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  Aroids growing better in water?
From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.24 at 12:24:24(8872)

I am still

From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at msn.com> on 2002.05.25 at 08:05:05(8877)
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: Aroids growing better in


I can only suggest a method that I use for growing 'wet loving'
genera such as Urospatha, Dracontioides, Cyrtosperma and Anaphyllopsis, AND
Spathiphyllum canifolium, all notoriously reputed to be difficult or
impossibly to grow over extended periods of time. They all
grow in nature under VERY wet conditions, some almost submerged for long
periods of time, some with the rhizome, roots and petioles constantly
submerged, but if you do NOT grow them in the manner I will once more
detail, they WILL rot and die. I believe that in nature
there is an imperceptable movement of water through the flooded soil, plus
many 'natural' fungus supression agents must be present under natural/wild
conditions. I have been frustrated MANY times when I have
explained the method I use to grow these wonderful plants, gave specimens to
folks, then a few months later I receive a call telling me that the plants
have died. Invariably when I question on HOW they potted them,
they admit to doing something different or 'trying something new', I then
sometimes 'loose it' and ask them why they did not grow them the way I
detailed for at least as long as it would take for them to mature and
produce seed, THEN do whatever experiments they wanted to with whatever
'new' potting method THEY might think up! An irreplacable,
wild-collected plant was lost by their 'monkeying around'!
Enough 'preaching'---
Place about 3 to 4" of 1 to 2" larva rock in the bottom of a suitably
sized plastic pot. Place some small gravel on top of the rock
(about 1/2 ", this prevents the soil mix filtering down through the larger
larva rock). Make a mix consisting mainly of coarse washed 'play
sand' ( Home Depot or K-Mark) and peat moss, a handfull or so of a
commercial 'soil-less soil mix is added' Plant the specimen in
the pot with roots spread as far downwards as their length
allows. Place the pot in a LARGE saucer of water
which allows about 2" of standing water at all
times!!! The whole idea of this method is to prevent
ANY of the soil mix in the pot from being CONSTANTLY under water at any
time, if the 'soil' in the pot is allowed to sit underwater, the plant
will rot and die, and your 'soil' mix will smell like a corpse when you
un-pot the dead plant. Grow in bright light but NOT full sun, say
under the canopy of a tree w/ N. exposure. Water from
above DAILY till the roots are observed growing out of the drain holes of
the pot into the water in the saucer. I also treat the
plants with a soluable fungicide about every few months as a precaution,
rinsing the saucers out the next day, same after I
fertilize. A good rain is very benificial in 'flushing'
built-up fert. salts out of the pots and saucers. Use a very
weak fert. mix say every two weeks, and change the water in the saucer
as often as you can, say every week or two at the very
least. Protect from ANY cold, wind is also BAD news!
Ron, I think that Spaths would LOVE this method!

Good growing!!


From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.25 at 21:43:46(8879)

Thank you very much for your
kind advice.

For security, during the
northern winter, after acclimatisation & quarantine the Spaths were planted
in heated beds (75-80F) of peat moss/soil-less compost with gravel over >6"
of sand for heating cables, all kept moist & the root systems were
extensive. They have now been potted to rationalise the
assemblage. A mixture of soil-less compost & gravel was used
in pots with drainage. This is short term (summer) because I do not
like the soil-less compost. Apart from fine perlite, very costly, I
have no access to lava rock, pumice.

In Ireland the plants are
grown indoors, no rain, no wind & good light but no direct unfiltered

Since certain Spathiphyllum
are grown as submerged aquarium plants I wanted to see how more could be grown
in that way. I transferred a range of sample common forms into
strongly aerated waters immersed up to petiole bases, but it was NOT
successful & I need to find out WHY. These forms do grow naturally
emersed & I did this in UK but in very well drained soil not in peat based
composts. Does your method maybe allow a different kind of root to develop
for immersion (more aerenchymatous???) not harmed by waterlogging, whereas maybe
the plants not immersed have a different structure? Willow (Salix)
& other native Trees here grow best here in my muddy sludgy Garden Stream, I
just wonder if they too develop roots of special structure adapted to less
aerobic conditions?

