Last updated August 7th, 2020
Have you ever thought of growing cat grass without soil? here are step-by-step instructions for growing cat grass in water beads for lots of fun at the cat salad bar!
Growing cat grass for your cat is always a fun project whether it’s for an indoor salad bar or an outdoor watering hole. At the Chirpy Cats lair, we like to keep fresh supplies of grass pots, especially when the weather cools down and the cats spend less time in the catio and more time indoors visiting the salad bar. In our Ultimate Guide to Growing Cat Grass, we provided step-by-step instructions for growing cat grass the traditional way with potting soil.
Why not change things up a bit and ditch the dirt for water beads? Yes, you’ve read that right, no soil needed. For this grass project, you will be using water gel beads instead of potting soil to grow your cat grass!
Below is a tutorial on how to grow an eerie haunted cat grass salad bar for Halloween using color water beads. Your kitties will be thrilled with a truly spine-tingling experience. Furry cat ghouls will not be able to resist visiting the grass buffet when you’re done.This delightfully frightful display of cat grass grown in water gel beads is sure to attract your furry ghouls for a spooky-licious grass treat! Click To Tweet
How to grow cat grass with water beads
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What you will need
- Water gel beads in different colors of your choice. Expands in water and is 100% non-toxic to kids and pets, environment-friendly, and biodegradable. I chose orange and black water beads for a Halloween theme.
- Fishbowl Decorative glass bowls or Square Decorative glass bowls that will display the beauty of the colorful translucence of the beads. These bowls are often used for centerpieces, succulents, candles or potpourri. I got both sets as I also use them for kitty drinking bowls to trick the cats into thinking they’re drinking from human glasses! Who thought I could fool a feline?
- Grass seeds, either Hard Red Wheat Grass (exactly what I use), a blend of wheat, barley, rye, oats and flaxseed or Oat Grass. You should get to learn your cat’s preference.
- Orange floating LED lights (optional) but essential for the overall effect of your haunted house of grass Halloween display.
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Natural items from your garden such as twigs, dried leaves sunflowers, catnip stems, and other grasses for decoration.
Let’s get started!
1. Soak the seeds
Put about half a cup of grass seeds in a bowl and cover with water for about 4 to 6 hours. The pre-soaking helps speed up germination. Rinse them thoroughly after soaking, they’re now ready to be sewn in pots.
2. Soak the water beads in water.
For my tiny 6-inch diameter glass bowl I only needed about a level teaspoon per color. You won’t need much as the beads expand! The beads take 6 hours to expand but I soaked my batches for a full 12 hours or more, just to be sure they’ve reached their full expansion capacity!
3. Prepare the glass bowls
After the water beads have fully expanded they’re ready to be layered into the glass bowls. But first, if you feel that your glass bowls need a bit of weight, line the bottom with a few river stones. This will make the bowls bottom-heavy and less likely to be knocked around by over-zealous paws. My square bowls didn’t require this reinforcement as they are quite heavy. Layer the black beads at the bottom to just below halfway, then layer the orange beads on top, leaving a space of about 0.75 inches.
4. Sprinkle the grass seeds directly over the water beads evenly. Spray the surface and cover the bowls with a dampened dishcloth and place in a dark corner out of sunlight. For the next two days ensure that the seeds are kept moist by spraying two to three times per day and keeping covered. Watch for any mold; if mold is forming uncover the bowls to dry it out a little.
5. Let there be light!
After about two days when the seeds have roots and green upright sprouts have emerged, you can now place your grass bowls in a bright or sunny spot. Beware of cats snooping around the plant! Our two “Yoots” Baggy and Ollie looked so innocent all cuddled together in a ball before bedtime and I thought, “What harm can they really do.” They sure fooled me when the next morning I found the grass uprooted and little orange jelly balls over the windowsill! Yes, boys will be boys!
For five days straight we had rainy weather so my little grass blades were not as lush as expected but they still turned out great. You will notice in the above photo that grass in the bowl on the left is slightly shorter. That’s because I experimented with sprinkling the seeds on a moistened piece of paper towel as a barrier to prevent the seeds from falling too deep between the gel beads. The results speak for themselves so it’s better to sow the grass seeds directly on top of the water beads, as I did on the right.
A Fall Harvest Halloween cat grass salad bar display
Now that the grass is green don’t delay setting up the salad bar. The cats have been waiting long enough!
Dress it up with twigs, leaves and dried sunflowers, all non-toxic to cats. For extra fun, I added some vine sticks in a tiny pale that the cats enjoyed fishing out with their paws. For the backdrop display, I used dried catnip stalks to mimic the trunks of tall trees. If you followed my tutorial on How to Grow Catnip from Seed, hopefully by now you have a plentiful catnip harvest and some very happy cats.
I grabbed some tall stems of Calamagrostis feather reed grass from our garden and filled up space in the backdrop. This grass is also interesting as a fishing rod-like toy. So after all the photo shoots were done, the Chirpies had a good interactive play session with a few of these grass stems. Most items on your Fall Harvest Salad Bar are not only safe for your cat but inexpensive and functional too!
Arrange your orange LED lights behind the glass pots, in between your display items to get the perfect haunted glow.
When nightfall comes, beware the grisly cat ghouls!
To attract your nighttime furry ghouls to feast on the Haunted House of Cat Grass salad bar, you have to rearrange the angles of light for an eerier dramatic effect. Place the LED orange lights in various places and add more lights under leaves to get that haunted look just right! You may add any other scary props such as skulls, spiders, bats, go nuts!
Wait and watch your curious furry ghouls come out to play.
Would you like to see these furry phantoms in action? Watch below with the volume up for the full spine-chilling effect 🙂
I hope you get to try out growing cat grass using water beads. They are so versatile and can be used for any occasion, or setting. Experiment with different props and bead colors for different seasons. Get the kids involved for a wonderful exercise in cat enrichment and human-cat bonding. Not only will your kids learn about the importance of creating fun spaces for cats but it’s also a hands-on tutorial using non-toxic, mostly natural items from the garden!
Our furry phantoms of the night were entertained for hours at the Haunted House of Grass and thought it was one big pawty!
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