Hydroponic Cannabis is so popular because the grow is setup indoors! The inclement weather, too little or too much light, heat, humidity, and pests don’t carry the same level of risk as they do for outdoor growers.
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Are Hydroponic Systems The Best Growing Medium
Hydroponic systems have gained much traction among Cannabis growers in recent years, and understandably so. Growing plants without soil is efficient and easy to set up. All you need is a decent nutrient solution and a reliable hydroponic growing medium.
Do I Have To Use An Air Pump?
In general, an air pump is only required for deep water culture hydroponics because the plant roots are submerged in water for a long time due to their need for oxygenation. You don’t necessarily need air pumps for some hydroponic systems such as nutrient film technique, ebb and flow, wick, and drip systems.
How Do I Keep The Plant Suspended With No Soil?
In some hydroponic systems, a growing medium is used to support the plant roots and allow for more effective water absorption to the root structure. One type of growing medium commonly used is coco coir, coconut coir — a shredded fibrous product made from coconut husk. Clay pebbles are also a type of medium that is notorious amongst the hydroponics due to its ability to expand and increase aeration for the plants roots system.
What Are The Best Nutrients for Hydroponic Cannabis Growing
A good cannabis nutrient solution consists of three essential hydroponic nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, also known as NPK. Other than these, there are other essential micronutrients and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, sulfur, boron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. All of these contribute to a good harvest.
How Do I Know I’m Using The Correct Nutrient Solution?
Since soil contains natural nutrients that a lot of fertilizers don’t carry, it’s important to provide the full range of nutrients needed. Each plant requires large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These three nutrients are required in varying proportions and quantities depending on which cannabis plant you are growing.
Why Should I Grow Hydroponic Cannabis?
There’s a lot of wariness around hydroponic growing, particularly for home growers looking to establish small-scale grows. But although it may be more expensive to get started with than soil, hydroponics can be a superior way of growing cannabis, and hydro technology is getting cheaper and more accessible every day, offering a range of benefits over classic soil-based cultivation.
Here we’ll take a look at its primary advantage, an increased level of control, as well as three secondary advantages: efficiency, versatility, and sustainability.
What Is Hydroponics? An Overview of Soilless Growing
A basic hydroponic setup—deep water culture (Amy Phung/Leafly)
Patience is crucial when growing hydroponic Cannabis. Despite all its advantages, it’s often more labor-intensive and has a higher skill barrier.
With a soil grow, your primary concerns will center around light and nutrients; with hydroponics, you still have to be deliberate in those areas, while also managing a complex and sensitive system that circulates water and nutrients among your plants.
It’s essential that you have a strong command of your system, as the health of your plants depends on it. Hydroponic cultivation is much less forgiving of small mistakes than growing in soil.
Since nutrients are delivered directly to your plants’ root systems, you’ll need to ensure you’re delivering an optimal mix, as over-fertilizing can have disastrous results. The complexity and sensitivity of hydroponics systems also means they’re an investment of time and money.
You can design and set up a relatively low-cost setup, but it requires a strong understanding of the basic principles of hydroponic cultivation. Alternately, you can forgo designing your own setup and buy premade solutions. A system capable of growing 5-6 plants can start at around $100, and quickly increase from there with features that enhance control and ease of use.
Of course, once you’re set up and have a couple of grow cycles under your belt, the costs will level off, and the increased amounts and quality will quickly make up your initial investment.
If you are jumping into hydroponics, just make sure to continue your research and look carefully before you leap.
Control Your Environment
A hydroponic grow allows you to exercise total control over the quality and quantity of nutrients your plants receive, whereas with soil grows, nutrients remain in the soil. The nutritional needs of hydroponic Cannabis plants vary throughout the grow process. However, you’re able to dial in the mixture of nutrients and tailor it specifically to their progress.
It is worth keeping in mind, hydroponics may require a higher degree of care than a soil grow. Microorganisms in soil can help restore balance in case of issues like a pH imbalance or over-fertilization, but since hydroponic mediums don’t have this capability, you’ll need to be careful and deliberate in the ways you nurture your plants.
Closely monitoring your water’s pH and overall quality, selecting and measuring your nutrients with extreme care, and maintaining a consistent temperature are key to a productive hydroponic grow.
However, this degree of sensitivity also allows you to make small adjustments to maximize amounts, which is more difficult in a conventional soil grow. You’re also be able to directly examine your plants’ root systems in a hydro grow, ensuring your plants are developing in a healthy way.
Save Time and Space
The increased level of control offered by hydroponics allows you to grow your plants more efficiently. By creating the ideal circumstances for plant growth, you’re able to maximize the productivity of each plant.
An indoor hydroponic grow allows your plants to mature faster and more evenly. Year-round hydroponic systems can amounts multiple harvests annually, though strain genetics also play a role in that as well.
