The four most common techniques for beginners are the Ebb and Flow, Top Drip System, Deep Water Culture and the Wick System.
The Ebb and Flow is the classic hydroponic system. It can accommodate pots of any size and is easy to build yourself. Potted plants are arranged onto a drain table which is then filled with 2-3 inches of water and nutrient solution which is pumped into the drain table. The solution is then brought in through the hole in the bottom of the pots. After soaking for a few minutes, the reservoir is drained. This should be repeated 2-4 times a day.
Top Drip Systems are the most common hydroponics system. In a drip system, the nutrient solution is held in a reservoir and is pumped through tubing to the base of potted plants. The excess solution is then released through the hole in the bottom of the pot and returned to the reservoir. This process should be repeated 2-4 times a day.
A Deep Water Culture system is the most economical choice to build. Plants are grown in small net pots, which are suspended, in a floating Styrofoam plank. Underneath the plank lies a shallow pan of nutrient solution and the roots grow through the net pots into the solution. An aerator provides oxygen to the roots by forming bubbles in the solution.
The Wick System is the simplest form of hydroponics. This method does not require pumps, timers or aerators. The nutrient is fed to the plants roots by a cotton wick. The plant is merely potted in a large pot with a wicking mat in the bottom, which brings the nutrient solution up to the plant.
Scientists believe that the reason behind hydroponic-grown plants’ increased growth rate and yield is due to a surplus of oxygen and direct water to the roots. However, plants grown hydroponically do not have access to the nutrients they require, which is present in soil.
GRO Nutrients® fertilizer series are perfect for your hydroponic garden. Our pure organic series are balanced and refined enough to flow easily through your hydroponic system. SUPER GRO is a vegetable garden stimulant that helps your plants grow even faster and with a greater yield. EPIC is like pure liquid sunshine for your indoor hydroponic garden!
GRO Nutrients® Series are a mix of primary, secondary and micro nutrients — designed for hydroponics. For a variety of reasons, hydroponic nutrients differ from other nutrients (fertilizers) used to feed plants that grow in soil. If you are not already familiar with hydroponics, keep it simple. Use our proven formulas.
No. Air pumps used in water systems generate bubbles and increase the dissolved oxygen in water, both of which supply oxygen to the submerged roots.
Different types of artificial lights exist, but metal halide seems to be the light source of choice among many gardeners. Other types of artificial lights include high-pressure sodium bulbs, LEDs, high-output fluorescents and compact fluorescents, assuming that you are growing hydroponically indoors.
Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, is a popular and versatile hydroponics system. It is similar to Ebb and Flow in that, the system uses a pump to deliver fertilized water to the grow tray and a drainpipe to recycle the unused nutrient solution. The only difference is that in NFT, the nutrient solution is continuously flowing over the roots. This is accomplished using gravity. The grow tray is placed at an angle to allow the water to flow down towards the drainpipe, and a new solution is constantly being pumped into the high end of the tube.
One way to mitigate the risk of power failure is to use two reservoirs -- one placed above the high point of the channel that feeds the solution via gravity, and another at the lowest point to collect the used solution. The spent solution can either be discarded and replaced, or recycled by pumping from the low reservoir to the high reservoir. The advantage to this technique is that it doesn’t require electricity to deliver nutrition to the plants – If there is a power outage or pump malfunction, you will at least have as much time as it takes for the reservoir to empty before you need to worry about the plants suffering.
The ideal is at room temperature, between 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Again this is more of a concern for outdoor systems that are exposed to the weather. For winter, you can buy miniature water heaters that go inside of your reservoir to keep the nutrient solution warm. For summer, keeping the reservoir in a shaded area and periodically topping it off with cool water is generally sufficient to keep it from getting too hot.
Depending on the size of your system, for example with a large scale Ebb and Flow setup, you may want to mix your nutrient solution in very large quantities. 55-gallon drums make ideal mixing buckets for large systems and can store enough nutrient solution to replenish your reservoir for weeks. For smaller systems or if you do not have space for a large mixing container it is perfectly OK to mix your solution on an as-needed basis.
After mixing your solution, let it sit for a few minutes and settle, then check the pH and adjust as necessary. Starting off with a perfect pH will make it easier to maintain. You can even measure the number of drops of pH Up or pH Down needed, every time you mix your solution, and just add that amount to the water before mixing in your concentrate.
Just like animals, plants need a number of nutrients to survive and thrive. Researchers have identified sixteen nutrients that are essential for plant life.
These nutrients are broadly divided into two groups: nine macronutrients and seven micronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in much greater quantities than micronutrients, which are often needed in minuscule amounts.
The purpose of foliar feeding is not to replace soil fertilization. However, foliar application has proven to be an excellent method of supplying plant requirements for secondary nutrients (calcium, magnesium, sulfur) and micronutrients (zinc, manganese, iron, copper, boron, and molybdenum), while supplementing N-P-K needs for short and/or critical growth 3 stage periods.
Foliar feeding is generally done in the early morning or late evening, preferably at temperatures below 24°C (75°F), since heat causes the pores on some species' leaves to close. You should also make sure that the leaves do not stay wet for long periods of time as this can sometimes encourage pests and diseases like fungi.
During the summer, you should be cautious when doing a foliar application. Read the instructions on our labels to see what temperatures to avoid lest your leaves become scorched.