These archive photos document the conversion of a Ficus benjamina to clay pebble hydroculture back in 2006. The tree had been growing in a Jardinier sub-irrigation (aka self-watering) planter.
I used a full force jet of water from a hose nozzle to remove the soil mix. I then pruned the root system so that the tree would fit into the homemade sub-irrigation planter on the right.
This took no more than ten minutes. The tree never dropped a leaf. Tell me about temperamental Ficus trees. These plants are tough and have very strong root systems if maintained properly.
I have done this many times. As you gain experience from washing the soil from other plant species, you will discover which have tough wiry roots and which are more tender. I would not do the full-force hose jet process on all plants.
My advice is to just do it! It's easy to learn. The root systems of plants are not as super-sensitive as many would lead you to believe.
This video taken of the plant wall installation at the Dodge Foundation headquarters shows a similar process. If you have doubts, the video should help to dispel them.
They are not as easy to make as PET pop bottle planters, but you can also recycle glass bottles as planters. The glasses in the top photo were made from wine bottles. A company named Wine Punts makes them. Using expanded clay pebbles they could serve as planters (no drain hole necessary) as well as drinking glasses.
There were many posts about hydrocuture on my prior blog Inside Plants Live. I will repost the ones of value. Once plants are growing in expanded clay pebbles their care is signfiicatnly easier to learn than soil based plant care.
If you have specific questions about hydroculture feel free to ask by comment.
The vast majority of open office and cube farm photos that I surf through are plant deserts. Healthy plants are rarely part of the plan. This office, however, is an attention getter because it is a real desert of sorts.
Notice the clay pebbles at the base of the cactus in the top photo. They look like expanded clay pebbles used to maintain plants in hydroculture. A strong clue that they are is the fact that this office is in France and not the U.S. Hydroculture is in widespread use in Europe but virtually unheard of here.
The grand high poobahs of horticulture here in the U.S. decree that all cacti belong in a clay pot with saucer. Further, the pot must have the mandatory drain hole under penalty of drip torture.
All of this, of course, is not true. Cacti are very comfortable growing in sub-irrigated soil mixes and clay pebble hydroculture.
The office, designed by the world renowned Edouard François, is not some fringe group of creative types. It is the office of H of group Havas.
I really like this Lucky Bamboo photo taken by Rashida of i heart linen on Flickr. It reveals, however, a drawback of this plant. Notice how thin the offset is compared to the main stem.
More than likely, the offset stem will get thinner and thinner. Over time, the plant will look more like a weed than a decorative plant. This happens particularly in low light, which is how this plant is most often located.
I think of Lucky Bamboo as a plant decoration somewhere between a cut flower and an indoor plant. With that said, you buy a new Lucky Bamboo when it gets too ratty looking.
One solution that I favor is to buy Dracaena sanderiana tip cuttings and root them. Or, you could buy a Dracaena sanderiana plant and take tip cuttings from it. Who would know that it isn't a "real" Lucky Bamboo plant? Just kidding. They're all Dracaena sanderiana no matter whet the retailer calls them.
Click on the photo for a larger view on Flickr
This plant was made from stem cuttings bought from a floral booth at a farmers market. They're growing in expanded clay pebbles (hydroculture). I don't think they are readily available on the retail market but it's worth checking out.
Note that none of the Lucky Bamboo plants in these photos are tip cuttings. These plants were all propagated from stem sections.
Ivy (Hedera) growing in expanded clay pebbles (hydroculture).
Would you like to buy this for yourself, a friend or loved one? It will cost you because you will have to travel to Japan or Hong Kong.
This is just one of the many fabulous plant "art objects" from Plants•Plants. I have visited this store online in the past. I don't know why but they have discontinued their online business and removed 4 videos that used to be on the site. For some reason the site map has also disappeared. It made it much easier to navigate.
I don't know of anything comparable to Plants•Plants here in the U.S. It seems made for Manhattan but it isn't here. This company is obviously living in the 21st century bridging the horticultural, environmental and design worlds. It's a green business in every sense of the word.
As you will see, they are not stuck in the clay pot, saucer, drain hole rut that we are. You won't find any trace of Martha here, only cutting edge design using indoor plants, a variety of media and beautiful accessories. .
This is a Google translatation. It's not very good but you can get an idea of what they're about and the photos speak volumes. If you have been to one of their stores please share your experience with a comment or an email. UrbanGreenscaper [AT] gmail.com Thanks!
Website Navigation Notes:
The top icon bar doesn't seem to work.
Use the photo icons below the word Style
The blog is not accessible..."forbidden" is the message
There is a list of shops - 5 in Japan, 2 in Hong Kong. Scroll down to the 9/5/2008 announcement about the online shop closing.
Here is another one of the "survivors". This 6 month old plant is now growing in expanded clay pebbles (hydroculture) under those decorative pebbles. It is truly amazing to create a plant like this from cuttings without a greenhouse in such a short time .
The AeroGarden is the first product in my long career that has succeeded in demystifying the production of personal food. It would be a bad pun to say "mystifying" the roots did it.
All you need do is plug it in whether you're in a cold climate apartment in the north or a condo in the south. The necessary environment of adequate light and water is under digital control. A built-in micro-processor automatically adjusts nutrient delivery, light cycles and water for specific plant types. A built-in light timer turns lights on and off and a built-in reminder system automatically alerts you to add water and nutrients.
The AeroGarden has created a market in retailing but has it created a market in the investment world? The two don't always go together.
A couple of bloggers have taken a hard look at the stock of AeroGrow, the company behind the AeroGarden.
The blog posts and comments following them are an interesting insight into the world of start-up companies and IPO's. As a disclaimer, I do not own AeroGrow stock.
Make that one month from cuttings to little trees. These are the cuttings shown here. The one on the left is growing in expanded clay pebbles (hydroculture). The one on the right in coir (coconut fiber).
Both are sub-irrigated in recycled plastic soda bottles from Trader Joe's. Note that they have a blue tint. We'll see how they do side by side. If it were not for the cause of experimentation all of my indoor plants would be installed in expanded clay pebbles. Stay tuned.