Heroic Hydro
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Heroic Hydro

Want to Transplant from Soil to Hydro? Don’t do it!!!

I beg you, please don’t do it. You will regret it.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

I was recently researching how to introduce a wider variety of micronutrients into my hydroponic solutions. Several articles about transplantation from soil to hydro came up first (not what I wanted, Google, but pretty close I guess…), “Exactly How to Transplant from Soil to Hydroponics”, and “A Complete Guide To Transplanting From Soil To Hydroponics”.

These two articles give generic information about how to uproot your plant, rinse off its roots to “remove dirt and pests” (yeah, that’s not going to work), and then place them in your hydro system.

It’s so simple. It could not go wrong…right?

Wrong: Bugs Always Win

Mother nature is stronger than you. You can’t remove pests by rinsing your plant with water. You can try, but you certainly won’t succeed.

Pest evolution has an answer for every step in this transplantation checklist.


A bug stands alone on a white surface. POV: It’s you. You are the bug.
Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash

You are a female Mealybug living on the west coast of the United States. You love warm, moist environments.

…are you describing a greenhouse?

Yeah, YOUR greenhouse.

You lay eggs constantly until you die, but your death does not matter. Your thousands of progeny will hatch in a week or so to carry on the Mealybug name, infest whatever plant they come into contact with, and insta-kill any seedling they find along the way.

I notice that there aren’t any steps in the FloraFlex article about rinsing off the leaves of your plants when you transplant them.

Even if you did try to rinse the Mealybugs off of the leaves of your plants, I have personally noticed that they seem to be specially designed to cling to leaves for dear life. They also have a waxy coating, that probably gives them some degree of protection from this as well. Good luck eradicating that.

The Story of My Mealybug Infestation

A bug infestation…ladybugs: a little more tolerable than Mealybugs.
Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

Gather round everyone to hear a tale of bright eyed and bushy tailed naïveté.

I introduced Mealybugs into my indoor grow tent one year. Autumn had just begun. I hoped to extend my tomato harvest indefinitely.

The tomatoes were isolated to their own five gallon buckets, yet somehow the Mealybugs (the females don’t fly, by the way) transcended all bucket barriers and came to infect my entire grow tent.

I fought them back with a soap and water concoction (1 tbsp unscented soap to 1 gallon of water). I fought them for months by spraying all plants at least once a week. I was able to bring several buckets through an entire grow cycle and have a reasonably good harvest. If I ever found them on a seedling though, that seedling was a dead-man-walking.

The only way that I finally got them under control was at the end of a grow cycle (that was chock-full of Mealybugs, by the way), I completely cleared out the tent, scrubbed all of the buckets (the insides and outsides) and cleaned ALL surfaces of my grow tent. I cleaned the floor, the ceiling, the door, the poles, and the walls.

Even after all that, I still found a few Mealybugs.

It seems that I was able to spray these ones away completely with my soap concoction. I won’t declare victory yet, though. I think I hear Mother Nature laughing in the distance…


Photo by Flor Nájera on Unsplash

Mealybugs and other pests that lay eggs on your plants aren’t the only things to be concerned about. I could go on an equally long rant about nematodes.

Nematodes are tiny roundworms. There are many species of nematodes found in soil. They do a lot of good things. They break down plant matter in soil, which is an important part of healthy dirt.

On the flip side, some of them also eat and infest plant roots. Their little mouths will suck the life out of your plants by their roots.

You can’t spray that away.

There are hermaphroditic ones as well (capable of self-fertilization). So, if you leave just one of those behind during the transplantation process, your plants are basically screwed forever and all of the other plants in the same bucket are also screwed.

The only course of action is to harvest whatever you have, clean your buckets, and start over.

The Lesson of the Day is…

Say it with me,

Never transplant from soil into your hydroponic system.

That’s right.




Home hydroponics in a post pandemic world. Check out the heroic-hydro youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYsCh2czEvMKdmjy-OMkHqA

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Niole Nelson

Niole Nelson

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