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Re: Aroids growing better in water?

  • Subject: Re: Aroids growing better in water?
  • From: "Ron Iles" <roniles@eircom.net>
  • Date: Sat, 25 May 2002 23:43:46 -0500 (CDT)

Hi Julius,
Thank you very much for your kind advice.
For security, during the northern winter, after acclimatisation & quarantine the Spaths were planted in heated beds (75-80F) of peat moss/soil-less compost with gravel over >6" of sand for heating cables, all kept moist & the root systems were extensive.  They have now been potted to rationalise the assemblage.   A mixture of soil-less compost & gravel was used in pots with drainage.  This is short term (summer) because I do not like the soil-less compost.   Apart from fine perlite, very costly, I have no access to lava rock, pumice.
In Ireland the plants are grown indoors, no rain, no wind & good  light but no direct unfiltered sunlight.
Since certain Spathiphyllum are grown as submerged aquarium plants I wanted to see how more could be grown in that way.   I transferred a range of sample common forms into strongly aerated waters immersed up to petiole bases, but it was NOT successful & I need to find out WHY.  These forms do grow naturally emersed & I did this in UK but in very well drained soil not in peat based composts.  Does your method maybe allow a different kind of root to develop for immersion (more aerenchymatous???) not harmed by waterlogging, whereas maybe the plants not immersed have a different structure?   Willow (Salix) & other native Trees here grow best here in my muddy sludgy Garden Stream, I just wonder if they too develop roots of special structure adapted to less aerobic conditions?
So, thank you, I will try your method with common plants & as roots penetrate the inorganic lower part progressively immerse them.  I will also examine the nature of the root growth as it happens.  
Many plants especially Spathiphyllums can be grown hydroponically in inorganic aggregates, e.g. pumice, rockwool, perlite or even with roots in a covering membrane in air being intermittently submerged or sprayed with water containing very weak nutrients.   What I would most like to do is to grow as many Spaths as possible as rheophytes/helophytes.   They would then surely be immune to all soil threats.    Swamps have substrates which are often foul smelling & seemingly anaerobic so it seems that Spathiphyllum plants which thrive in such conditions may have roots of different structure to those in my moist & adequately aerated pots?    So if they are different, can I get my Spaths to grow such roots so that I can grow totally immersed in indoor stream/pond environments, not so much in those darn (plastic!) pots?
Has anyone else tried instant or slow inundation with aroids?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, May 25, 2002 4:05 PM
Subject: Re: Aroids growing better in water?

----- Original Message -----
From: Ron Iles
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: Aroids growing better in water?

I can only suggest a method that I use for growing 'wet loving' genera such as Urospatha, Dracontioides, Cyrtosperma and Anaphyllopsis, AND Spathiphyllum canifolium, all notoriously reputed to be difficult or impossibly to grow over extended periods of time.    They all grow in nature under VERY wet conditions, some almost submerged for long periods of time, some with the rhizome, roots and petioles constantly submerged, but if you do NOT grow them in the manner I will once more detail, they WILL rot and die.   I believe that in nature there is an imperceptable movement of water through the flooded soil, plus many 'natural' fungus supression agents must be present under natural/wild conditions.    I have been frustrated MANY times when I have explained the method I use to grow these wonderful plants, gave specimens to folks, then a few months later I receive a call telling me that the plants have died.   Invariably when I question on HOW they potted them, they admit to doing something different or 'trying something new', I then sometimes 'loose it' and ask them why they did not grow them the way I detailed for at least as long as it would take for them to mature and produce seed, THEN do whatever experiments they wanted to with whatever 'new' potting method THEY might think up!   An irreplacable, wild-collected plant was lost by their 'monkeying around'!   Enough 'preaching'---
Place about 3 to 4" of 1 to 2" larva rock in the bottom of a suitably sized plastic pot.   Place some small gravel on top of the rock (about 1/2 ", this prevents the soil mix filtering down through the larger larva rock).   Make a mix consisting mainly of coarse washed 'play sand' ( Home Depot or K-Mark) and peat moss, a handfull or so of a commercial 'soil-less soil mix is added'   Plant the specimen in the pot with roots spread as far downwards as their length allows.    Place the pot in a LARGE saucer of water which allows about 2" of standing water at all times!!!    The whole idea of this method is to prevent ANY of the soil mix in the pot from being CONSTANTLY under water at any time, if the 'soil' in the pot is allowed to sit underwater, the plant will rot and die, and your 'soil' mix will smell like a corpse when you un-pot the dead plant.  Grow in bright light but NOT full sun, say under the canopy of a tree w/ N. exposure.    Water from above DAILY till the roots are observed growing out of the drain holes of the pot into the water in the saucer.    I also treat the plants with a soluable fungicide about every few months as a precaution, rinsing the saucers out the next day, same after I fertilize.    A good rain is very benificial in 'flushing' built-up fert. salts out of the pots and saucers.   Use a very weak fert. mix say every two weeks, and change the water in the saucer as often as you can, say every week or two at the very least.   Protect from ANY cold, wind is also BAD news!   Ron, I think that Spaths would LOVE this method!
Good growing!!
I am still wondering....!
Put simply:
What terrestrial aroid species have you found to grow as well or better in water? 

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