So, thank you, I will try
your method with common plants & as roots penetrate the inorganic lower part
progressively immerse them. I will also examine the nature of the root
growth as it happens.

Many plants especially
Spathiphyllums can be grown hydroponically in inorganic aggregates, e.g. pumice,
rockwool, perlite or even with roots in a covering membrane in
air being intermittently submerged or sprayed with water containing very
weak nutrients. What I would most like to do is to grow as many
Spaths as possible as rheophytes/helophytes. They would then
surely be immune to all soil threats. Swamps
have substrates which are often foul smelling & seemingly anaerobic so
it seems that Spathiphyllum plants which thrive in such conditions may have
roots of different structure to those in my moist & adequately aerated
pots? So if they are different, can I get my Spaths to
grow such roots so that I can grow totally immersed in indoor
stream/pond environments, not so much in those darn (plastic!)

Has anyone else tried instant
or slow inundation with aroids?


From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.05.27 at 18:30:08(8901)
I would venture to say that just about ANY plant can be grown
in water (hydroponically).


From: "Randall M. Story" story at caltech.edu> on 2002.05.27 at 21:04:30(8903)
Title: Re: Aroids growing better in water?

Even epiphytic orchids, apparently. I saw several yesterday at a friend's--including a Phalaenopsis!


From: "ron" ronlene at adelphia.net> on 2002.05.28 at 13:21:58(8911)
Title: Re: Aroids growing better in water?

Phalanopsis cannot sit in water and live very
long!!! I hope nobody took you literally.

From: Ron McHatton rmchatton at photocircuits.com> on 2002.05.28 at 14:24:02(8912)
It is indeed possible to grow Phalaenopsis (as well as virtually any other
orchid for that matter) hydroponically. The key is "hydroponically."
Plants grown in that manner are not grown in water but rather in an inert
medium which can be flushed regularly with water or they are grown in pots
which allow the roots to grow down into a water reservoir similar to the
growing situation described by Julius for some emergent aroids. In this
situation, the Phalaenopsis roots grow down through the potting mix,
through the gravel at the bottom of the pot and into the container of
water. The roots appear to change structure (they will be fatter and fewer
in number) and they will adapt to growing under water. The only time this
becomes deadly is if the entire root system is kept under water. In that
case, the plants will die rapidly. Many Phragmipedium growers use a
technique similar to Julius' using tall pots standing in an inch or two of
water. Southeast Asian Vanda growers routinely suspend their plants in
baskets with no potting medium, allowing the long roots to grow down into a
trough of manure tea. The plants get constant moisture and fertilizer
uptake through the submerged roots, the exposed portion of the root mass
apparently handles oxygen uptake and the plants grow at a tremendous rate.

From: Steve Marak samarak at arachne.uark.edu> on 2002.05.28 at 14:25:50(8913)
On Tue, 28 May 2002, ron wrote:

> Re: Aroids growing better in water?Phalanopsis cannot sit in water and
> live very long!!! I hope nobody took you literally.

From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.05.28 at 15:59:43(8915)
Title: Re: Aroids growing better in water?

Ron, I beg to differ. As I stated earlier....ANY plant can be
grown hydroponically including Phalaenopsis. BUT if you take a plant that has
been growing under traditional situations and suddenly plunge THAT root system
into water...yes it will die. Plants started in water will develop a different
set of roots adapted to such a situation.


From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.28 at 16:01:14(8916)

Surely in hydroponics &
aeroponics roots are in intermittent contact with water but not
continuously IN water, submerged, inundated? However it IS
my hypothesis that many Spathiphyllum can be grown maybe
better IN water just like other water lovers like Anubias,
Cryptocoryne, Lagenandra etc etc. Growing Spathiphyllum in this way
with roots submerged & leaves intermittently irrigated would surely
eliminate the few pest & disease hazards which beset them in
terrestrial conditions. My question is whether the water be running,
aerated or most simple, or static, with plants rooted in bottom
substrates? I tried many theoretical designs which
seemed good at first but proved less so afterwards...

