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RE: Indoor house plants in water

  • Subject: RE: Indoor house plants in water
  • From: "Dawber, Ken" <Ken.Dawber@getronics.com>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 10:21:08 -0500 (CDT)
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message

This posting is to respond to several questions and comments which I have had about my posting on Low maintenance indoor house plants where the roots are emersed in water.  Several of these questions where by direct email.
>>The one question I have is what about humidity in the house?
>>Wouldn't growing plants in water greatly increase the humidity?
>> (which is not good for wood, drywall, metals that tend to rust)
>> MJ

Without the soil an additional onus on the setup is to replace the soil's function of support.  This generally involves using vases that have rather narrow openings at the top.  I would expect that this combined with the fact that the water is still means that the water aspect doesn't increase humidity very much.  Its should be similar to having bunches of flowers in water vases.  A single aquarium would have more effect as would the current fashion of floating candles in bowls of water.

I'm not sure of the effect of the plants themselves.  I expect that plants would evaporate water when hot.  It may even be that they would do this more if they have plenty of water but I haven't seen any evidence of this and would expect it to be similar whether in water or in soil.   At home I have heating powered by natural gas and a problem with this is that it tends to dry the air.  In this case a bit of evaporation from the plants would be an advantage.

>>Question:  Re: cleansing roots prior to  changing from terrestrial to aqua  media
>>  have you used detergents, fungicides, alcohol, or chlorine etc to sanitize them?
At present I am just using water but I try to thoroughly clean the roots.  The nurseries here tend to use soil that is easy to remove.  Some of the these sanitizing methods may well improve the percentage of plants that succeed.  If I found plants that did get root rot unexpectedly and were cheap enough to have further tries I would probably have a go at using fungicides.
>>Incidentally some Spaths grow luxuriantly when entire pots are plunged
>>into water, other forms, mostly common more matt leaved cultivars in
>>exactly the same composts rot, rot, rot.  Why? 
>>  Every Syngonium stem cutting with or without adventitious roots
>> develops "water roots" presumably with aerenchyma & often the
>> adventitious roots grow lateral root systems.
>>  It would be interesting to know the histology of the various stages
>> of their root growth & adaptation.
I would like to know the names of those species that you know worked easily and those that you know didn't.
I would be interested to know if those forms of spaths that get rot, rot, rot when emersed while in pots with compost etc would still get root rot if the roots where cleaned, trimmed and then simply emersed in water without a pot, soil or compost being involved.    I suspect that its similar to Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) which often get mentioned as a plant that can be grown in water and yet in soil is always described as being very easy to get root rot if the soil is too wet.
Incidentally, many mentions of the use of spaths in water seem to indicate that it needs to be tied to the top of the container so that the crown of the roots or at least any non root part remains out of the water.  I expect that many other plants are similar in this respect but which it is needed on and which it isn't is something I have to find out.  Whenever a plant has a definite crown to the root it is safer to either keep it above the water line or allow the water line to go down so that it is above the water line most of the time.
>>in ponds in a "soup" of healthily fed ornamental fish
I'm also interested in the use of fish but for my concepts to work with other people it would require that the paludarium to be self sustaining.  Paludariums are normally defined as aquariums that have a land section but it seems to include the concept of having terrestrial plants growing out of the water as giving a land section even if there is no actually land.  You don't even need fish in it to call it a paludarium.
Looking after fish is normally a lot of work (feeding, cleaning etc) and requires a bit of knowledge to keep them healthy.  Most people with aquariums can't have holidays trips without getting someone else to look after them.
As mentioned, there are algae eating aquarium fish but I believe that you would need a very big aquarium and a lot of plants before you could support one small fish in a self-sustaining environment.  (I would love to get figures on just how large it would need to be).
One problem with most of these algae eating fish is that each type of fish likes to eat, or will only eat, one particular type of algae.  Different types of fish eat different types of algae.  Apparently, when you get algae you often get quite a few different types of algae.
While I am writing this, I'm looking at a spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) growing very successfully in water here at work.  I haven't changed the water in over 6 months and the glass jar is quite green.  Its just algae to me.  I can't tell the difference in types.
Ken Dawber
   Melbourne Australia
   ph 0409 790 802
   Best Email:   ken@mira.net

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