How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

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Hydroponic gardening is a great way to grow plants indoors without the mess that soil creates. This article will introduce you to the essentials of hydroponics and give you some tips to get started.

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Do you enjoy growing plants indoors but don’t enjoy the mess? Then a hydroponic system may be precisely what you need. Hydroponic systems allow you to grow plants indoors without using soil. It’s not only a cleaner gardening method but is also more efficient as plants often grow faster and larger than those grown in soil.

Luckily, it’s not that difficult to set up your own simple hydroponic system. This article will go over the basics of hydroponics and give you some tips to get started.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics refers to any gardening method that uses water and nutrient solutions to grow plants rather than soil. The plants typically absorb the nutrients they need from a reservoir of nutrient-rich solution. The method in which they receive this solution varies with each system.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

Hydroponics is a more efficient system than traditional gardening as plants don’t have to use any energy to extract nutrients from the soil. Instead, the nutrients are delivered right to them, which results in faster growth and greater yield.

Hydroponics may seem like an expert-level gardening technique, but this is certainly not the case. Hydroponics is an excellent option for beginner gardeners and includes less work once the system is set up. Since you don’t have to tend to any soil, significantly less work is needed to keep your plants healthy and happy.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
Which Plants Can Grow Hydroponically?

Gardeners often become interested in hydroponics when they want to grow their own herbs and vegetables. Herbs are a great option to grow hydroponically as they don’t take too much room and grow quickly. Some herbs that do well in a hydroponic system include:

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

While herbs are probably the best option to grow when starting out with hydroponics, you are not limited to them. If you have the space and are willing to invest in a larger hydroponics system, you can also grow your vegetables with this method. Some vegetables that do well in a hydroponic system include:

However, you don’t need to grow food to take advantage of hydroponics. Many flowers and other indoor plants thrive when grown in this system as well. Just do some research to confirm your plants grow well hydroponically before taking them out of their soil.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
What Supplies Are Needed?

The supplies you will need will vary depending on which system you choose. However, there are some materials you will need no matter which system you decide on. The following items are essential for an efficient hydroponic system:

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

Other materials will be required depending on the system you choose. Hydroponic systems can be quite simple or expensive and complicated. Some will require larger and more expensive materials such as tubing or a water pump.

Some gardeners choose to add a growing medium as a substitute for soil, though this is completely optional. Popular options include perlite, vermiculite, sand, or gravel.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

Now that you know the basics of hydroponics, it’s time to start growing your plants hydroponically. The following sections will give you some tips on how to get started.

Choose a System

There are six different hydroponic systems to choose from, which all vary in price, difficulty, size, and supplies needed. Some are quite simple and are designed with the beginner gardener in mind, while others are designed for more advanced gardeners. The six common hydroponic systems are:

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

It’s also important to note that you can either build your own hydroponic system or buy a kit at your local garden center. Making your own system with materials you have on hand may be a good, cheap option, but investing in a kit may be easier, especially if you are just getting started.

If you decide to build your own system, do some research to see what materials are needed. As stated earlier, each system has its own requirements. Researching how to build these systems will also help you decide how complex and large you want your system to be.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
Germinate the Seeds

No matter which system you choose, you will need to germinate the seeds elsewhere before adding them to your hydroponic system. This can be done with a seed starter or a heat mat.

However, if you are just starting out with hydroponics, you may want to start with seedlings or grown plants first, as this is much easier than starting with seeds. Just make sure to wipe away all soil from the plants’ roots before transferring them to your hydroponic system.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
Add Nutrients

You won’t be able to grow your plants successfully without adding in a nutrient solution. This solution typically contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, which all help your plants stay healthy, grow fast, and perform photosynthesis. In addition, the solution may also contain calcium, sulfur, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients essential for optimal plant health.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

If you’re just starting out with hydroponics, it’s advisable to purchase a pre-made solution designed primarily for this purpose. You will find that there are different solutions available for different types of plants. This is because fruiting plants, such as tomatoes, require a different ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than green leafy plants, such as lettuce and spinach.

When adding the nutrient solution to your reservoir, always read the directions to ensure you are giving your plants the right amount. Adding too little or too many nutrients can do more harm than good.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
Control the pH

You will also need to keep an eye on the pH level of your solution. Though many people don’t realize it, pH is a crucial factor in plant health. Though most plants prefer a neutral pH, some thrive in either acidic or alkaline conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to only add plants in your system that all thrive off a similar pH range. 

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically

As with nutrients, there are pH solutions you can buy to make sure your solution has the right pH for your plants. As with your nutrient solution, read the directions before applying your pH solution to ensure you add the proper amount. Plants can easily wither and die in the wrong pH conditions. This is why you should also invest in a pH testing kit, which will help you keep an eye on your reservoir’s pH levels.

How to Grow Plants Hydroponically
Provide Ample Lighting

One last thing you might want to consider when setting up your hydroponic system is the amount of light your plants need. Plants that are grown hydroponically require plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive.

However, because you’re generally using hydroponics to grow plants indoors, your plants may not get as much light as they need. Therefore, you might want to invest in some grow lights to place above your plants. These are available in a myriad of designs and sizes, so you will easily find one that will work with your specific hydroponic system.