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Re: Aroids growing better in water?

  • Subject: Re: Aroids growing better in water?
  • From: Neil Carroll <zzamia@hargray.com>
  • Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 23:12:36 -0500 (CDT)


Surely in hydroponics & aeroponics roots are in intermittent contact with water but not continuously IN water, submerged, inundated?   
NO, I would say that the roots are  continuously inudated. Take a sweet potatoe, put toothpicks in it and set it in a jar of water. The plant will root completly in the water.....totally under water and send up vines and leaves. It will persist like this as long as you take care of it. This is a terrestrial plant.
NO matter what plant it is .....it can be grown with roots unlder water. Again plants will develop an entirely differnt type of root when grown this way. The only thing that tree trunks (epiphytes), rocks (lithophytes) and soil (terrestrials) provide a plant is support and delivery of water and nutrients. The water and nutrients can be provided easily in hydroponics (although you must be careful of salt buildup. support is generally provided with expanded clay or some inert material.......completely covered in water. If you are having trouble growing spathes in water then grow them traditionally in traditional soil mixes.
If you are having rotting problems in soil mixes (or 'soiless mixes') then something is wrong with your cultivation. I think the a big mistake people make in growing their plants is to go off trying all kinds of non traditional methods when they have trouble with traditional means.
If your problem is root rot then  look toward providing a more open mix, greater air circulation, a more sensitive watering hand and more light. These are the things that provide the conditions for rot.
However it IS my hypothesis that many  Spathiphyllum can be grown maybe better IN water 
I think that traditional or hydroponic mehtods can produce the same level of perfectionj. It is simply a matter of the growers experience and expertise with his or her plants.
The bare roots of some hybrid Spathiphyllum transferred from pots to aerated warmed waters here have sometimes rotted here, yet S. wallisii & related forms thrived when their pots were submerged.     I sense that the Spathiphyllum used in the "Betta in a Jar" were of the latter kind. 
Since you moved terrestrial roots into water culture....I would certainly expect them to rot. S. wallisii, being of a more wet origin, would expect to transfer with better success. Again if done correctly, ANY Spathe or any other plant can be grown with its roots completely under water.
I cannot justify risky experiments with rare kinds of which I have only small nuclei. 
Behind every green thumb is 1000 dead plant bodies.
 So for the moment other aroiders experiences of plants growing IN water in the wild & in captivity are invaluable.    Certainly, from the scant literature it is not clear which Spathiphyllum Sections & species grow best IN water in the wild.   And even if I succeed in growing pecies well IN water, this does not entitle me to regard them as natural water plants. 
How plants grow in the wild can be a valuable indicator as to how to grow them in cultivation .....BUT......The experienced grower "tunes" his plants substrates and locations in his yard or greenhouse by understanding his own habits and his growing space. A growers care habits and the place were the plants are being cultivated are a FAR FAR more important factor than how they grow in the wild. For example, I have seen hundreds of thousands of phragmapedium orchids growing in the wild. Most I have seen grow in some of the heaviest clay I have ever seen. If you try to grow one of these slipper orchids in clay in cultivation it will surely rot. 
But in your private communication you mentioned that you saw Spathiphyllum growing epiphytically.  That really is most interesting.  Have you any idea what species?  
Not a clue.
 Would that distinctive species be happy with its roots permanently in water? 
I don't see why not.
  I have no true epiphytic Spathiphyllum & apparently true epiphytes are rare in water plant genera????   
I said that the spathe was growing epiphytically.....I too doubt that there are any true epiphytic spathes (only able to grow epiphytically). In wet and wetter rainforest the line between epiphytes and terrestrials begins to blur. Many normally terrestrial species may grow AS epihytes in some habitats.
So - I need to know enough about the conditions in which species of flora & fauna thrive in the wild in order to achieve the best in cultivation?  
I think not. I believe it is only a very small part of the cultivation picture. Your time would be far better spent in reflecting on your own growing habits and the environment that you have to grow these plants and adjusting them to these factors.. So many many people have so many many different ways to grow the exact species with very similar results. I grow in a green house , use very open mixes and water 3-5 times per week. If someone tried to grow these same plants like this under home conditions on a window sill, they would have a very difficult time.
I have found that of all the wild conditions that a particular plant grows in, the most important is altitude.
The single most important item in plant cultivation is watering. In low light use less water, In high air exchange conditions use more water, In a house with air conditioning or heat (thus low humidity) you need more water,.....etc.
And finally I have seen many many wild species in habitat and 99.9 percent of them don't come close to the potential of the plant when compared to artificial cultivation.

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