It may surprise you to learn that plants will grow in more or less anything-sand, gravel, expanded volcanic rock, even recycled plastic! As long as their roots have enough stability along with access to enough oxygen, water and nutrition, plants will make the best of more or less any rooting environment you throw at them.
What makes a "good" growing media? What characteristics should we look for? And, once we've decided on a growing media, what's the best way to exploit it for maximum benefit to your plants?
Of course, at this point, some of you might well be thinking, "Hang on, what's wrong with soil?" - the answer is: nothing! But it's good to note that it's just one of many possible options.
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Most soil-less growing media are inert— they do not contain any plant nutrients within themselves. Plants are fed via a nutrient solution which is irrigated through the growing media.
Growing Media and Irrigation [PDF Link]