Growing Succulents In Water – Is It A Smart Decision?

Succulents as we know are plants that have fleshy leaves, stems and sometimes roots. They are equipped for dry climate. By storing water in their tissues they are able to survive in dry soils. They are hardy resilient plants that are easy to grow.

Wherever we see succulents we have always seen them planted in small pots or different unique ways in soil. Soil has always been used as a medium for plants. Soil is used as it provide nutrients to the plants and also for anchorage for the plants. 

Here we are going to introduce you to the new way of growing succulents in water. Yes, you heard right, we are going to see how we can grow succulents in hydroculture.

Hydroculture/hydroponics

This term hydroponic you must have been hearing quite a lot now a days. This is the most discussed topic in the present time.

Hydroponics is the method of growing plants in no soil, using water as a medium. This is a highly researched area. There have been lot of success stories also in growing plants via hydroponics. Currently this is a big trend in many countries where the vegetables are grown using a hydroponic system, which consume less space and there is less water wastage.

Succulents and Water

It has always been given as a warning ‘Never Overwater succulents’. Succulents are highly sensitive to water. Many of us have already killed our succulents by overwatering (atleast I have).

So how can these water sensitive plants be grown in water?

The reason we kill the plants by overwatering is because of the fact that overwatering tends to promote fungal growth in soil medium. Soil may contain fungi due to the presence of some amount of organic matters. These fungi attack the fleshy roots or stem of the succulents causing them to rot.

In hydroponics we are not using soil as medium which reduce the risk of fungal attack thus rot. But this doesn’t mean that we are completely safe in water, water also can promote fungal growth if not kept clean and changed in regular intervals.

Let’s see in this blog about 

  • What types of succulents are best suited for hydroponics?
  • How to exactly start growing succulents in water?
  • Feeding of succulents in hydroponics

Which succulents are best suited for growing in the hydroponics system?

All succulents are not best suited for hydroculture, even though most can be grown in water. 

The most recommended varieties by fantastic gardeners blog is the one with rosettes and that can be easily propagated by leaf cuttings. This avoid the risk of losing a single plant as you can propagate more from the leaf cuttings.

The best suited are echeveria and Sempervivum varieties.

Echeveria Agavoides Romeo

growing succulents in water

A beautifully colored rosette variety belonging to echeveria. This produce rosettes which are of 6 inches tall. They are native to rocky area of Mexico.  The succulent is susceptible to die in high humid conditions. The leaves should not be exposed to water.

Hen and chicks

These belong to the sempervivum group. They can grow well indoors and outdoors. They have rosette structure. They produce lot of small new babies hence the name. They are commonly known as houseleeks. They love rocky and dry location to grow. These plants don’t need much care. After four to six years the mother plant dies off and need to be removed.  Once matured the plant produce flowers.

Echeveria Runyonii

As the name suggest belongs to echeveria family. It’s a flowering succulent native to Mexico. It has powdery blue grey leaves. These plants are a good choice for ground coverage, rock gardens and containers. They send off shoots of about 20 cm long and produce star shaped yellow or orange flowers.

Sempervivum Tectorum

It is a flowering succulent variety found in the mountains of Europe. It is usually grown as a ground cover. During summer it produce clusters of reddish purple flowers. The individual rosettes die off after blooming and should be removed. The small chicks then fill in the empty space. They like to grow in well drained soil with dry to medium moisture. The rosette can grow to 4 inch diameter. The plant hates overwatering and they tolerate some amount of drought condition.

Echeveria macrophylla

They have rosette star shaped leaves of about 20 cm diameter. The plant is also called as ‘Lipstick’ due to the leaves with green interior color and red edges. The plant produces flowers with yellow tip and red in color. the plant blooms mostly in summer. the plant reaches upto a height of less than a feet and upto 2 feet wide. It can be propagated from offsets, leaves and stem cuttings.

Sempervivum altum

These are evergreen perennials with fleshy leaves that grow in rosette structure with 4 cm diameter. The tip of the leaves turn to red color with strong light. They produce pink to purple flowers in long stalks with yellow anthers. 

How to exactly start growing succulents in water?

Certain steps need to be followed before setting up hydroculture. There are full water and semi hydro water culture methods. Succulents can be grown in both methods.

  • You can start hydroculture using a cutting or an offshoot or a full potted plant
  • Before starting always remember to let the offshoot or cutting callus over the exposed area of stem, by leaving it aside for a few days in the open. If it’s not callused the stem can start rotting in water culture.

Full water culture

In full water culture the plant is growing in water as the only medium. The nutrients required by the plant are supplied via water, by the mixing of water soluble nutrients. Technique of full water culture using offshoot or stem cutting or soil bound plant.

  • If you are using soil bound plant first wash of the soil fully from the roots.
  • If using offshoot or cutting let it form callus
  • Take a glass vessel with water filled containing very diluted amount of nutrient 
  • The water level should be just below the succulent stem if cutting or offshoot is being used. The cutting should not touch the water surface but just dangle above it.
  • If soil bound plant is being used then after removing the soil particles the end of the root should lightly touch the water.
  • The leaves should be kept away from water as they can rot if they are in water. It is better to keep a separation between the water surface and the leaf.

Semi hydroculture

In this method an inert medium other than soil is placed in the pot. The material will be placed similar to soil but very less water will be added. The inner material can be leca, Pebbles, glass beads etc. 

The procedure for selecting and preparing the plant is same for both methods the only difference is the addition of an inert material to the pot. The succulent is placed in the inert material and watered so that the water level just reaches the succulent.

In case of cutting you can see roots develop in a few weeks and the roots will slowly grow down into the water medium. 

Generally hydroponic plants grow faster than soil grown, as they don’t have to develop roots to search for the nutrients in the soil as it’s readily available in the water. 

The succulent which was kept in soil might take few months to develop properly as they need to develop water roots which can adapt to hydroponic well. If you require fast growth then using cutting or offshoot is best as they develop water root very soon.

If the older roots are decaying we should remove them as it can degrade the quality of water.

In semihydro also the older water should be removed periodically and the inert material washed so that there is no mineral deposits from the nutrients

Nutrient requirement of succulents

Succulents grown in hydroculture require to be fed nutrients for its development at regular periods. 

  • When using fertilizer always use a fertilizer that is especially used for hydroponics.
  • When adding fertilizers in hydroponic always remember to dilute it to half its strength.
  • All the nutrients generally required by soil bound plants are also required in hydroculture.
  • Many varieties of hydroponic liquid fertilizers are available in market, select one as per your plant requirement

Conclusion

Growing succulents in water is an easy procedure and we can also increase the décor of our home by keeping plants in water culture. We don’t have to worry about dirt in hydroponic garden. There are many people who have developed their garden fully in hydroculture.

In hydroculture there is also the benefit of no repotting. The plant in hydroculture can be left in the jar for weeks without any negative impact on the plant.  There is also the benefit that we don’t need to water them regularly as with other plants. If we leave on week long vacation also the plant will stay safe and fresh.

Hope you have gained some knowledge in this area. Try to start a hydroponic garden not only with succulents but also with other plants. 

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