Hydroponic mediums come in countless different shapes and sizes and are classified as basically anything in which a plant can grow. Each and every hydroponic medium is distinctive in its own way, and should be chosen carefully for your specific hydroponic system.
Here is a summary of some of the most popular and effective growth mediums available together with a brief description of each so that you can be well informed and know exactly what your needs are when it comes to choosing a medium best suited for your system.
Rockwool is the most widely used and popular hydroponic medium out there. Rockwool is a completely non-degradable and sterile medium which provides plenty of root support for a plants entire life span. Rockwool has the capability to hold an abundant amount of water as well as air for a healthy root system. The roots are able to extract nearly all of the water which is stored in the cube making this medium one of the best available.
Perlite has been around for a long time and is mainly used as an additive for soil to increase aeration thus promoting a thriving root system with a good balance of oxygen exchange and water being able to adequately drain. Perlite has the consistency and appearance of small pieces of Styrofoam, however it is actually volcanic glass which has been heated very rapidly. This medium can be used as a standalone medium or it can be mixed with other mediums to create a superior growth medium. Whether to use this medium as a standalone medium or mixed with others really depends on the hydroponic setup and the growers preference.
These are pre-formed cubes which are lightweight and mainly used for the propagation stage in plant life. Oasis cubes are very popular and successful when growing from seeds and/or cuttings. This type of medium is intended as a starting point for when plants are at their beginning stage and can be easily transplanted into any hydroponic system with all types of hydroponic mediums.
Coconut fiber is an awesome medium which is totally organic and offers high performance when used with hydroponic systems. There are scores of advantages which coconut fiber has to offer. It has the ability to hold much more water and oxygen then mediums like rockwool, which is a huge advantage when growing in hydroponic systems that use alternating watering cycles.
This form of hydroponic medium is a man-made medium and is often referred to as grow rock. It is an up and coming top choice of growing medium with hydroponic growers. These clay pellets are made from baking clay for a specific amount of time and then cooled. This process allows the inside of the clay pellets to becomes full of tiny air pockets which makes this medium very light and able to effectively store water and oxygen.
Clay pellets are also often mixed with other growing mediums in order to encourage maximum oxygen preservation within the growing medium for a more abundant distribution of oxygen to the root system.
This form of hydroponic medium is often expensive but is highly reusable and can be used for a very long time making this a great choice with almost any kind of hydroponic system.
When it comes to hydroponic lighting, there are many different types of grow lights to choose from which one you choose will ultimately depend on the crop size and space you will be working with. Choosing a grow light for your hydroponic setup is probably the most important decision you will have to make when setting up your grow space. This guide should give you a basic starting point when deciding on which kind of lighting to consider for your hydroponic system.
First, the most critical thing to consider is the amount of light coverage your plants will need as insufficient lighting will lead to small, underdeveloped plants which will have a hard time producing fruit when the time comes. When choosing your lighting, make sure you have enough (or more than enough) lighting. Cutting corners when purchasing your lighting system will only end up wasting your time, energy and hard-earned money.
When picking out your hydroponic lighting, you need to keep in mind that each light covers a certain area in relation to the wattage output of the light this is known as square-footage. This rule of thumb should be the key when planning your garden and the lighting you will need.
Here is a simple list of the most common wattage output of most grow lights and their expected areas of coverage:
– 100Watts = 2 x 2
– 250Watts = 3 x 3
– 400Watts = 4 x 4
– 600Watts = 5 x 5
– 1000Watts = 6 x 6
There are many types or growing lights out there, but the main three are HPS (high pressure sodium), metal halide and fluorescent. Each type for different growing needs size of crop and space.
HPS (High Pressure Sodium)
HPS bulbs have the longest life span of any other grow light and are, by far, the most efficient, producing brighter light than any other indoor light. The reason why this type of light is so effective is that plants only use specific colors in the suns light spectrum: red/orange and blue. This particular kind of grow light produces a high amount of red and yellow spectrum which also mimics the Autumn sun making this kind of grow light ideal for larger hydroponic gardens and for plants in their flowering stage.