The bare roots of some
hybrid Spathiphyllum transferred from pots to aerated warmed
waters here have sometimes rotted here, yet S. wallisii & related
forms thrived when their pots were submerged. I sense
that the Spathiphyllum used in the "Betta in a Jar" were of the latter
kind. The lighter modern green leaved Spathiphyllum often
seem too "soft" to survive permanent inundation? Indeed in Florida
especially they seem susceptible to Cylindrocladium & other rots.
Maybe the soft tissues are not sufficiently aerenchymatous? I
cannot justify risky experiments with rare kinds of which I have only small
nuclei. So for the moment other aroiders experiences of plants
growing IN water in the wild & in captivity are
invaluable. Certainly, from the scant literature it is not clear which
Spathiphyllum Sections & species grow best IN water in the
wild. And even if I succeed in growing pecies well IN water,
this does not entitle me to regard them as natural water plants.

I have of course plenty
of "designer" hybrids. These are mostly from a tiny range
of probably line & inbred parents with maybe depleted gene pools. That
maybe is why so many look alike & seem more delicate &
susceptible to rots? Modern "Designer" Spathiphyllum
cultivars are chosen for arbitrary human reasons, as pot plants -
for elegance, being ultra- floriferous, capable of withstanding cold, owner
neglect etc. They may be less suitable as water
plants than species from the wild. As you reported privately
Spathiphyllum species come from the widest range of habitats
& ecological niches. But still each form has to be evaluated
on its performance, I cannot make arbitrary
generalisations. Obviously, whether or not one species can
grow IN water sheds little light on the tolerances & preferences
of the genus as a whole. But in your private communication you
mentioned that you saw Spathiphyllum growing epiphytically.
That really is most interesting. Have you any idea what
species? Would that distinctive species be happy with its roots
permanently in water? I have no true epiphytic Spathiphyllum &
apparently true epiphytes are rare in water plant genera????
Regrettably, S. solomonense, a hemi-epiphyte(?) has apparently not been
collected In PNG since the 1960's & only herbarium specimens exist,
& there are seemingly none in cultivation? So, was
that the epiphytic species you saw? As I said I need specific wild
observations to draw tentative supportative conclusions about best cultural
needs of each kind before I can decide what is to be grown IN water or
not. For easier & more successful growing I hope I
can get observations & ideas from others to accelerate my inundation of
as many of the genus as possible

So - I need to know enough
about the conditions in which species of flora & fauna thrive in the
wild in order to achieve the best in cultivation? To treat
Spathiphyllum just as swamp plants would be wonderful & easiest for me but
how good for the plants? Like animals it may be that captive plants adapted
to un-natural artificial conditions & inbred may lose some of
the wild vitality & characteristics which made them what they are as
species. So idealistically, (and what is Man without ideals?) should
one not at least try to culture each & every captive species according to
its specific optimum preferences? To me the rarer the species the
more important that principle seems to be. More & more in
captivity we consider the preferences of rare fauna yet are
not plants still widely grown for their
tolerances? Indeed commercial pot plants are maybe scheduled for
brief spectacular lives, short futures & repeated quick
profit? On the other hand, for those natural species for
which we accept cultural custody it seems of paramount importance to
know the parameters of their wild
environments? Yet how often do we see detailed
reports by "observers" in the wild of light intensity,
temperatures, humidities, soil & water quality etc etc in the niches in
which aroids live? Detailed Field Observations with
experienced horticulture are surely the way to find out what each
species really needs?

Summarising -
What Spathiphyllum species in the wild actually grow
best IN water & which Sections & species will & won't in
captivity? Published literature does not seem much to answer
these questions.

