Hydroponics Frequently Asked Questions

What types of Hydroponic systems are available?

  • Wick– The wick system is the simplest system to use as it is passive meaning there are no moving parts. A wick is inserted into the growing media and the nutrient solution is drawn up the wick from a reservoir.
  • Water Culture– In this system plants are on a float and placed directly on the nutrient solution, an air pump with air stones is used in the nutrient solution to keep the plants roots oxygenated. This system is common in large scale lettuce production greenhouses.
  • Ebb & flow– A pump usually attached to a timer supplies nutrient to the plants in a grow tray, once the tray has filled the plant takes up the nutrient solution. After a determined amount of time the tray is drained and the nutrient solution returns to the reservoir to be reused again.
  • Drip recovery– This system is the most widely used hydroponic system. A timer turns on a submersed pump that pushes the nutrient solution through a system of drip lines and to each plant. Once the nutrient is discarded from the plant it drains back to the reservoir to be used again. In a non recovery system the nutrient solution does not return to the reservoir but is instead discarded.
  • Nutrient film technique– This system uses a pump to create a constant flow of nutrient over the plants roots usually I a chamber that returns the solution to be recalculated. Plants grown using this technique are usually put into plastic baskets where no media is used.
  • Aeroponic– The roots of the plants in an aeroponic system are enclosed in a vessel where they are sprayed with a fine mist of nutrient solution ensuring good oxygen absorption. The plants are misted with nutrient every few minutes and the run off is recycled back to the reservoir.

What is pH?
Ph stand for potential of Hydrogen and this number is important because it relates to how your plants absorb the nutrient. A high or low pH interferes with the plants ability to take up the nutrients therefore Ph should be monitored closely. Try to maintain a pH of 5.5 to 6.2 in order to best absorb your nutrients. The scale ranges from 0 being acid to 14 being alkaline, 7 is neutral.

How do I check my pH in a hydroponic system?
There are 3 methods you can use, Paper pH test strips, Liquid pH test kits, and Digital pH monitors. When calibrated correctly digital pH monitors are usually the simplest and most accurate way to monitor your pH, but it never hurts to keep a back up method on hand.

How do I adjust my pH?
Once you have added in your nutrients you then check your pH. If it outside of your preferred pH zone (usually 5.5-6.2) but your preference may vary; you can us a Ph up solution usually made of Potassium Hydroxide or a pH down solution usually made of Phosphoric acid. We have these solutions for sale at our store. Always take care when using and handling the chemicals. Also you will want to make small adjustments and continue testing until you reach your desired pH level.

What would my daily maintenance be for a hydroponic system??
I always start and end my plants day the same way once my lights com on in the morning I perform the following tasks and I do the same before the lights go off at night.

  • Check the water level in the reservoir.
  • Check, record and adjust your Ph as needed.
  • Check and record your TDS.
  • Check and record your temperature and humidity levels.
  • Look at your water lines and in your pots, is everything flowing properly? Are you plants receiving the nutrient they need and is it pooling in the bucket or flowing back into the reservoir correctly. If not clean and make adjustments.
  • Spend a few minutes with your plants; note how they look. Remove any badly damaged or any diseased leaves.
  • Are the tops of the plants getting too close to the light? Look for burns weather from the light or nutrient. Put your hand at the top of the plants palm down, does the back of your hand feel too warm? If so create more distance between the top of your plants and the light.
  • Are the fans working properly does the air flow feel good?
  • Check for pests to make sure you catch anything before it gets out of hand.
  • Keep things clean as you go.

This takes me no more than 10 minutes in the morning and evening, and I keep a log of the measurements in a journal for reference.

Weekly I …

  • Flush my plants to help prevent nutrient lock out.
  • Change the water and nutrient in my reservoir to correspond to the growth cycle
  • Vacuum and wipe down surfaces in the growing area to help keep things tidy and pest/disease free.

This usually takes a little longer, maybe 30minuts to an hour but I love spending time with my plants and it is more of an escape than an obligation for me.

What types of media are usually used??
It really depends on the system you choose to use but the most common are Rockwool/Stonewool, Hydroton expanded clay pellets, or coconut husk fibers.

What if I have more questions that were not covered here?
Shoot us an e-mail via our contact page and I will get back to you with the answer, and if I don’t have one I will research it and let you know what I come up with.

Unbelievable selection of grow supplies! I do a lot of organic gardening and get all my supplies from Innovative!
David M.

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