You've probably seen these crystal water beads in flower vases at wedding receptions. But did you know...they're also a fun and easy way to grow many house plants?
Plants don't actually need potting mix to grow. They merely require water, air and a source of nutrients for their roots. These water gel beads provide the air and water -- all while giving the plant a creative new look.
These beads are an inert medium, made of water-absorbing polymer gel. Dried crystals are tiny, then swell up as they absorb water. An ideal replacement for potting mix, this "crystal soil" helps to maintain moisture for house plants, by releasing water to the plant as needed.
Why grow house plants without soil? Here are a few advantages:
Put the dried gel crystals into a large bowl and cover them with water. Add more water as needed, allowing them to absorb as much water as possible. This will take several hours. The beads will swell up before they're ready to use. Drain off any excess water.
Pot your plant like you would in soil, placing the water-soaked beads on the bottom of the container, positioning the plant roots over it, then surrounding the roots with more beads. You don't need to fill a vase to the top with beads; try to keep the top of the plant above "soil line" as it was before.
Do not put water beads under a grow light or in direct sunlight because heat will damage them. It's a good idea to choose plants that prefer indirect light. Some good candidates are arrowhead plant, Chinese evergreen and lucky bamboo.