Our Buyer’s Guide to Hydroponics Systems: What You Need to Know
Considering the many advantages of hydroponics, it is not surprising that many people are trying it to grow their plants.
After all, hydroponics systems can grow different types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, such as those used in food and for healing. However, if you are interested in trying hydroponics, there are things that you need to know.
Moreover, choosing the ideal hydroponic system for your planting needs can be overwhelming due to the extensive selection of options available.
In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the hydroponics system, including how it works and how to use it to grow healthy plants. Keep reading to learn more.
What Hydroponics Is
Hydroponics is a planting method wherein plants are grown without utilizing soil. It has become increasingly popular in recent years with many gardeners because of its convenience.
Instead of soil, the system provides water and fertilizer to the plants to help them grow. Therefore, you do not have to worry about watering or providing nourishment to your plants. Additionally, other benefits include maximizing space and conserving water, among many others.
What You Need to Consider When Choosing a Hydroponics System
1. What Plant You Want to Grow
The first thing you need to think about when buying a hydroponics system is the plant you want to grow. Some plants thrive better in particular types of hydroponics systems.
Therefore, you will opt for the system that works best in growing your plant and provides you with abundant, quality, and healthy yields.
You have to consider the amount of space a hydroponics system will take. Since it is a semi-permanent or permanent installation in your house, you must be careful when choosing the size and space to accommodate your chosen system.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check the measurements of the hydroponics system and the measurements of the area where you plan to install it.
Moreover, it would be best to look at the floor footprint of your hydroponics system and its height. After all, dimensions are more critical when you plan to grow tall plants using them.
3. Expandable or Not
If it is your first time to try planting using hydroponics, you will likely begin with a small garden with a few plants. However, you can still consider the chances of enjoying the hydroponics system and wanting to plant more in the future.
For example, you can think about whether your chosen hydroponics system can take care of the plants if you want to expand in the future. So, instead of purchasing a complete hydroponics kit, you can get ones that can be expanded easily.
Some hydroponics systems can only do essential functions such as giving sunlight, oxygen, or both and supplying water, nutrients, or both. In contrast, some systems will do everything for you, so you can just relax and see your plants grow without putting in much effort.
Therefore, whether you choose an automated hydroponic system or not, they all have pros and cons depending on your needs, conditions, lifestyles, and preferences.
Overall, a basic hydroponics system is better if you want to feel more involved with your gardening. However, if you prefer to be more modern, an automated hydroponics kit can be best for you.
Taking your budget into consideration when starting hydroponics is crucial because there are hidden costs when purchasing a hydroponics system. Therefore, the amount you pay for the system is not the only payment you will make.
After the purchase itself, some of the additional costs include the installation, planting, nutrients, and system maintenance.
For instance, energy is used when the system pumps water or oxygen into the system. Before purchasing, it is best to check how energy efficient your chosen system is.
6. Extra Features
Various hydroponics systems also offer extra features, such as:
Some hydroponics systems allow you to set a timer to remind you to water or give nutrients to your plants when needed. Therefore, you do not have to worry about forgetting to do these.
There are hydroponics kits that have LED lights so that your plants can get the needed amount of light for them to grow regardless of the weather and the amount of sunlight available.
For pricier hydroponics systems, they have tiny screens that show you details about your plants’ growth and remind you when you need to water or add nutrients to your plants.
When you can install the system quickly, you can start growing your plants in your hydroponics garden faster. Some systems can guide you through hydroponics gardening in their displays.
Modern hydroponics systems have voice control features that you can access from Google Assistant or Alexa. Even though they are expensive, they are great if you want full automation and multitasking features.
Types of Hydroponic Systems
When choosing the right hydroponics system for you, you first need to identify what type of system you might need.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
Here, plants are placed in net pots with growing vessels in DWC or deep water culture systems. Then, these pots are put on a floating scaffold located above a container with water with nutrients and oxygen.
Additionally, the roots of the plants are directly immersed in the water, and an air pump provides oxygen to them.
By increasing the oxygen levels in the solution where the plants derive nutrients, you stimulate the plant’s root growth. Better root growth means better nutrient uptake and consequently a bountiful harvest.
- Uses an air pump
- Recommended for growing lettuce
- Has many growing sites
- Easy to install
- Saves water
- Not made for large plants
- Not recommended for plants that grow for a long time
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
The ebb and flow hydroponics system works by flooding plants in a growing vessel with nutrient-rich water. Before the water drains to the reservoir, the plants have absorbed the water.
Often automated with a water pump linked to a timer which makes it possible to provide water to plants regularly, this process is done repeatedly. This is because the roots need to be moist all the time.
- Uses a water pump
- Great for plants that need a lot of water, such as lettuce and spinach
- Roots are moist all the time
- Water is given regularly
- Simple setup
- More complex
For this type, a tube is used to pump nutrient-rich water in the drip grow hydroponic system. This system can provide water to one plant or many plants through numerous drip lines.
Moreover, a timer is often used to start pumping the water to the growing vessel and flow to the roots of your plants.
- Great for growing mint, basil, tomatoes, lettuce, and strawberries
- A pump and several drip lines are used for the water supply
- Can be used in a single or many plants simultaneously
- Provides better control on providing nutrients and water
- Easy setup and use
- Not for large plants
- Can get easily clogged
This is the most budget-friendly and most manageable hydroponics system available. What you do in wick hydroponics is that you put a nutrient-rich solution in a reservoir.
Then, this solution goes to the roots of plants through a wick such as a candle wick, rope, or fabric. As a result, the roots are constantly fed with nutrients and hydrated.
This method is also passive, so there are no mechanisms, electricity, pumps, timers, and movable parts. What you just need are containers such as mason jars, water solutions, and a growing vessel.
- Easy and inexpensive
- Great for plants that do not need a lot of water
- Utilizes wicks for movement
- Simple setup and maintenance
- Very affordable
- Recommended for beginners
- Not for large plants
- Challenging to get the right amount of water and oxygen
From the name itself, the roots in this system are freely suspended in the air. Every few minutes, a solution with water and nutrients is sprayed continuously to the roots through a pump controlled by a timer.
For this hydroponics system, you do not need a growing vessel since the plants are placed in small openings to hold their position.
Additionally, since it is a more advanced way to do hydroponics, you can plant vine crops such as watermelons, many herbs, leafy vegetables, and tomatoes. Many aeroponic systems have displays and LED lights.
- A solution with nutrients is misted on the roots
- Has LED lights often and a timer-controlled pump
- More advanced
- Efficient use of water
- Good for providing oxygen
- Can be costly
Finally, you have a better understanding of what hydroponics is before purchasing it. It is one of the oldest farming methods that is highly efficient, effective, and versatile.
With this method, you can get large amounts of quality yields within a short time, whether you do hydroponics indoors or outdoors.
If you are wondering, “is there a hydroponic near me”, you can search for more information online. Overall, with this guide, you can find the right system for you to begin hydroponics.