If you’ve been thinking about starting hydroponic gardening, then you may wonder what type of system you need. When it comes to growing plants in water, there are a number of options available to you. While one way isn’t necessarily better than another, one might be better for you in particular based on the floor space you have, how big of a growing operation you plan to implement, and where your budget falls.
One of the biggest advantages of a hydroponic system is that you can fine-tune every aspect of the growing process. I’ve gathered a little information about each type of hydroponic system, so you can decide which one will work best for you.
Hydroponic systems create lush, healthy plants
1. Wick Systems
If you need a basic, passive system, then a wicking system is the simplest form of growing plants hydroponically. This type of system has been around for thousands of years, although it wasn’t called hydroponics until modern times. You don’t need a water pump for this system, but everything works via gravity.
Essentially, water and nutrients travel to the plant’s roots by a wick, such as a piece of rope. This type of system works best for small plants and varieties that need less water. Large plants will likely struggle with this type of hydroponic system as they won’t be able to get enough water or nutrients.
A wicking system is the simplest way to grow small hydroponic plants
2. Ebb & Flow
An ebb and flow system means that the plants are first flooded with water and then it drains into a reservoir. The system floods the plants with a nutrient solution, and then a submerged pump that is on a timer drains the solution back into a reservoir.
This type of hydroponic system can be used to grow many different types of plants and even can be used with partial soil, grow rocks or gravel. If you live in an area where there are regular power outages, then this type of hydroponic system might not work for you as a lack of nutrients several times a day can cause damage to the plants.
An ebb and flow system
3. Deep Water Culture
Deep water culture (DWC) is a system where the roots are submerged in water 24/7. At first, you might think this type of hydroponic system wouldn’t work. After all, if you constantly water a plant, it will eventually become oversaturated and die. However, this system works because the plant is still fed oxygen and doesn’t suffocate. With this particular system, oxygen bubbles are pumped through the water.
Because the solution the roots are submerged in has nutrients and the plant has a consistent supply of water, nutrients, and oxygen, this type of hydroponic system is easy to use and has a high success rate. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, then you might want to invest in a DWC system.
A DWC system gives plants the most nutrients and nourishment possible
4. Nutrient Film Technique
If you’ve been into hydroponics for a while and you’re looking for something a bit more advanced, consider the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) to grow your plants. This type of hydroponic system is similar to some other systems in that it uses a pump system and a reservoir, but the plants are placed into net pots that allow the roots to hang down. The pots are then lined up down the center of a channel of solution.
Basically, the system looks like a tube with holes in the top for plants, but a lot more than that is going on inside of the tubes. The solution flows at a steady pace, delivering an ongoing stream of nutrients to the plants’ roots.
An NFT system delivers a steady supply of nutrients, allowing plants to grow more uniformly
5. Aeroponics System
The Aeroponics System is considered one of the most advanced systems out there – scientists are looking at this type of hydroponic system as a possible solution to any food shortages in the future. Similar to NFT, Aeroponics uses a net pot and a system where the roots hang, but instead of the roots resting within the solution, they rest just above and a pump sends a mist of the nutrient solution over the roots. This allows the system to be extremely precise in how much is delivered to the roots and when.
The drawback to this type of hydroponic system is that it is also tricky to set up and must be monitored closely. Beginner hydroponics growers should start with something simpler and work their way into these more advanced systems.
In Aeroponics, the roots don’t rest in the nutrient solution but are regularly misted with the solution
6. Drip System
Another advanced system in hydroponics is the drip system. It has an air pump and a reservoir with a nutrient solution. Plants grow in a traditional type of medium, such as vermiculite, and the nutrients are delivered via the nutrient pump. The solution is fed to the top of the plant and then drips back down. Setup is quite advanced, but the concept of the drip system is simple, making it one of the most popular hydroponic methods – used frequently by commercial growers.
With a drip system, you can grow plants in a traditional growing medium
There are a lot of factors that come into play when growing plants hydroponically. But just keep in mind that growing hydroponics indoors can be one of the best ways to grow vegetables year round and plants can remove up to 87 percent or air toxins in your home. You’ll need to focus on much more than just the different types of hydroponic system you use, including light, what type of nutrients, and even the temperature surrounding the plants.
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