How To Use Water Beads For Plants

For indoor houseplants, gel beads or water beads, can be used instead of soil. The harmless, multicolored gel beads absorb water and gradually release it to the plant’s roots.

Colored water beads can be used to fit your home décor or added in fishbowls with betta fish or goldfish. However, not all houseplants are suitable for use with gel beads. Instead, choose water-loving houseplants, such as tropical foliage plants that require indirect sunlight.

Gel beads are a fun product that may decorate, water indoor plants, and even for children’s hobbies and play. Water beads are often known as Orbeez, water pearls, water crystals, gel beads, and more.

In our guide, you can learn more about indoor gardening using water beads and how they can make your limited space garden stand out using gel beads.

Prepare Water Beads For Plants

By the end, you’ll know which plants and flowers can benefit from these gel beads and adding water rather than adding organic matter or soil. (Read Does Epsom Salt Kill Weeds)

Do Water Beads Help Potted Plants?

You’ve probably seen these crystal water beads; plants are often stuck in them at wedding receptions. What you may not realize is how handy they are for your houseplants. Here’s a bit more about these gel beads.

Water Gel Beads

Growing plants does not need potting soil to grow. Water, air, and a supply of nutrition for their roots are all they need.

These gel beads supply air and water to your plant while delivering a unique look.

These beads comprise a water-absorbing polymer gel that acts as an inert medium. Dried crystals are tiny at first, but when they absorb water, they swell to about the size of a marble. The gel beads can be used in place of potting mix, as they help keep house plants moist by releasing water as they need it rather than them being saturated.

Besides this, these beads can help if family members suffer from allergies, as since there is no soil, you can eliminate fungal or mold irritations and fungus gnats that invade potting soil.

As the beads steadily release water as plants require it, you’ll need less frequent watering. Using such a simple form of hydroculture, you prevent your plants from being under-watered or standing in excess water.

In addition, your water-soaked beads allow air between them; thus, you can stop root rot by quickly getting rid of any excess standing water.

For nutrition, water-soluble fertilizer or liquid organic food will deliver nutrients through the water so your plants can put energy into producing foliage than growing roots to search for nutrition. (Learn How To Neutralize Muriatic Acid)

How to Use Water Beads

  1. Feel free to fill a large bowl halfway with water and add two cups of dried gel crystals.
  2. As needed, add more water to allow them to absorb as much water as possible.
  3. This will take a few hours before they’re ready to use.
  4. Once they swell to their largest size, drain any excess water.
  5. Place the water-soaked beads on the bottom of the container, position the plant roots over it, and then cover the roots with more beads, just like you would in your potting mix.

You don’t have to fill a vase to the brim with beads; instead, try to keep the plant’s top above the soil line, as it was before.

Water beads should not be placed under a grow lamp or in direct sunlight since the heat will damage them.

House Plants that prefer indirect light are a good choice, such as an Arrowhead plant, a Chinese evergreen, and the famous Lucky Bamboo.

Here is how to use water beads for potted plants.

Growing plants with water beads

Adding Water to the Beads

The very first thing you must do is hydrate the beads.

Gel beads are tiny granules in a variety of colors. They can expand up to 50 times their original size when you add water in the expansion process. A half teaspoon of dry granules will absorb about one cup of water in most cases.

  1. Fill a big bowl or bucket halfway with dry grains. After that, pour in your water.
  2. Plants require a source of nutrients, which is often nutrient-rich soil. Luckily, you can easily add fertilizer to the water beads. But, first, add a little water-soluble fertilizer according to instructions on the pack.
  3. If you don’t have any liquid fertilizer, you can place some granular fertilizer in water until it dissolves over a few hours.
  4. Let the beads soak for several hours or overnight for thoroughly soaking the beads until they are full size.

Note that different brands offer the ability to soak up different amounts of water. You can also find brands that retain water for weeks up to several months.

