Hydroponic is a system for cultivating plants without using soil. Instead of soil, you can use different growing solutions, such as water-based nutrient-rich solutions and inert mediums (perlite and gravel).
Most people prefer to grow hydroponic plants because they grow fast, have strong yields, and have superior quality compared to other plants. It is a growing method of planting due to its advantages to the environment.
However, after some time, some people opt to transplant hydroponic plants to soil. And that begs the question, is it possible to move plants from water to soil?
Can you transplant hydroponic plants to soil?
In simple terms, yes, it’s possible. However, to make the process a success, you must care for the plant until it overcomes the hydroponic transplant shock. This shock occurs when a sudden change in moisture and nutrients occurs to a plant’s roots that cause it to slow or stop growing until it adjusts and begins to receive moisture and nutrients.
Hydroponic transplant shock is an activity that affects a hydroponic plant when you move it from one environment to another. It’s basically the stress a plant undergoes when repotting. In this case, the plant is moving from water into soil —- two completely different mediums.
For the plant to continue growing, it has to overcome the hydroponic transplant shock and start growing in its new environment.
How do you move plants from Water to soil?
One of the major reasons people plant in hydroponics before moving it to soil is to have a healthy start to the growing season. For instance, seeds take time before they germinate, and there can be failures from some seeds, hence the need to start them in a medium.
Moving plants from one environment to another requires preparing for the before and after. Make sure the plant is ready for transplanting using the hardening process. This means making it start adapting to changes even before the changes happen. And after transplanting, you have to care for it until it starts to grow in its new environment.
We have created a detailed process to move plants from water to soil to avoid hydroponic plant shock.
- Reduce the amount of water in the container
When plants grow in water, they tend to have short roots because they don’t have to struggle to look for water. However, it’s different for roots in soil because they require longer roots to find water deep in the soil.
So, reducing the amount of water forces the roots to grow and look for water deep into the container. This prepares them when they move into the soil, they have longer roots that can penetrate deeper to find water.
Also, reducing water will force the roots to become tough. When roots are submerged in water, they are soft and thin. But to survive in soil, they need to be tough and thick to hold more water and nutrients.
If you move them without preparation, they won’t survive because the roots are not used to searching for nutrients and water in the soil.
- Find the right pot size
Before you move the plant into an outdoor garden, you need to move it into a pot to adapt to soil conditions. Also, it’s easier to care for a pot plant than a garden plant.
The correct pot size is important to ensure the roots have enough room to grow and spread without hitting the sides. Finding a pot four to six inches in diameter will work best when you move plants from water to soil.
When it’s in a pot, it will grow for several weeks as it hardens off, ready for outdoor conditions. You can also continue to prepare it by taking it outside a few hours a day until it’s ready to grow outside.
- Add a growing medium to the pot.
Choose the correct type of potting soil to use for the hydroponic plant. The soil should have proper aeration, drainage, and a soft texture. Also, it should be light to allow the roots to grow and toughen freely.
When adding new soil to a container, mix it with water in a separate container to moisten it evenly, then pour it into the growing pot. That ensures all parts of the soil are moist.
- Create a hole for transplanting.
After adding the soil, it’s time to move plants from water to soil. Use a spoon to make a hole in the soil. Make sure it is deep and wide enough to fit the roots perfectly without pushing them with force.
Once you start this process, don’t stop until you are done transplanting.
Add a sprinkle of mycorrhiza into the hole. This organic inoculation is useful to the plant to help it grow roots faster and to provide it with the nutrients it requires to survive.
- Trim and move the plants into the pots.
Before you move the plant, trim off excess leaves and stems to reduce the parts required to be fed by the roots. Trimming reduces stress on the roots to feed and provide nutrients for the extra foliage. Also, don’t trim extra leaves, as it can shock the plant. Try removing only ⅓ of the leaves.
After trimming, move the plant quickly and gently from the water into the hole. Sprinkle soil lightly above the roots to cover the hole. As you cover the hole, make sure the plant stays upright.
- Water your transplants.
Even though the soil is moist, sprinkle a little water on the soil around the plant immediately after placing it in the hole. Mix the water with fertilizer to ensure the plant receives nutrients as it does in a hydroponic.
Reduce the fertilizer to 1//4 dose and sprinkle the soil with the mixture daily for the first week. Sprinkling keeps the roots moist as they adapt to the new soil conditions. Then, after the first week, cut back on the watering until the roots have hardened and are tough.
Cutting back water forces the roots to search for water in the soil, which makes them harden up as they adapt to less water than normal conditions.
- Begin hardening off the transplants
Hardening off transplants prepares them for outdoor conditions. You can move the container to a bright, sunny room for a few hours a day and then back into the house. Continue doing it for consecutive days as you add the hours it stays outdoors until the plant can stay in the sun for days without drooping.
As you do this, observe your plant, so it doesn’t go into hydroponic transplant shock without you noticing. Things like wilting and drooping result from low moisture content, so add water and ensure it’s hydrated.
- Transplant outdoors
Once the plant is hardened off, prepare your outdoor garden and transplant it in the morning or in the evening after the sun has set. Monitor it for the first two weeks as you keep it hydrated until it has adapted to the outdoor conditions.
How to deal with hydroponic transplant shock when moving into the soil.
If you have followed the process, your plant will continue to grow as it started. But, in some cases, a transplant shock can affect your plant. You can notice the shock from the signs;
- Leaves turn from yellow to brown.
- Leaves start to wither.
- Leaves can start to darken
- Leaves fall from the plant after a light touch
- Leaves start to wilt and dry.
So, how can you solve this problem of hydroponic transplant shock?
- Trimming off extra leaves helps the plant allocate energy to the roots.
- Make sure that the roots are moist at all times. Extra water can result in standing water, which closes pores that distribute air into the soil. Lack of air causes stress to the roots, and this can cause them to rot.
- Add fertilizer to provide the plant with extra nutrients for growth.
Is hydroponic farming better than soil?
When you compare hydroponics to traditional farming, it is better than planting in the soil. Hydroponics offer up to 90% more water efficiency, more yields in the same space, and high-quality yields growing faster than the plants grown in soil.
Can I cut the roots of a hydroponic plant?
Yes. You can prune the roots after the roots have developed. However, it can ruin the whole plant if you do it in the early stages of root development.
Do hydroponic plants regrow?
Yes, they can regrow. But it will take more time for them to regrow in a hydroponic than in soil. If you have the time and patience, you can regrow a hydroponic plant.
How long can hydroponic plants go without water?
Since hydroponic plants are used to water, they can’t go for long without water, depending on the species. Some species will start to die after three to four days, while others can survive for two to three weeks. Some hardier plants, like succulents, can survive for three months.