Friday, October 16, 2009

A Good Plant To Start Hydroculture With

As some of you already know, I grow my indoor plants in clay pebbles, not in soil. And the system I follow is hydroculture, which is related to hydroponics but lacks all the automated equipment that is commonly associated with hydroponics. Yadda, yadda, yadda...


Most people that visit my website have never heard of hydroculture or, if they’ve heard of it, have no idea how to grow plants in it. Occasionally I receive emails from individuals curious to try their hand at this soilless system, and one of the questions that many of them ask is: “I’d like to start with one plant and see how it goes. What would you recommend?”

My answer: “Something tried and true, of course”

“Get a little more specific, Water Roots lady”

“Alright, alright. Sheesh. Talk about pushy...”

If you’ve never grown anything in hydroculture, the first thing you need to do is get a feel for it with a plant that is able to handle just about anything you throw at it – including the kitchen sink… Ha ha ha…sorry, couldn’t resist.


There are a few great candidates that I will list over time on this blog, but for today’s post I will recommend the Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’, a hardy, highly-tolerant plant that is also very attractive with its striking dark green leaves that are variegated with silver.

Choose one that is small to medium-sized and visibly healthy. Remove it from its pot and wash the roots completely free of soil. When the plant is clean, pot it up in clay pellets, add some water to the container, making sure that it’s below the root system and place the whole kit and caboodle in a bright, warm spot that is out of the direct path of sun. Aglaonemas tend to grow succulent, water roots fairly quickly, so you should see them emerge within a month or so. But if they don’t, don’t panic; sometimes it takes a little longer.

That’s all there is to it folks.

Whatever you do, don’t start with something more complicated if you’re just starting with the hydroculture system, because you don’t need to be discouraged by a plant that’s fussier than most no matter where it grows. For example, gardenias would not be a wise choice. They have hissy fits over everything.


  1. That is indeed a lovely plant, but I don't know...I've never had much luck with indoor plants. I even killed a philodendron once. I've never heard of anyone killing a philodendron before.

  2. Beth, I suppose living in an area with very long winters forces you to better care for houseplants, the only type of greenery you can enjoy year round. Our outdoor gardening season is really short, and someone like me, who loves nature, definitely needs plants to nurture when the winter months kick in.

  3. I would 100% second that Aglaonema 'Silver Queen' can grow in hydroculture (Semi-hydroponically as I knew it by previously) - I once was rooting a cutting of A. 'Silver Queen' in water and, once rooted ended up staying in water. A few months later and it was still in there. I don't know how long it stayed in there but I'm sure it could have been longer if we'd thought to fertilize it as well.

  4. Hi Andrew, Aglaonema 'Silver Queen' is a fabulous plant. Not only can it grow wonderfully in soil and clay pellets, but it can also grow very well in water. I think you could probably grow it that way indefinitely.