Five hundred million years ago there was a time period known as the “Cambrian Period”. This is the first period of the first eon of the first era in which life existed on earth. What does a period, an eon, or an era mean? If a period is a minute, then an eon is an hour, and an era is a day. The Cambrian Period is the first minutes of life.
This is when both plants and animals emerged from the primordial soup of life. One moment, the earth’s surface was desolate and empty. And in the next moment, life flowed abundantly. So, clearly, plant life can gestate in water. The question is, which ones are the best at it?
The kinds of plants that grow in water are ones with thin roots that bear no fruit and do not grow very tall. This sounds like quite a few restrictions, but when you consider how vast the landscape of plant life is, it actually leaves you with a huge number of potential plants. You just have to care for them.
These restrictions come from the fact that growing in water means the plant is going to have to be light, not take up more space than it has in its container and be able to support its own weight. Without the soil to balance it, it will fall over if it flowers, fruits, or grows too tall. Here are three plants that meet these criteria.
1. Chinese Evergreen
One of the reasons people enjoy plants that grow in water is because, despite their drawbacks, they can be quite independent. Chinese Evergreen is a great example of this. It is a willowy, leafy plant with roots that will never crowd in on each other that does not grow to be too tall. That is every requirement right there!
But in addition to that, it also is particularly good at surviving in water. The thing about plants in general is, they do not need the soil. Soil can provide a lot of nutrients, but the only thing stopping those nutrients from living in water is the nature of the nutrients themselves.
In short, if a plant does not need any nutrients that can only survive in soil, then it will do fine in water. And not only will it do fine, but it knows how to survive in water. It will be constantly surrounded by a food source, so as long as it has sunlight to go along with it, the plant will be able to survive with little maintenance.
2. Dumb Cane
This is not the most flattering name a plant has ever had, but it does check off all the requirements mentioned above. In addition to that though, Dumb Cane has large, gorgeous leaves. These leaves might appear, at first, to be deal-breakers, but they are actually lighter than they look.
Dumb cane needs lots of light, but keep it out of the direct sun. Give it light that is bouncing off a wall or diffused by curtains. Direct sunlight can damage its leaves, which will make them less effective at consuming light.
3. Lucky Bamboo
This is one of the most popular plants to grow in water. This is because many people want to decorate with bamboo; it has such a unique look, even those who do not actively think about how to decorate with it will find themselves inspired. Lucky bamboo offers you this, but without the need for a massive pot.
It does not grow as tall as its unlucky cousin, but lucky bamboo survives perfectly well in water.
Why Do Plants Not Need Soil?
This is a question you have likely had, either before reading this article or after starting it. This question is a product of observation: Plants have always grown in soil. So, how and why can they live without it?
Except that plants have not always grown in soil. Think back to what was said at the beginning of the article, about the Cambrian period. For a long time before anything emerged from the oceans, life was relegated to the water. Plantlife underwater does not always need soil to grow in. Sometimes it floats freely around.
This can indicate to us why plants can live in the water: Plants do not just grow up. They grow out. They grow out from their seed, and while many plants on the surface of the earth express their growth by growing taller, a plant growing in a different environment will grow differently. Therefore, some plants grow better in water.
Can Water Carry The Same Nutrients As Soil?
The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer (that still fails to be comprehensive) is that while some nutrients that plants need cannot live in water, many can. In fact, there are nutrients that can only live in water that can make up for the ones plants are missing by not being in soil.
Here is a fun thing to do, either with your normal potted plants, or your plants that are completely in water. Next time you make any kind of pasta, save the pasta water. That is to say, rather than straining the pasta from the water and sending the water down the drain, but the water into another pot.
Then, water your plants with pasta water. The reason you boil pasta is to separate bacteria from the pasta. This usually takes some of the pasta cells with it. This means the pasta water is a soup of living and once-living things. Watering your plants with that will supercharge them, enhancing their growth.
This works whether you are watering a potted plant or an all-water plant. Many people worry that all-water plants will drown, but plants rarely drown in general. Plants know how to stop taking in water once they have had their fill, so being completely submerged is actually fine with them.
In short, there are lots of houseplants that can survive in the water. Some survive better, in fact. So, experiment, and see what strange new plants you can grow with this strange method.