A metal halide light is somewhat similar to HPS lighting as it puts out a very bright light, but it also has a distinct advantage over HPS bulbs as it produces light in the full spectrum, simulating summer sun. Most hydroponic growers use this kind of light in the vegetative stage for prolific leaf growth, but for flowering it tends to be a little inadequate. You could use this kind of light for flowering (and it would do an adequate enough job), but most growers switch to an HPS light during the flowering stage for maximum growth and effectiveness.
Fluorescent & Compact Fluorescent
Fluorescent bulbs are not very efficient and definitely will not produce as much light as the HPS or metal halide grow lights mentioned previously. However, this kind of hydroponic lighting is ideal for small grows such as in grow boxes, grow cabinets or any other kind of grow in a small space. They produce very low to no heat and are very cost effective using very little electricity to operate. This type of hydroponic light is only recommended for small grows in small spaces keeping the light(s) very close to the plants.
A hydroponic grow tent is hugely popular with indoor hydroponic growers everywhere. This is mainly due to the fact that the environment can be completely controlled allowing you to regulate the conditions in which the plants are growing. Using a grow tent makes a lot of sense as you can also easily control the humidity level, temperature levels, and light cycles. This means that you can insure that no light source outside of your set temperature levels are allowed to disrupt your plants growth. A grow tent also allows you to do away with all the clutter of growing equipment as everything is nicely contained within the tent.
When purchasing a grow tent you want to look for some specific details just to make sure you are getting a quality tent. Some of the most important things you want in a grow tent are: reflective interior walls for maximum light reflectivity, a heavy, thick material so it will last, ventilation holes for running exhaust fans in and out and also, just as important, you always want to have more than enough space to meet your growing needs.
Lighting in a grow tent is a major factor to consider when buying one you can put multiple grow lights inside without rays escaping out which would normally make the room you grow in uncomfortably bright. Most plants also need at least some amount of dark hours to rest while promoting root development. When in an open room, this dark light cycle absolutely cannot be disrupted or you risk the plant growth being stunted. However, when growing in a tent, you can easily keep unwanted light out so as to not disturb the sleep time of your plants which, in turn, would have them confused over the lighting cycles, slowing their growth and, in some cases, ruining them altogether.
Grow tents are an excellent option for people just getting started in growing indoors and who want to be able to easily control the environment. It is also equally suitable for seasoned growers who just want to upgrade their indoor garden. Grow tents usually come with everything you will need, so there is no need to buy extra supplies in relation to the tent itself.
Grow tents come in many sizes and features but the main thing you need to bear in mind when selecting one is the space you are going to need together with any extra features which may or may not be of use to you, and the price some can get very expensive but most are very reasonably priced.
Benefits and advantages of a hydroponic grow tent:
Tents are made of heavy duty materials able to withstand the test of time
Most tents come with at least 90% or more reflective material lined on the inside
Most tents now come with multiple vents for easy installation of exhaust fans and/or wiring
Setup only takes minutes
Grow tents, in combination with good lighting and hydroponics, are able to give enormous yields due to the highly efficient environment created inside
A hydroponic grow tent is a great idea for anyone growing at home who wants to maximize their yields with little effort due to the enclosed, controlled environment.
An indoor grow room can be just about anywhere, from a small closet or box to a full bedroom or garage. Even though you may have found the perfect spot for your hydroponic garden, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration before (and during) the construction of an indoor grow room. Among the most important things to keep in mind are the aspects surrounding the temperature and humidity, air exchange, grow lights and pest control.
Temperature and humidity
Temperature is critical when considering how a grow room should be set up. The best place for a grow room is generally on a ground floor next to a basement. Temperature and humidity is relatively easy to control if temperatures rise too high, all you have to do is add extra ventilation fans and the temperature will lower. If you want to increase the humidity levels in the room, just fill up a few 5 gallon buckets of water and place near your hydroponic garden and the humidity will quickly rise. If you need to lower your humidity, just increase the air flow through the room.
