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Can Plants Grow Without Soil? Find Out Here

Just like humans, plants need food to survive. Surely they can’t survive without soil, right? Well, while soil is the main source of nutrition that plants need to grow, plants can still survive without it.

Most of us grow plants at home in the traditional sense. Leave the plant in soil and water when required. This will usually ensure the plant survives and grows healthily. But this doesn’t need to be the case.

Can Plants Grow Without Soil?

Can plants grow without Soil?

You may not believe me but there are actually several ways to grow plants without soil. And very successfully too. Three main systems are involved when growing plants the soilless way are:

  • Hydroponics
  • Aquaponics
  • Aeroponics

When followed correctly, these systems will allow you to grow plants at home with ease. They each use nutrient-rich, water-based solutions to feed the plants.

Each system also uses a soilless growing medium to support the plants. In other words, they perform the same two functions that soil does.

If you’re like me and live in a small space, you may have an abundance of plants in your home. The great news is that soil-free gardening is ideal for homes that don’t have yards.

Maybe you’re a daring and adventurous gardener who wants to try something new (you devil you!), or you’re trying to find a more sustainable way of growing plants. 

For whatever reason you’re wanting to go soil-free, I am going to show you why and how it’s possible in this helpful blog.

Yes, the initial setup that I will discuss may seem daunting at first but once we clear up how the process works, soilless growing in the comfort of your home will be a breeze.

Why don’t plants need soil?

Plants can grow without soil if they can get the necessary nutrients from elsewhere. Soil usually feeds nutrients to a plant to help it survive and grow.

If these essential nutrients are provided to the plant from another medium, then the plant will not need any soil. As farming techniques improve every year, soilless farming is becoming more and more popular.

Plants only need 5 major things in order to grow:

  • Light – Plants convert sunlight energy (and other forms of light) into food (sugars). This is through the process of photosynthesis.
  • Water – This is absorbed through the roots of a plant and is also used in photosynthesis.
  • Air – Carbon dioxide enters the plant through its leaves and combines with water to make sugar.
  • Nutrients – Nutrients are essential for plants to be healthy. Key nutrients include phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
  • Support and space – Plants require room for the entire photosynthesis process and to get enough air. If a plant doesn’t have enough space, it can become overcrowded. This can lead to poor health and possible death. The root system needs to be properly supported with enough water and nutrients to live healthily

You may have noticed that soil is not on this list. However, soil typically provides a plant with important nutrients and support. But if a plant can get these vital ingredients to thrive from elsewhere, then soil is not needed.

How can plants grow without soil?

Many plants grow without soil. Some include aquatic plants and parasitic plants. But plants that usually grow in soil use it as a source of its nutrients.

But as many gardeners know, it can be difficult to find out if your plants are getting enough, or even too much, water and sunlight.

When you grow plants without soil, they are typically submerged in water or are misted frequently. Nutrients need to be added because plain water lacks the key nutrients that a plant needs to survive.

Let’s take a look at the three methods for growing plants without soil. All use water to provide nutrients to the plants but also have distinct differences.


This involves soaking a plant’s roots in nutrient-rich water. The roots simply dangle in the water instead of lying in soil.

Seeds are planted in a soilless medium such as coco coir or Rockwool cubes. When the seeds sprout, the seedlings move into the hydroponic system.

Then, water that contains a nutrient solution continuously flows past the roots. Therefore, the plant gets all of the essential nutrients it needs. 

Different plants will need specific nutrient solutions to help them grow properly.

There are a range of hydroponic products on the market to help boost the growth of your plants. For instance, General Hydroponics MaxiGro Plant Food contains stand-alone, water-soluble, dry-concentrated nutrients to provide some vigor to the growth of your plants.

If you want to encourage the growth of seedlings and cuttings as well as through the vegetative growth stage, this MaxiGro is a great option. 


Aquaponics includes a combination between hydroponics and aquatic animals. This system uses hydroponics to help plants grow but, at the same time, uses aquatic animals to provide nutrients to the plant.

Because of the aquatic animals, aquaponics tends to be a little more challenging to maintain. However, it’s still pretty easy for the average home gardener. If you want to create a more natural ecosystem, the introduction of little aquatic creatures is the way to go. 

Animals that can be used include:

  • Fish (koi, barramundi, trout, or tilapia)
  • Shrimp
  • Snails

Just consider the size of your setup before adding any animals. Like plants, the animals need enough space to survive.

Back to the Roots Water Garden is an excellent self-cleaning fish tank that helps support an aquaponic ecosystem. Using this will allow you to grow succulents and houseplants all year round to save you from getting those green thumbs and fingers.

It’s highly convenient and easy to set up in your home and will match most decor. In just 10 days, you can harvest organic microorganisms from the aquarium before the fish fertilize your plants on top to help them grow.


The final system is similar to hydroponics as it uses a nutrient solution to give food to a plant. The difference here is that aeroponics sees the plant’s roots hang free in the air, rather than in water.

Aquaponics uses regular misting and sometimes dripping of a nutrient solution to provide food and water to a plant. The two main types of aquaponic systems are:

  • High pressure
  • Low pressure

High-pressure systems use high-pressure misting to provide nutrients to the roots. These water droplets are very small so the plant can easily absorb the nutrients.

Unsurprisingly, low-pressure systems use low-pressure misting systems but the droplets are much bigger. These are used more regularly in home aeroponic systems as they are generally less complex.

Due to the structure of aeroponic systems, they can be set up as a vertical garden. This benefits commercial plant growers and home growers in maximizing the available space. It can also increase the crop yield.

This Aeroponic Growing Kit for Indoor & Outdoor use will grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables with ease. This vertical system is ideal for organic farming and is specifically engineered to maximize yield with minimal effort.

It provides the best possible controlled environment for growing a variety of agricultural products in all kinds of climates. There is a good chance that this system will see your plants grow significantly faster than ever before.


So, growing a plant at home without soil is easier than you may have thought. Using one of the three systems discussed above, you should be able to grow your plants in a soilless manner without any fuss and show off this magic to your friends!

It may take some getting used to and you may find one system works better for you than the others. With some practice and time, you should be able to see some great results.

Consider some helpful books to get you started on your soilless growing journey, such as Hydroponics and Greenhouse Gardening, Aquaponics for Beginners, and Aeroponics: Growing Vertical

Enjoy the soilless way of growing plants! 

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