Home > Biology > Growing Plants Without Soil

Growing Plants Without Soil

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 6 Nov 2018 |
Growing Plants Without Soil

Growing plants without soil is known as hydroponics. Plants can be grown in many different growing mediums, such as, gravel, sand, perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, clay pellets, bark or coconut fibre, or in water or even air (the roots hang in a mist of water). When plants are grown normally, in soil, this provides the nutrients, but in hydroponics, the growing medium does not provides any nutrients – these all have to be added in with the water in a nutrient solution.

Which Growing Medium?

Try some hydroponics, and experiment with growing plants in different growing mediums – which works the best?

Grow some bean or pea seeds in ordinary potting compost. Once they are about three or four centimetres tall, choose ones that are roughly the same size, and gently wash the compost off the roots. Hold them by the leaves rather than the stems.

Make up some garden or houseplant fertiliser as a nutrient solution – follow the instructions on the side of the bottle or packet.

Choose a growing medium for each plant – try:

  • Sand
  • Fine gravel
  • Perlite or vermiculite
  • Torn up fabric
  • Cotton wool
  • Broken up sponge
  • Wallpaper paste (try to find one without fungicides, and make the paste up with the nutrient solution).
  • Gelatine (melt the gelatine with a little hot water, mix in the nutrient solution, and then allow it to set in a glass).
Put each plant in a glass, and hold it upright. Gently surround the roots with the growing medium (for the gelatine, cut a slit in the surface and ease the roots in). The plant might need to be propped upright with a stake – use a skewer, a lollipop stick, or a pencil.

For the dry growing mediums, water the plant with the nutrient solution, and keep it topped up to the bottom of the roots (don’t flood the growing medium with too much, otherwise the roots won’t be able to get enough air).

Grow a plant in an ordinary pot in potting compost, and keep it moist with plain water (not nutrient solution) – this will act as a control. Make sure all the plants get the same amount of warmth and light.

Measuring Your Plant

For each plant, record the height and the number of leaves at the beginning and then every few days for two or three weeks. Also, record how the plants look – are they green and healthy, or small, yellow and sickly?

Before the plant goes in the growing medium, measure the length of the roots. At the end of the experiment (at the end of two or three weeks), take the plant out of the glass and measure the length of the roots again.

Why do People Use Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is used to grow many commercial crops. Commercial growers (and some amateur gardeners too) use hydroponics because it produces healthy plants that may grow more quickly than plants in the soil. They are also easier to look after – there are likely to be fewer weeds, and growers can control the levels of nutrients more closely. Hydroponics also uses less water and plants don’t need to be watered regularly. It is useful in places where the soil quality is too poor for normal growing, water levels are low, or there just isn’t enough soil.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
really marvellous information...............
isha - 8-Nov-13 @ 3:41 PM
God is love.He love us for aver&aver
gigi - 15-May-13 @ 6:48 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • simran panaich
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    thnx!! It helped me a lot !!! THank YOu so much
    6 June 2019
  • Mar2
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    I am doing this as a demo for homogeneous mixture examples. It really helps, it is interesting, and thank you so much for it!!!
    5 June 2019
    Re: Why Oil and Water Don't Mix
    Why does the food coloring mix with the water i did not quite get iy
    31 May 2019
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    This thing is stupid. I am a doctor and I know better then you do! I will do something about this website if you don’t change the…
    25 May 2019
  • Alice Picello
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    25 May 2019
  • Rea
    Re: Making an Emulsion
    I have always wondered about the Earth. My teacher gave us this website to read about why water and oil don't mix. I started looking around on…
    16 May 2019
  • Candytashy
    Re: Looking at Soil Profiles
    Thanks so much for this post .it really helped me .made my homework much easier and l have learnt a lot from this post
    25 March 2019
  • Rajput
    Re: Pulling and Pushing: Magnetic Attraction
    Kya kisi chemical ko copper me mix karne se iron or steel ko push kiya ja sakte hai. Yadi ho to formula batye.
    25 March 2019
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    Thanks you so much because you help different students especially science who went be a perfect a part of chemistry
    22 March 2019
    Re: Soap and Detergent Chemistry
    Thanks you so much because you help d/f students especially science who went be a perfect a part of chemistry like me.
    22 March 2019