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Answers to Tuesday's Plant Questions from the Community

Modern Botanical sent this email to their subscribers on September 15, 2023.

Thank you all for the great questions! It's always fun engaging with our plant community on here and sharing learnings with one another.

Check out below for answers to a handful of questions I received.  The most common question was about what to do with your plants when they begin to outgrow your vases. I'll follow-up with a dedicated email to this soon, but for now, read below or checkout some of our Glass Orbs which are 20% off right now if you're looking for something a little larger for you plant to grow into or this Starter Set we put together as the best way to start your plant journey! 

 

Let's get to it! 

Q: How do you know when roots are dead in hydroponics and to cut them off? I recently converted a philo birkin to hydro and a ton of roots looked to be root rot but I was afraid to cut them just in case they were holding on. The plant itself was declining in soil so I figured I would give it a shot to save in hydro.  It is thriving and a ton of new healthy white roots are coming out.  But I was afraid to cut off the old black /brown roots in case they were supporting. 

A: This is great! Gonna break this into two questions. 

  1. How to ID it roots are rotted/rotting in hydro - take the plant out of water and run your hands gently, very gently, across the roots. Any roots that are mushy are rotted and can be removed! 
  2. Should you keep the darker roots - this is a great q. I have been finding myself removing older soil roots from plants more aggressively of late. Especially when new fresh roots have already shown up. If the roots came from soil, they are not well adapted to utilize water perfectly, so they likely aren't being very efficient. So long as you have some water roots already showing up, I'd start removing some of these older roots. Don't have to do it all at once, but I'd start the process and see how the plant responds. Ideally the plant will double down on growing the new fresh roots :) 

Q: This is my first time growing hydroponically. I currently have two plants growing at the moment how long until I should move them to a larger body of water? 

A: If yes, you can actually keep the plant growing in water so long as you replace the water every few weeks and add nutrients to it from time to time. When the roots run out of room to grow you'll have the option of finding a bigger vase or having them slow down their growth and bonzai in the water!   

Followup Q: Okay, so for now just keep them in this container. What does it mean to bonzai in the water ? 

A: Bonzai being that the plant will maximize the available growing space and slow down it's growth and you're effectively maintaining its health primarily vs growing bigger. Similar to a bonzai tree in that the space for roots is limited but if you care for it it'll continue to flourish despite being constrained in size. 
 
Q: How long should avocado pit seeds be in water for? Mine is shriveling up right now unfortunately! And also how long can string of pearls stay in water as well?
 
A:  For the avocado pit - they don't grow 100% of the time. It's possible that one didn't take and you might need to try with a few other ones before one takes! 
 
For the string of pearls in water - I've only ever grown them in water for a few months before but have seen them doing fine for 6+ months before. I imagine they'll continue to do well with regular care! 
 
Q: Is there a way to prevent water evaporation from the tubes? Can you trim the roots if they become too long?
 
A: On evaporation - there's not much you can do to slow it down but also it should be occurring all that fast. During summer months in particularly dry climates it can likely evaporate a bit faster and will likely slow down during other months. For the most part, simply replacing water ever 2 or 3 weeks should keep the water lines from dipping! Is it causing any particular issues for you? 
 
On to trimming roots: You do have the option of trimming back the roots. It's usually best to remove older roots, roots that were initially in soil, or any roots that are soft and squishy. Brighter white and light green roots and best left untouched! 
 
Q: I’m obsessed with my wall of plants! The plants are doing well so far. What do you do when the roots become full? Can the plant still live in its current vase? Do the roots have to be trimmed? 
 
When the roots run out of room to grow you'll have the option of finding a bigger vase or having them slow down their growth and bonzai in the water. Either way you'll want want to continue with your schedule of replacing water and using nutrients when the roots have filled the vases. 
 
You do have the option of trimming back the roots. It's usually best to remove older roots, roots that were initially in soil, or any roots that are soft and squishy. Brighter white and light green roots and best left untouched! 
 
