What is an ebb and flow system?
Ebb and flow hydroponic systems are some of the more popular systems for indoor growing. Sometimes referred to as flood and drain, these systems are great for those new to hydroponics because of their simple operation. This isn't to say growing in an ebb and flow system is easy, as there is still a rather steep learning curve.
Once you get used to the system components and understand a few concepts, however, ebb and flow systems can help cultivate some incredibly strong plants!
A grow tray (flood table) hold the plants in place, and is supported by a stand or rolling bench. The hydroponic reservoir is housed underneath, holding hydroponic nutrients and water. Using a rolling bench will allow you to maximize space in the grow room or greenhouse, by eliminating unnecessary aisles.
Growers can decide if they wish to fill the flood table with a hydroponic grow media, or house the plants in individual net pots within the flood table. Using net pots allows for easier movement of plants.
How does an ebb and flow system work?
Just as the name sounds, an ebb and flow system will flood the root zone with nutrients, and slowly drain back into the reservoir. A water pump is responsible for transporting nutrients into the flood table, along with a timer or controller that sets the flood and drain cycles. This will occur 4-6 times a day, and the roots will soak in the nutrient solution for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Ebb and Flow Aereation
While the nutrient solution soaks the root zone during the flood cycle, the plants are not exposed to oxygen. For this reason, it is very important to ensure adequate oxygen in the hydroponic grow media. Using an air pump and air stone in the reservoir will introduce more oxygen into the nutrient solution, which helps tremendously.
Choosing the best hydroponic ebb and flow system
When deciding which ebb and flow system is best for you, consider the number of plants you want to grow along with your budget. Most hobby growers are just looking to grow a couple plants, and systems rated 1-10 plants will be plenty. More serious or commercial growers looking to maximize the space of their warehouse or greenhouse can choose a system designed to grow more than 40 plants!
You will also need to consider how big you want your plants to get. If you are growing a smaller plant, or are tight on space, a 2 gallon growth module will be perfect. For those looking to grow huge, heavy plants, a 6 gallon bucket will deliver better results.
If you are unsure which ebb and flow system is best for you, give our experienced growers a call and let us help! You can reach us at 888-815-9763. For more information on hydroponic systems, check out our learning center! We also have an article discussing the differences between areoponics and hydroponics, because these do vary slightly. For a better understanding of each of the types of hydroponics systems, read our full guide.