Home gardeners often overwater their plants. Gel beads -- also known as water beads -- prevent this problem by releasing water when plants need it. Home gardeners can use the beads to start seeds, propagate cuttings or display cut flowers. Since the beads hold water until the plant uses it, gel beads are suitable for traditional flowerpots as well as containers with no draining holes. Since the beads dehydrate over time, they aren't recommended as a medium for established plants.
Fill one-half, or less, of a container with gel beads, and fill the rest of the container with water. Let the beads sit for six to eight hours until they expand with water.
Pour the beads into a colander to drain off excess water.
Fill a potting container with gel beads or any combination of gel beads and soil. Add a drop of liquid-based fertiliser to the beads to prevent algae growth, and stir the mixture.
Plant your seeds in the medium according to package directions, or place cut flowers or plant cuttings in the medium as you would with water or regular potting mix.
Rehydrate gel beads every three to four weeks: place beads into a colander, and rinse off soil and debris. Soak the beads in water for 30 to 45 minutes, and drain off excess water. Replace them in your flowerpot.
Transfer plants and seedlings to soil once the root structure is established. You can still use gel beads on top of the soil to keep it moist.