The Best Hydroponics Reviews
Information on Hydroponics and detailed reviews and buyers guides for home hydroponics systems. We make it easy for you to find the right hydroponics system for your home.
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You have found the ultimate guide to Hydroponics! This is the perfect place to find the best hydroponics systems, the best hydroponics plants, and the best information to help you in your hydroponics gardening journey.
Ever heard of hydroponics but not sure what it was? Well you have come to the right place.
Hydroponics is a type of gardening that enables you to grow plants without soil, using water instead (hence the “hydro”). It is a sustainable and efficient form of gardening. Hydroponics is essentially a natural ecosystem.
For more information on Hydroponics, read our What is Hydroponics? guide. You will also find the best reviews on Hydroponics systems as well as Hydroponics equipment and plants that you can grow with Hydroponics.
Hello! We are the Johnsons and the faces of The Hydroponics Guru. We have been avid gardeners for many years and growing our own food is one of the most rewarding things you can do. We have found sustainable Hydroponics farming to be a life changer, which is the reason we have created The Hydroponics Guru.
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The Hydroponics Guru is here to help you find the perfect hydroponics setup. We have reviews, ratings, and data on all of the best hydroponics systems available today. Whether you’re looking for something small or large, we can help you make an informed decision about what will work best for your needs.
Our expert knowledge and unbiased reviews will give you peace of mind when it comes to choosing a system that’s right for your garden. You’ll know exactly what sets each apart from its competitors and which ones are comparable in price or use so that you can get started quickly with growing your own food!
A hydroponic system is the best choice if you are looking for a space-free garden. As much as it saves on space, urban gardening just wouldn’t be the same without one! For a hassle free experience, we offer these products with many options to choose from – radius and gauge included.
Why Use Hydroponics?
Since it is not every day that you decide to build an indoor garden, when you do, you must ensure that you have everything to make it last. Our hydroponics information will assure you that you get functionality, long-lasting fixtures, and resistance to outdoor agents.
What is a Hydroponics System?
A hydroponics system is a way of growing plants hydroponically. This kind of cultivation involves no soil, and the plants can grow freely in a medium fed with nutrient-rich solutions. You can thus grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables of your choice.
The best hydroponic system works to create an optimal environment and allows you to control temperature, pH, nutrients, and water. You can thus provide plants with what they need, eventually leading to higher quality yields.
Hydroponic Systems - The Background and Use
Hydroponic systems work on a simple principle – plants don’t need soil to grow. All they need is water, sufficient nutrients, gas exchange, and light to perform photosynthesis. Therefore, these systems are designed to grow soilless plants. All the essential nutrients and water are delivered in the form of a nutrient solution. The gardener has full control over this supply; he can also monitor the amount of light these plants receive and for how long. But care must be taken when administering nutrients. An overdose can cause “nutrient burn” and can kill the plant.
The customized growing environment reduces many risk factors associated with soil-grown plants. For example in a traditional soil based garden, a fungus in the soil can infect the plant. Pests like locusts can destroy it. Even wildlife poses a danger.
Read our in-depth buyer’s guide to hydroponics systems for more information.
Types of Hydroponics Systems
The Wick System
The simplest form of hydroponics system. An ideal option for beginners to grow small plants and herbs, the wick system draws nutrients from the reservoir.
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
Home gardeners looking to grow a variety of plants can consider the Ebb and Flow hydroponics system. However, planting large plants should be avoided.
If you intend to make any regular changes to grow different plants, then the drip hydroponics system is for you. A drip emitter helps the gardener adjust the flow of nutrients to meet the requirements of individual plants.
N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technology)
The N.F.T technique mitigates the need for a medium. The nutrients are supplied via a pump to the plants suspended in a plastic tray. This hydroponics system is slightly high maintenance.
In the latest technique in the market. In the aeroponics hydroponics system, the roots are suspended in the air. The roots receive nutrients and moisture in mist form. However, one must keep checking the pump regularly.
Read more about the different types of hydroponics systems.
How to Choose A Hydroponics System?
Different types of hydroponic systems present different attributes.
|Type||Set Up Cost||Water Requirement||Energy Efficiency||Complexity Level|
The Wick System
Easy to use
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
Complex for beginners
Varies as per the size
Control over how much water is used.
Light with timer required
A little complex for small production
Varies greatly due to size
Uses recycled water
Uses LED light
Simple design. Easy to set up and use.
