What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics, sometimes referred to as hydro, is the means of growing plants without soil. This subset of horticulture is known for plants being suspended directly in water, or in an inert grow media to support the roots.
Hydroponics vs Soil
There are many differences between growing hydroponically and growing in soil. Soil is regarded as easier, and thus we recommend beginners start here. The soil acts as a buffer, and is more forgiving to human error than a hydro system.
There are more components in a complete hydroponic system, and the learning curve is longer. The higher quality plants and heavier yields generated through hydroponic means justifies the increased workload, and higher investment.
You need to pay more attention to detail, because mistakes are magnified in a hydro system. For example, growers need to take special care to filter water as impurities can wreak havoc on the system and plants themselves.
If you are wondering if hydroponics is right for you, start by reading how to determine your growing method.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics?
There are many advantages to growing hydroponically. This applies to any indoor grow, but growing hydroponically is not subject to typical growing seasons. In fact, hydroponic systems actually generate more harvests per year than plants grown in soil.
Growers tend to agree that plants grown in a hydroponic system not only yield more, but produce higher quality buds.
Resources are conserved in hydroponic systems unlike soil counterparts, because water is recycled. Since plants are grown in a controlled environment, pests are also less common. Labor is lessened as well, considering there is no weeding, and irrigation is often automated with nutrient and pH dosers.
Some of the main disadvantages of hydroponics are the initial setup cost and the learning process. Complete hydroponic systems can be pricey, but you are paying for quick, heavy harvests. Most hydroponic systems are slightly difficult to operate at first, and take a while to get used to. You need to take special care to dose nutrients properly, as overfeeding can have detrimental effects on hydro plants.
The pros outweigh the cons greatly. As long as you spend the time to learn the art of hydroponics and are willing to invest in yourself, there is no way you will be unsatisfied with your decision.
Hydroponic grow media
In traditional gardening, soil holds and supports the roots, keeping the plant upright. It also acts as a means of holding nutrients and water so the plant can grow.
In some hydroponic systems, the plant roots are suspended directly in a nutrient solution. Other systems require a form of hydroponic grow media. The most common are:
These inert grow mediums are responsible for stabilizing the plant, and provide excellent aeration. To learn more about these mediums, view our full Hydroponic Grow Media Section.
What are the 6 types of hydroponics?
At Hydrobuilder, we offer four of the most common and effective hydroponic systems available, but there are two others you may come across. All hydroponic systems operate similarly, using a reservoir to hold water/nutrients and a grow tray or stand to hold the plants.
- Ebb and Flow- Commonly referred to as flood and drain, this hydro setup requires a grow medium, and plants will have their rootzone flooded with nutrients, before they drain back out into the reservoir.
- Deep Water Culture- Also known as DWC, this is the most simple hydroponic system available. Roots are suspended directly in the reservoir in a net pot. An air pump and stone provide constant oxygen to the submerged roots.
- Aeroponics- In this newer hydroponic system, roots are suspended in air. Plants are fed by misting devices below the root zone. This is a very efficient process, ensuring the plant is constantly provided ample oxygen and nutrients.
- Hydroponic Drip System- Geared towards larger indoor gardens or commercial grows, this system uses drip hoses and nozzles to slowly feed plants.
- Nutrient Film Technique- Referred to as NFT for short, this system uses a water pump to send nutrients from the reservoir into the grow tray, and then slowly drains the solution back into the reservoir.
- Wick System- This is a passive hydro system, which means there are no moving parts. Plants are suspended in a hydroponic grow media, and a wick extends from the reservoir, drawing nutrients into the tray.
For more information on each of these systems and who should use which, check out our Complete Hydroponic System Section
How do you set up a hydroponic system?
The first step in setting up your hydroponic system is finding an ideal location. If you are using a grow tent, this will be much easier, as the mess of growing is contained and the system can easily be moved.
If you plan on growing in a spare bedroom, consider the environment you will be growing in. Plants have specific humidity, temperature, and light needs. It is important your environment is conducive to growing quality plants, especially for the price you are paying for a hydro system.
When you purchase a complete hydroponic kit, set up is very easy. Just follow the instructions, and place the reservoir under the grow tray. Install the water pump, air pump, and any other necessary components, and start growing!
For more info on choosing and setting up a grow room location, click here!
What can be grown using hydroponics?
Just about anything you can grow in an outdoor garden can be grown hydroponically. Here are some common vegetables you can grow in your indoor hydroponic operation:
- Green Beans
These are just a few of the plants you can grow in your new hydroponic system, the full list is seemingly endless!
For more information on hydroponics, check out our learning center! We are constantly adding fresh content in there to help you grow the strongest plants possible. If you have any questions, give our experienced growing staff a call today at 888-815-9763!