"Terraponics" for Houseplants

Most plants transition from soil to hydroponics without incident. But for some  . . .  well, it's not so easy.

Some plants struggle after converting to hydroponics.


Converting soil plants to hydroponics means forcing the plant to convert it's soil roots to water (hydroponic) roots. This can be a challenge for some plants. 

Plants that struggle with the transition to hydroponics:

  • large floor plants that have been growing in soil for several years.  They've developed a complex root system and have a hard time converting.
  • plants with thin, delicate roots have difficulty because removing the soil often damages their roots (think Boston Ferns)
  • and then there's the group of plants that are simply stubborn. They refuse to convert existing roots to hydroponic roots. Instead, they insist on growing new ones. This takes time and stresses the plant - often sending it into "survival mode" where it starts shedding leaves.

Unfortunately, many of these plants never recover.

No worries - we have a solution!

It's called "terraponics".

What is Terraponics?

"Terra" means soil. "Terraponics" means growing plants in a hydroponic system without removing the soil from their roots.

Terraponic setup showing the soil root ball positioned in a bed of LECA pebbles.

Originally designed in Euorpe for outdoor planters, terraponics is becoming increasingly popular with many indoor plants.

With terraponic growing, the entire root ball (soil included) is packed into a bed of hydroponic pebbles, leaving the plant’s roots undisturbed.

This eliminates the stress many plants experience when soil is removed from their roots. 

Notice how LECA pebbles surround the root ball on all sides in the illustration on the right. These pebbles wick moisture up to the plant's root ball gently and evenly from the reservoir at the bottom of the planter. At the same time new (stronger) water roots grow out into the pebbles.

Eventually new water roots replace the old soil roots - and then your plant will start enjoying all advantages of hydroponic growing!

Typical houseplant (croton) growing with the terraponics method.
A close look at the roots after growing in terraponics for several months. Notice how new roots grew into the pebbles. This plant is now growing as a hydroponic plant.

Repotting Into Terraponics