Get Ready to Transplant

  1. After the beads have been filled, you can start preparing your plant. Later on, we’ll discuss suitable plant selections. For the time being, we’ll concentrate on how to prepare those plants for the water beads.
  2. The objective is to move a little plant to a fresh growth medium. Trying to cultivate plants from seeds is not a good idea. It’s probably doable, but transplanting an established crop is much easier.
  3. Growing plants from seeds in soil are much easier and a cheaper alternative for many plants.
  4. Gently remove your plant out of the container or vase it’s in. Then, using your hands, loosen up the compacted soil to allow the roots to breathe.
  5. Wash the soil away gently. Use a hose or faucet with a moderately vigorous spray setting. The dirt will be blown away without hurting the roots.

Place Plant in the Beads

Once you have clean roots, you can start planting!

  1. Collect your new pot or vase and your water beads. A glass vase is ideal for this unique type of gardening. Glass containers allow you to appreciate the color of the beads while also monitoring the root system’s development.
  2. Standard pots with drainage work nicely.
  3. Water beads should be filled halfway up the pot. Then, on top of the beads, insert the bare-root plant.
  4. Place the remaining beads over the roots and around the stem for support.
  5. Consider it like moving a houseplant to a larger container. The same principles are used when planning with water beads.

What Types of Plants Grow in Water Beads?

Growing plants with water beads is a terrific technique to avoid mess. They don’t attract pests and prevent fungal growth in the appropriate conditions because they comprise a polymer.

The beads do have some limits, the most notable of which is exposure to sunlight. Direct sunshine, like any other growing medium, evaporates water quickly. The problem with water beads is that they shrink back to their original size when they evaporate. (Learn How Often Should I Water My Vegetable Garden)

Choose plants that grow in indirect sunlight. Here are a handful of personal favorites.

Wandering Jew

The Wandering Jew is ideal for developing water beads. In addition, this plant’s purple, pink, and green foliage is quite stunning.

Arrowhead Vine

Another plant that dislikes direct sunlight is this one. The plant will thrive in a shaded
environment. It has bright green and white leaves that offer a splash of brightness to any room.

Peace Lily

Peace Lilies are one of the best-shaded flowers around, and they thrive in water beads. The Peace Lily is a one-of-a-kind flower.

English Ivy

English ivy is a fast-growing and low-maintenance plant. However, the plants will need to be pruned now and again.


Indirect light is also ideal for bamboo plants. However, the leaves might burn if exposed to too much sunlight. Because bamboo is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants, it’s wise to start small.

Water Beads Lifespan

How Long Do Water Beads Last?

Another significant benefit of utilizing a water bead in your pot is its long lifespan. You won’t have to be concerned about erosion, a significant problem with regular soil. The beads will continue to nourish your plants as long as you maintain hydration while you grow plants.

Watering Plants with Water Beads

Your plants will benefit from the gradual moisture provided by water beads. This is because they continuously release water to keep themselves hydrated.

As a result, maintaining a regular watering routine has become obsolete.

However, you will need to hydrate the beads regularly. This is because the beads will shrink with time as the beads’ water seeps out and issued or evaporates.

It would help if you gave the beads a water boost every two or three weeks. Then, add some more water-soluble plant food nutrients at the same time.

It’s crucial to drain any extra water from the pot after the beads have rehydrated. Even with water beads, standing water is a massive no-no as you could suffer root rot, or it could also rot the stem.

Can You Put Water Beads in Garden?

If maintained hydrated, water beads can last up to two years. However, when combined with various growing mediums, they can retain water for up to nine years!

If used regularly, water beads can theoretically last indefinitely. After dehydrating them, you can rehydrate them as needed. If you store them in a low-humidity environment when not in use, they should last a long time.

You can soak some in two cups of water inside a large bowl. Besides adding them to a pot, you can add the swollen gel beads to a raised bed. As these are under the soil’s surface, the gel beads can release water over an extended period. So, if you are away on holiday, you know how to keep your garden soil moist.

When you’re finished with your water beads, dehydrate them and store them for future use.
But what happens when you wish to get rid of all the beads?

Tossing them in your outdoor garden is the finest solution. The aim of these super-absorbent beads was initially to aid with water retention on farms. (Read Do Strawberries Need A Lot Of Water)

They are not, contrary to popular opinion, harmful to the environment. The beads are biodegradable and non-toxic. However, they can degrade with time after draining all the water from inside.

How To Use Water Beads For Plants

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