Herself's Houseplants

Killing plants so you don't have to

Experiments with water storing crystals


July 8th 2014
I tripped across water storing crystals by accident and could find no information about planting plants straight in the crystals. So I potted two orchids in them today and we’ll see how they do?

If that fails I’ll try mixing some up with bark and potting up a couple more.

You can purchase colored and different sized crystals to use in floral arrangements.

Probably one tablespoon per plant is more than enough. Next time I use them I’ll mix them into the soil or container dry, add the plant, then add the water. It was pretty messy soaking them then trying to get them in the containers and around the roots.

Several companies make them not all use the same formula. Some are polyacrylamide hydrogels (dissolve, last 3-4 months), some are cross-linked (not dissolvable, last 3-5 years) both seem to use potassium. The crystals are in the cross-linked group.

Exposure to heat and light breaks the crystals down, so if you have plants in sunny locations, bury the crystals in the soil.

The best results I’ve seen reported by gardeners is to put the crystals and some dry medium ( pebbles, styrofoam etc ), and soil at the bottom of the pot and soil above.

July 14, 2014
When I watered the orchids today, I took half of them out of the bark, mixed in some water crystals and repotted them in bark with a sheet of moss on top. The rest are still in bark with a sheet of moss over the top, no crystals. I’ve been watering them 2-3 times a week, I’d love to cut that back to once a week.

I also have two dendrobium cuttings I’m trying to root, along with some vanilla, both are outside in just crystals, no bark or moss. I did put a bit of rooting hormone dust on the cuttings.

July 22, 2014
So far planting plants straight into the crystals has been a fail. The roots rot from too little air. Still unsure how the crystals mixed with soil will work out, I don’t see much of a difference good or bad.

Aug 4, 2014
The crystals didn’t work out for house plants. They had to be watered much more often rather than less. The water crystals took up the water but weren’t so good about giving the water back up. They were especially bad with the orchards potted in mulch. They formed clumps blocking the roots from getting air.

See also:
Water storing crystals and carnivorous plants
Hack your garden using water crystals