Repotting plants into hydroponics means removing all the soil from the roots and replacing it with LECA pebbles. This forces the plant to convert its root system from soil roots to water (hydroponic) roots. Step by step instructions here.
The type of plants you choose for transplanting will have more impact on your results than anything else.
Adjusting to hydroponic growing isn't difficult for most plants. Their soil roots adapt to hydroponics without issue. Some plants take extra time to adapt because they insist on growing new roots (instead of converting existing ones). Growing new roots takes time and these plants need a little TLC for a couple of weeks while new roots are developing.
Generally speaking, plants with thick leaves and stems are easy transplants. Switching from soil to hydroponics temporarily interrupts the flow of moisture up from the roots. These plants store moisture in their leaves and stems, so they're not effected by an interruption of moisture from the roots.
See a list of easy transplants here.
Some plants need a little coaxing during the transition. Rather than converting their roots to hydroponics, they abandon their existing roots and insist on growing new ones.
A good growing environment is imperative during the transition because the moisture and nutrients the plant needs are scarce while new roots are forming. If the plant doesn't get what it needs to live and grow, it goes into stress. Leaves droop, turn yellow, and eventually fall off.
What's a good growing environment? Warm temperatures at the roots and lots of humidity at the leaves.
Have patience - these plants thrive in our hydroponic system after new roots mature. They just need a little help while new roots are forming. It's definetly worth the effort because hydroponic plants are stronger and more durable.
Having the right tools makes the job easy (see Tools for Transplanting for more on tools).
See a list of plants that might need a little coaxing here.
Plants with thin leaves and fragile roots are never easy transplants.
Removing soil can damage delicate roots, which interrups the flow of moisture up to the leaves. The plant quickly becomes stressed because those thin leaves and stems don't have the moisture they need. Without adequate moisture, leaves wilt and eventually dry up and fall off.
It's ironic that these same plants love growing in hydroponics! The LECA pebbles in our hydroponic system create an even flow of air and moisture at the root zone - a perfect growing environment for delicate root systems.
The list of plants that are difficult transplants here.
The size and shape of the grow pot is also important for transplanting success. If the grow pot is too big, it won't dry out evenly and the roots will suffocate from lack of air.
The new hydroponic grow pot should be a "snug fit" for the root system. That means choosing a hydro planter that's the same size or even sightly smaller than the existing soil pot.
The only time we recommend moving to a larger grow pot is if the plant's roots are bursting out of its existing pot.
The shape of the grow pot is also important. Our culture pots are tappered, have extra openings on the side, and have a dome on the bottom. These features help insure an even mix of air and water at the roots - the key to transplanting success!