Since you’re going to be delivering nutrients directly to each plant, each plant’s root system requires significantly less space than with a soil grow. Less space needed for roots means you can use a grow space more effectively, whether it’s a walk-in closet or a warehouse. The only factor that will limit your number of plants and the density of your canopy is the strength and availability of light.
You’ll also be able to use less nutrients overall, as they are absorbed directly into the plants, with nothing lost in soil.
Grow Hydroponically Indoor or Outdoor
The classic image of hydroponic cultivation is large, intricate, expensive systems in industrial warehouse grows, but hydroponic cultivation is actually much more accessible than that.
If you’re a home grower with the right equipment and expertise, you can set up a hydroponic grow in a space the size of a walk-in closet and amounts far more than you would with a soil grow in a comparable space.
Hydroponic Cannabis grows can be scaled to any size or type and will confer the same advantages no matter how large or small your grow.
Most hydroponic systems are used to grow indoors. However, as long as you have a reliable power supply, hydroponics can be used to grow outdoors, particularly in greenhouses. While you’ll have to deal with light, temperature, and humidity, growing hydroponically in a greenhouse will maximize amounts and quality. Moreover, while avoiding the massive energy requirements of indoor cultivation.
Hydroponic Cannabis Sustainability
Sustainability is often a benefit of hydroponic cultivation. With soil cultivation, a significant portion of the water you use never gets to your plant’s roots. With hydroponics, you’re able to precisely deliver the exact amount of water each plant needs, without wasting any.
Also, many of the insect and disease problems faced in the cannabis cultivation process are the result of soilborne infestations. Since hydroponics dispenses with soil, your risk of pests and your need for pesticides is much less.
Is Nutrient Delivery Better With Hydroponic Cannabis Growing?
Yes. When done correctly, nutrient delivery goes directly to the plant. While you can still achieve a very nutrient dense plant when grown in soil, the process is faster when the right nutrient solution goes directly to the plant roots and provide a higher amounts. Soil grown cannabis retrieves nutrients through soil following the soil food web where as hydro plants get it from the liquid solutions. Imagine soil grown cannabis gets their nutrients from chewing food and having meals, where as hydroponic Cannabis gets their nutrients from liquid IV. Both provide the plant what it needs, just in different ways.
Are Hydroponic Cannabis Plants Better Than Soil Plants?
Overall yes. Hydroponic Cannabis produces higher amounts at a faster rate than soil plants. Soil attracts bugs and other diseases which open the door to more complications. Hydroponics is more effective than soil, as the plant absorbs nutrients directly through the fulids effortlessly. The removal of soil makes this easier for those with limited space and time.
Why Do Some Cultivators Prefer Growing In Soil?
Some feel that it’s more natural working with soil and getting their hands dirty. A hydroponics system is expensive and not everybody is ready to incur that cost. Some people learned to grow using soil and just have no desire to try it another way. Hydro plants also require a higher level of fragility than conventional plants because they depend on you for everything.
What are some Hydroponic Cannabis Methods?
What is a Wick System?
A wick system is one of the 6 total ways you can grow cannabis hydroponically. There are 2 types of hydroponic grow, active and passive. The Wick system is passive. Teachers use this system since it is the most basic system of hydroponics. You’ll use a piece of rope through a PVC tube that will bring up oxygenated water into the growing tray. This is a great option to do if you’re just starting hydroponics because you won’t need any additional machinery.
What is the Ebb and Flow system?
The ebb and flow system is affordable and easier to use for beginners. Controlling the water pump cycle with a timer is the easiest management method. The submersible fountain pump begins pumping water and nutrients as soon as the timer goes off. When the nutrient solution reaches the top of the grow tray, it soaks the roots until they reach the water limit.
How Can I Prevent Root Rot In My Hydroponic Grow?
The main causes of root rot are lack of oxygen, temperature control and the presence of Pythium fungus. This fungus will spread throughout the planter if not removed immediately. Dissolved oxygen is critical to the health of the root. Wicks draw up water and nutrients in hydroponics by exploiting this capillary action of water. In hydroponics, plants will grow in medium, instead of soil.
Will My Hydroponic Grow Produce Large amounts?
Absolutely! One of the benefits to hydro growers is the ability to produce higher amounts. Controlling the growing environment to avoid outside interference allows the plant to grow to it’s best capability. Constantly exposing your Cannabis plant to outdoor elements will slow the growth process down. Outdoor Factors like weather changes, off-balanced Ph levels, and even bacteria will require new soil to rebalance the plant. The hydroponic system takes a bit of patience and practice but the results speak for themselves! You’ll understand why so many people prefer growing hydroponic Cannabis best! Make sure to check out our guide on how to Dry Cannabis.