The atmosphere in your hydroponic grow room is very important when cultivating indoors. In order for healthy growth, you must have fresh air coming in and spent, hot air drawn out of the room. It is always a great idea to have more than two fans, possibly three to five. In addition to the in/out ventilation fans, one or more fans should be blowing directly onto the plants so that you can always see the foliage moving a little. This will allow for maximum oxygen intake and it also toughens up the stalk and branch of each plant for an overall larger stature.
Grow lights have to be the single most important aspect of running a hydroponic garden without the lighting there is nothing. You generally want the lighting to be placed well below a celling in order to allow for proper heath distribution and prevent any heat issue that may arise. However, a lot of people also wonder, How close do I put my grow lights to my plants? The answer is simple – hold your hand under the lamp where the plants will be located, and if your hand gets uncomfortably hot, then it is probably too hot for your plants and should be moved farther away.
Pests can quickly become a problem in a hydroponic garden if left unchecked. It is very important to thoroughly clean your growing room/area regularly. Make sure the floors are especially clean as this is how a lot of pests creep into your garden. You dont always have to spray pesticides on your plants to prevent or take care of the problem. Another great idea is to purchase sticky fly traps and hang them around your grow room. Doing something this minimal can have a huge effect on a pest problem and its prevention.
Root rot is a constant problem when gardening indoors, and most of the time, it can be hard to spot until it is too late. Root rot is a waterborne disease which forms on the roots and causes them to rot and eventually die off.
This serious disease can spread to other plants if the roots are too close to each other. This can drastically reduce yields and cause crop failure. When gardening indoors, especially in hydroponic systems, root rot spreads very quickly and because a hydroponics system is enclosed, the disease spores will concentrate themselves on and around any roots which may be in the systems.
Root rot is 100% preventable and can be treated if already present, but treatment does not always work. It is firmly suggested that you take the necessary steps to keep your roots clean and healthy.
Root Rot Source of Infection
Unclean tools and/or objects and equipment which has been introduced to the plants source of water
Water that is unfiltered or of poor quality
Waterborne diseases which can cause root rot to develop
Yellow, drooping, and soft leaves
Leaves curled over this is directly related to the roots being unable to take in nutrients at normal strength due to the infection (root rot) causing damage to your root system
pH levels are acidic the pH level will rise rapidly at some point
Roots becoming burnt at the ends (turning brown in color)
Plants consuming drastically less water than normal
Roots becoming smelly and slimy and is usually at the point when the roots are brown in color (a healthy root system should be off-white or a little tan in color)
Swollen root collar
If root rot is present, then your best bet is to simply start over with a new crop.
1. If indoor gardening with hydroponics, you want to start by disassembling the system.
2. Scrub the entire reservoir with a bleach solution, making sure you get in every corner and crevice.
3. Then rinse with tap water.
4. Run the bleach solution through the irrigation tubing and rinse with water again (you could also disinfect your water by mixing half of an H2O2 solution with half water, filling your reservoir and then letting it sit for an hour or so).
5. Drain, then refill with your normal water solution.
6. Make sure you clean all of your irrigation tubing and other components within the system as failure to completely clean the system could cause root rot to return.
Closely monitor the plant and root mass often, at least once a day. You generally want to look for brown, smelly roots.
Make sure you always have adequate aeration, having an open air exchange around your roots will drastically cut your chances of root rot in half.
Transplant only healthy plants and/or clones to your indoor garden. Disease-infected plants introduced to your garden can also introduce root rot to your crop.
Always maintain a clean system and make sure you change the reservoirs in your indoor garden regularly and give your system a thorough cleaning every three to four weeks.
Now that you have made the right decision to grow with hydroponics, the first thing you need to do is get some seedlings started. Just remember that you should always start your seeds in a hydroponic medium and nothing organic. This will ensure that there will be no complications with your hydroponic plants later on. Keep everything as sterile as possible when it comes to your hydroponic system, even when transplanting and adding seedlings.
Start by selecting a growing medium. Rockwool cubes tend to do best as they can be easily transplanted into any hydroponic system.
