Water beads for plants

Biodegradable, non-toxic and colourful, water beads boast the ability to enhance decor while reducing the need to water plants. Uses include freshly cut arrangements and houseplants. The beads retain water and slowly release it, reducing the need to water plants and appearing similar to shimmering, colourful crystals. Water beads may be found at local nurseries or online.


Water beads are a non-toxic polymer gel powder that breaks down over time into nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water. Choose from colours such as clear, yellow, purple, aqua, pink, green, orange, citrine, coral and black. Colours are colour-fast and will not leak into the water. Dispose of beads by mixing into soil in the garden or flower beds -- do not flush down the toilet or pour down sink drains. Beads may swell and clog pipes. Manufacturers warn that although the beads are not toxic, you should always supervise children when handling water beads.


Water beads provide a slow, steady source of moisture for indoor houseplants, freshly cut flowers and outdoor plants. They also add decorative appeal to centrepieces and floral arrangements and provide stabilising and minimising fire risk associated with candles and incense. Mix water beads into garden soil to provide outdoor plants with continual moisture, or use indoors. The beads can replace potting soil or dirt in indoor plants such as philodendron, bamboo, dragon plant, spider plants, dieffenbachia, phalaenopsis orchid and bromeliad if you add indoor fertiliser to beads prior to placing the plants in the beads. You can also use beads in conjunction with potting soil to provide continual watering.

How to Use

Add dry water beads to a vase, bowl or other container filled with 1 quart of water. Allow beads to soak for four to eight hours -- or overnight -- before straining excess water and adding to the container of your choice. Add non-rooted plants such as cut flowers. Place directly into a water bead-filled container. If you are using water beads with rooted plants -- such as houseplants -- remove the plant from its container, brushing soil off of the roots. Re-plant the plant in a container with water beads or soil mixed with water beads. Every one to two months, you will need to add water to the plant to rehydrate the beads. Beads last between two and nine years depending on their exposure to light -- light exposure breaks them down faster.

Non-Plant Uses

Freeze clear-coloured beads and place them in a bowl. Add your favourite bottled or canned beverage to chill it quickly. Use water beads with essential oils to add fragrance to your home. Soak beads according to package instructions and place in the container of your choice. Add 1 tsp of essential oil, perfume or water-based fragrance to the container to scent the area lightly. Place water beads into a perforated glass container; place the container into a cigar humidor to support proper humidity levels. When beads begin to shrivel, it is time to resoak the beads.

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About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.