Finally, this brief
discussion chain about growing Spaths (& other aroids) IN water again
suggests to me a need for aroiders to have a dedicated place for serious
public discussion & debate? Aroid-L is the only arena that
allows public dialogue about aroids. Sadly the most interesting
chains sometimes become tortuous & things of moment buried? Discourse
may become diffused & nebulous like chat. Aroid
L is obviously good for those things but for things of lasting
moment? A lot of World Members do not involve themselves
in Aroid-L matters. So, for serious discussions rather than
just that "chat" would not a formal Web Members Dialogue/Debate Site
with Print back up seem to be desirable? For me it would merit
the extra time spent in properly refining ones contributions & finely
tuning worthwhile ideas for posterity? Would it not need to have
disciplined debate/discussion structure to avoid those meandering chains
& eventually inappropriate titles. Could debates be under
under "Subject/Topic" headings for lasting reference? Now,
within the confines of a maximum eleven page newsletter, is not
dialogue & debate for more than five hundred World
Members restricted? Dedicated Member dialogue
with real "meat" might attract those who want more than Aroid-L
"chat" & who are not on line lovers anyway? Meanwhile I hope that
those on line who read Aroid-L can continue more & more to debate for the
good of all aroiders....


From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.28 at 21:06:29(8918)

I just wish to grow Spathiphyllum IN water as I did maybe with luck with
some in UK & to find out HOW. What role do hydroponics or aeroponics etc
have in this? With major advantages, have not cacti, succulents, orchids &
so many other plants been grown commercially using hydroponics for several

From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.28 at 21:08:01(8919)
Title: Re: Aroids growing better in water?


The "Ron" you
addressed was another "Ron" not me though I understand his

A noteable number of plant
kinds including some cacti, succulents & orchids have been grown for
decades in skilled hydroponics & aeroponics but they represent only a
miniscule proportion of the green
planet diversity. Surely one needs to know all the
facts & factors involved before one makes blanket generalisations that
ANY or ALL plants will grow so?


From: Neil Carroll zzamia at hargray.com> on 2002.05.28 at 21:12:36(8922)

Surely in hydroponics &
aeroponics roots are in intermittent contact with water but not
continuously IN water, submerged,

From: Alektra at aol.com on 2002.05.29 at 08:47:28(8924)
In a message dated 5/29/2 4:07:59 AM, roniles@eircom.net writes:
<< If I submerge most terrestrial aroids suddenly in water would I not expect

them to die? If like some Spathiphyllum wallisii grown terrestrially they

From: StellrJ at aol.com on 2002.05.29 at 12:21:24(8926)
In a message dated 05/28/2002 9:11:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time, roniles@eircom.net writes:

So - Questions:-

From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.29 at 12:23:03(8927)

Thank you for your advice

You wrote

From: "Ron Iles" roniles at eircom.net> on 2002.05.29 at 12:24:34(8928)
Thank you & INTERESTING!!

You confirm that -

1. Terrestrial aroids in pots are drowned when submerged?
2. Spathiphyllum wallisii & like others in pots may already have some "water

From: "Plantsman" plantsman at prodigy.net> on 2002.05.29 at 12:57:53(8929)
My mother kept rooted cuttings of Philodendron oxycardium for many
years growing in nothing but water with an occasional addition of
liquid fertilizer. She simply made the cutting and immersed the
base couple of nodes in jars of water and left them. They usually
rooted readily and made very long vines. I don't know what would
happen if you took an already terrestrially rooted plant and put it
in water.

From: "Kathy Kempf" wont_read101 at hotmail.com> on 2002.06.06 at 08:50:33(8962)
Steve, as a former AZ resident, and outdoor lover and explorer, I
encountered many cacti and other succulents that grew in standing water.
Among the types I have seen growing this way were: organ pipe cactus
(Stenocereus thurberi) in or around the National Monument, a grandma cactus
(probably a species of Garambullo), and an unidentified type of cholla. All
were grounded in the shore, but I could see many of the roots penetrating
into surrounding permanent water (lake, pond, etc) and the flood-plain in
which they grew made it obvious that the plant was periodically flooded,
which would last for at least a week. Haven't tried to grow any of cactus
this way, but they do grow that way naturally.

Kathy Kempf Ohio Zone 6

>From: Steve Marak

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