Hydroponics can look intimidating to the novice grower; like a scientist's laboratory or something out of a sci-fi movie. However, the benefits of growing hydroponically should be considered when making the decision of how to grow your plants.
The word "hydroponic" comes from the Greek words "hydro" meaning water and "ponos" meaning labor. It's a system of growing plants in a nutrient solution made up of water and fertilizer. I don't mean you stick your plant in a flower vase and expect it to be a hydroponic plant; it's a bit more complicated than that. It may either be with or without artificial growing mediums like perlite, gravel, rock wool, sand, or lava rocks to provide mechanical support.
What it needs
When you provide your marijuana plant with exactly what it needs, when it needs it, and in the right amount it will inevitably grow wonderfully. Soil makes this a harder task as it an ecosystem unto itself. It has changing bacteria, nutrient variety and pH. Hydroponics make it easier to take control all of those things. Do your homework on what nutrients cannabis plants need before going all in and setting up your hydroponic system. You'll need to bring your A-game when growing hydroponics because you are then responsible for providing your plants with all the nutrients they need.
One of the main differences is that when plants are grown in a hydroponic system, as opposed to soil, the nutrients are placed in the water to feed the plant's roots directly. This is why hydroponic systems produce crops that grow at a faster rate and produce greater yields. In fact, a hydroponic plant grows 30%-50% faster than a plant growing in soil when they're grown under the same conditions. The plant's roots don't have to search for nutrients in the soil. Instead, all of that extra energy can go to bud production.
There are many more advantages of a hydroponic even though the start up costs for a hydroponic system is greater. It gives the grower more control over the health of their plants. Insects and pesticides that are found in soil are no worry for hydroponic growers. Also, it requires less maintenance once it's been set up because 1 reservoir can already feed more than 12 plants. The PH level can easily be controlled and monitored with a hydroponic system. Not only does the extra oxygen in hydroponic systems stimulate root growth, it also allows the roots to absorb nutrients faster.
For those of you just starting off in the wonderful world of hydroponics a Deep Water Culture system may be the easiest and cheapest way to go. The idea is that you're growing your plants in aerated water. All that is needed is a container, lid, pump and net pot. In the container you will put your nutrient solution; normally about 3-4 gallons. The lid will support a single plant that is put in a net pot. The roots will grow out of the net pot down into the the nutrient solution. Put an airstone in the container to keep bubbling the water to increase oxygen levels. An airstone is crucial to this system as stagnant water can cause root rot and is the perfect breeding ground for parasites. Every container must also be airtight in order to prevent algae from growing.
One of the most popular hydroponic systems is the Ebb and Flow/Flood and Drain. For this setup you will need flood tables, pumps to feed the plants water and nutrients, reservoirs, and a growing medium like rockwool. This method includes soaking the plant's roots in the nutrient solution for a period of time then draining the solution leaving the roots in the open air. The process is repeated many times a day. Some growers put their pumps on timers for when to flood the tables and then drain the solution into the reservoir again. Other growers just drain the nutrient solution, wasting it, and putting in new nutrient solution for the following time. The good thing about this system is that that the water doesn't become stagnant long enough for parasite infestations or root rot to occur.
expand your horizons
Hydroponic systems are a great way to expand your horizons as a grower. You will be impressed with your garden after seeing the difference from growing in soil to growing hydroponically.If you do decide to give it a try then make sure you are financially capable of covering the costs and you are confident in the knowledge you have of growing hydroponically.