How can you grow beautiful houseplants in a clear bottle with no soil and no mess?

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It’s called hydroponic gardening, and it’s so simple you’ll wonder why you don’t see more of it. All that’s required is a suitably shaped vessel – one with a wide base and a bottle neck to hold up the plant – and nutrient rich water.

Planting in soil provides growths with nutrients they need to survive, as well as support in the lower stems. But the actual nutritional value in soil is minimal. So by just keeping the roots in nutrient-rich water, you can still provide everything a plant needs to grow. Fresh spring water works well if you happen to live near a running stream, but to keep things simple it might be better to just mix a scoop of plant food in with normal tap water.

First you need to choose the right plant. Not everything will work – only the most robust varieties can grow hydroponically. Here’s a few that should be effective, though it’s always worth experimenting with others:

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  • Bamboo
  • Coleus
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Geranium
  • Jade
  • Peace Lily
  • Begonia

To begin growing hydroponically it’s best to start with a cutting from an already strong plant. Cut just below the leaf and place it in a container full of nutrient-rich water. You only want to submerge about a third of the plant, the rest should stick up in the air. For this reason it’s best to use a vessel with a narrow spout or bottle neck that can support it. Specially designed hydroponic growing vases are available if you want to do things properly.

It usually takes around 2 weeks to see signs of rooting. Keep an eye on the water level and top it up if it drops too low. As always: keep your plant in a bright and well ventilated area to ensure a strong growth.

The plant should grow with little maintenance – just a change of water every few weeks should be enough – and without soil it’s less likely to develop disease or pest problems. And you’re left with a mess free, beautiful plant growing from a crystal clear container.

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