There are many different types of hydroponics setups for growing cannabis. Each one has their own pros and cons. Here is a guide to hydroponics and the different systems. This will help you decide what hydroponic growing system is going to be best for you.
When you are considering growing, cannabis hydroponically, you must understand it takes a lot of maintenance. You can buy automated systems that will make it easier for you, but they are expensive.
You must have time to check on your crop at least once a day, or even twice. Things can change quickly in hydro, you need to be ready to adjust things when it is needed.
If you have any questions about any of the hydroponic methods used here then feel free to ask for help in our cannabis growers forum
Soilless mediums and Hand Watering
Growing cannabis with hydroponics doesn’t mean you have to grow your plants in water. Hydroponics is where the nutrients are delivers to the plant via water, as the medium does not have any in it.
Coco is the most popular form of soilless mix, and is used by many cannabis growers. It is made out of the fibres of coconut husk which are void of nutrients. Coco also has very good drainage, so it’s supplies a large amount of air to the roots.
By hand watering in coco you can give the medium a chance to dry out in between waterings. This will deliver more air to the root zone. Also, you can mix up specific feed for each plant. This is ideal when growing different strains.
When growing in coco and other soilless mediums, you need to get at least 10% run off, with every feed. This will wash old salts (nutrients) out of the medium and prevent salt build up. Always remove run off too! Never let your plants sit in old food.
Coco is one of the best ways to grow cannabis indoors. By hand watering you will have daily control of the nutrient intake of your plants. This will give your plants the exact diet they need.
Deep water Culture (D.W.C)
The first system in our guide to hydroponics is Deep Water Culture, which is one of the most popular hydroponics growing systems. A container holds a large amount of nutrient solution, then a plants root zone is suspended into it.
Air stones are used to deliver a constant supply of air to the plants roots. This give the plants the ability to eat, drink, and breathe more. Which in turn, makes them grow bigger and faster.
Because of its simple design and simple function, DWC is common in homemade hydroponics. All you need is a bucket that is large enough, an airstone, and something to support the plant (usually a netted pot with clay pellets).
DWC can take more work than growing cannabis in soils, or coco, but it will deliver bigger yield faster.
Flood and Drain, aka Ebb and Flow
Ebb and flow is another very popular method of growing cannabis hydroponically.
In the flood and drain method, the plants sit in their own container separate from the nutrient reservoir.
Using a pump, on a timer, a nutrient solution from a reservoir floods the upper container. This will soak the plants roots and the grow medium. After a set time, pumps than turn off, and the solution drains back into the reservoir.
The ebb and flow hydroponics growing system are pretty basic, which makes it a good option for a homemade hydroponics system.
The Drip System
With the drip hydroponics growing system, the plants are in their own tray, separate from the nutrient reservoir. A pump pushes nutrient solution through small tubes, to feed each plant from the top.
Over watering can be an issue if you feed too much. Faster draining mediums such as clay pellets, will need faster dripping emitters (or more of them per plant). On the other hand, Slower draining media (like rockwool) would use slower dripping emitters. The emitters can clog easily, so they must properly maintained. This will prevent problems such as, spillages and blockages.
The most common used medium for the drip systems is rockwool. Although, with a good water pump, and timer, you can also use this method for automated feeding systems in all cannabis growing set up.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
In this NFT growing systems, plants are placed in a tray or gutter, separated from the nutrient reservoir. One end of the tray is lower than the other, to encourage the flow of water to the lower end.
A pump then delivers a steady flow of water at one end. This will create a constant stream of nutrient solution. A material called a capillary matt is placed in the bottom. This is to make sure the water flows to the bottom of the tray evenly.
NFT is a method that you can build yourself at home at a low cost. The parts, the design, and the function are all simple. Because of this NFT is a popular form of hydroponics.
Last up in our guide to hydroponics is Aeroponics. In aeroponic growing systems, a large container holds several gallons of nutrient solution at the bottom. A pump is used to push nutrient solution through spray heads. This constantly soaks the inside of the container with a fine mist of nutrient solution.
There no growing medium in this method. The plants roots hang down into the container and grow in air.
Growing cannabis in aeroponics can be difficult to master and very tempermental. Ph changes and EC imbalances can occur more quickly because of the increased absorption rates and high levels of oxygenation. Furthermore, with no grow media to protect the roots, the plants react negatively to these changes much more quickly. Aeroponics is for advanced growers, who have experience in growing cannabis.
Final Thoughts on Hydroponics
Hydroponics can be very rewarding, but it comes with a lot of maintenance. EC and PH will fluctuate often. You will need to monitor and correct it regularly.
Growing cannabis is easy, you just have to do the research first, and have the correct equipment. We can guide you though your grow, step by step, no matter what method you choose.
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