Water is its lifeline
Full-spectrum light bulbs
For more information on how to choose a hydroponics system, click here.
Factors In Choosing Your Hydroponics System
Several factors will impact your decision in choosing a hydroponics system:
- Space – The area of the space chosen to set up your hydroponics garden helps determine the number of plants/pots you should buy. The size of the space is not the only thing, but you also have to consider space for walkways, refrigeration units, water tanks, prep areas, storage areas, and fertigation areas. In addition, you need a water reservoir; cooler, pump, indoor grow lighting.
Water changes and maintenance are other factors that need to be considered. And the owner of the hydroponic system is required to drain the water and refill it often. For this, you do need adequate space.
- Energy efficiency – Hydroponic systems need electricity to support lighting, pumping, and air conditioning. You need a full spectrum light all through the system to ensure optimum growth of your plants.
- Time – A hydroponics system can handle plant production. It requires little or no human assistance. However, as a gardener, look after other aspects such as transplanting, pruning, harvesting, cleaning, pest management, and their tasks. The first few weeks require constant monitoring and hence more manual time. After a plant has grown to a certain level, it may not need constant vigilance.
- Automation – Additional components used in hydroponics systems such as coolers and grow lights ensure optimal levels to grow plants. You have both manual and automated systems in the market. Decide the system that suits your system the most. A few modern systems come with electronic devices to monitor lightning, temperature, humidity, and water levels.
- Budget – The amount of money you are planning to invest initially decides the scope of your project. Invest smartly. Conduct market research if you plan to grow plants commercially. Check the demand and what all is selling well. It helps one gauge the extent of the budget you should keep aside.
Your budget decides the type of hydroponics system and the type of plants you will grow in it. Some are inexpensive such as wick, while some may be high-end such as aquaponics.
- Your skill level – Are you an ace gardener or a beginner or a hobbyist, or an entrepreneur? Your choice of hydroponic system or aquaponic gardening depends on your skill level. An entrepreneur with a significant investment may go with the best hydroponics system. Whereas a beginner would like to go with the most basic structure.
- Management – You may either need labor to help you grow and maintain the crop or maintain it manually. If you have decided on a bigger hydroponics system, you might need people to manage it. Whereas a small hydroponics system can be managed alone.
Hydroponics For Beginners
The time has never been better to own a hydroponics system. You can either consider building it or buy it yourself. However, in both scenarios, there are a few things you must keep in mind. Different types of hydroponics systems support soilless cultivation; the only difference lies in the way the nutrients, oxygen, and water are delivered to the plants. As it is, the wick system offers the easiest hydroponics for beginners. It is also the most affordable method of all.
What Can You Grow Using A Hydroponics System?
Most plants thrive in hydroponics. There are many different types of plants that you can grow in a hydroponics system.
- Vegetables: Most vegetables give a good yield, including lettuce, kale, spinach, peppers, cabbage, beans, beets, broccoli, peas, artichokes, etc.
- Flowers: Many a variety of flowers using hydroponics and all the year-round.
- Herbs: Most herbs grow well, such as basil, chives, chives, coriander, cilantro, mint, dill, rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
- Fruits: Grow fruits such as tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
- You can grow cannabis as well. Growing cannabis with hydroponics produces larger yields than traditional soil-based growing.
About Plant Care and Nutrients
It is essential to provide a plant with the proper nutrients and in the right amount. The ideal plant diet in hydroponics for beginners include:
Organic Nutrients vs. Synthetic Nutrients
- Organic Nutrients: Made up of organic matter such as plants and animal waste, organic nutrients are released slowly, and plants take longer to absorb. While they minimize chances of nutrient burn or overfeeding, they may attract pests and insects.
- Synthetic Nutrients: All the essential nutrients such as potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen are present in the synthetic nutrients. Commercially prepared nutrients contain them in a specific ratio allowing the grower to have control over the amount of nutrients.
Hydroponic systems use soilless mediums:
- Coconut fiber/coir
If you are interested in reading more about how to learn hydroponics for beginners, check out our in-depth article here.
Hydroponics For Kids
Let your kids grow their own plants and food. Teach your kids about hydroponics and build a hydroponics system with them at home.
Why Do We Support Hydroponics For Kids?
Hydroponics presents an opportunity to teach kids where food comes from, how it is grown, and the science behind the process. The idea is to show them how plants use moisture, light, and nutrients to grow and provide humans with food. It will be not only exciting for them to watch the entire process unfold but also a great environmental lesson very few activities can teach them.
