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I'm working with a group of artists, educators and engineers to develop new methods for STEM teaching in classrooms and museums. Right now, we are trying to design a room-sized model of the carbon cycle that illustrates the relationship between oceans, biosphere and atmosphere. As part of this, we want to have a tree growing hydroponically (tree will not be very large, aiming for more sapling-scale).

Does anyone know whether it is possible to grow larger plants hydroponically, and if so, what the biggest challenges do doing this are?

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There shouldn't be any problems with it per se. However there will be some small problems that need to be countered.

First most of the plants can grow few different type of roots depending on what's the environment. For example roots grown in hydroponics are usually white and fragile but roots grown in soil are harder. This means that when you take a tree and replant it to hydroponics it will get seriously stressed because the environment changes a lot. You can help this by cutting approx 30% of the roots (measured from the end of roots) which will make the plant start growing roots faster. Generally the younger the plant the better it will do.

I have myself replanted about 2.5m high areca palm in a kind of hydroponic system that we specialise in and it's been growing beautifully last year.

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