When you first think of growing marijuana, you’re faced with the choice of soil versus hydroponics, and if you choose hydroponics, you look at hydroponics marijuana systems.
The term “hydroponics” describes gardens where cannabis plants grow in a solid media such as rockwool or coco coir.
It’s also used to describe totally water-based systems like aeroponics or deep water culture (DWC)… where there’s no solid root zone media at all.
In aeroponics or DWC, your cannabis plants’ roots hang in water, or are sprayed with water, into which hydroponics nutrients have been added.
The benefits of hydroponics marijuana systems are you can totally calibrate and control the pH of your root zone and nutrients water so your marijuana plants have a full menu of nutrient elements.
Only hydroponics growers who use the most modern category of hydroponics base nutrients, sometimes called “Balance-Free pH” or “pH Perfect,” are getting the full benefits of hydroponics feeding.
The regular old school hydroponics base nutrients inevitably have problems with pH buffers and nutrient element stability so you lose some of the potential that hydroponics marijuana systems offer.
Another thing about hydroponics marijuana systems, especially in DWC or aeroponics, is that root oxygenation is increased.
This translates into healthier, more-efficient marijuana roots that take in more hydroponics nutrients faster.
It also means you can control root zone and hydroponics water temperature so you avoid harmful “root rot” microorganisms that can harm marijuana roots.
It’s understandable that newbie and even experienced growers are confused about the various hydroponics systems, so here’s a very brief and hopefully not confusing guide:
Deep Water Culture (DWC): Your marijuana plants’ roots are in buckets or other containers and are able to directly contact nutrients-enriched water.
They’re often almost totally immersed in the nutrients water, and the amount of immersion is adjusted depending on conditions.
Take a look at this 3-part series on DWC for precise information about achieving ultimate DWC marijuana success.
There are usually no solid root zone materials (such as perlite or hydroton) in these systems, except sometimes at the very top of the root zone where the material is used as an anchor in a small net bucket.
Aeroponics: Your marijuana plants’ roots are suspended in a tube or deep, light-proof tray.
Mist devices spray nutrient-rich water onto the roots at regular intervals.
In Nutrients Film Technique (NFT), your marijuana plants’ roots hang in a trough or chamber so they can access a moving film of nutrients-enriched water.
Ebb and Flow or Flood and Drain: Your marijuana plants’ roots are in a solid root zone media such as perlite, rockwool, hydroton, or coco coir.
A pump periodically sends nutrients water into the root zone from a reservoir.
In most ebb and flow/flood and drain systems, the water drains back into the reservoir.
If it drains out of the system, it’s called “drain to waste.” The nutrients-enriched water only hits the roots once, and then it’s gone.
If your hydroponics nutrients water goes back into the reservoir for repeated uses, it’s called a recirculating system.
In drip irrigation, marijuana roots are in a solid material like rockwool.
A timed pump sends enriched water via drip emitters into the root zone periodically.
• Almost all these systems rely on pumps, timers, and reservoirs.
If electricity or other apparatus fails, these systems have no room for error and plants may quickly die.
• For the most inexperienced beginners and/or cannabis growers who want an easy, automated system, ebb and flow, flood and drain, drip irrigation is the way to go.
The only real work you have to do with ebb and flow and similar systems is to set it up (you can buy pre-made systems for $500 and up at most hydroponics stores), and then take care of your hydroponics reservoir by ensuring fresh water, correct nutrients parts per million (ppm) levels, correct pH levels, and cleanliness.
• Water quality is of utmost importance in hydroponics. Get yourself a reverse osmosis water filtration system!
This article is meant as a brief guide to hydroponics (soilless) growing systems for marijuana.
The embedded videos give you a visual look at these systems so you can better understand how they work, how to set them up, and how much space they take.
If you have access to a quality hydroponics store, you’ll get important details by looking at hydroponics marijuana systems in person.
The main thing to realize is it’s convenient for you and good for your marijuana plants to have an automated hydroponics system that automatically distributes aerated water and hydroponics nutrients to your plants.