Hydroponics for kids doesn’t require as many materials as you would think – all you need is some basic equipment and knowledge.
Materials required to make a hydroponics system for kids
- Container: You can buy a container from the shops.
- Seeds for Growing: Begin with plants that are easier to grow. These may include lettuce, herbs, and some lettuce. However, if you plan to start with seeds, buying starter plugs is recommended.
- Growing medium: It is not mandatory to have a growth medium, such as gravel, perlite, or rock wool. However, plants thrive well in them. Moreover, keeping the roots of the plants immersed in water at all times is also not good.
- Nutrients and water: Use only prepared nutrient solutions in hydroponics for kids.
- A Wick: Easiest to use and teach to your kids. It is generally made up of nylon and cotton and supplies nutrients and water to the roots. Roots with exposed nodes imbibe oxygen from the air.
Fortunately, there are many cost-effective ways to do hydroponics for kids, and you should certainly invest some time and effort in it. The best thing is you don’t require any special skills for it. All you need is some usual household items that can be used to build hydroponics for kids.
If introducing your kids to hydroponics is something you would like to do, read our in-depth article on 5 tips to get you started with hydroponics for kids.
Hydroponics For Those With A Budget
Building a hydroponics garden need not be a hefty deftly process. Some basic yet essential equipment, it can be made to function as good as expensive ones.
Things you need to build an affordable hydroponics system include:
- Growing Chamber: This is the container for plant roots. When building hydroponics on a budget, pick anything from a fish tank to trays to recycled containers. But make sure it is opaque; too much light can be harmful to the roots and may damage them.
- Reservoir: The reservoir is where you add the nutrient solution. Pick any glass container or plastic. Make sure the plastic does not react with the chemicals or nutrients.
- Pump: A piece of must-have equipment, the pump helps in moving the nutrients from the reservoir to the growing chamber. It is not expensive; buy one from a garden supply store or hydroponic supply store.
- Delivery system: It is the connection required to send nutrients. A simple PVC tubing and vinyl tubing can solve the purpose. Build DIY, make sprayers, or drip emitters.
- Simple Timers: A timer is important when the source of light is artificial. It helps to control the time of light, drain, drip, flood, and aerobic system in hydroponics.
- Air Pump: It is optional. An inexpensive option is available in the aquarium supply store to realize your dream of an affordable hydroponics system.
- Grow Lights: These are also not essential. It is only needed when building an indoor garden. Then use LED indoor light for indoor systems.
- Nutrients: These are not expensive. Many manufacturers sell cost-effective nutrients.
How to Hydroponics For Those With A Budget: Step-by-Step
After you have accumulated all the equipment, now is the time to build an affordable hydroponics system.
- Pick a reservoir. Cut StyroFoam of the size of the reservoir.
- Make 4-6 holes as per the plant size
- Install a pump to deliver oxygen into the water
- Add nutrients to the nutrients
- Set your hydroponics system
- Run air supply
- Make sure you keep a check on nutrients
- Allow your plants to grow.
Hydroponics For The Experienced Gardener
Setting up hydroponics for the experienced gardener needs to be strategic. There are a number of factors to be considered:
Choose a location
An enclosed structure such as an outdoor patio or deck, a basement of your house, or a greenhouse. Make sure the surface is flat. When placing it outdoors, make sure the system is protected from external elements with wind barriers. Also, check the water levels more frequently as they may evaporate.
Fill the tank with water. Add nutrients. Turn on the pump. Run the pump for 30 minutes.
Add Plants to the Growing tubes
If you do not have grow seeds, buy seedlings. Pick the healthiest plants. Remove soil from the roots. Add roots via the planting cup. Add expanded peddles to hold it in place. They are hard but light good indicators for plant growth.
Tie plants to the trellis
Take strings and plant clips to tie plants to the trellis. The string ensures that the plant grows upright. Make a loose string connection to the top of the trellis. Attach clips and string to the base of every plant.
Turn on the pump and start monitoring your hydroponics system
- Check the water level every day
- Check the pH level and nutrient level routinely (after few days)
Monitor Plant growth
- The plants will start growing out soon in the hydroponic garden. Keep a check on plant growth. Clip or tie stalks after every few days.
Info, Tips & FAQ
How Are Hydroponics Systems Used?
Hydroponic systems are developed to replace the traditional soil growing gardens. You can grow a variety of plants, flowers, and vegetables. These can either be set up in a growth room or a greenhouse. Or have both; greenhouse to grow the crop and growth room for germination and seedling production. The supplementary heat from the growth room lights can be used to heat the greenhouse.
