You do not need soil to grow these plants

An air plant hanging in a shade and growing off a mango tree. PHOTOs/promise twinamukye

What you need to know:

Some plants absorb their nutrients from the air and others thrive in water. Knowing where to grow the different plants will give you an opportunity to grow unique plants.

Whether you just do not  like the hussle that comes with working with soil as a medium of planting flowers/ plants, do not have any soil around you or just like the idea of going soilless, these alternatives for planting beautiful flowers by using other media are definitely options to look into whether you are planning on indoor or outdoor gardening, with limited space.


These are plants that grow in the air.

“These absorb their nutrients from air and a quick example of these is the old man’s beard which absorbs its nutrients from air,” Isaac Kalule Balimwewunya, a gardener and landscaper from Kani Green Care Solutions shares.

Another point to note when planting air plants is that they need to be placed under a shade, because they do not need direct sunshine.  One can also use a tree log to grow them in the compound or hang them on a string on a part of the balcony that is under shade. 

“Air plants can also be hung in glass jars indoors. One just needs to make sure that the area receives enough sunlight from outside,” Grace Alice Achieng, a gardener shares.

“Care for air plants is also simple and easy. In a week, for example, you can get a spray bottle and spray a mist of water on them to keep them moist, especially in hot seasons since they do not have roots to absorb water from the soil,” Kalule notes. 

Some species of air plants include: Queen of airplants, Stricta, Sky plant, Mad pupper, old man’s beard, among others.

Kalule adds that the obvious advantages of growing air plants is that they can be grown by everyone, anywhere but also, they are  easy to care  for.

Water plants

Also known as aquatic plants, these grow and thrive in water.

“One of the advantages of these is that many of them can grow in soil as well. The lucky bamboo for example can be moved from soil to water or vice versa,” says Kalule.

To plant, wash the soil off properly and carefully from the roots of the plant (if it was in soil) and put the plant in clean water in a jar/ planter. 

Some water plants are propagated by either stems, shoots or branches and all one needs to do is immerse part of the plant into clean water. 

The size of the container to use depends on how big the plant is. When the plant is big, one should get an equally big container and if the plant is small, a small container can be used.

Sometimes, the size of the container depends on how one wants the plant to grow. The bigger the container the bigger the plant will grow because it will be getting more nutrients and vice versa, Kalule elaborates. 

“Care for water plants is that at least every week, the water should be changed to allow movement of air in the water and proper growth.

Not all water plants are indoor plants. Some thrive outdoors, for example, there are some succulents that grow in water but are not indoor plants.

Indoor plants should be put in a place with enough light, preferably on a window sill or the extreme side of the door.

For outdoor plants, changing the water and keeping the plant clean is the best form of care.  “This can be done by using a spray bottle to wash off the dust on the leaves,” Kalule advises. 

Best containers to use can be vases, jars, glasses, vessels, etc.

He further cautions that a keen eye should be kept on indoor plants for any slight changes in the colour of the plant. A change in colour normally signifies a problem.

Some species of water plants include Money plant, lucky bamboo, fanny moser, taro species, among others.

“One can also think of water plants if they want or have a water pond or water feature they want to rehabilitate. Water plants can bring life to such features in amazing ways. One can also use water plants to rehabilitate old aquariums. One can also intentionally make an indoor glass tube for planting water plants,” Achieng adds.

Species to think about in such cases include the water hyacinth, water palm, water lettuce, water lilies, among others.


These are beautiful flowering plants with different species. “Generally, orchids are not easy plants, but when one knows how to grow and care for them, they are to thrive. They are also among the most expensive plants on the market with the lowest price being about Shs120,000,” says Kalule. 

Save for ground orchids, orchids do not use soil to grow but instead, they grow on tree bark (not sawdust) and charcoal (not charcoal dust).

“These can be grown in any pot but it should preferably be transparent for them to grow well since they have aerial roots that need light.

However, some people grow them on tree logs. To plant an orchid, get a tree log, put it in a planter, get tree barks and charcoal into the planter and tie the orchid to the log and it will grow well,” Kalule explains. 

Orchids also need to be watered like any other plant and can grow indoors. If planted outdoors, they should be planted under a shade and not in direct sunshine.


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