The No-Soil, Zero-Maintenance Method for Growing Houseplants

The No-Soil, Zero-Maintenance Method for Growing Houseplants

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Katie Holdefehr
Dec 10, 2016
(Image credit: One Kings Lane)

We've finally found a solution for people who love houseplants, but don't love when their feline roommates treat the fiddle leaf fig like their own personal litter box. Here are 15 herbs and houseplants that can grow hydroponically, meaning they can survive without potting soil, in just a vase full of water. Not only is this dirt-free method pet-friendly and low-maintenance, but it also happens to produce some stunning arrangements.

Above: One Kings Lane grows fiddle leaf figs, rosemary and geraniums in glass vessels, creating a display that's pretty enough to serve as a centerpiece. Bonus: You can pluck fresh rosemary sprigs right off the arrangement.

How it works: In order to grow, plants need water, oxygen, nutrients, and some support to keep themselves upright. Traditional houseplants get those last two needs met by soil. But if you ditch the dirt in favor of nutrient-rich water and a bottle-neck vase that supports the stems? Then, presto—you've got yourself a soil-free garden.

Why it's the best ever: This method completely eliminates the leading causes of houseplant death: over- and under-watering. Without soil, your plants are also far less likely to face disease or pest problems. Plus, daily maintenance is reduced to a once-a-month water refill.

(Image credit: Heimelig)

How to set it up:

  1. Pick a plant that you know will root in water (see our list below for some options that work best), and cut off a section just below the leaf, where the plant's natural rooting hormone is active.
  2. While the cut is still fresh, place the plant segment in a glass container with water. Choose a vessel with a thinner neck that will support the stem of the plant, like the rounded glass vases above from Heimelig. Because the new plant will receive all of its nutrients from the water, the type of water is key here. Use bottled spring or well water rather than tap water, which is often stripped of nutrients thanks to filtration and chlorination.
  3. Watch your budding plant buddy for signs of rooting, which typically begins after 2 weeks. When the water runs low, top it off with some more bottled water.
(Image credit: Residence)

Plants to pick from: This isn't an exhaustive list, but here are some easy varieties to start with. The image above from Residence magazine proves that even a mighty oak tree can get its start in a humble water garden.

Herbs:

  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage

Houseplants:

  • English Ivy
  • Philodendron
  • Coleus
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Begonia
  • Geranium
  • Spider plants
  • Jade
  • Peace Lily
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