Today, home floriculture is presented in a slightly different light. Many new interesting plants have appeared, various accessories for them, and the methods of cultivation have changed. Today, water beads for plants are gaining special popularity; more and more often they can be seen in the houses of your friends or neighbors. Let’s take a look at how this unusual way of growing plants in water is working.
What Is Hydrogel?
If not to describe in detail the technical and chemical characteristics of such a soil, then we can say that it is a kind of battery, a moisture accumulator. Initially, it can be in the form of powder, crystals, or granules. All of these forms of hydrogel are capable of absorbing moisture and at the same time increase in size by about 300 times. All varieties have a separate purpose, but perhaps the most effective is a large hydrogel, of different colors, which is used directly for growing indoor green spaces.
Hydrogel for Plants
Water beads are used as an additive to soil mixtures, and this is 100 percent justified. The principle of its work is that it provides the roots with moisture, and then, due to the next watering, replenishes the supply. It turns out that a hydrogel is nothing more than a regulator that controls soil moisture. If the soil is dry, it moistens it, and when the soil is waterlogged, the hydrogel takes away the excess. Just like sphagnum moss acts on the soil.
It is clear that for such indoor flowers as succulents, jelly balls are not needed at all, such plants can accumulate moisture. To the epiphytes, it is also unnecessary, since this flower grows without soil, adhering to its kind. But for most of the deciduous as well as flowering, a hydrogel can be very useful. Perfectly complement the interior with such an element of decor as a glass vase with a houseplant at the bottom of which are colored water balls. Only crystal is not advisable to use for this purpose. There is lead in crystal vases and if the plant is kept in it for a long time, it may suffer.
How to Use Water Beads for Potted Plants?
There is nothing complicated in preparation for use. Most often, a package containing granules has instructions for use, but, unfortunately, they often contain very concise information. If you need to plant a flower in a pure form of a hydrogel, then balls that are painted in different colors are better suited for this. But if you could not find such and there were only colorless, then you should not be upset. Such a hydrogel can be easily turned into a colored one using food dyes.
The water for the hydrogel must be taken clean, and it must be settled, otherwise, an unattractive plaque would remain on the balls. There should not be a lot of water, since the granules would not take in excess. You can take at the rate of 10 grams of substance per 0.5 gallons of water. About 2-3 hours is enough for the granules to be saturated with water; for safety reasons, you can wait longer.
What about fertilizers? You can just add them to the water right away. For these purposes, there are special fertilizers. Such fertilizers are easier to buy, and their choice is large in extreme cases, you can use just water-soluble ones. When the granules swell, it is necessary to drain the remaining water, you can use a colander. After that, be sure to dry them. Take a clean sheet of paper or a napkin and layout the balls, the moisture should completely come off them. This is necessary for the passage of air between the balls, if this is not the case, the plant can die.
Next, you need to deal with a plant. It must be removed from the pot along with the soil so as not to damage the root system. Then the roots must be washed. It is not recommended doing this under running water. It is better to thoroughly soak the earthen lump in some container with water, and after that, carefully remove the earth from the roots. At the end of the cleaning process, you can use a small stream of water, preferably warm. It is even easier to plant a plant in hydrogel balls than in ordinary soil. Based on the size of the root system, balls are poured onto the bottom of the vase, the roots are evenly divided over them and the plant is placed. Then the hydrogel is added to the growth line. Generally, everything is no different from the usual planting.
In case moisture evaporates from the hydrogel, you can put a polyethylene film on its top layer.
The flower that grows in the hydrogel is recommended to be watered every two weeks. But this does not always work. It is difficult to immediately understand how much water is needed. So it is better to just spray the top layer first, and the water would gradually spread over the gel balls. Over time, it may already be possible to decide how much and when to water flowers.
With this growing method, you need to choose the right place. Do not allow direct exposure to the rays of the sun, otherwise, the gel would be spoiled. So the location influences the choice of the plant to be placed in the hydrogel.
Crystal Beads for Soil
The smaller one is combined with a mixture of soils. In non-professional floriculture, a hydrogel is used most often when seeds need to germinate. Simply in action, it becomes like a thick jelly. In addition, it does not apply by itself; it can only be used if mixed with soil and sand. Only a novice florist needs to be more careful with such a hydrogel, especially when it comes to the seeds of a rare plant. If you still do not have enough experience in growing indoor flowers from seeds, then you should not experiment, it is better to use the usual method.
The hydrogel can control the looseness of the soil. If it is placed in soil, consisting mainly of clay, then it would not be so heavy but may become looser, and where there is a lot of sand, it would be compacted.
How Long Do Water Gel Beads Last
Being in the soil and replenishing the loss of moisture, the hydrogel can nourish the plant for 4-5 years. The indisputable benefit of its use is the reduction in the number of waterings. It even becomes possible to calmly leave home for a while (for example, to go on vacation) and not worry that the plant can dry out.
Best Plants for Water Beads
If we talk about a mixture of the substrate with hydrogel, then this is more suitable for moisture-loving plants. Among indoor plants in soil with polymer, chlorophytum, euphorbia, ivy, kalanchoe, and others feel great. And beautiful petunias or saintpaulia after planting in such a substrate would develop faster and bloom better.
In the water beads, you can grow plants that initially need to be grown in water. For example, this method of growing is great for plants such as dracaena, some ficus, bamboo, or Syngonium.
Now when we have decided on the best plants for gel beads, let’s find out which plants are not suitable for this method. First, the polymer material is not suitable for bushes that like tight spaces (for example, lemon or eucharis). The use of water crystals is not recommended for light-loving species and varieties with leathery leaves.
Growing plants in gel beads and crystals is a very useful method that would be useful for those who often forget to water the plant. The hydrogel is capable of absorbing and retaining moisture for a long time, which makes it useful in the flower industry. Plants can be planted directly in the hydrogel, or you can mix the substance with soil for indoor flowers. But before planting, you should make sure that these methods are suitable for your flower.
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