­less, and free from over acidity and clogging. It also discourages weeds, pests, and disease. An­other plus-growth is often faster and stronger than in soil. Orchids, cacti, bulbs, and many other plants that are commonly grown in offices flourish with hydroculture.

HOW TO DO IT.

1. Plants should be gotten from nurseries that specialize in specimens for hydroculture, or raise them from cuttings.

2. Once in awhile, you can trans­fer a plant that was originally grown in soil into the hydroculture medium. Between early spring and early fall, pick out a young, healthy plant and carefully remove it from its pot. Soak the root ball in water at room temperature for half an hour or so until all the soil falls off. Gently rinse the roots clean.

3. If you are going to use a fertilizer cartridge, clip it into the culture pot base before planting.

4. Wash and soak some of the turface (the planting medium), then half fill the pot with it.

5. Put the plant in the pot with the roots spread out. Care­fully fill in the rest of the pot to its rim with tur­face.

6. Insert the water level indicator and place the planted culture pots in groups or singly in water tight containers. NOTE: Don’t use clear glass because it lets in too much light that will reach the roots and cause problems.

7. Add water till it reaches the “optimum/best” mark on the indicator. Keep the plants at a temperature of 64 to 77 degrees.

The roots are kept moist by the capillary ac­tion of the porous growing medium, but they don’t like being in water for long periods. Let the water level drop to “minimum” before adding more to the pot. Sometimes keeping to the “minimum” level for 2 or 3 days will encourage new root formation.

Various soluble fertilizers are available. Al­ways follow the instructions you get with them. Minerals in tap water react with fertilizer to re­lease nutrients which are then absorbed into the plant.

To propagate from cuttings, just prepare in the normal way, then root them in a jar of water. You can plant them directly into small culture pots. Put the cuttings 1 to 11/2 inches deep in the tur­face. Cover with a plastic bag to reduce evapora­tion and keep in bright, indirect light for 2 weeks. As soon as new growth appears, remove the cover. Start normal watering and feeding 2 weeks after planting.

*Turface is a porous ceramic soil conditioner which lends itself to many uses. Resembling crushed terra cotta, its unique ability to absorb moisture and prevent compaction puts it in a league of its own

As a retired aerospace engineer I transferred my technical writing skills to informative articles encompassing my new hobby, gardening and landscaping. This transition coupled with expertise advise and guidance I received from the knowledgeable staff at www.tnnursery.net has been invaluable.

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