In our previous article in this beginner grower series, we noted that hydroponics marijuana growing gives you more control over your marijuana plants than when you grow in soil.
The only way you can outyield hydroponics using soil growing is if you grow outdoors using the richest soil and supplementing with nutrients.
And even then, the main reason you get heavier weights is that outdoor plants tend to be much bigger than indoor plants, with bigger roots too.
The main difference between hydroponics growing and soil growing is that in soil growing, the root zone has nutrients built in, but in hydroponics, the nutrients have to be added into the water and delivered via the water.
That’s why hydroponics marijuana growing is also called “soilless” growing.
We talked about the major division in categories of hydroponics systems: systems that use solid root zone media such as rockwool or peat-based mixes versus systems that use no root zone media.
You could have a marijuana hydroponics system that has rockwool or soilless mix in the root zone, or an aeroponics system that has no solid media around the roots at all.
Both of these are hydroponics, because water is the delivery system for your marijuana plants’ nutrients.
The system with rockwool probably has a drip irrigation. Rockwool as manufactured by the Dutch company Grodan is designed by horticultural scientists to suit specific hydroponics growing needs, and it’s a really kind inert root zone media that tens of thousands of cannabis growers rely on.
You only need a reservoir, pump, tubing and drip emitters to make this system work well for you.
By contrast, in aeroponics your cannabis roots hang in empty space, where a water and nutrients mixture are periodically sprayed or misted.
The use of drip irrigation, aeroponics, and other hydroponics systems brings us to yet another major division in hydroponics categories.
This division centers on what happens to your nutrients water after it has been delivered into your marijuana root zone.
In an “open” hydroponics system, your nutrients water is delivered to cannabis roots and then drained away never to be used again. No surprise this is also called “drain to waste.”
In a “closed” hydroponics system, nutrients water is returned to a reservoir after it has been delivered to your hydroponics roots. Closed hydroponics systems are also called “recirculating” systems.
When you drain to waste, you have to mix your nutrients more often, and you mix them fresh each time. In a closed system, you mix your nutrients fresh every 3-7 days.
That’s just one reason why drain to waste systems are disappearing from the hydroponics marijuana world. They’re too labor intensive and too costly.
But there’s an interesting reason people use drain to waste: it’s because most hydroponics nutrients aren’t stabilized, sourced, or manufactured properly so that they provide an ongoing comprehensively adequate supply of all nutrients elements in a form that’s bioavailable to your marijuana plants.
Marijuana growers mix a reservoir of hydroponics nutrients, take the time to monitor and adjust pH to the proper pH setting, and then a few hours or a day or two later, their nutrients reservoir is at the wrong pH, and the parts per million (ppm, which is an indication of the concentration of nutrients in the water) had changed radically.
The hydroponics nutrients water that goes back to your reservoir in a closed marijuana growing system doesn’t contain the same ratios and amounts of individual nutrient elements as what went in.
Over the course of a few hours or days, the nutrients water in a closed hydroponics system will drop in ppm, and the pH will change.
That’s because your root zone is trapping some nutrient elements, and your marijuana plants are taking in different amounts of each individual nutritional element.
Growers using closed systems experiment with adding fresh nutrients to their reservoir to “top up” their nutrients water in between making fresh batches of water.
However, this is an imprecise approach that risks overloading or underloading crucial nutritional elements.
These changing conditions create serious problems for marijuana plants. Your cannabis plants can’t find the nutrients they need. Their growth and health decreases. Their bud weight drops.
So some hydroponics marijuana growers adopted drain to waste because they were sure their initial nutrient mix was right, and felt they had to keep doing completely new mixes to ensure their plants had the right nutritional conditions.
But most growers use closed systems because it’s a big hassle to mix a fresh batch of nutrients every time you water.
Still, growers using closed hydroponics systems and generic hydroponics base nutrients are faced with having to constantly monitor pH and ppm to ensure good feeding.
This problem was fixed when hydroponics nutrients company Advanced Nutrients finally created a new type of hydroponics base nutrients (they call it pH Perfect) so marijuana growers can easily mix nutrients and be sure that their pH, ppm, and nutrient element availability start right and stay right for four or more days, regardless of the quality of the originating water.
This new types of hydroponics base nutrients was a game-changer for hydroponics marijuana growers, liberating them from the hassle of ph monitoring and adjustment while at the same time allowing marijuana plants to uptake more nutrients faster.
The results are that the full potential of soilless hydroponics cannabis growing has been realized, maximizing growth rates, maturation, cannabinoid potency, and harvest weight.
We’ve got lots more information on hydroponics marijuana growing, and we look forward to seeing you here again soon!