Plants, even desert plants, require water to grow. Most plants also require soil as well. Some plants such as trees, and bushes are too large to grow in water alone and need the support of the soil to keep them upright. Many plants can be started, maintained, or naturally grow in water.
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Plant to start in water
Many seeds will sprout in water but after a few days will die. Often the sprouts won’t transplant to the garden or pot. Avocado seeds will sprout and grow in water if the tip is kept out of the water but the roots remain in the water. It’s fun for children to grow sweet potato vines in a glass of water. Many root vegetable tops like carrots, turnips, and parsnips will sprout new leaves and grow for awhile in water.
Plant cuttings such as ivy, geranium, coleus, pothos, begonia, African violets and purple heart all root easily in water.
Plants maintained in water
Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants in water with soluble plant food added. The method has been around for ages. The hanging gardens of Babylon were probably hydroponic gardens and the method was used in ancient China as well. The word means water (hydro) and ponic (labor). This soil less method of gardening was brought back into vogue around 1950. While the method is considered soil less, the root system of the plant usually requires a support medium.
Many annual plants will grow using this method as long as their light requirements are met. Production of vegetables is from 30 to 50% more with hydroponic gardening over plants grown in soil.
Plants that naturally grow in water
If you have a garden pond you’ve most likely experimented with a water garden. Plants that naturally grow in water are of three basic types: floaters, rooted, and bog plants.
Floaters are not attached to the soil and float freely in the water with air filled sacs. They have root systems that trail downward into the water. Water hyacinths, water lettuce, duckweed, salvina, floating fern and azolia are all floating plants.
Rooted plants live either rooted in the soil and completely submerged in the water such as the oxygenating plants like anacharis, hornwort, vallisneria and moneywort. Or their roots are in the soil at the bottom of the pond but the leaves and flowers float on the top of the water. Water lilies are probably the most recognized of these types of plants. Hardy water lilies will survive in a pond in freezing weather because it goes dormant. Tropical water lilies will die at the first frost.
Bog plants have their roots and sometimes a good portion of their stems in water but the majority of the plant remains out of the water. Most are found in the shallow depths of a pond or around the edges.
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