Hydroponic Medical Marijuana Growing Mediums Pros & Cons
Posted by Lee G. Leissett | May 15 2012 | 12853 views | Comments ↓
The hydroponic medium is essential for maximum marijuana yields.
(Click to enlarge)
Hydroponics is most simply defined as growing plants without the use of soil. There are many different mediums that can be used in hydroponic systems, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Medical marijuana growers must select a particular medium depending on availability, their personal preference, and compatibility to their individual hydroponic system. Here are some examples of common hydroponic mediums:
Expanded clay pebbles are probably the most identifiable hydroponic medium. Commonly known as hydroton, clay pebbles hold many great properties for hydroponic growing. Expanded clay is an inert (little or no nutrients) medium that holds little water but allows a lot of air to reach the root mass. Hydroton is compatible with almost every hydroponic system and is used as both the medium for the root zone and as a stabilizer in systems where the root zone is mainly suspended in water or air (DWC or aeroponics). Hydroton’s tendency to dry quickly makes it a great medium for continuous top-drip systems or flood and drain (ebb and flow) hydroponic systems.
Coconut Fiber (Coco Coir)
Coconut fiber is rapidly becoming one of the most popular hydroponic mediums on the market. Coconut fiber is a waste product from the coconut industry and is made from ground coconut husks. Coconut fiber has an amazing ability to retain large amounts of water while maintaing a large oxygen capacity. Many rockwool users are switching to coconut fiber due to its amazing oxygen holding abilities.
Use caution when purchasing coconut fiber for hydroponic use. There are many inexpensive coconut fiber products available that contain high amounts of salts and other contaminants. Look for companies that rinse or steam their coconut fiber multiple times. These products may be more expensive but will not produce the disappointing results that cheaper coconut fiber may lead to.
Perlite is one of the most common and popular hydroponic mediums due to its high oxygen holding capacity. Although it can be used by itself, most growers mix perlite with vermiculite or coconut fiber to gain some water retention. Perlite is inexpensive, light weight, and readily available. Perlite can be used in almost any hydroponic system including passive wick type and continuous top-drip systems. Perlite will float so it should be avoided in systems where flooding or moving water would disturb its placement. Perlite dust is also harmful to human health so it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask when handling it.
Vermiculite is another popular hydroponic medium material. Vermiculite has a high water holding capacity (200-300% by weight) and is commonly mixed with perlite or hydroton to increase oxygen. Vermiculite, like perlite, is inexpensive and readily available at nurseries or garden supply stores. The main disadvantage of vermiculite is that when it is used independently it holds too much water and tends to suffocate roots.
Rockwool is a very commonly used hydroponic medium. Rockwool is composed of spun basalt rock which has amazing water retention properties. Rockwool is available in cubes, slabs, or loose bails and is compatible with virtually every hydroponic system. Rockwool has a naturally high pH which can lead to nutrient uptake problems if the rockwool is not properly conditioned.
A soilless mix refers to a mixture of ingredients with little or no nutrient value. It can be comprised of some or all of the following: perlite, vermiculite, spaghnam moss, coco fiber, pumice, expanded clay pebbles, lava rock, sand, gravel, or any other material that will harbor root growth. Soilless mixes generally consist of small amounts of spaghnam moss and large amounts of perlite. Soilless mixes are most commonly used in top-drip, flood and drain, and wick type hydroponic systems.
Experimentation is sometimes the only way to determine the best hydroponic medium for your system. Try a few different mediums in a side-by-side comparison to see which one suits your needs and desires.
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Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Article by Lee G. Leissett, on May. 15th 2012