Water beads & houseplants

Rhunt8302February 8, 2014

I have done several different versions of using water beads with house plants. The best way that I've found is to put a few water beads in the bottom, top with a layer of stones, topped with sand and then the potting soil. This allows the plant to get the nutrients from the soil and the sand/stone mix works as a filter to keep the water beads clean. The problem that I've had (with only one of these setups) is that the water beads became ammoniated and killed the plant. I didn't know what killed the plant until I dumped the container out and the strong stench of ammonia filled my kitchen. Does anyone have any ideas about what could have caused this?

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caro123_gw(3NH)

I don't know but hopefully someone does. What are water beads?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 3:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It sounds like you have a set-up that retains excessive volumes of water and you're getting anaerobic activity in the soil due to the airless conditions. Where growers are using soils based on fine particulates (peat, compost, coir, sand, topsoil, .....) the move should be away from already excessive water retention.

Try reading the link I left you below. It provides a framework that will help you avoid all the common pitfalls encountered by growers who don't yet know how to avoid them.

If you're interested in more info, or have ?s, let me know.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More info

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Rhunt8302

Loved the article, I've been around houseplants my entire life, my mom had tons when I was a kid. Which is why I tend to enjoy experimenting with mine. I like the water beads, most of the time, because they are attractive ( mine are set up in vases where you can watch roots grow ) and since my house is so absolutely bursting with house plants they're a nice time saver on watering time. I guess is I'm going to use them, I should try using a moss rather than a soil for my substrate so that their is constant air flow to the beads themselves.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 3:33AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Describe the 'water beads' and how you're using them in more detail, please?

Al

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 10:50AM
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nancy_pnwzone8(OR zone 8)

al, 'water beads' are polyacrylamide beads, cubes, crystals, etc. bulk crystals go by brand names such as Soil Moist. the shaped ones go by "water pearls" "crystal soil" etc.

Rhunt, most of the instructions for use for these products are (1) to be added to normal outdoor potting soils where you need additional water storage (ie places like phoenix, az), and (2) as it's own growing medium for indoor house plants. when used as a "growing medium" the instructions say that there shouldn't be *any* organic matter or "loose" un-absorbed water, or you can risk having rot.

i agree with al that you likely have an anaerobic situation. at a minimum... if this set-up is working for you (other than this one plant) that you should have air holes or drain holes in the bottom of the growing pot. i'm assuming that since you said "vases", there are no air or drain holes.

cheers,

nancy

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:13PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm familiar with what you described - what I'm trying to determine is whether she is indeed using what you described or something more like LECA/Hydroton before I decide what suggestions are appropriate.

Al

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:25PM
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