Air & Water

by Kavita

Trees, plants, fruits, flowers, rain, sand – I love my planet and the environment that it provides for all of us to thrive in. As a traveler, my wish to connect with nature gets reaffirmed quite often. I remember that as a city-dweller, most of my childhood was spent dreaming of a backyard with a garden, from where I could pluck cilantro/coriander to garnish my curries with. We always lived in flats or apartments. A few years ago, however, my parents moved to a ground floor flat which had a big backyard. Finally, my mother was able to grow tomatoes, eggplant (brinjal/aubergine), bitter-gourd, chillies, coriander, curry leaves and plantains too! The dream had come true; but I no longer lived in the same city.

Over the next few years, whenever I made a visit, which was maybe once a year, I would spend sometime in her backyard. Sometimes, the meals she cooked had vegetables harvested in her garden, and for me, that detail would add more flavor to the food. I even imagined to find a house for my parents with a bigger farm-area than the rooms. Eventually, we had to settle for a flat-like retirement house for them. Not a problem, I thought; I could build that house for myself.

As one can see, more than the house, I thought about the garden or the farmland. Apart from some science projects, I hadn’t grown anything all through my life, until last year. In the summer of 2013, I decided to try my hands at growing some herbs. Along with a friend of mine, I visited a nursery and picked as many as 5 herbs, 3 flowering plants and one indoor plant.

Curry leaves and BasilCradleChrysanthemumsMiniatureMarigoldRed kidney beansFrench beans

I called them my children and thought that I would treat the growing experience as a rehearsal to become a mother someday. I watered them, kept them in the required places and cared for them. Then, one day, I traveled and I left my plants at a friend’s house.

When I returned, they looked better than how I had left them. I was quite happy about that. I learned that the conditions at my house were not as great as at my friend’s. Over the next few weeks, I watched the health of the tiny plants deteriorate. Partly because it was too complicated to leave the plants at someone’s house and bring them back, every time I traveled. So, I started to leave them in their places and attended to them whenever I was home. Ultimately and unfortunately, all of them withered and died. Even though I was quite sad, I saw the end coming long before it did. After over 4 months, all that was left were blue, red, yellow, white, empty planters. As sad as it sounds, it was a cemetery.

A few weeks ago, I found the energy to try the process once again in our new house (we moved countries and live in a small flat now). I have limited space and most of it is indoors. There is a lot of sunlight and the house is well-ventilated. On top of that, I have a number of painted bottles that I want to use. To understand the possibilities, I did some research. I discovered hydroponic (or air plants) plants and as the name suggests, these plants grow in water. The information on the internet was abundant but confusing. So, I decided to just visit a nursery.

Incidentally, I walked into the largest plant&flower market in my city. There were more shops than I imagined but there was almost nothing for me. At last, I was directed to a guy who had some options.

“So, I am looking for plants that I can grow in water.”

“I don’t have much but you can take Anthurium and Lilies.”

I looked at the plants and was very happy to see how they looked – beautiful but nicely rooted in their soils.

“But will they grow in water?

“Yeah, yeah.”

“So, I just need to take them out of these planters and put them in my container?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“For how long will they grow?”

“Oh, forever”

“Wow!” I thought. I bought two plants but they had multiple roots. When I got home, I carefully removed them from their soils and put them in my various water planters, and this is a glimpse of how they looked. I covered 7 bottles, by transplanting the two potted flower plants and separating the roots.

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It’s been over 10 days and yesterday, I had to dry, cut and remove most of the Lilies, since they withered quickly. I changed the water couple of times but only the Anthuriums ‘look’ alright.

A pointless(I should’ve done this before bringing them home) research provided me some insight into the sad state of these flowers in my house :


1- If the flowers are already planted in soil, transplanting them in water is a bad idea. This is because the roots are adapted to a different medium.

2- Since there is no drainage, the roots are always wet and this infect the roots.

3 – Lillies thrive in shade and my window sills have light throughout the day.

I am feeling worse than before, especially because I uprooted perfectly healthy plants and killed them in my experiment.

Despite this, I am eager to keep ‘live’ plants in my house that can thrive in the conditions I have and the kind of medium I want to use. So, if you are reading this post and you know anything about water/air growing plants, please let me know.

One of the things I found out is that I can grow hyacinths and tulips in a vase using their bulbs. But since they are seasonal, I’ll have to wait. I would love to know if anyone has other creative ways to help me grow plants in my bottle-vases.

Meanwhile, I am growing some Basil, Jalapenos and Ginger from seeds!