Hydroponics can be defined as a soil-free method of growing cannabis, using water as the primary growing medium along with a passive medium. Learning how to grow hydroponic marijuana can seem like an overwhelming process but here we break it down and simplify it.
Hydroponic setups are setup to grow cannabis plants in net pots or baskets filled with a passive growing medium, that are suspended over water. The water is ideally boosted with a hydroponic-friendly nutrient solution to help the roots thrive therein.
While the most basic of hydroponic models manifest in various sub-systems, one can say there are different strokes for different growers, depending on personal style and preference.
Everything You Need to Setup A Hydro System
- Lighting (LED or HPS)
- Grow tent or clean growing space
- Hydroponic reservoir and tray
- Air-stone and pump
- Growing medium (See the section below for more)
- Net mesh planting pots
- High-quality seeds
- Ventilation fan and ducting tubes
- Carbon filter
- Oscillating fan(s)
- Hydroponic suitable nutrients
- pH and PPM meters
Choosing Your Hydroponic System
If you want to know how to grow hydroponic marijuana of note, you need to know that there are various methods of doing so. Most of the following systems can be purchased and also easily made DIY-style with the necessary equipment as listed above.
The following section considers three different hydroponic systems with the intention of helping you choose the right one for your growing goals and experience.
- Deep water culture is a fairly user-friendly and very popular method to grow hydroponics. Plants are placed to hang over buckets filled with a nutrient solution and an air pump provides a constant supply of oxygen. This method is great for beginners.
- An ebb and flow system features water that does what the name entails. These systems are slightly more complex, consisting of several buckets suspended above a growing tray that features a water inlet and outlet.
- A wick system is a basic hydroponic setup that uses a growing tray similar to a deep-water system filled with clay pebbles. Under the tray is a tank of water, through which the wicks exit and enter the growing medium. Water travels up the wicks and as such hydrates the medium.
Choosing a Growing Medium
As for the growing medium; it’s a substance that will hold in place the intersection of the stem and roots, and therefore, becomes the foundation of your plant’s wellbeing. The growing medium must necessarily entice the roots to grow down into the water in search of nutrients.
The medium ideally also allows good air access to the top of the roots. Each medium has its own unique benefits, and some work well together or are more adept to work better with different systems. Don’t be afraid to experiment when starting out to see which works best for you.
Clay pebbles are excellent at aerating root systems and is therefore a very popular hydroponic option. Even though clay pebbles might require that you alter the pH and growing environment, pre-altered pebbles can be purchased by choice. Be sure to rinse the pebbles in lukewarm water and let them drain for 24 hours once you are ready to prepare your medium.
Rockwool is a substance created using what looks like volcanic rocks with a hard wool-like texture. With a tremendous capacity to retain water, this medium allows for good hydration of the upper root system. Rockwool can be placed directly within a hydroponic basket.
The only downside to this medium seems to be how it entraps the roots – meaning, you can’t get them out of the medium ever again. Once they are grown into the rockwool, they’ll be there indefinitely as they are too tightly and complexly grown into the rockwool itself.
Perlite is defined as volcanic glass that expands when exposed to high temperatures. It’s suitable to use for hydroponic cannabis growing thanks to its ability to provide excellent aeration. Perlite can be used in conjunction with coco coir and other mediums listed here for extra aeration.
Coco Coir / Peat Moss
Coco coir is a must-have, popular growing medium that is sustainable too. Made from the fibres of coconuts, coco coir allows for good aeration as well as moisture retention. Coconut fibres are also prone to protect roots from infection thanks to the presence of plant-stimulating hormones.
Growing medium tip: Try combining Perlite, Coco, Clay Pebbles and Vermiculite for an all-rounder self-made hydroponic medium.
Essential Hydroponic Growing Tips
1. pH Levels Count
pH Levels of the water need to be constantly tested to ensure an optimal growing environment. Nutrients are more available to plants when the environment is slightly more acidic, thus, a pH of anywhere between the range of 5.5–5.8 is ideal.
It’s best to use a pH testing kit to take regular readings, and to subsequently change the solution during the vegetative stage. During flowering stage, the pH should be adjusted to a pH of 6.
2. Maintain Ideal Water Temperature
Hydroponic cannabis roots thrive in an ideal temperature of 20°C. To help you monitor the temperature, try using a water thermometer and alter the temperature if needed using a water heater.
For the most part, hydroponic plants require the same nutrients as soil growing plants. With that said, it’s wise to go about feeding your plants by simply opting to buy a hydroponic nutrient product that contains all of the required substances for both the vegetation and blooming periods.
If you want to know how to grow hydroponic cannabis properly, then be sure to follow the dilution instructions stated on the label of all nutrient products.
4. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Be sure to empty out and clean your equipment every two weeks. This will keep the roots of your plants safe against invasions such as pathogens, diseases, spider mites and other bug infestations. Cleanliness ensures a successful grow, time after time.
How to Grow Hydroponic Marijuana: All Things Considered
Hydroponics may seem complicated or difficult to do at first sight. All of the different parts, systems, and methods make the act of hydroponics seem quite complex.
The key is to start out simple yet diligently, and observe your plants’ behaviour. This can be a very rewarding process, and your hard work pays off in rapid growth times and amazing yields.
Even though the thought of starting out in hydroponics can be overwhelming at first, it’s well worth it when done. In fact, it is much easier than it generally seems.
Hopefully this guide on how to grow hydroponic marijuana will help you set up your own system soon and grow the most beautiful of hydroponic buds!