While some hydroponic systems do not require a grow media of any sort, others do. This is to support the plant and anchor the roots in place. Garden soil is a common choice for outdoor plants or those in traditional pots, but plants grown hydroponically require a special type of growing medium.
What is a hydroponic grow medium?
A hydroponic growing medium can be any inert material that anchors the plants in place, without providing nutrients or minerals. There are a number of hydro grow mediums available, and some people will even make their own. The most popular growing mediums today are:
What is the best growing medium for hydroponics?
While there isn't necessarily a "best" growing medium for hydroponics, some growers will be better suited with certain grow media, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each.
Rockwool is a well known and popular choice for hydroponic growers. It is made by melting rocks, and then spinning it into fibers. Rockwool features great water retention and aeration, which is why it is so popular. Due to its composition, it will not breakdown or degrade, which can be troublesome when trying to dispose of it naturally. Be sure to balance the pH of your rockwool cubes with a pH adjustor, as these tend to come with a high pH.
Clay Pebbles and Growstones
Clay pebbles and growstones are a tried and true hydroponic grow media, made from recycled glass that has been smoothed through sanding. It is 100% inert, pH neutral, and can be used over and over for numerous grows! Growstones are lightweight and sustainable.
If you want to learn more about this growing medium, we wrote an in depth guide on growstones and clay pebbles!
Another popular choice is coco coir, a 100% organic amendment derived from the husk of coconuts. It comes in different consistencies, and is known for its excellent water retention and drainage abilities. Coco husk is great for starting seedlings and clones, featuring excellent germination capabilities.
The reason people can't get enough of coco coir is because it is completely renewable. The husk of a coconut has no other uses other than hydroponic applications, so growers using coco are contributing to conserving the environment!
Hydroponic Foam and Oasis Cubes
Hydroponic foam, also referred to as oasis cubes, is composed of polyurethane and is another great soilless grow medium. It is known for not affecting the environments pH whatsoever, as well as its porous nature and resistance to algae.
Oasis cubes and hydroponic foam are very inexpensive, and do not require any presoaking. These are not organic or sustainable, however, which turns some growers off to them.
Still not sure which hydroponic grow medium is right for you? Check out our full breakdown of hydroponic grow media in our learning center!
If you have any questions, give one of our experienced growers a call at 888-815-9763!