It's pretty much common knowledge that plants planted in pots or soil that doesn't have good drainage can't be watered too much, or they'll "drown". Regardless of what actually happens, experience seems to show that it's true that plants planted in soil can't handle too much water in the soil.

Yet on the other hand, in hydroponics, plants can grow and grow very well indeed with their roots entirely submerged in water. Clearly, it's not about "drowning".

So what's the deal? Why do soil-planted plants die when they're watered too heavily?

(I wasn't sure if this is a Biology.SE or Gardening.SE question, but I figured it was biology since I'm looking for a more theoretical answer about what happens to the roots, rather than practical advice.)

  • $\begingroup$ I would actually recommend deleting this post and asking on Gardening. I'm sure users there have a much greater understanding of the mechanics of hydroponics than biologists might. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    May 15, 2016 at 20:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In hydroponic methods which submerge the roots, the liquid medium is oxygenated with an air pump (as in an aquarium) to provide the roots with oxygen, without which they stop functioning. $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    May 16, 2016 at 5:11


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