The hydroponic method is used to grow a wide range of plants in small and congested spaces. As the name suggests, this growing technique allows urban gardeners to grow fruits, vegetables, and different varieties of plants indoors. The plants are grown without soil. Unlike the typical gardening techniques, the hydroponic indoor growing system includes cups and net pots only.
These plants are given the essential nutrients through the roots for their stable and fast growth. The roots of these plants are submerged in the water. The specialty of the hydroponic growing system is that it enables people to grow just about any kind of plant in any space – no matter how small the area is.
Advantages of Hydroponic Indoor Growing System
Generates Better Yields
The roots of the hydroponic plants do not invest their energy in looking for nutrients. They are rather provided with all the essential nutrients required for proper growth. These plants are highly likely to invest their energy in growing.
The growth rate of these plants depends largely on the type of minerals added to the water and the plant type you are growing. In general, a hydro plant grows 25% faster than the traditional plants that are grown in soil. The sooner these plants grow, the higher the yields they generate.
They Can Be Grown Anywhere
Soil and weather conditions are the two most important factors that contribute to the growth of the crop. Now that the hydro plants are grown in water and mineral-based solutions, the soil type doesn’t impact the quality of the crop. Plus, the crops are grown indoors. That means you don’t have to worry about the current weather condition causing any damage to your plant.
It gives you full control over the growing condition of the crops. Besides, you can grow your plan in any environment.
Despite being grown in water, hydro plants consume considerably less water than crops cultivated in soil. The best part about a hydroponic system is that it doesn’t lead to water wastage. The same water can be used multiple times. You can replace the nutrients added to the water and fed new minerals to your crop.
As the plants are not exposed to the weather, they do not need a lot of pesticides. There is no involvement of the topsoil, meaning the topsoil erosion is never going to be a concern for hydroponic gardeners.
6 Popular Types of Hydroponic Systems
One of the easiest-to-setup hydroponic systems is wicking. They make a great option for beginners who are learning the basics of hydroponics. It is a passive hydroponic system that doesn’t involve any moving objects, making it a whole lot easier for the cultivator to manage the crops.
The crops sit in an air-tight container placed right above the nutrients and water. A rope can be used to join the medium to the nutrient solution. The wicking rope will collect the nutrients and transfer them to the roots.
2)Deep Water Culture
If you are looking for the cheapest and simplest hydroponic technique, then deep water culture is your best bet. The crops, in this method, sit in a container that’s placed above a reservoir filled with water and nutrient solution. The roots of the hydro plants hang down into the water reservoir. As the roots stay submerged in the reservoir, you need to implement an air pump for oxygen. The air is pumped into the container through an air pump and is released from the reservoir through air stones.
3) Nutrient Film Technique
The nutrient film technique is a bit similar to the Ebb and Flow. The method includes a pump that transfers water to the plant grow tray and a drain pipe through which the unused nutrients are released. The grow tray is placed in a way that enables the unused nutrients to flow through the drainpipe. The new nutrients are pumped to the tray through the pump. Another flexible and easy-to-setup system for indoor plant growers!
The main purpose of the aeroponic system is to set up an environment that offers the highest level of stability for the growth of crops. It supplies maximum oxygen to the plants for quick growth. The method does not involve a growing medium, which is why the whole root system gets fully exposed. The roots of the crops in the aeroponic system are found hanging in the air in the growing container. For the water and nutrient requirements, the grower has to spray the nutrient-based solution to the plants within the chamber to keep them from drying out. This solution is sprayed every few hours with aeroponic misters.
5) Ebb and Flow
Known for its versatility, the ebb and flow methods are incredibly popular among hydroponic plant growers. With an intermediate difficulty level, it is one of the cost-effective hydroponic setups. The tube is connected to the roots so that the excess water and nutrient that aren’t used by the plant flow outside the growing chamber. The method involves the pump that works on a timer. The method alternates the water and nutrients & oxygen flow to the reservoir.
In this method, the crop’s roots lie in either gravel or perlite. The water and nutrients are supplied to the roots through a reservoir that’s connected to the tubes and drips. Once the roots are completely soaked, the water flows back into the reservoir through the container.
This option works wonders for plants that feature a complex root system. The drip approach supplies water to the growing media, where it’s retained for a short while, keeping the extensive roots moisturized.
Top Factors You Must Take Into Consideration When Growing Hydro Plants
The hydroponic system is designed for different varieties of plants, be it fruits or herbs. As the method involves different growing techniques, you need to consider the height of the plant and its root system before picking the most reliable growing method. The method you choose must provide the best support to the structure while covering the plant’s extensive root system. Live plants make a good choice for beginners. You should rather start with the live plant than growing a crop from the seed. Whichever plant you choose, make sure you wash its roots thoroughly so that there are no traces of soil left.
The roots of the crop must be hung down to the reservoir, where they will collect the essential nutrients and water to grow. For that, you need a support system. You can use a basket, mesh, or any container that can house the plant in such a way that its roots hang down to the bucket. You don’t necessarily need a large container if you are growing a few crops only. A big bucket or a plastic pipe that could supply the nutrients to the roots will be enough. The basket must be placed within the bucket.
Earlier, we discussed the water bucket that will hold the plant and its roots. You are also supposed to get a reservoir that will store the essential nutrients and water. You don’t need separate systems for the roots and reservoir if you are using the water culture method for hydro plant cultivation. For other techniques, a separate reservoir is needed for nutrient storage.
Then again, the growing media may or may not be required in the hydroponic plant growth system. Whether you need one or not depends on the growth method you choose. If you are using the growing media, consider getting gravel or perlite. Vermiculite is also a good option. This growing medium will be placed in a basket close to the plant. If you are growing the crops from seedlings, consider using hydroponic sponges. They come in handy.
Water Pump and Tubing
A water pump is needed to supply the nutrient solution and water to the roots. You don’t need a pump if you are following the wicking system. In the hydroponic method, the water pump is the only tool you need for pumping nutrients and water to the plant. In the ebb and flow system, a water pump with a timer is needed. The pump can be purchased from the nearest hardware store for a reasonable price. Similarly, you need tubing for the transportation of water from the reservoir to the root basin.
Like soil-based plants, the crops you have grown indoors require the right nutrients for growth. This includes phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and other important nutrients. You can make the nutrient solution on your own, but it’s better to buy the ready-made mixture from a retail store.
Water and pH Level
It is the most obvious element of the hydroponic system. To speed up your plant’s growth, you need to use high-quality water, probably fresh rainwater. Do not use tap water, as it contains unnecessary minerals and improper pH levels. The best pH level for hydroponic growth is 6.
Use grow lights to provide your plants with sufficient sunlight for growth. The requirements of artificial light might be varied depending on the different types of plants you have grown indoor.