 
Have a great weekend and don't hesitate to send any followup q's to this email if you have any. 
 
Cheers,
Conrad 

 

Text-only version of this email

Thank you all for the great questions! It's always fun engaging with our plant community on here and sharing learnings with one another. Check out below for answers to a handful of questions I received.  The most common question was about what to do with your plants when they begin to outgrow your vases. I'll follow-up with a dedicated email to this soon, but for now, read below or checkout some of our Glass Orbs which are 20% off right now if you're looking for something a little larger for you plant to grow into or this Starter Set we put together as the best way to start your plant journey!  Let's get to it!  Q: How do you know when roots are dead in hydroponics and to cut them off? I recently converted a philo birkin to hydro and a ton of roots looked to be root rot but I was afraid to cut them just in case they were holding on. The plant itself was declining in soil so I figured I would give it a shot to save in hydro.  It is thriving and a ton of new healthy white roots are coming out.  But I was afraid to cut off the old black /brown roots in case they were supporting.  A: This is great! Gonna break this into two questions.  1. How to ID it roots are rotted/rotting in hydro - take the plant out of water and run your hands gently, very gently, across the roots. Any roots that are mushy are rotted and can be removed!  2. Should you keep the darker roots - this is a great q. I have been finding myself removing older soil roots from plants more aggressively of late. Especially when new fresh roots have already shown up. If the roots came from soil, they are not well adapted to utilize water perfectly, so they likely aren't being very efficient. So long as you have some water roots already showing up, I'd start removing some of these older roots. Don't have to do it all at once, but I'd start the process and see how the plant responds. Ideally the plant will double down on growing the new fresh roots :)  Q: This is my first time growing hydroponically. I currently have two plants growing at the moment how long until I should move them to a larger body of water?  A: If yes, you can actually keep the plant growing in water so long as you replace the water every few weeks and add nutrients to it from time to time. When the roots run out of room to grow you'll have the option of finding a bigger vase or having them slow down their growth and bonzai in the water!    Followup Q: Okay, so for now just keep them in this container. What does it mean to bonzai in the water ?  A: Bonzai being that the plant will maximize the available growing space and slow down it's growth and you're effectively maintaining its health primarily vs growing bigger. Similar to a bonzai tree in that the space for roots is limited but if you care for it it'll continue to flourish despite being constrained in size.  Q: How long should avocado pit seeds be in water for? Mine is shriveling up right now unfortunately! And also how long can string of pearls stay in water as well? A:  For the avocado pit - they don't grow 100% of the time. It's possible that one didn't take and you might need to try with a few other ones before one takes!  For the string of pearls in water - I've only ever grown them in water for a few months before but have seen them doing fine for 6+ months before. I imagine they'll continue to do well with regular care!  Q: Is there a way to prevent water evaporation from the tubes? Can you trim the roots if they become too long? A: On evaporation - there's not much you can do to slow it down but also it should be occurring all that fast. During summer months in particularly dry climates it can likely evaporate a bit faster and will likely slow down during other months. For the most part, simply replacing water ever 2 or 3 weeks should keep the water lines from dipping! Is it causing any particular issues for you?  On to trimming roots: You do have the option of trimming back the roots. It's usually best to remove older roots, roots that were initially in soil, or any roots that are soft and squishy. Brighter white and light green roots and best left untouched!  Q: I’m obsessed with my wall of plants! The plants are doing well so far. What do you do when the roots become full? Can the plant still live in its current vase? Do the roots have to be trimmed?  When the roots run out of room to grow you'll have the option of finding a bigger vase or having them slow down their growth and bonzai in the water. Either way you'll want want to continue with your schedule of replacing water and using nutrients when the roots have filled the vases.  You do have the option of trimming back the roots. It's usually best to remove older roots, roots that were initially in soil, or any roots that are soft and squishy. Brighter white and light green roots and best left untouched!  Have a great weekend and don't hesitate to send any followup q's to this email if you have any.  Cheers, Conrad 
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