Hydroponics Buying Guide
There are various options of type of hydroponic systems available- it’s all about choosing a system that matches your growing style, and fits your space.
Hydroponic systems offer a faster rate of growth, as well as superior nutrient uptake by the plants to traditional growing. This is because soil actually acts as a medium between the water, nutrient solution, and the roots. Whereas hydroponics allows the roots direct contact with the nutrient solution. The lack for need of soil also allows you to grow anywhere in any climate. At Hydro Green Grow, we believe hydroponic is the future of gardening and a way to end world hunger.
With a little love and effort, anyone can become an expert hydroponic grower.
Due to the careful control of nutrients, temperature and PH are essential in creating an effective hydroponic system. Reservoirs need to be drained every week or two and the nutrient solutions replaced to achieve optimal plant growth.
Deep Water Culture
This is an excellent hydroponic option for people with large spaces. They provide each plant with an individual container, creating a larger overall system footprint. The roots of each plant are totally submerged in a liquid solution that is highly aerated, offering plenty of oxygen and a wet environment for the roots to thrive in.
This type of system utilizes air pumps that create small air bubbles, introducing oxygen to the nutrient solution. Water pumps can help to circulate the aerated liquid through the various plant containers.
A deep-water culture system is highly recommended for:
- A large space that has room to accommodate a large system and multitude of plants.
- Those looking to create rapid plant growth, and have a desire for large plants and adequate spacing.
- Those with a budget for higher upfront costs related to creating the system.
Ebb & Flow, Flood & Drain
Whether you know them as flood and drain systems, or ebb and flow- they’re the same thing. The main principle is rather simple. A liquid nutrient solution is pumped into individual containers or a tray. This is pumped from a reservoir and is generally controlled by a timer to ensure it is done properly and effectively. Ebb and flow systems don’t keep roots continuously submerged. Rather, it relies on a cycling of the nutrient solution to provide water aeration.
The liquid isn’t as aerated as it is in the deep-water culture system. This means the roots are provided with less oxygen. However, these systems are a cheaper option. They’re less complex and rely on just a water pump and the necessary tubing.
It’s an excellent choice for beginners, due to its easy set up and maintenance. Additionally, because it’s inexpensive. It also comes in a variety of styles and sizes, so no matter the size or space of your grow area, the system will be compatible.
An ebb and flow system is highly recommended for:
- Small spaces
- Small budgets
- The want for little maintenance
- The want for an easy system setup
These are highly complex systems. An aeroponic system is better suited to small plants. Each plant has a liquid nutrient solution sprayed on it- this comes in the form of a mist. It offers the plant nutrition, water, and oxygen, as the roots are suspended within the plant containers. It’s essential that the pump functions continuously because the roots can dry out quickly if it fails. It’s an excellent solution for starting smaller plants or clones, because the fragile nature and small size of the plants are perfect for the majority or aeroponic systems.
An aeroponic system is highly recommended for:
- A limited growing space
- The desire to start clones, or rapidly grow plants
- The desire to grow a large number of small plants
These are by far the simplest hydroponics method. It utilizes a pump, a reservoir, and each plant container is fitting with a small drip irrigation fitting. A drip system can be utilized across multiple locations and its quick and easy to setup. They’re simple and can range in style and size, providing a variety of solutions for spaces of any size.
However, drop systems can be prone to clogging, as they rely on small lines and drip head openings. It’s vital that you monitor these to ensure that the lines stay clear, to ensure they are functioning optimally.
If you live in an area with harder water, it would be wise to filter it before placing it in the reservoir.
A drip system is highly recommended for:
- The want for a simple setup
- The want for simple maintenance
- A limited budget
- A beginner
General Hydroponic Information
With hydroponics systems feeding and watering your plants automatically, it offers you the ability to save energy and time in growing. The system relies on lines of tubing and pumps, so it’s vital that they are maintained and monitored. When clogs and leaks arise, they should be dealt with immediately to prevent any damage to the plants.
Additionally, because the liquid nutrient solution is in direct contact with the plant root, even the smallest changes in PH and nutrient concentration can create issues. You can purchase PH sensors, as well as automatic dosers, and monitors. They may be more difficult to operate that growing your plants in soil, but they provide a serious increase in productivity and plant growth.
The pros of any hydroponic system:
- Faster growing times and bigger yields.
- Less risk of pests.
- No soil mess or need to re-pot.
The cons of any hydroponic system:
- Soil infuses more flavor.
- It’s a bit more expensive to operate.
- More sensitive to fluctuations in nutrients.
- Lights – this is the biggest expense. It should be full spectrum, or focused on the red and blue waves. For vigorous grows, you want 16,000 lumens. Compact fluorescents are more energy efficient than high-intensity discharge lights- if your space is smaller than 4 x4 feet then it’s the perfect option. CFL’s need to be located within 10 inches of the plants to create the best late. Although they are a big initial investment, LED lights are far superior to other lighting allowing plants and rooms to keep cool while reducing energy cost. Check out our LED light options here.
- Nutrients – plants need macro and micro nutrients. Macros include potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. There are specific hydro nutrients. Make sure that you have one type for vegetation, and one for budding. Start out with half strength, the majority of plants won’t need full strength unless you’re using strong lights. Check out of different nutrient packages here.
- Air – a fresh supply of air is necessary, especially to maintain temperature. It also prevents mold growth and keeps pests at bay. An intake fan should be sufficient for smaller grows, but if you have a larger operation you may need a carbon scrubber, too.
- Monitoring – the best way to avoid problems is to have a monitoring system. At the very least, you should have lights on timers, a PH testing kit, and a sensor for humidity and temperature.
At Hydro Green Grow, we know that getting started with Hydroponics can be a little intimidating. But with so many great and easy to use systems, you can go from novice to professional grower in no time! If you need more information or have more questions, our expert growers are here for you! Contact Us any time.
To your growing success!
Hydro Green Grow Team