Press the seeds into the rockwool and ensure they are moist
It is a good idea to keep the rockwool cubes in a grow tray so that you can easily fill the tray with water and then drain, as required.
Germination of a seed takes place when the proper amount of moisture, air and heat are present. A seed can crack and start germinating anywhere from a day to two weeks – it just depends on the specific plant you are cultivating. When placing the rockwool cubes into the tray, make sure that the rockwool is spaced apart in order to ensure proper air exchange for the seedlings.
Whenever growing with hydroponics, it is always a great idea to always have a germination box/humidity dome for starting seedlings, to encourage germination, and to create clones. You could start your seedlings directly in your hydroponic system, but the failure rate for germination will be drastically increased compared to starting them in a humidity dome. So do yourself a favor and get a humidity dome for germination (or with a little effort, you can even build one yourself) – it will last longer than you think.
For the next one to three weeks, it is critical to keep the moisture level high and, for the first few days at least, at a rate of 70%, if possible. A high moisture level in the air is always going to be important for healthy growth since there is no root system to support the seedlings. Keep the seedling in a constant state of moisture, even if you have to take a spray bottle and lightly mist them a few times a day.
After a few weeks, it is time to transplant your seedlings into your hydroponic system. First make sure that there is proper root structure coming from the bottom of the rockwool if the roots are too small, they will not be able to reach the nutrient solution. When placing in your hydroponic system, be extra careful with the roots as they are delicate and can break very easily. Once the seedlings are in place, just keep them lightly misted every so often for a few days after transplanting.
For the next week or so, keep a close eye on your newly transplanted seedlings because, as a result of the transplant, they will now be taking in a nutrient solution. Some types of plants handle this better than others. If you see your seedlings getting dying off, then try to reduce the amount of nutrients in your water reservoir for a week, then refill and put your hydroponic plants back in place.
Pests are a common problem with home gardening and this is always the case with hydroponic plants. True, plants grown with hydroponics tend to have fewer pests than those grown in a garden, but this doesnt mean that pests are gone altogether. As long as there is vegetation present, different pests will automatically sense the vegetation and be drawn to it.
It is always essential to be prepared and to take certain steps in order to prevent a pest problem to start with. Taking the necessary precautions beforehand will save you a lot of hassle in the future, not to mention, saving your hydroponic plants from being infested.
There are all kinds of methods for preventing pests and killing them and some work better than others. Here are a few of the best simple solutions to fix your pest problem:
Insecticide sprays come in many different varieties but are basically in two groups: organic and non organic. Non organic pesticides tend to have more of an effect on pests but can be harmful to some plants. This type of solution to your pest problem is only recommended if all other options have been exhausted as it is much healthier for your plants to be treated with organic methods.
Sticky Fly Paper
This method of pest control is intended mainly for implementation with other types of pest control. Using sticky fly traps work a lot better than most people think and, when used in conjunction with other methods of pest control, they will virtually clean up your pest problem. Hang these both above and within your garden as close to your plants as possible without touching them this will help you to achieve maximum effect. Try this and I guarantee that by the end of the first day or so, you will instantly get results.
Neem oil is a natural pesticide and a highly effective method for use against all pests that may invade your hydroponic plants and is highly recommended. Neem oil is non-toxic and 100% organic, derived from the seeds of the Neem tree found in India. Mix one liter of water with about eight milliliters of pressed Neem oil and shake very well. Thoroughly mist this solution onto your hydroponic plants for maximum effect. Be very careful to get the ratio correct and not to mix in too much Neem oil, or you might ed up with an oily shine to your leaves.
This is an old home remedy that works wonders. All you need to do is mix a dab of regular, non fragrance dish soap with straight water in a spray bottle. Spray the entire plant, especially underneath the leaves as this is where pests can usually be found. Now let this soapy solution sit on your hydroponic plants for about an hour and a half to two hours and then thoroughly rinse with plain water. After this rinse, shake your plants a little just to get off any extra moisture. You can then let your indoor garden fans take care of any remaining moisture