Benefits Of Different Models/Styles Of Hydroponic Systems
Wick Hydroponics System:
- It is easy to set up
- Great for children and beginners
The Ebb and Flow System
- It is also easy to build
- Great for water plants such as lettuce, spinach, etc.
- No or little growth medium is required
- Uses recirculating water. Thus savings water
Drip Hydroponics System
- Very simple to build
- A grower has more control over water schedule and nutrient amount
- No or little growing medium required
- There is sufficient oxygen for plant roots
What kinds of plants can I grow using hydroponics?
You can grow both vegetables and flowers in hydroponics. However, some vegetables grow better than others, namely, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, and peppers.
How is hydroponics different from growing plants in soil?
In a hydroponic garden the plants obtain nutrients from recirculated water, unlike soil plants that lose their nutrients to the atmosphere. Another difference is that plants grown in soil need a continual supply of nutrients, whereas hydroponics receive nutrients frequently.
Apart from this, the owners can save ample space as the plants grow vertically. This also eliminates the need to use pesticides to kill weeds.
Can we call hydroponic plants “organic”?
The NOP (National Organics Standards) has laid specific guidelines for plants to be considered ‘organic.” If your hydroponic system meets the guidelines, then it can be called organic.
How frequently should I change the water in hydroponic systems?
In a hydroponic system, the water should be changed every two weeks. A good indicator is when the volume of added top-off becomes equal to the tank’s total volume. Besides, this helps in a high quantity of fungi, bacteria, and bacteria.
Broader topic tips and Info
To build a hydroponics system, be clear on:
- What equipment you need
- What are the nutritional requirements
- How long to keep new plants in quarantine before planting
- How to put a filter or a screen over the air intake
What Makes A Great Hydroponics System?
In indoor gardening, a hydroponics system should contain the following:
Right Growth Medium
A good growth medium means a good balance of moisture and oxygen. It uses pebbles and clay to retain oxygen and moisture. Rock wool is also good at maintaining moisture and oxygen
Hydroponics systems lack soil. Therefore, water plays a crucial role in indoor gardening. Water quality for hydroponic system calls for the following:
- A well establish water monitoring and treatment program
- Uses pure water. No contaminants. Good irrigation flow and good nutrient absorption.
- EC value is zero or close to zero
- Water temperature is between 68 and 72° F. if required, use a water heater or water chillier.
Well Balanced Nutrients
The grower knows what they are feeding their plants with:
- They follow the manufacturers recommended dose of nutrients
- Sets EC scale to the manufacturer’s scale
- Adds nutrients in small amounts. Allows it to mix slowly and evenly
- Never mixes two different nutrient brands
Maintaining all the environmental factors make for a great hydroponics system.
- High temperature is maintained, especially when the plant is young. It helps younger plants to absorb more oxygen from the atmosphere.
- Relative Humidity is controlled. As it is low humidity can lead to more nutrient absorption leading to nutrient burn. Whereas high humidity results in the growth of mold and mildew.
- Good ventilation. Lesser ventilation means the growth environment is prone to mold growth. Plants are watered when the lights are on so that the water can evaporate.
- When using artificial light, it is supplemented with CO2. it helps the plants to use more light, thus increasing photosynthesis.
pH is a vital aspect of plant growth. In soil-grown plants, the soil maintains pH and EC. But in a soilless medium such as a hydroponic system, pH is monitored regularly. To lower pH (if required), add acid of lower strength.
In an artificial environment such as a hydroponics garden, the grower needs to add oxygen to the plants’ root system.
- Use of air stones, air bubbles, or an air gap
- Maintains water temperature
Clean and Hydrate
A Great Hydroponics System is cleaned regularly. The gardener:
- Sterilizes the grow room.
- Cleans nutrient solution reservoir. Do it every two to three weeks
- Opens valves once a week for a few seconds. It helps to avoid clogging.
- Scrubs the grow trays after every harvest.
Meter probes are also essential to grow healthy plants. Clean probes once a week or at least once a month.
- pH probes are hydrated in KCl once a month in a hydroponics garden.
Our Top Budget Hydroponics Systems For 2022
If you are looking to embark on hydroponics, you need to understand what it entails. Our article covers everything you need to know about hydroponics, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re looking to engage in indoor gardening, it would be best to consider the different relevant factors when choosing a hydroponics system for your home