Do most of your succulents rot or shrivel despite watering? If it’s a yes, it means you are struggling with overwatering and underwatering to fulfill your plants’ moisture requirements. On the contrary, succulents are quite responsive and quickly show outcomes. So, instead of growing succulents in waterlogged or dry soil, give them a semi-hydroponic system for disease-free growth.
What Is Semi-Hydroponics?
Semi-hydroponics, also called passive hydroponics, is the system to grow plants without soil. An inert medium such as lightweight expanded clay aggregates LECA helps plant roots to grow by absorbing moisture from the environment. Semi-hydroponics is quite different from pure hydroponics, in which plant roots grow only in water, and pumps plus aerators supply nutrient solutions.
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While in this system, plant roots grow in an inert substrate that wicks nutrient solution to provide moisture and required nutrients to the plant. There is no use of pumps or motors in a semi-hydroponic setup.
Complete Guide: How to Set Up a Succulent Semi-Hydroponic?
Growing succulents in semi-hydroponics is easy and stress-free. Just follow all the given steps, and you will be done with a semi-hydroponic setup.
Choose Right Container
Take a tall and vertical container to keep the succulent roots up out of the water. If you take a short or wide container, the roots may get in touch with the solution, and the purpose of this system ends up.
Similarly, determine whether you want to grow succulents in a glass or plastic container. Both options are good, but plastic containers are easy to use, and you can drill holes effortlessly. Another plus point of plastic containers is that they have a lid to support succulents and maintain humidity.
Drill Holes in the Container
Next is to drill holes in the container. Here you must not forget that holes must be at the sides, not at the base. It creates a reservoir of the nutrient solution and the medium take it up to the succulent roots. So, take a handheld drill and make two holes of about 1.5 to 2 inches at both sides of the container.
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Prepare Growth Medium
LECA is highly porous clay pallets used as a substrate or medium in semi-hydroponics. They are exceptional to absorb moisture and nutrients without being decomposed. Above all, these aggregates have neutral pH, so they do not disturb the pH of the growth environment. Therefore, take LECA and rinse with clean water until no colored particles come out of them. Lastly, soak the clay pallets in water and leave them for 30 minutes. After that, fill the container to about three quarters and move on to the next step.
This step needs some gentle handling as you have to transplant succulents to the new container. To do this, carefully hold the pot in which succulent is already grown and remove the plant without breaking off or damaging its roots. More steps and video here. When it is out of its pot, remove as much soil with your fingers as you can. After removing most of the soil, rinse it lightly to remove any remaining soil particles.
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Place the Containers’ Lid
Lastly, make a slit and a hole in the lid and place your succulent on the container. Covering the pot is necessary otherwise, water will quickly evaporate, and there would be no humidity for the succulent. If you don’t know how much the volume of humidity that succulents need, it might be helpful.
Once a semi-hydroponic setup is established, water your succulent with the appropriate fertilizer solution. Just fill the container so the medium remains saturated and fertilizer reaches the top to provide nutrients to the growing succulent.
Plus, after transplanting your succulent to this system, don’t get worried about plants’ growth. Roots take time to adapt to a new environment, and plants show restricted growth at the start. Just place it in inadequate light and let it grow. After about one month, you will notice that your succulent will grow rapidly. This is because its roots have been acclimatized to the new setup.
Benefits of Semi-Hydroponics
Semi-hydroponics is a unique system and has many benefits such as:
A semi-hydroponic setup solves the biggest problem of succulent root rot as their roots are prone to overwatering and killing the plant. Succulents growing in wet soil have poor air circulation that results in toxin accumulation. But in a succulent semi-hydroponic system, proper air circulation ensures healthy plant growth to make it pest-free.
The succulents grow stress-free in the semi-hydroponic system. They have a rich supply of nutrients and remain moist to eliminate major plant problems.
Disadvantage of Semi-Hydroponic
The disadvantages of a semi-hydroponic system include:
A semi-hydroponic setup requires a particular growth medium, and you cannot use organic potting soil. Although the medium is inexpensive, it cannot provide nutrients needed for plant growth and you have to replenish after a certain time.
This system is labor-intensive and needs someone to keep an eye on the fertilizer solution. Every time your plant needs water, it will require feeding with a dilute fertilizer solution, and water alone cannot meet the plant's needs.
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Some Problems You May Encounter
Like any other system, you may encounter some problems when establishing or maintaining a succulent semi-hydroponic system, such as:
Container may leak: The first problem of this system is its leakage, and it can occur at any side of the container. Water solution comes out, leaving only clay pallets when the system leaks, whether it is the result of improper drilling of holes or mishandling.
Inappropriate fertilizer: The succulents’ growth in a semi-hydroponic system depends on the fertilizer. Different plants have varied requirements depending on the succulent type and its growth phase. So, dealing with multiple succulents using this system can make it hard.
Foul smell: Semi-hydroponic system may become contaminated and give a bad smell if not flushed for a long time. Water is the primary solution, and if you take too long between flushing it and changing the nutrient solution, the chances of problems and foul smells increase. This not only makes plantations inconvenient but can also damage succulents. When a plant grows in a contaminated environment, several diseases and pests will attack.
A semi-hydroponic system is a great way to grow healthy and thriving succulents because of their watering problems. If you also struggle with the succulent watering plan and encounter many plant and pest issues, give your plant a new space.
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