It is not difficult to grow hydroponic plants. However, there are many important things that you have to keep in mind before growing any plant; especially if this is your first time engaging in gardening. You need to know as much as you can, particularly when it comes to the right ways to nurture hydroponics plants.
It may seem overwhelming and complicated at first. But if you spend enough time learning about the basics and understanding what needs to be done, you will eventually enjoy this activity.
So before you decide to grow various hydroponic plants, see to it that you are aware of the following:
- Plants grown hydroponically have a 30-50% faster growth rate compared to those plants cultivated in soil.
- Root growth is stimulated by the extra oxygen in the growing mediums used and thus, nutrients are absorbed even faster and more effectively.
- Your plants won’t have to search for the nutrients they need because a water-nutrient solution is sent directly to the root system for a considerable period of time. Hence, little energy is needed to find and break down plant food.
- Given that hydroponic plants have a lot of saved energy, they use it in order to further enhance their growth. You will get bigger and more delicious crops.
- Moreover, you are less likely to deal with bug or pest infestations, funguses and plant diseases which are typically found on soil-grown plants. This is because you are providing a more ‘controlled’ growing environment.
- Nutrients, Water-Nutrient Solution
Always remember that a water-nutrient solution plays a very crucial role in the success of your hydroponic garden. The right nutrient solution contains all the elements needed by a plant to grow at its fullest. Most nutrient solutions are highly-concentrated that can be obtained either in liquid or powdered mixes. They should be (at least) in two different containers, one for grow and another for bloom. Liquid mixes are often more expensive but they are the easiest to use, and may included an added pH buffer.
- Growing Medium
A growing medium is used to aerate and support the root system of the plant. It helps to channel the water and nutrients. You can find various grow rocks and other synthetic growing mediums. You may go for rockwool, perlite, vermiculite and different grades of sand. Choose the one that’s truly appropriate for your plants and your type of system.
- pH Testing, Water Quality
Testing and adjusting pH is essential in hydroponics. If the pH is too high or too low, the plant will not be able to absorb certain nutrients. This will then trigger various signs of nutrient problems.
A pH range of 6.3 is considered an optimal level. But basically, plants can be grown hydroponically within a pH range of 5.8 to 6.8. It is much easier to check the pH in hydroponics system than the pH of soil. There are several pH testing kits as well as pH meters available.
The checking of the water quality should be the first step that you have to take before doing anything else. You need to know whether your local water is appropriate for hydroponics gardening. You can have your local water tested, and adjusted should there be any problems.
Learn about the space requirement of your chosen plants. This will help you determine the most suitable reservoir as well as the most appropriate containers for each plant. Learn about proper aeration, temperature control and the use of grow lights along with other accessories should you prefer to set up an indoor hydroponic garden. Take one step at a time. Be very patient and systematic.
Pointers to Remember
The plants which you intend to grow should somehow match the seasons (rainy/wet/cool, hot/dry/warm). If your unit/kit will have to spend most of its time outdoors, then you ought to plant crops according to the seasons. Basically, it will depend on the hydroponics system that you will use.
So think about the type of system that you want to use and whether you are to set it up indoors or outdoors before you decide which hydroponic plants to grow.
If your hydroponics garden is going to be set up indoors where there are proper lighting fixtures, ventilation and controlled temperature range, then you won’t have to worry about anything. You can grow strawberries and other crops which are off their growing season or regardless of the season and weather in your region as long as you can provide an appropriate and controlled growing environment for your hydroponic plants.
You should also decide on whether to embark on a DIY hydroponics project or simply buy a hydroponics kit. While it is possible that you can find affordable yet reliable kits, going for the DIY route is a lot more practical and rewarding. It will further enhance your knowledge and skills as well as your inclination for this endeavor. Learn how to develop your own system and start by choosing the right hydroponic plants. You will be surprised at how easy and fun such activity is.